TOTP 13 JAN 1983

Well here we go then , its early January  1983 and my 14 year old self is primed and ready for my submergence into the beautiful deep waters of 1980s chart music. Christmas has come and gone and the  routine of school is biting hard but here comes Thursday night with that oasis of glamour and relief that is TOTP.

Right its that nice David “Kid” Jensen and that gruff bloke who plays some really odd ball music late at night who are presenting this week…wearing sombreros for some reason – best not ask…and here comes the first act and its….who the Hell are this lot?!! Some hippy looking blokes with beards and moustaches and wearing …heaven only knows what and they are playing ….panpipes!!!! Is this what I’ve got to look forward to in my teenage years? A Chilean panpipes movement? Hell’s teeth!

This, of course, was Incantation with their top twenty hit “Cacharpaya” and actually, as this sort of thing goes, it was…almost listenable? I remember thinking it was a pleasant ditty of a tune but if mentioned in the playground, it was of course shit. They did pre-empt the whole pan pipes phenomenon of the mid to late 90s by a decade or so when you couldn’t move for racks of “Pan Pipes Moods” albums down you local Our Price (and I should know as I worked for them for 10 years).

Next!…ah! Men at Work  – Australia’s answer to Madness by the look of the video that’s playing. I’d heard of Men at Work before due to their massive US hit “Who can it be now?” but this was the break through hit in the UK. 1983 was their one and only year of chart action in the UK – they actually had 3 other Top 40 hits after this one but such was the popularity of “Down Under” it dwarfed everything else and you rarely hear anything other than this song played on the radio today. A classic case of the hit becoming the band…or is it the other way around? I recall my Dad  one morning, on hearing the breakfast DJ on the local radio station announce “and next…Men at Work”, expecting there to be a traffic update with news of alternative routes etc due to some extensive roadworks going on. I also recall shaking my head and thinking “Dad, you know nothing about modern music”. 34 years later and I am my Dad.

OK then, on we go and next up is….Sharon Redd? Who? I have no idea who this is  in 2017 so I presume back in 1983 I didn’t give a fig either. Sorry Sharon  – I’m sure you’re a lovely person and all…but this did / does nothing for me.

Back to The Kid and John Peel and some very serious faces with John announcing “This is a very important moment in my life really”  to introduce …Keith Harris and Orville!!!! WHAT?! Oh so they were being…what? Ironic? Facetious? This was a complete abomination 34 years ago and it remains so today. Look – I don’t want to speak ill of the dead, but what were the record buying public doing with this one?! Now I know Harris was a popular mainstream light entertainment star at the time and this was a hit around Christmas time which may explain it but seriously…have a word with yourself all those people who may be reading this and bought that record back then. Lord love a duck (as it were)!

A proper tune follows though  and its a belter of a pop tune …”Sign of the Times” by the Belle Stars. This was the peak of their career right here. Despite some minor hits before and after this, they really nailed what the charts were about at this time with this one. I think what is overlooked about this lot is that they were a proper band playing proper instruments, not like the Saturdays with their choreographed plastic pop or the cynically manufactured Spice Girls before them. Good stuff! I liked it then and I like it now.

A brief sojourn for a chart run down – but of the Top 10 LPs. Eh? Don’t remember that. Must have been a short lived experiment. Number 1? “Raiders of the Pop Charts” by Various Artists. Now this is of course a good 9 months before the very first “Now” album (which I bought and still have) and I don’t really remember this particular brand  – was it the real artists on it? I could check on Wikipedia but I can’t be bothered in all honesty.

Then its back to the music with…oh yes the Theme from E.T. Now I’m not immune from the charms of E.T. I had been to the cinema to see it just before Christmas but did we really need the theme tune clogging up the charts for weeks on end? No we didn’t.

OK – back to he videos now and its Eddy Grant with his follow up to No 1 smash “I don’t wanna dance” (which  I always hated) with this one “Electric Avenue” (which I always quite liked). I think it stands up pretty well still today. And the video was much more dynamic than IDWD which was pretty lame and annoying.

OK – its into the final stretch for this episode and some more chart run down action (singles this time) before we slide back to No 15 for Heartache Avenue by The Maisonettes. I remember quite liking this at the time but 34 years later and its just a rather dull Motown pastiche with a lead singer who looked like Joe Fagin of Auf Wiedersehen Pet fame complete with some mini-skirted backing singers (with the obligatory camera angle up the arse shot from the TOTP camera man)

Then its the Top 10 rundown before the Number 1 – and its …oh yes another Motown abomination this time from Phil Collins. Now poor old Phil has taken some flack over the years (not least for dumping his ex by fax – well it was the 80s) but this really was money for old rope. And the British public lapped it up. Phil would go onto be a serial Top 40 pest throughout the whole of the 80s.

Finally a Two Ronnies style goodbye from Jensen and Peel and then the play out song which this week was Donna Summer’s ” I feel love”. Eh? I don’t remember that 70s disco classic being in the charts in 1983 but who am I to dispute the evidence?

And that was it…no doubt my 14 year old self was sated by this at times frankly bizarre mix of musical offerings but looking back now from 2017 it  seems particularly unfulfilling.


OK – here’s the thing – the TOTP episodes are only available on iPlayer for a limited amount of time so the link to the programme below won’t work come Tues next week so you’ll have to work fast if you want to see Orville in all his glory and I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

However for posterity’s sake I include the Top 40 run down below also.

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I buy it?


Incantation Cacharpya Hell no!


Men at Work Down Under It was on my copy of Now Vol 1 so technically yes


Sharon Redd In the name of love Nope


Keith Harris and Orville Orville’s song Are you crazy?


Belle Stars Sign of the times Not at the time but via iTunes much later in life


John Williams Theme from E.T. No


Eddy Grant Electric Avenue No


Maisonettes Heartache Avenue No


Phil Collins You can’t hurry love It was on my copy of Now Vol 1 so technically yes –don’t judge me!


Donna Summer I feel love Who doesn’t own this?

Some bed time reading?



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