Well, that's another year done with. Let's start with the six most read posts of 2012 to date, inevitably affected by events but with a heartening end:
6 TOTP 7/4/77 (tx 19/4/12): boxing clever: two clips from Soul Train do some of the legwork, but the central conceit is Legs & Co's boxing exhibition to Love Hit Me. In the comments Brendon's bassist posts PDFs of two TOTP shooting scripts.
5 TOTP 12/5/77 (tx 24/5/12): bee sharp: bees, steel drums, streamers, wine bottles, orchestras, Billy Paul having to recreate his own samples, Lee Brilleaux... the maddest show of the year, where Jimmy comes on quarter of the way through in a wig and suit professing to be his brother Percy and in context it seems perfectly normal.
4 TOTP 22/9/77 (tx 18/10/12) open thread: the first Pops after the series of unfortunate events, emotional balm provided by working out whether Hank The Knife was wearing a wig, why dry ice was so upsetting Jean-Jacques Burnel and whether Stardust's singer was Paul Whitehouse in disguise.
3 The disappeared: 17/11/77: the first skipped show for which video evidence could be provided, featuring Noosha Fox, Brighouse and Rastrick's finest and Bob Geldof's noogieing. Numbers boosted by being linked to from all over the place, including David Icke's forum.
2 TOTP 25/8/77 (tx 27/9/12): your super soaraway show: Legs & Co take to the catwalk in Elvis' honour, Noel sports a Boomtown Rats badge and the Adverts fall prey to the soundman. A record 131 comments, bolstered by outside influences.
1 Contempt breed familiarity: despite everything this was a comfortable winner, a potted history of the one band the internet knew nothing about before appearing on these shows. Don't know how this ended up so popular, apart from one link on doyouremember it doesn't appear to have been linked from anywhere.
Of course were this a more representative look back at 1977 Contempt would have taken pride of place, alongside Joy Sarney, Danny Mirror, Brendon, David Parton, Trinidad Oil Company, Martyn Ford Orchestra, Honky, the Carvells, Page Three, the Foster Brothers, Hudson-Ford, Neil Innes, Gene Cotton, Dead End Kids, Jigsaw, The Banned, Peter Blake, the RAH Band, Berni Flint, John Miles' command of the talkbox, Danny Williams, the Steve Gibbons Band and the Mah Na Mah Na Legs & Co routine with a live feed from the living room of Sue's children, plus Diddy interviewing Michael Nesmith. Instead the ever unimaginative BBC LE department decided to honour the biggest hits of the year instead. Pschaw.
So before we start here's how it fitted into what some say was the greatest Christmas evening's telly of all time, featuring the two most watched Christmas Day light entertainment shows of all time, and the one that received the most viewers isn't the one everyone thinks it is (and wasn't as big as is commonly quoted):
8.55am Star Over Bethlehem
10.10am Michael Bentine appeals on behalf of Wells Cathedral
10.15am Christmas Worship from All Saints Parish Church, Kingston-Upon-Thames
11.15am The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas animation
11.40am National Velvet
1.40pm Are You Being Served?
2.10pm Top of the Pops
3.00pm The Queen
3.10pm Billy Smart's Christmas Circus
4.10pm The Wizard Of Oz
5.50pm Basil (Brush) Through The Looking Glass
6.20pm Evening News
6.25pm Songs Of Praise
7.15pm The Generation Game
8.20pm Mike Yarwood Christmas Show
8.55pm Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show
10.05pm Funny Girl
The best ITV could do? The Christmas Stars On Sunday and nearly three hours of Young Winston.
Back to business, with an intro screen which features previous footage of those who we'll see over the following fifty minutes in the middle and chart slides of others along the side. This is the closest Barry Biggs, Berni Flint and, remarkably, the Sex Pistols get to the end of year spectacular. 'Part One' - well, it couldn't be comfortably edited out, I suppose - has Noel and Kid in charge, the former in the widest bank manager-style tie he could find, the latter in a purple suit, huge bow tie and ruffled shirt giving him the look of a school leaver on work experience at The Comedians. Noel hopes "the pudding isn't lying too heavy cos there's a bit of dancing to do today, I reckon". Not with most of this lineup there isn't. Maybe that's the idea.
Showaddywaddy – You Got What It Takes
Not a lot of new performances given the auspicious occasion but the 'Waddy are always available with a combination of colours to suit all occasions. They start with their backs turned, as per rock and roll showbiz tradition, but it doesn't work if they're initially being filmed from behind the stage left drumkit. Under a variety of large balloons Dave Bartram, who appears to have a large car key for a medallion, struts in allurring electric pink while nobody else at all mimes the prominent sax part. We know from last year that they like a visual gag, so the performance is cut into with shots of them at a large dining table re-enacting the last supper (or having a false Christmas dinner, one of the two) Buddy liberally pours out wine and makes merry, as you'd expect. Romeo looks unenthusiastic pulling a cracker, as you'd expect. Al James sits at the end on his own and looks utterly fed up.
Deniece Williams – Free
Tip: when being shot in artful half-darkness, don't wear a dark coloured dress. At least they've given her a proper stage this time. Lit by spotlight from the front and one in-shot overhead light, Deniece is definitely made out as the centre of attention which enhances her emotive heights of performance that by the end almost reach Minnie Riperton levels, though the only other people in the studio on that side of camera are a discreetly placed well back orchestra. Still applause at the end, obviously. They've got a pretence to keep up.
Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band – The Floral Dance
Kid comes up with a corker: "1977 certainly saw a lot of new names in the charts, none more outrageous than this." Really, Kid? In the year of punk, something you'd previously indicated you were well across, and the decade of rock excess a traditional brass band were "none more outrageous"? This is a repeat of their regular year performance but it hasn't been on BBC4 before, though with the audience waving balloons, tiny bits of material on large sticks behind them you might be forgiven for thinking it was a special party mood performance.
Emerson Lake & Palmer – Fanfare For The Common Man
Kid challenges Noel to name an act with three names, and Noel dodges the future editing bullet. "Carol Bayer Sager? Andy Fairweather-Low? Value Added Tax?" He actually did that same rule-of-three line when Bayer Sayer was on, but Christmas schedules are famed for repeats. Legs & Co time, and what better physical illustration of the concept behind the title than Musketeer doublet and hose? Maybe Flick was expecting Mike Oldfield to be picked or something. On the plus side it means plenty of knicker shots, which may be the partial point of the exercise. Lots of hat doffing work ensues around Christmas trees with Pauline both opening and on a central plinth from where she gets a solo that amounts to turning round in a circle
Leo Sayer – When I Need You
Noel seems to have a thing with Bayer Sager, specifying that she wrote this song. A repeat of his performance when it reached number one, where Leo in a bare, dark studio models a large ice hockey shirt, sticks his hands in his pockets and lets the director pick up the slack with multiplication visual effects.
Manhattan Transfer – Chanson D'Amour
Or as Kid still calls them "the Manhattan Transfer Company". He ends his intro to the same film clip as original showing on an odd upward inflection as if he's unsure about the chanson's actual properties after all this time.
Hot Chocolate – So You Win Again
Even though he doesn't deliver the punchline this link has the handiwork of Noel all over it as he asks Kid which bands he's not liked this year. "You mean apart from Hot Chocolate?" Kid replies before being bundled almost to the ground, and of course there they are just across the way. Of course Kid called this OK You Win when he first introduced it, so maybe there's truth in there. As usual Errol sings right to us while moving hesitantly to the rhythm while the rest of the band swap glances and knowing grins.
David Soul – Don’t Give Up On Us
Abba – Knowing Me Knowing You
Space – Magic Fly
Johnny Mathis – When A Child Is Born (Soleado)
Four repeated videos in a row, this portion notable only for a shot halfway through Soul of a large group of audience members who don't appear at any other stage of the programme dancing to Toppotron™ - that may be a straight repeated clip from a previous show, which is confusing given they clearly have a clean copy of the proper video to show - and before Space Noel reading out a purported card dedication: "Christmas comes but once a year and when it comes it's very exciting, but Top Of The Pops is always fun especially when done by crew 19". This is apparently so vital Noel never actually introduces the clip, which with its visual effect assault, men in helmets and synth oddness must have left family members baffled nationwide.
Stevie Wonder – Sir Duke
"Legs & Co have invited a special friend along" smiles Kid and that can only mean one thing - Floyd! Dressed as Santa! Well, if you want someone to willingly move and strut with absolute dedication and excitement while in a silly costume you may as well call for the acknowledged expert. Not that the girls are stinting, dressed as they are as trotting reindeer insomuch as they have antlers on their furry hoods, albeit bedecked in holly leaves plus little tops, microshorts, gloves and boots in matching shiny silver. Santa Floyd, who hardly ever breaks his look at the camera, has the human reindeer on a leash, which brings all manner of unsubtle allusions to the fore. Even that shrinks in the egregiousness stakes, however, compared to the fact someone's added to Stevie's precision funk with sleigh bells. It doesn't improve the mix. Eventually Floyd ostentatiously disappears down a model chimney and his flock wave him off. Patti seems to be blowing him a kiss, which adds yet another layer.
Kenny Rogers – Lucille
Noel stumbles forward mid-link. "I've got a loose heel here..." is his punchline. Christ, even the Barron Knights had done that one already by then, and Kid either feigns despair or is genuinely despairing. It's a video but not the one we've already seen, as Kenny is by an empty bar festooned with bottles and instead of leaping over and going mad chooses to sit without a drink and tell his story. When he sits down there's an audible creak. He doesn't seem to be singing live but no foley artist would be so moved, would they?
Baccara – Yes Sir I Can Boogie
Another act returning to the studio, so the director chooses to start with 25 seconds essentially of just red filtered lights before the proper spotlighting is set upon the duo. Uncomfortable shifting and a couple of rehearsed spare hand movements ensue.
Wings – Mull Of Kintyre
Kid predicts the McCartneys will be "celebrating up in Scotland". What, nothing else? It's not like they'd have a turkey, I suppose. The same performance as we last saw, which isn't from Yarwood as previously stated, instead just seeming to be a second, maybe slightly cheaper video perhaps just to show off Linda's tartan socks. Kid manages to get a lengthy outro link out in one breath before Noel cues in "probably the biggest selling Christmas record of all time", White Christmas. That's no excuse. Sadly Kid doesn't wish us "merry Christmas and merry love", just the first half, but, overlaid over a slowly circling camera shot of the studio ceiling that eventually alights on some tinsel and baubles in kaleidoscope-vision, the credits are in Star Wars scrolling type and font. Influential already.
This is quite a long post, isn't it? Let's make it a little longer but simultaneously easier, as thanks to Neil again here's the Boxing Day show, not complete as UK Gold cut out repeats (we assume) of Brotherhood Of Man, Billy Ocean and Joe Tex, featuring a handful of new performances - Boney M with Bobby Farrell still having to sing his own parts and an unwelcome intrusion to mime the news report bit, Heatwave, an Elvis montage, a rather literal Legs & Co routine for Silver Lady and, erm, Showaddywaddy's hit that was already going down the charts when 1977 started. It also starts with the same title sequence as the previous day so you can see what I meant.