A few bits of business before we kick off this week. Firstly, you’ll recall the other week we couldn’t show you any clips of Paul Burnett presenting Top of the Pops – we’ve seen him performing on it, of course – but now we can as some extracts from a wiped edition from March 1976 have been discovered, and here they are. To be honest, one of the songs is one we probably don’t need any more performances of, but nice to have anyway.
Also we’ve had a letter from Andy Walmsley, who says, “You referred to Mike Read’s most recent radio gig as being Big L. In fact from earlier this year he’s been broadcasting on his pet project OneGold. Apparently the station broadcasts on FM in Lanzarote and on the web. This means that Mike is having to give time checks for Spain and the UK, but he’ll often get confused as apparently he’s normally sitting in a studio in Cheltenham. As with the Big L project the station is beset with technical problems – programmes don’t go out and are replaced with continuous music, tracks don’t play, text message systems breakdown, news bulletins don’t happen. It’s quite an amusing listen. Anyway I happened to be listening to Mike online on Friday morning when I opened your latest TV Cream email. Guess what? Mike was playing a Cliff Richard track, in this case 1973 Eurovision contender Power to all Our Friends. An hour later found him playing Cliff’s Dreaming and informing us that Cliff was planning to go to Wimbledon this year.”
A bit of a change to One-Derland this week as we have three very well-known broadcasters, but none of whom are particularly noted for their Radio 1 work. But they were on it, so they get in here. In fact the first one was on it for nearly twenty years!
Perhaps surprisingly given his long association with Top of the Pops, Jim’ll wasn’t among the original Radio 1 line-up, and indeed hadn’t broadcast on BBC Radio at all, we don’t think, electing instead to appear on Radio Luxembourg, most famously with his fantastically-titled Teen and Twenty Disc Club, where he ran the Under The Bedclothes Club. No, it’s not dirty, it was the idea that kids were listening in secret after lights out in boarding school dorms.
Anyway, Jim finally arrived on Radio 1 in the late sixties with Savile’s Travels, in which he’d go around Britain and meet the Great British Public. In fact the career of Jimmy Savile has always been a strange one, in that he can’t tell jokes, he can’t dance, he can’t sing, he’s not a slick presenter and he doesn’t seem to have much of an interest in music, but one thing he can do is seemingly get anyone in the world to talk into a microphone and do what he says, so this seemed the perfect format for him. He also hosted Speakeasy, in which groups of young people would earnestly debate topical issues, like that Liberal Party Political Broadcast he did around the time.
Jim’s most familiar show on Radio 1, though, was The Old Record Club, aka The Double (and later Triple) Top Ten Show which ran on Sunday lunchtimes for years on end, in which Jim would, as the name suggest, play old records, specifically from the charts in that week in the past. Famously Jim would challenge listeners to remember the exact names of songs for bonus points, and he even managed to get away with the old trick of pre-recording shows while he was doing other stuff with tremendous élan, telling listeners “Herbert Hologram” was doing the show while he was running his latest marathon. Oddly while all this was going on, he did nothing else on Radio 1, no roadshows or anything, which you’d think he’d be good at, just non-stop Sunday lunchtimes. Eventually in 1987 Johnny Beerling decided he’d had a good run but was too old-fashioned for Radio 1 and ended the show, although he later said it was the decision he most regretted as the ratings plummeted. Jim then went and did various syndicated shows for ILR, including the return of Savile’s Travels.
But if Jim’s Radio 1 output was limited, his Pops duties certainly weren’t. Here he is introducing various shows, a curious period with no titles in 1971, the familiar 3D-esque effectsin 1973, some aimless bopping from 1974 and this unusual intro when they returned from a two month strike. Of course he hung around for ages, into the Hurll era, with this chart rundown from 1981, where as ever he attracts the ire of Radio Times correspondents by failing to name any of the songs. We like ELO’s name almost falling off the screen. Jim says he hated the show at that point, but he’s wrong, it was ace, look at this brilliant clip! Of course it all ended first time round with that InterCity trip, but his last proper appearance in the studio came in July 1984, with Smitty.
Well, we don’t need to tell you who this is, do we? What we can say though is that when he was growing up Pip was more interested in the radio than the telly, and indeed wrote to every DJ on Radio 1 asking them for advice on getting a job there, but only Annie Nightingale wrote back, what with her being the nicest person on radio. Anyway, she advised him to get more experience, which he did while he lived in New Zealand, but when he got back, he got sidetracked by the telly.
In 1988, though, his huge appeal among the nation’s teenagers saw him offered his own show on Radio 1, and after a try-out on a Bank Holiday Monday (during which he accidentally left a two second gap after a record, and beat himself up for creating dead air), he arrived on Sunday afternoons from October. Initially the show was just an hour long and was aimed at a younger audience than the rest of the station, majoring on pop interviews, phone-ins and quizzes, while Pip saying he didn’t have the right kind of voice for radio, but he was going to work really hard to make a good show. The initial plan was for it to be repeated on Thursday evenings, but very early on, possibly in the first week, they forgot to record it and asked Pip if he’d come in and do another one, and he enjoyed it so much that from then on the Thursday show was always live as well – no interviews or anything in that one, though, mostly requests, a bit like Annie Nightingale’s show but poppier, we suppose.
In 1990 the Thursday show ended in a schedule shuffle but to make up for it the Sunday show was extended to ninety minutes, and then two hours. In addition, where his schedule allowed, he’d stand in on daytime shows, with a couple of weeks at drivetime in 1990 and a spell on the breakfast show in 1991. In addition, because he was properly famous and people knew what he looked like, he was put on the Roadshow rota and from 1990 had the honour of doing two weeks, where not only did he achieve his life’s ambition of hosting it in his old stomping ground of Newquay but also received a Gotcha in Cleethorpes for presenting it with his head stuck in a supposedly malfunctioning guillotine.
Pip clearly loved being on Radio 1 but Joseph’s Coat came calling at the start of 1992 and it meant he had to give it up as he was too busy, handing Sunday afternoons over to an unknown jock called Chris Evans. Oddly, despite being a) on Radio 1 and b) really famous and popular, he was never invited to present Top of the Pops, although we do recall he was sticker number one in the Pops Panini sticker album in 1990. Well, it’s just as good.
Woo woo! Yes, Pat Sharpin (to give him his real name) was on Radio 1, but unlike almost every other jock on the planet, he seemed to be more famous when he was only on local radio. Nevertheless, after a spell on Radio Luxembourg, Pat joined Radio 1 in 1982, standing in for DJs and hosting his own show in that ever-prestigious Sunday 6am slot. This led to Pops gigs too, his first coming in that momentous post-Christmas show in 1982 where he joined Janice Long and Gary Davies to be initiated by Jim. Part one’s still not back up, with Pat linking into the Fun Boy Three, but here’s the rest of it anyway. Pat also worked with Jim’ll a few months later, seen here introducing Roman Holliday, for those who find Haircut 100 a bit too dangerous, although they’re an odd couple, more like grandfather and grandson than best mates, with Jim’ll’s trademark unintelligible patter alongside Pat’s rather weird earnest approach. Note Jim’s vest, by the way, as seen in 1976 on BBC4 the other week.
Anyway, for some reason it never worked out for Pat on Radio 1, though, and within twelve months he’d gone. Instead he made a home for himself at Capital and, now armed with his trademark mullet, enjoyed great success and probably greater exposure than when he was on national radio, thanks to a succession of TV gigs, most obviously his marathon stint on Fun House. And of course there were the last few months of The Roxy, where he appears alongside Kevin Sharkey (almost as unintelligible as Jim’ll, actually) and Paul “Vision Technician” Nolan, and on the last show he performed Let’s All Chant with his mate Mick, the first in a series of big chart hits – we recall them performing I Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet on Pops and being amazed they’d allowed “rival” DJs on – which puts into perspective how much people hated Bruno and Liz, who couldn’t get near the charts despite being on national radio.
Pat’s still about on, of course, Smooth, and for some reason, despite only doing about three shows, was invited to come back to host the last ever Pops, presumably as, because he hosted the last ever Roxy, he had experience of killing pop shows. Let’s re-run the fun!