Went to the wedding reception of a friend of a friend on Saturday night. A nice, happy do but everyone had been drinking all day so some conversations were one-sided (they talked, I listened). At one point a loose configuration that might under other circumstances have called itself a band attempted the old Frak number ‘The Last Band to Play Top of the Pops’.
Well, we watched the last TOTP, which means a lot for my generation at least, but as anyone could have told us, it was an anticlimax, with some of the worst displays of ‘Smashy and Nicey’-isms seen outside a spoof. Two seconds each of most of the wrong clips, Pan’s People (‘for the dads’ – again!) and a rather bitter-sounding and disturbing-looking Jimmy Savile. Perhaps memories are the best place for it, of the time when it really was the defining time and turning point of the week. No more.
It was followed at 10 by a documentary which was a bit better, and where Savile in particular emerged as more human and particularly honest, and all the avuncular BBC types who had run the show gave their little self-defence. Particularly interesting was the swiftly-alternating views of one of the elderly producers saying people who claim to be singers for a living should never have been miming, and Dennis Waterman saying he would never want any of ‘his’ singers singing live – ‘I spend bloody hours in the studio trying to get them sounding good, and they want them to provide the same quality recorded cold in five minutes while dancing around a stage’. I don’t see any contradiction myself. How many of ‘his singers’ would claim to be singers? There’s probably a really good documentary to be made about behind-the-scenes TOTP, and this month’s Word magazine shows the way, but this wasn’t it. Not even with the lisping Chris Eubank resigned to announcing ‘Suggs singing Cecilia’.