Watched an episode of a 1997 TOTP on YouTube last night with Ian Wright presenting. So strange, his presenting style just didn't seem right for the show and so many odd camera angles where he was almost looking down on the camera and standing too close to it. Seemed quite bizarre.
Well, John Peel said that when he returned to do that one-off show in 1995, he was a bit bewildered by the changes in camera technology the most, because he was now required to start doing his link looking at nothing, at which point the camera would fly in on a crane and then immediately fly off when he'd finished (in a manner that Peel said reminded him of shouting "and you can tidy your bedroom while you're at it" to his children). So it wasn't always the presenter's fault.
I know Ric Blaxill was desperate to get Ian Wright to present Pops because he was a huge Arsenal fan, and he was a big name at the time. The guest presenters was an interesting enough concept and sometimes they really worked, but it was a bit hit and miss. When they began in 1994 it was quite a big thing to have a guest presenter and they would be quite big names - Take That, Reeves and Mortimer - while the rest of the time it would be one of the regular DJs, but as time went on and they started having a guest host pretty much every week (with the DJs an absolute last resort) it started to seem like they were scraping the barrel a bit and you'd just have people on there for the sake of it. January 1997 is a good example, with Rhona Cameron, Phil Daniels and Noddy Holder in successive weeks. Hardly more interesting than before.
Also it sometimes it felt like there was a bit too much happening, so you'd have a big exclusive performance but it would be introduced by a comedian in character so it felt like it was being thrown away a bit. I'm not saying they should have got Simon Bates back to provide the required gravitas but it felt sometimes it didn't get the context it deserved. A good example is when Bis appeared when they were the first unsigned band to appear, and the presenters that week were the boy band MN8. They couldn't really explain who they were or why it was a big deal, so the audience would just go "well, who the hell's this?".