BBC Wusses Out Of Top Of The Pops Anniversary Special Because of Jimmy Savile
THIS year would mark the 50th anniversary of Top Of The Pops. The show was, until relatively recently, a cornerstone of British television. A mixture of people’s interest shifting to the internet, and the BBC’s complete failure to stay in touch with youth culture and an over-reliance on the Glastonbury coverage saw TOTP falling by the wayside.
And then there’s the ongoing Jimmy Savile child abuse scandal.
The show kicked-off on New Year’s Day in 1964 and has featured a dizzying amount of superstars and water-cooler moments. From Nirvana mockingly miming their way through Smells Like Teen Spirit, to Jocky Wilson appearing on a huge screen while Dexy’s Midnight Runners played Jackie Wilson Said, to John Peel’s snippy intros, to Gary Davies introducing 808 State as “Bob State”, TOTP was always quirky, lively and fun.
However, thanks to the Savile scandal, the BBC has all but written TOTP out of the history books (save for 70s repeats on BBC Four and the occasional special). Strange as other long-running BBC shows like Dr Who and University Challenge still get prestige treatment.
A book celebrates the shows grand old age and the author, Patrick Humphreys, spoke of his sadness that there would be no event to honour it, saying: “It’s upsetting because I think the show deserves to be remembered for what it was, the excitement it created and what it went on to become.”
What is particularly sad is that the show isn’t about Savile. While he was present for many iconic moments of the show, the thing that always drove it were the bands and artists that played.
Cut Savile out of the edit and celebrate the music and you’re left with a wonderful and, one of the most comprehensive documents of the British pop charts. Celebrating TOTP isn’t making excuses for Savile. In fact, leave him out of it entirely and you wouldn’t even miss him.
Naturally, other former members of the BBC have been implicated also, and Auntie Beeb may not want to put anyone in who may get accused of something… so leave all the presenters out and stick to the thing that made the show so great – the music!