Stuart Stubbs is sick of the fact that we can’t let Top of The Pops rest in peace.

Illustration by Fraser Davidson

Illustration by Fraser Davidson


Sometimes I wonder how on earth we got through the year 2006. No one should have to bury their children, and yet it felt like we – music lovers – had to do it twice over, first tossing soil on Smash Hits magazine in February (why, God?), and then onto the boxed up and slung out Top Of The Pops (WHY!?) by July. Annus Horribilis! I think we must have been in shock, because at the time none of us could give a shit. Since then, though, you’re hard-pushed to find anyone who didn’t “love Smash Hits” or “watch Top Of The Pops religiously”. Evidently, not enough in either instance.

Over time, we’ve all realised just how dire the former was by its death, looking like Take A Break, featuring cover lines like “Inside My Mental Mind” (an exclusive interview with Preston), made up of Shayne Ward tittle-tattle (an X Factor winner who you probably don’t remember). As for TOTP, we just can’t get over that one, and this month, as it was hinted again that the BBC might make its corpse dance once more (this time to provide the Radio 1 Top 40 Chart with an Internet-only show) everyone’s back to damning the day our beloved was cruelly snatched from us.

But let’s be honest, very few of us had a fond word to say about the dilapidated programme come the middle of the last decade. Fewer watched, and as Fearne Cotton introduced the final ever TOTP with the wonderfully ironic “It’s still number one, it’s still Top of The Pops”, I don’t think she even believed it anymore. The final band to play the show was Snow Patrol – it was definitely ready for the glue factory.

And that’s how we survived 2006 and the loss of what was definitely once a great British institution – because it was no longer great at all; it was as rotten as the charts had become, so why can’t we remember that? Why can’t we remember that Oasis were done after two albums, or that Michael Jackson was actually a pretty creepy dude? Have you never thought, ‘how comes Gold only ever shows TOTP reruns from 1975 through to 1982?’? It’s because it got so crushingly awful (although, admittedly, I would welcome reruns up to 1997, myself).

It might be the best thing on TV on Christmas Day, but even that’s a bit like being the prettiest dog turd. And honestly, by the end do you ever really think, ‘God, I miss this’? Because if you do, then yes, you should be able to forever lament the loss of Top of The Pops. Otherwise, let’s remember that it was lucky to make it to 2006, years beyond its cultural-defining peak. And think of these words the next time something we once loved but don’t anymore is axed because we’ve discarded it… God, I miss The Big Breakfast.

By Stuart Stubbs

TOTP, The Good…

… the bad…

… oh come on!

Originally published in issue 35 (vol 3) of Loud And Quiet. March 2012

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