Oh, quickly before we start - Monday sees the start of an all-new (and just nineteen years after the first series) ten part run of Sounds Of The Seventies at 10pm, including that Jean Genie.
This was David Hamilton's final Pops - he upgraded from Radio 1 to Radio 2 in November and with him only having done the show thirteen times and Kid's introduction proving successful I imagine the thought was someone had to give way. Don't ask Diddy why, his Killing Of Georgie Fame anecdote suggests he still thinks his last show was six months earlier. But that's not the reason, tempting as it is, why this week in particular has attracted so much attention. Nobody really knows whether it's true BBC4 were going to skip this show for playback quality reasons - the initial schedules missed it out, but then initial schedules did that twice in 1976/2011. This is one of four shows, the others from before the BBC4 run started, that were wiped but recovered in 2009 from Diddy's personal collection, taped to Philips N1500. Essentially it's given the show a visual Instagram filter, the slightly off-perfect look of an old video recording but on proper telly, adding a whole new layer of nostalgia.
Also adding a layer of nostalgia, Diddy's choice of a red zip-up top. Leather or tracksuit. Can't tell. And with one last facile punching of the air at the very end of his intro link we're away.
Blue – I’m Gonna Capture Your Heart
Obviously not *that* Bl...what a pointless statement that is. Actually, yes, despite none of their members being born this early it's that same Blue scratching an AM radio MOR itch before they turned into a boy band. Happy? It turns out the pianist with the unnerving grin is the singer, and he's clearly been at the forefront of some band squabbling as he has the overhead lights all on him and the guitarist, singer of prominent backing vocals and wearer of a tie over a lime green shirt is at the far end of the stage in near complete shade for a line or two. Later on, finding himself in profile close-up, he starts miming out of the side of his mouth before reverting to attempting to sing while broadly smiling, walking a thin line between jovial and threatening. As was common the drummer is at the front despite looking like he failed the 10cc auditions and is wearing a poor Hawaiian shirt.
Billy Ocean – Red Light Spells Danger
"A red light, and the man who's really switched it on!" The key difference in fashion waywardness between Billy and any old Amoo is Ocean liked an outfit that was predominantly one colour and looked stylish in all the right lines and ways but coupled with something horribly clashing visible underneath. This week the smart buttoned up suit is crimson, the shirt is lemon and the cuffs folded back well over the jacket sleeves could easily act as emergency buoyancy aids.
David Soul – Going In With My Eyes Open
Diddy, flanked by two girls one of whom was surely a teenage Tilda Swinton, introduces Legs & "Company" in a comedy northern accent. Well, last chance and all that. Nobody's quite sure what to do with this so it ends up a mish-mash all round, long fluffy ballet skirts matched with criss-crossed straps for bras, ballet's graceful movements followed by the usual running round in a circle. Luckily things get more interesting for them in the coming weeks. The odd flicker and audio warp reminds us Mrs Hamilton must have been sitting directly in front of the set, fingers poised over the tracking buttons. Let's think of her this long week.
David Dundas – Another Funny Honeymoon
Ah, the long cruel winter of the one hit wonder (this did actually make the top 30, just, but do you remember it?) Doing away with his trusty piano he seems really quite unsure what to do, opening with some jigging-cum-jogging on the spot. It doesn't help that the orchestra have interpreted the recorded version's mixed down wah-wah rhythm guitar as a prominent chicken-squawk and removed most of the jug band bits copied off In The Summertime and The Pushbike Song, but Dundas could have done his bit by singing in the same octave as usual rather than a slightly deeper timbre. His backdrop reminds us that The Sky At Night was on last week.
Lynsey De Paul & Mike Moran – Rock Bottom
Now, it's Diddy's last TOTP, surely there's some sort of running motif with his presenting that they could squeeze one more out of... and sure enough two girls turn up wearing T-shirts which appear to depict a stylised drawing of Arnold and a radio dial and the legend underneath 'thanks to the TONY BLACKBURN SHOW'. So yes of course they're the Tony Blackburn fan club who've "just had their annual meeting in the phone box round the corner", introducing "Tony's theme song". Never fails us, Diddy. Then they join him in pointing off into the imagined stage distance! At this point Diddy became self-aware and had to go. De Paul and Moran's Eurovision song was last time performed back to back. This week a neat overhead shot revealed the two grand pianos almost slotting into Tetris-like place with the players facing each other, De Paul reading her 'ROCK BOTTOM' headlined newspaper. She's working confused gesticulations with which to start too, as the director hurredly switches between a camera behind both protagonists. De Paul then throws the paper over her shoulder only for it to apologetically fall right behind her, something that she apparently finds so hilarious she nearly corpses through her next two lines. Retake, surely? Meanwhile whatever the crowd are dancing to has a progressively faster pace. Two of them occasionally wave Union Jack flags. Two of them. Put the effort in, floor manager.
Berni Flint – I Don’t Want To Put A Hold On You
"...apart from the half nelson" Diddy appends, demonstrating one on himself somehow. Repeat.
The Stylistics – 7000 Dollars And You
"Looking good" Diddy makes sure to appraise, even though they look like snooker players and are completely aesthetically wrongly arranged, the two much taller members, one of whom is singing lead, to the right with the two shortarses immediately to their right, meaning they're the ones in the middle. It looks about as just-wrong as the film, actually, as their moves aren't quite drilled into dead-on choreography and Russell Thompkins Jr, for it is he, looks like he's wearing false eyebrows to go with his tight perm and, perhaps not unconnctedly, more often than not looks startled. At least they're all standing up this time.
Bonnie Tyler – More Than A Lover
"That cheeky girl, I'll give her three weeks to change her mind!" Is that an offer of no-strings sex, Diddy? Wow. Maybe that's why it was his last one. The picture quality, while giving parts of the show a not unattractive Vaseline lens smeared effect, really comes into its mushy own here as Tyler is surrounded by very bright red and green spotlights that cast flares on the camera, which combined with the set's homage to the Warner Bros Looney Tunes logo, the back of which seems to be both reflective and made out of black bin bags, give it the effect of the set of a mooted knockoff German disco programme called something like Club Disco 77. Meanwhile a very young looking Bonnie emotes gravelly, unconcerned by it all. Afterwards Diddy has a guest, a deeply bearded and confused looking Mike Nesmith, promoting his "great single" Rio. Diddy asks him what it's about. "Hollywood movies" is Mike's quite direct answer, upon which apparently he "went bananas". Diddy, evidently not having been listening to that answer: "Have you ever been there?" Nesmith: "To bananas or Hollywood movies?" Diddy: "No, have you ever been to Rio?" Nesmith: "Oh, er, yeah...no, I never have, except in Hollywood movies". They could have carried on like that all night.
Abba – Knowing Me Knowing You
...except there's a number one to introduce. "Do you know what it is?" "Yes." Pause. "What is it?" "It's a song by Abba." "What's it called?" "I haven't a clue". As I say, this was the last Top Of The Pops Diddy ever did, and probably the last Nesmith ever did come to that. Off into the glaring in the snow, Elvis' Moody Blue plays us out, and in between the two Diddy waves us goodbye with a bellowed "BYE-BYE!" And don't forget to pull the tab out.