Top of the Pops
Friday, 19.30, 00.00, BBC4
Back to the double headers, we’re pleased to see. We all know Pops now is better than at any point during this repeat run, although one downside has been in the hosts where they’re failed to fill the hole left by our favourite host Kid Jensen. But now they’ve done that in the shape of, er, David Jensen. Back from a year on CNN, Kid is back on Radio 1 and back on the Pops, and he takes to the current format, and the vibrant pop scene, like a duck to water, so it’s a treat to see him again. Sadly someone else from earlier in this repeat run is also back, which means the extended version probably won’t have all the acts in either. But rather that than not at all.
Top of the Pops
Thursday, 19.30, 00.30, BBC4
Extensive study of recent episodes has revealed a bit of red, white and blue ribbon from the Royal Wedding still stuck to the set above the big telly, which we assume will stay up there until they dismantle the set at Christmas. Well, it was more interesting to look at that than Gidea Park. We’d never heard that Sheena Easton song before but we thought it was quite good, or at least the bits that weren’t Sheena, and despite the fact it only got to number 31 we’ll hear it again tonight, as well as a lot of other stuff we’ve already heard. On the plus side, we do get the biggest band of 1982, according to John Peel.
Jimmy Hill – A Man For All Seasons
Wednesday, 22.45, BBC1
“I remember when players used to celebrate with a light ale after the game!” In his later years it was easy to slag off Jimmy Hill as the epitome of the football establishment, especially alongside the newer pundits, but he was a genuine revolutionary, arguing in favour of corporate entertainment and television coverage back in the sixties. And as well as fulfilling every role in the game, from player to manager to chairman to linesman, he was a big figure in TV too, at one point finding himself as Deputy Director of Programmes at LWT and being responsible for much of the football coverage we know today. He was also considered to be a lovely man as well, and all of that will doubtless be recalled in this fascinating tribute.
David Attenborough’s Zoo Quest In Colour
Tuesday, 21.00, BBC4
Every schoolboy knows that David’s first major series was Zoo Quest in the fifties, a rather archaic format given it revolved around finding animals to be put into London Zoo, although David’s obvious love for and knowledge of the subject shines through. Remarkably last year some footage was discovered in BBC Bristol that has not only never been seen before, but is also in colour, which was news to David who didn’t even know they had any colour cameras with them. So now we get to see it, along with David offering up his recollections of how making wildlife programmes have changed over the past sixty years, both editorially and technically.
The TV That Made Me
Monday, 14.30, BBC2
Another outing for this series, albeit in truncated half hour form, every day this week. In its original form there’s far more chat than clips, a ratio we assume will be maintained here, but if there’s an interesting guest it passes the time, and today’s is quite interesting as Linford Christie is the guest and says how much he liked Love Thy Neighbour. If they leave that bit in. And then it’s followed by Holiday Of My Lifetime which is more or less the same thing only outside.
Let’s Do It – A Tribute To Victoria Wood
Sunday, 19.30, ITV
Still, we think, the most shattering death of the year, given how much of a shock it was, bring on as many tributes to this giant of comedy as possible. The light channel did play a pivotal role in Vic’s career, she made her first TV appearance on it via New Faces, and then first came to proper attention when Granada put her play Talent on the telly, although she didn’t have a very happy time with her series Wood and Walters, mostly as the producer died just before filming and his replacement didn’t seem to know or like very much about her. But even after she went to the Beeb, her stand-up – including her legendary An Audience With – was a regular fixture on ITV. This tribute’s going to cover all channels, though, in the company of friends and admirers.
Eurovision Song Contest
Saturday, 20.00, BBC1
Since last week we’ve heard our entry a few more times and we’re upgrading our opinion of it to a perfectly acceptable little pop song that seems to fit in well alongside the other stuff that’s about at the moment – well, the stuff we hear anyway. And we don’t know why we should be forever doomed to failure as Germany, who seem to have a similar attitude to the Contest as we do in that they see it as an excuse for a party and often send “silly” entries, and have generally done just as poorly as us over the past decade, went from second bottom to winner the other year and we don’t know why we can’t do the same. Maybe not with this, but why not in the future? The big change this year is the revamped scoring system where Richard and the gang announce the jury results alone and then the Europe-wide phone votes are all lumped together and added in reverse order, apparently to make it more exciting. We’ll see about that.
Top of the Pops
Friday, 19.30, 00.00, BBC4
Yes, it’s back on Fridays – though you’ll notice not on Thursday this week. The live episode last week was excellent fun, tacky but fantastically exciting, helped out by the presence of the great Trevor Horn (and Howard Goodall) backing Dollar, and we note they joined everyone else to dance to Funkapolitan at the end, that band’s look (and the lead singer’s height) making it all seem a bit like last day of term of Grange Hill, but none the worse for that. Pete seemed to fit in well with the hyper atmosphere as well, and we do love his continued pathetic attempts to pretend they’ve made the videos. Despite the presence of Bates it’s a pretty snazzy line-up this week too, especially as, eighteen months after The Human League made their debut despite being nowhere near the Top 40, Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh do the same thing again.
The Eurovision Song Contest Semi-Finals
Thursday, 20.00, BBC4
What with the Foxes and Mark Selby bringing endless glory to Leicester, maybe Englebert Humperdinck should have entered Eurovision this year instead. But instead it’s Joe and Jake going in to bat for Blighty, and we’re delighted to report that we’ve heard the song a couple of times and we can still remember what it sounds like, which is praise indeed as far as our recent entries are concerned. Of course, we don’t have to piddle around in the semis, and despite the fact we enjoy Eurovision we’ve never felt the need to watch three shows in a week rather than one. But here they are anyway, on a new channel.
Cunk on Shakespeare
Wednesday, 22.00, BBC2
Nothing new from Charlie Brooker for a while, perhaps unsurprising given Netflix have given him millions and millions of pounds to write a load of episodes of Black Mirror, and well done to him for that. But here’s a Wipe spin-off, in which Philomena Cunk has a whole half hour to explore her subject, and while at the moment it’s a one-off we can’t imagine they’ve not got one eye on a series if it goes down well. OK, so it’s all a bit Ali G in terms of spoof interviews, but it’s rarely done as well as this.
16 5 66
Tuesday, 11.30, BBC Radio 4
We’re not sure any of the chart battles of the recent past were of any great shakes musically, Blur vs Oasis for example involving arguably two of the bands’ worst singles. But fifty years ago this week, two of the greatest albums in pop history happened to be released on the same day, in the shape of Pet Sounds and Blonde On Blonde. No kind of competition between them, mind, but the simultaneous release dates do allow us to ponder whether that day was the high water mark of pop music.
Monday, 22.00, BBC2
The world really is going mad, as not only have Leicester won the league and we’re bringing back Creamvote, but apparently Ben Elton’s funny again! As anyone who saw The Wright Way will appreciate, that seems the most unbelievable of all, but we have heard from a number of reputable sources that his new sitcom is actually rather good. Seemingly he works best in a period setting because to all intents and purposes, this is Blackadder II again, with David Mitchell as Shakespeare, alongside an impressive supporting cast including Harry Enfield, Liza Tarbuck and Mark Heap. And yes, apparently it’s all good fun. We don’t know what to think anymore.
Attenborough at 90
Sunday, 19.00, BBC1
Don’t die, David. Please don’t die. The flagship of the birthday celebrations – though he’s also got a new documentary tomorrow – here’s David talking to Kirsty Young about his career. Of course he hasn’t just produced some of the greatest television programmes ever made, but also more or less rescued BBC2 after its awkward start under the hapless Michael Peacock and was surely on his way to being Director General before he decided he hated sitting in an office. Indeed you could argue he is the second most important man in the history of the BBC after Reith, so he deserves as many hours as possible to celebrate.
Attenborough’s Passion Projects
Saturday, 18.30, BBC2
Will Wyatt’s book about running BBC television says that David Attenborough was so popular that he alone had his personal Audience Appreciation score which applied to all programmes he appeared in. He must also surely be the patron saint of broadcasting, such is the quality of his work, and as part of his birthday celebrations, which happily carry on for ages, he’s been invited to select four of his programmes that he’s the proudest of, and here are the first two. The second is a jaunt to Easter Island in 2000 but first up it’s off to Papua New Guinea in 1971.
When Pop Went Epic – The Crazy World Of The Concept Album
Friday, 22.00, BBC4
Hard to imagine anything in pop history easier to ridicule these days than the seventies concept album, and indeed many of the people who made them are now happy to laugh at the excesses of the whole business, but you can’t fault their ambition in trying to cram as many ideas as they could into just twelve inches of vinyl. Rick Wakeman made a couple and he’s the perfect host to take this fond look back at the golden age of the LP, which really did veer from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Top of the Pops
Thursday, 19.30, 00.00, BBC4
Well, many congratulations to Startrax for managing to be the least interesting performers on a programme that also featured Tony Banks from Genesis. If anyone wants to know why studio groups usually stay in the studio, that’s exhibit A. More visual splendour from Aneka, joined by a bewigged Legs & Co (mmm, brunette Sue and Lulu) and then even joining the conga to see the show out. We’ve skipped another week here so a few repeats, plus another sodding medley, but all good fun.
Ricky Ross’ New Tradition
Wednesday, 22.00, BBC Radio 2
Very much the triumphant return of Radio Cream Times in midweek at the moment, but don’t worry if you prefer that new-fangled seeing by wireless as there’ll be some more television programmes along in a minute. Today though we can only offer up this new series in which Ricky, from off of Deacon Blue of course, plays some recently released records and then picks them apart to play some old records which he thinks sound very similar, and ponder why certain themes continue to recur in pop.
Tuesday, 11.30, BBC Radio 4
“Feed the birds, tuppence a bag! Two pence! And yet today, a good wholemeal loaf would set you back fifty or sixty pence!” Ah, Trevor and Simon, they have a quote for every occasion. Not that anyone else ever knows who we’re quoting. Anyway, the series that looks at music of all kinds with particular emotional resonance this week alights on Feed The Birds, which has mutated over the years from a bit of fluff in a Disney film to a song some people find extremely comforting.
Do Not Erase – A Little Respect For Erasure
Monday, 22.00, BBC Radio 2
Not much in the way of Bank Holiday fun on the telly today, aside from In Search Of The Castaways on BBC2 at eight o’clock in the morning, but here’s something a bit special from Radio 2. When it comes to listing the great pop bands of the eighties, Erasure often tend to get left out, coming across as less clever than the Pet Shop Boys, less interesting than Vince’s previous band Yazoo, and less exciting than Vince’s previous previous band Depeche Mode, while their recent output seem pretty much a fans-only affair. However for about a decade, they were huge stars, rarely out of the charts and with a back catalogue as good as anyone else operating in that period (Creamguide’s top three would be Stop, Victim Of Love and Blue Savannah). So well worth an hour of your time this evening, with Ana Matronic in charge.
The Good Old Days
Sunday, 19.00, BBC4
Frank Skinner’s iPlayer series where he chats with a celebrity guest about what they’ve been watching is great fun, because Frank always seems to get on well with his guest, they have interesting things to say and he’s not afraid to say if he doesn’t like the programmes they pick. The other week he had great fun with Michael Ball as they discussed The Good Old Days, a series which seems to have been doing well for this channel because they’ve dug some more out. We think this is the oldest one they’ve ever shown, from 1972. Although, to be honest, you wouldn’t know, they all look ancient.