Top of the Pops was created on 1st January 1964 by the BBC and was shown every week until its last broadcast on 30th July 2006. It was originally broadcast on Thursday evenings up until 1996 when it moved to Fridays, and then in 2005 it moved to Sunday evenings. The thirty-minute program was televised showing the best-selling singles of the previous week, and in all it was broadcast on 2,263 occasions. The program would consist of a variety of performers who had sold well during the previous week. As the show progressed it would gradually count down to the best-selling record of the week.
The best-selling record would play out as the show came to an end. Within the show there would be space for a record that had been newly released and had yet to enter the charts. Of the groups playing records some would be shown performing by video while others would be playing in the studio. Of the groups playing in the studio the majority of the bands mimed. There were several attempts to get the performers to play live, but there were so many instances where the quality of the performance was poor, that eventually it was left to the performer’s choice whether they wished mime or not.
The Who, David Bowie and Sham 69 were bands that preferred to perform live as it became a moral issue very much as whether it was right to see bands blatantly mime on the stage. Some groups actually openly mimicked the situation and when Oasis performed “Roll with it” in 1995, the Gallagher brothers swapped roles, with Liam pretending to play guitar and Noel acting as if he was the lead singer. A live performance that created much controversy was by The Pogues singing “Fairytale of New York”. Lead singer Shane McGowan was clearly drunk, and this was a major reason for artists not being put under any pressure to perform live.
The early broadcasts of the show would include one record that would be played without the presence of the musical act but would be accompanied by a dance troupe. The dance groups that performed included the Go-Jos, Pans People and Legs & Co. They were more like cheer leaders but proved popular with the shows audiences.
The audiences are never higher than when Top of the Pops Christmas editions are broadcast on Christmas Day. These programs are an hour long and its content include the best-selling records of the previous year. The show started in 1964 and still continues today with it, up to 1984, being repeated on Boxing Day. During the 1970s the show attracted television audiences between 16 and 17 million viewers every week. The popularity of the show gradually declined as MTV created its channel and the new musical videos. The creation of the new musical channel meant that music was more accessible to the public. Previously it was difficult to access music through television which made Top of the Pops so unique and popular. With music being readily available during the week people were no longer waiting keenly for their weekly broadcast of the show.
However, there is no doubting the affect that is had on the history of British Music. The different trends of musical genres that were occurring in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s were broadcast into the homes of the large majority of the population giving the artists access to potential followers that previously would never had been reached.