BBC ends Top of the Pops

By Jim Welte

Jun 21, 2006

Britain's longest-running music TV show is about to meet its maker.

Top of the Pops, the 42-year-old BBC show that was once a fixture on the promotional circuit for up-and-coming artists, is being scrapped, the network said today. The show could simply not compete with the swarm of 24-hour music channels and the Internet, the BBC said.

"We are very proud of a show which has survived 42 years in the UK and gone on to become a worldwide brand," BBC Director of Television Jana Bennett said in a statement. "But the time has come to bring the show to its natural conclusion."

The show launched in 1964 at the height of Beatlemania, with the first episode opening with the Rolling Stones performing "I Wanna Be Your Man" and closing with a filmed clip of the Beatles performing "I Wanna Hold Your Hand." Top of the Pops centered on a weekly countdown of Britain's top-selling singles, attracting as many as 15 million viewers in nearly 100 countries each week in the 1970s.

But the BBC, Britain's publicly funded broadcaster, said the show could not compete with rivals that enable viewers to "consume music of their choice any time night or day." The show has suffered dwindling ratings in recent years, and a move from BBC1 to BBC2 and a relaunch were unable to provide a spark.

The final half-hour show will go out on July 30, Bennett said.

"The decision to bring the show to an end after 42 years has not been taken lightly, and over the past few years every effort has been made to maintain the quality and distinctiveness of the show," she said. "However, the BBC's Creative Review Music Strategy has concluded that in a rapidly changing musical landscape, Top of the Pops no longer occupies the central role it once did."

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  • rklrkl Jun 22, 2006

    Top Of The Pops had many serious problems:

    * Many artists mime on the show, which is utterly pointless - you may as watch the promo video if they're going to do that!

    * For a long time, it would only play tracks that were a) singles and b) climbed the chart that week (or stayed at #1). They did eventually relax these restrictions.

    * They moved it around the schedule and even changed to a minority channel (BBC 2), which was the final nail in the coffin.

    * They merged it with "Top Of The Pops 2" (a golden oldies show of old TOTP clips, with the odd new song on it) to produce a Frankenstein hybrid of old and new tracks on the main TOTP show that would guarantee to annoy everyone at least some of the time.

    * They added celebrity presenters not connected in any way to the music world, which often never worked.

    * Satellite/cable have had multiple dedicated music channels for many years in the UK - most of them just doing heavy rotation of promo videos admittedly, but they inevitably draw the audience away from TOTP.

    * "Later With Jools Holland", which has run on the BBC for over 10 years now, is a *vastly* superior live music show to TOTP - better guest artists, interviews with some of them and no miming! Whilst "Later..." is a "must-record" event for me, TOTP never has been.