And as our BBC4 year began with Tony Blackburn, so it ends 33 retained shows later with Tony keeping Jimmy company. Jimmy is, of course, wearing a Santa suit, cigar in, pack of cards fascinatingly in hand. Less explicably, on the table is front of them is a Ludo game box and a large pink triangle with what seems to be a picture of a dog on. No mention at all in the intro of this being the second show. Given the Legs & Co quotient forthcoming, how late did they schedule back then?
Brotherhood Of Man – Save Your Kisses For Me
Of the many studio performances, this is the one with the Union Jack design above the stage, in which everyone seems to be providing live vocals. Surely they had the option otherwise, even if they needed the practice ahead of Eurovision.
Billy Ocean – Love Really Hurts Without You
Tony finds the sight at close quarters of Jimmy pretending to be surprised hilarious. "Right over there", this is Billy at his most conservative of dress sense, which is saying something given he's wearing an all-in-one linen outfit, the jacket part of which boasts massive lapels over a pink tanktop, and in which he seems to have shoved something a little extra for the ladies' imaginations down the front. Performing in front of a glittery curtain he comes across as soul's most self-confident, not to mention optimstic, working men's club performer. Two people right down the front have the same curiously designed hat on that they were exhibiting right in front of our openers, which means these clips come from the 25th March programme, the week before BBC4 picked up on them.
Sailor – Glass Of Champagne
We join Tony struggling to open a bottle of the titular. Well, thanks to less than snappy editing we join him as he's holding the bottle at right angles as he comes to the gradual realisation that he really should be seen to be giving it all he's go if this is going to look realistic at all. You may argue that any chance of realism left the studio when Jimmy arrived, but there you go. Jimmy revels in drinking his "BBC tea", though there doesn't seem to be anything in the cup. There being anything to genuinely drink doesn't seem to have affected Sailor, who started off this crazy BBC4 ride and now turn up in its first phase's death throes, who start off by toasting us with their appropriately half-filled glasses - there's *two* champers bottles on the band's trusty Nickelodeon - and then go on to look like that was but the televisual tip of the iceberg in their day of getting sloshed. Everyone's in bow tie and flannel, drummer Grant Serpell seems to be sporting a cape, Henry Marsh (who, incidentally, recently married Dee Dee out of Pan's People) is sporting a top hat, a cane (though he carries both off with much more gravity than Paul Nicholas ever could) and an inane grin (that less so). Georg Kajanus already has streamers around his shoulders and general being. Nothing untoward has happened to Phil Pickett's appearance. The big bass drum on the side of the Nickelodeon is proved to be there for more than decoration. The second time Marsh bends down to beat it and and Nickel-oppo Pickett crouch down and do something for the camera, which is unfortunate given the camera misses it. Towards the end the balloons are released, but all uupon Serpell, who in close-up looks not unreasonably suddenly both excited and confused. Literally, when the director cuts back to a full stage shot there doesn't appear to be another balloon drop point anywhere. Before long everyone but the professional and perhaps most sober Kajanus has abandoned their station to fight the balloons off. Jimmy, who appreciates a good sailor, seems to be transfixed.
Wings – Let 'Em In
The Real Thing are setting up on the Quantel-fied screen behind them, as if this were real time. Instead it's Legs & Co and that delayed attempt at one-upping their predecessors. Problem is, being as they're still bedding in there's little sense of fun, spontaneity or character about Legs yet, so presented with some doors in a circle all they can come up with to do is walk through them in dressing gowns, the full coverage presumably the leverage for being in their pants for the other three new routines. And yeah, sure, there's opening and closing of doors in sequence, but there's no sticking their head through and making an amusing face and/or wave. There's no gratuitious arse-waggling. Nobody claims to be Martin Luther. There's no way of getting round it, this routine is just walking. A little eavesdropping and waiting enters later on, but that's to fill out breaks as much as anything.
The Real Thing – You To Me Are Everything
Tony proffers a box of Terry's All Gold, which Jimmy doesn't give a second look. If Billy was holding back on the colour clashing, the Real Thing have gone all out on their return, the open-fronted mustard coloured fringed jacket still losing out to whichever Amoo brother it is in the time honoured silver dungarees off one shoulder/neckerchief/glittery hat combination, and just for emphasis both of outfit and place in the band he's on a raised stage-within-a-stage. There's a girl in the audience in a sailor's hat. Her luck was in earlier in the night right enough.
Dr Hook – A Little Bit More
The multi-layered beard and latent homoeroticism of the video. Jimmy in introduction chooses to hide behind a balloon. Fair comment.
ABBA – Fernando
Again. Jimmy uses "as it 'appens" twice in a sentence, as if he has a reputation to keep up or something. "I can't stop eating these nuts, Jim" is Tony's straightforward reponse. Even though there's a studio performance they could have shown it's fireside wistfulness of the video.
Rod Stewart – The Killing Of Georgie
Ah, Diddy's favourite. For the third song in a row it's the video, Rod perhaps unwisely given the subject matter flouncing about on a great big stage with only a microphone and big blouse for company. "I would like to tell you a horrific story about him (Tony)" Jimmy starts the link out of a song about homophobic murder.
Our Kid – You Just Might See Me Cry
After three videos, a repeat of the massive buttonhole flower-enhanced studio performance of "one of the youngest groups to make it this year", suggesting there were younger groups who've fooled us plebs but not the pros. Perhaps my favourite wrongheaded #totp tweet this year, even ahead of the weekly "why are BBC4 showing 1976 again?", is the person who moaned "was there a TOTP in 1976 Our Kid weren't on?" Yes, all but three of them, and one of those has been wiped and one was months later.
Johnny Mathis – When A Child Is Born
"Don't know if you know him or not", Jim? Haven't we all seen this enough by now? Three Pops-programming appearances in four days. TOTP2 captioned it as being from 1977, which shows how much departments observe what each other is doing.
The Four Seasons – December '63 (Oh What A Night)
At last, something new! Even if it is just Legs & Co, and a Legs without Patti at that. There is speculation that they recorded the other three dances for one show and then had to make up the numbers (or possibly they were set to fill in for an act that became available and had to make a late change) only for Patti to fall ill, which makes sense. Small bra and pants all round again, each in different colours and augmented with glittery headdresses and a bit of chiffon in the back so you can't ogle them from behind. The director's solution is to shoot all the close-ups from below to even less subtle result. The five are on stages around the audience in the middle, whose job is to wave strands of tinsel around to no discernible atmospheric effect.
Chicago – If You Leave Me Now
"One of my favourite records of the moment" says Tony ahead of another video. Me? I'd rather see Terry Kath's Mississippi dance again.
Showaddywaddy – Under The Moon Of Love
The problem with the 'waddy... well, more than one, but for the purpose it was that with the overmanning two members often seemed to have little to do. That's been solved by giving them miniature guitars of little potential resonance, so that's that sorted and them happy. Once again it's the black/white switcheroo, but this time mixed in is a perspective joke as drums and timpani subtly shift between the front and back of the stage, the consistently pissed off looking Romeo Challenger to the forefront in the black. Oddly Dave Bartram doesn't get to change at all, but there's a reason for that. When he gets down on his knees at the lip of the stage for the first "I wanna talk sweet talk..." bridge he grabs a young lady's hand - maybe the young lady at the front of the previous shot from the back of the stage seen holding a 7" record - and then, the old charmer, brings out a sprig of mistletoe, albeit very ragged and battered looking mistletoe. The expected is elected not to be carried out. Understandably, everyone makes a large gap at the front when he tries for the second time. A few streamers thrown around, back in the studio Jimmy puts out his cigar and then uses it to burst a balloon by Tony's head. "And it's goodbye from him!" And it's goodbye from 1976, as a time entity then and as a concept now.
Top Of The Pops will return in 1977, on 6th January 2012. The blog has one more post before the end of the year.
Whichever year you want to read that as.