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Araminta Kane92 posts since 8 Dec 2015
Steve Williams wrote about that at the time - also that parts of the show (a report on a band I cannot bring myself to mention, so much do they stand for that period's reaction against the relative pluralism of pop at the turn of the century) were written in a stilted style redolent of news reporting. The die was cast.

"All new" is very much a last gasp of programmes heading for the axe, isn't it?
VMPhil9,985 posts since 31 Mar 2005
Granada North West Today
There was also a Robbie Williams phone-in question, I think about what was his first number one single, but all three choices were incorrect. This was before the phone-in scandals so I don't think it got much press (I don't remember if the BBC had any response to it?)

They did make good use of Television Centre though.

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james-20015,396 posts since 13 Sep 2015
Central (East) East Midlands Today
There was also a Robbie Williams phone-in question, I think about what was his first number one single, but all three choices were incorrect. This was before the phone-in scandals so I don't think it got much press (I don't remember if the BBC had any response to it?)


They did actually change the question by the time they took a caller to answer it though! By rewording it to asking what his first solo single was, rather than number one!

Funnily enough the first edition of CD:UK had a similar question about Michael Jackson (what was his most recent number one single)- again with all three choices being incorrect (I think the choices were Black Or White, You Are Not Alone and Earth Song- the correct answer was Blood On The Dancefloor!).

While it's easy for people to assume Angels did get to Number 1 (it rather suprisingly only reached Number 4, even though it was his highest selling single) and Blood on The Dancefloor was very forgettable, it wouldn't have taken much to put in the 2 minutes of research needed to confirm the correct answer!
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BillyH1,337 posts since 4 Jan 2003
London London

The 2003 revamp was as botched as the 1991 one! I guess it's symbolic he bought back the theme tune from it.


I still don't understand what they were thinking bringing back that theme tune. It's fondly remembered by few and the Whole Lotta Love remix still sounded fine - if you really needed to replace it then make something new and contemporary sounding, not beef up a theme from an infamously bad era of the show's history that sounds really out of place for 2003.
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james-20015,396 posts since 13 Sep 2015
Central (East) East Midlands Today
In case anyone's interested, here's a video showing the opening and closing of the final Appel show and the first Blaxill show:



Meat Loaf popping up wishing "Stanley" a "happy retirement" must surely have confused the hell out of most viewers?

In addition to the changes I mentioned earlier, right from Blaxills first show you'll notice he also changed the font of the chart positions on the caption (he also added up and down arrows to the 40-11 rundown that was shown over a music video). Over the next few weeks he dropped the "Breakers", heavily cut down the title sequence, bought in a new Top 10 rundown animation, had one of the week's acts have a "you're watching Top Of The Pops" intro before the titles and bought in the guest presenters (the first were Robbie Williams and Mark Owen on the 17/3/94 edition).

One of the oddball editions is the 25/8/94 edition, as the whole episode (bar the title sequence) has a faux-widescreen letterbox on it, and everything apart from the opening link, a via satellite performance and the Wet Wet Wet performance repeated from the previous show is filmised, and with varying amounts of desaturation (one performance is entirely black and white). The clips shown during the end credits montage have the proper colour levels and without the film effect though.

If the show was still being made now, they'd probably slap the film effect on the whole thing on every episode, after all we're at the stage where producers think even the Antiques Roadshow, Garderner's World and daytime property shows need to have a film look on (despite how dreadful it looks), so TOTP would be a shoo-in that they'd think the show would need it.
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VMPhil9,985 posts since 31 Mar 2005
Granada North West Today

The 2003 revamp was as botched as the 1991 one! I guess it's symbolic he bought back the theme tune from it.


I still don't understand what they were thinking bringing back that theme tune. It's fondly remembered by few and the Whole Lotta Love remix still sounded fine - if you really needed to replace it then make something new and contemporary sounding, not beef up a theme from an infamously bad era of the show's history that sounds really out of place for 2003.

The remix definitely contemporised it though - having the 1991 version would certainly sound terribly out of place but I thought they did a good job of bringing it up-to-date, and it was still being used on the Christmas specials until a few years ago, so they got their money's worth.

As you say though it's bizarre they decided to bring back an old theme instead of composing a new one, especially if they had the budget to get the original composers to make a new arrangement of it anyway. I guess Andi Peters had a fondness for that era or something?
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DE88682 posts since 8 Jan 2017
In case anyone's interested, here's a video showing the opening and closing of the final Appel show and the first Blaxill show:




Did Mark Franklin know that the final Appel show would be *his* final show too? He doesn't appear to be showing much disappointment - though he does have the good grace to name-check Simon.

Quote:
Meat Loaf popping up wishing "Stanley" a "happy retirement" must surely have confused the hell out of most viewers?


Well, it certainly would have confused those that didn't see Appel's credit at the bottom... Laughing Wink

Quote:
In addition to the changes I mentioned earlier, right from Blaxills first show you'll notice he also changed the font of the chart positions on the caption (he also added up and down arrows to the 40-11 rundown that was shown over a music video). Over the next few weeks he dropped the "Breakers", heavily cut down the title sequence, bought in a new Top 10 rundown animation, had one of the week's acts have a "you're watching Top Of The Pops" intro before the titles and bought in the guest presenters (the first were Robbie Williams and Mark Owen on the 17/3/94 edition).


Going back to using a single - and readable - font for the chart positions on the captions was undoubtedly a change for the better. Whose idea was it to give each of the digits from 0 through 9 its own font (some of which were horrible)?!

Scrapping the Breakers segment was undoubtedly a change for the better, too. Fairly remarkable that it managed to last nine years, despite never being very popular.
Now officially retired from TV Forum. "When the fun stops, stop."
james-20015,396 posts since 13 Sep 2015
Central (East) East Midlands Today
Did Mark Franklin know that the final Appel show would be *his* final show too? He doesn't appear to be showing much disappointment - though he does have the good grace to name-check Simon.


Well, on the previous weeks episode Tony Dortie mentions on several occasions that it was his final show, so I presume Mark must have known even though he doesn't mention it.

Quote:
Going back to using a single - and readable - font for the chart positions on the captions was undoubtedly a change for the better. Whose idea was it to give each of the digits from 0 through 9 its own font (some of which were horrible)?!


Probably Stan Appel's choice again. I know he took a holiday over summer 1992, and Michael Hurll took over for a few weeks- and he changed the font too, then Stan changed it back again when he returned.
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Steve Williams2,875 posts since 1 Aug 2008
The kids presenters thing was a strange experiment really. It didn't last long though, apart from Anthea Turner who managed to hang on until the 1991 revamp.


Andy Crane said, in his interview on Offthetelly, that Paul Ciani came up to him in the bar and said "You’ve got a very powerful audience of young people, you could bring them to my show". Of course, he was always promoted as the first person not from Radio 1 to present it, which is clearly wrong - we saw that one the other week when the acts themselves did it, plus Mike Smith did it for two years while he wasn't on Radio 1, and of course it started three and a half years before Radio 1 was on air.

I think the introduction of all the new presenters in 1988 was quite a lot to do with them needing more women on it - they even used GMR's Susie Mathis for two shows. Funnily enough I remember the Top of the Pops sticker album in 1990 had Pip Schofield as sticker number one, but despite being on Radio 1 at the time, he never did it.

Probably has a lot to do with having a producer who was pushing 60, not really the best choice for a "trendy yoof" show. The "no miming" rule was hardly a success either. Apparently it partly done through his desire to "kill off" dance music- even though it's what the show's target audience was buying.

I have images of him sitting there moaning about how today's music was all a noise and how things were so much better in his day, while booking Paul McCartney and Barry Manilow to play in front of an audience of teenagers, while sulking about The Shamen and the Utah Saints being terrible (and forcing them to perform their samples "live").


It seems bizarre now that someone like Stanley Appel would be producing Top of the Pops in 1991 when he was in his sixties, but a lot of that was based on how the light entertainment department worked in those days, which would be very much along military lines, so you would have to work your way up from floor assistant and so all the producers would be fairly veteran figures. Will Wyatt said that they lose quite a lot of talent in those days because researchers would come up with great ideas but were told they couldn't produce them because they hadn't put in the required hours and so they would go to other companies. By the time Ric Blaxill arrived that policy was no longer in place.

The no miming rule was ridiculous, it's not a competition. It's up to the artists what their records sound like, because they made them.

I do wonder how the 1991 revamp might have gone if Paul Ciani hadn't fallen ill and ultimately died? Considering the amount of planning that must have gone into the revamp and the move to Elstree, I presume it would have been well underway before Stan Appel took over (and presumably made changes).


I did read that apparently the set at Elstree had to be changed at the last minute to fit in with the technical requirements of live vocals, which was apparently a decision made very late in the day. I can almost exactly pinpoint the first I heard about the revamp based on the episode guide on Popscene - it would have been the beginning of June 1991, because I remember reading in the Sunday papers that they were going to change it to include records that weren't in the chart, and then that same week, in the episode of 6th June, they had Northside and Marillion at number 41 and 42 respectively, and I assumed the new policy had already been introduced. Of course, that wasn't the case, it was just they were so short of live acts that week they had to go outside the Top 40, which did occasionally happen throughout the eighties.

At that point I think Michael Hurll was still standing in for an ill Paul Ciani, so I'm not sure how much of the revamp Stanley Appel was responsible for, or when he was confirmed as full-time producer.

ISTR the first edition of the All New Top of the Pops revamp featured a performance clip of Elton John, something that I also don't think really appealed to teenagers of 2003


That's right, performing Your Song as well. Presumably the thinking behind this is that they still wanted to illustrate that they were a family show, so they would have to have a veteran act and they just whacked in that because he was Elton John and he was famous. It's a bit like when Live and Kicking was revamped in 1999, they skewed much younger with Steve Wilson and Emma Ledden (as I mentioned in another thread, this was seemingly because they were getting a bit concerned that under Zoe and Jamie it was getting a bit too adult and alienating the child audience) but would still book the likes of Phil Collins and Sting. Which didn't appeal to anyone.

They did make good use of Television Centre though.


They did, that Blazin' Squad performance was fantastic, and I would certainly say that under Andi Peters the one good thing was that they actually tried to make the show an event and a proper happening every week. That did mean it apparently spiralled way over budget, and so often it wasn't very good, but the thought was there.

I know everyone slags off the 2003 revamp, but it wasn't really all that good before that anyway. I mentioned this on another thread but under Chris Cowey there were no exclusives, it was records in the chart and nothing but - the "classic" format everyone apparently asks for - and it was unbelievably dull, and because of the way the chart worked at the time it meant it seemed incredibly out of date, it was full of songs you'd already seen on every other show for the last six weeks. So it became less relevant. And for the last few months of Cowey's reign they introduced some half-arsed "features" and interviews which were no good.

One quite interesting period was the interregnum between Cowey's departure in August 2003 and the revamp in November, where they started introducing one or two exclusives in the mix and it seemed a bit more interesting than before, an intriguing mix of the two eras. There was also an intermission between Ric Blaxill departing in February 1997 and Chris Cowey arriving in June which led to an interesting transitional phase where some of Blaxill's ideas - guest presenters, exclusives - were dropped.

One of the oddball editions is the 25/8/94 edition, as the whole episode (bar the title sequence) has a faux-widescreen letterbox on it, and everything apart from the opening link, a via satellite performance and the Wet Wet Wet performance repeated from the previous show is filmised, and with varying amounts of desaturation (one performance is entirely black and white). The clips shown during the end credits montage have the proper colour levels and without the film effect though.


I remember this, and I also remember Gaby Roslin talking about it on The Big Breakfast the next morning (I remember her trying to engage Angela Rippon in conversation about it). I remember Malcolm McLaren was the host who delivered all his links in suitably cryptic style, so presumably the whole thing was an attempt to reflect his personality and make it look a bit cooler and more stylish.

They always used to say that because Blaxill didn't come from a traditional TV background, he was far happier introducing new ideas, and that on his first day he gathered together all the pluggers and gave them envelopes with "the new rules" inside - which were empty.
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james-20015,396 posts since 13 Sep 2015
Central (East) East Midlands Today
I know everyone slags off the 2003 revamp, but it wasn't really all that good before that anyway. I mentioned this on another thread but under Chris Cowey there were no exclusives, it was records in the chart and nothing but - the "classic" format everyone apparently asks for - and it was unbelievably dull, and because of the way the chart worked at the time it meant it seemed incredibly out of date, it was full of songs you'd already seen on every other show for the last six weeks. So it became less relevant. And for the last few months of Cowey's reign they introduced some half-arsed "features" and interviews which were no good.


I admit I've always found the Cowey era quite dull too for some reason, when watching back the 1993-98 episodes I have, the episodes after Cowey took over seem to lack something of the earlier episodes (even the 1993 Appel ones!). I don't think it helped he all but scrapped music videos, which limited what could be played (you often had songs going down the charts or the same song on consecutive weeks in his era- presumably to fill out the show and which artists they could book), which meant if an artist couldn't/wouldn't perform you likely wouldn't get it on TOTP at all- and often meant you saw the same performance over and over when a song hung around high in the charts for a while and the artist couldn't/wouldn't give a repeat performance (when in the past they would have included the video some weeks to mix things up). The show being stitched together from performances recorded at totally different times during his tenure didn't help either- it helps with a show like that that the artists are there in the studio, not just turning up to record it like 3 months earlier when they had some spare time.

I don't really understand all the features on TOTP during the last few years earlier- they really didn't have time for it. I think they were trying to ape CD:UK, but that was an hour long so had time to include them, whereas with TOTP it was eating into precious performance time. I remember during the time in 2003 you mention, they'd quite often have a "behind the scenes" feature running over a performance- so you'd barely see any of the song itself, just footage of the artist pissing about in the chaging rooms or canteen or whatever.
Last edited by james-2001 on 15 January 2018 1:52pm
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