TOTP 17th MAR 1983

Back in 1983 I couldn’t wait for Thursday night to come around for the latest edition of TOTP. In 2017, now that I am blogging about them, I can’t keep up. However many I watch and then write about, BBC4 are always at least two steps ahead of me. Anyway, enough of my whining, its that time again pop pickers….

This week’s presenters are Gary Davies whom we are all reacquainted with now but also a left field choice…Tony Blackburn. Now back in 1983, Tony was 40 which probably made him a little but not completely out of step with his fellow DJs – Davies for example was 11 years younger. He also probably seemed like he’s been around for ever, being as he was, the guy who played the first ever record on the fledgling Radio 1 in 1967. However, Tony was still gainfully employed by Radio 1 at this point presenting a weekend breakfast show. What occurs in this TOTP broadcast though is rather odd, as from the off there seems to be a focus on Blackburn’s age and the fact that he is maybe not, whisper it, “hip” anymore? Now to be fair, Tony seems to be in on the joke and happy to play along, maybe it was even his idea, but in this much more politically correct world we live in today (sometimes), it all seems a bit …well…mean to say the least.

Straight off the bat, Davies, having established that he is a regular on TOTP, asks Blackburn when was the last time he was on to which Tony replies “The last time I was here Vera Lynn was number one in the charts Gary!”Oof! Lets all laugh at the old guy with the funny hair shall we?! Anyway, if we’re poking fun, what’s with your shirt with the holes in it Davies?

Anyway, while we’re hear lets talk about the music shall we? First up is Bananarama with “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”. After their last outing on TOTP, the girls have gone for matching black outfits but the dancing is still gleefully chaotic. And quite right too.

A very important moment in my family household follows, the return of Paul Weller with his new vehicle Style Council. Why important? Well my brother was and still is a massive Jam / Weller fan so this was monumental. How could he have broken up The Jam?  And more importantly what would he do next? Weller’s fan base was still loyal enough at this point to put him straight back into the charts and it was only 3 months since the end of The Jam so hardly time for him to be forgotten to be fair. But was it any good? To my 14 year old ears, the debut Style Council single “Speak like a child, or “Speak like a child” as Weller sang it, sounded pretty fine. Thankfully, my brother seemed happy enough with it as well. The rumour was that the video was shot on the Malvern Hills (which you could see from my house in Worcester on a clear day). This seemed important to my brother and somehow reassuring that everything was gong to be alright in this brave new Jam-less world. For  a while, all would be well in the chambers of the Style Council but by the decade’s end, it would all have gone pear shaped….

OK – back to Mr Blackburn in the studio and an oddly political link as he introduces a beat combo from Iceland  – yes it can only be Mezzoforte folks – but starts going on about how much it would cost you to buy their album in their home country (£15!) and then adds “There’s a lot to be said for living in this country isn’t there?” Blimey! Seeing as we were just four years into the Thatcher era in 1983, you can only assume Tony was a Tory (at least back then). As for the act, Mezzoforte peddled a brand of jazz-funk fusion that somehow caught the ear of the UK singles buying public at this time. Its an upbeat, bouncy, brassy instrumental number that I must admit I thought was …well at least listenable. However, this proved to be a one off (both for me and Mezzoforte) and I would grow to hate “jazz” with a passion as I matured.

Another video now and its those pompous old windbags Ultravox with “Vision of Blue”. Actually I didn’t mind Ultravox at all (I think I have a Greatest Hits CD of theirs somewhere). This song, on reflection although I don’t remember thinking this at the time, is just Vienna Part 2 with a suitably pretentious video to accompany it. It is worth noting that Midge still has his pencil thin moustache at this point  – even in these bearded “hipster” times, I am yet to see a more ludicrous example of facial hair.

A chart run down takes us neatly into the No 21 sound which is “Run for your life” by Bucks Fizz. What to say about Bucks Fizz? Obviously everyone at school knew them from their Eurovision win of 2 years previous and obviously we all hated them. Oddly, me and my pals didn’t even say we fancied the girls in the band (not even Jay Aston who wore some very racy outfits) as any public proclamation of anything other than hatred for Bucks Fizz spelt immediate excommunication from the school “in crowd” and years in the nerd wilderness beckoned. All of this is possibly unfair, the fact that they didn’t just disappear after Eurovision deserves some credit and the songs (well some of them) are good examples of well produced pop of that era. Listen to the girls solo bits on this track  – pure Abba. And who knew Mike Nolan was into bondage trousers – the old punk. One memory this song brings back is when the band were due to perform on the Saturday Superstore TV programme at an outside broadcast location and half of them get stranded in the studio in London due to a fog cancelled flight. Behold the technology that reunited them…

After this we have a performance by a woman who Gary Davies assures us has not been on TOTP since 1976. Its Joan Armatrading with “Drop the pilot”and you would have to say that Joan’s performance is a bit rusty. In a risky move, she’s gone with no guitar and just her own dance moves to fill it out. She looks a but unsure about what to do with herself and thats a shame as it’s a great song.

The Top 10 countdown tells us that Bonnie Tyler is this week’s number one and we are “treated” to a studio rendition of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” rather than that bonkers promotional video. There appears to be a gale blowing in the studio judging by Bonnie’s flyaway  locks and at times she seems close to falling over. However, its not that which would have caught my attention back in ’83 rather Bonnie’s ill advised plunging neck line / cleavage combo. Gulp!

We end with some more Blackburn baiting as Gary Davies assures the viewers he’ll be back on our screens soon and says “What about you Tony?” to which his elder partner replies”I’m just keeping my fingers crossed Gary” like he’s been doing some sort of public interview for a future presenting vacancy. Scandalous.

The fade out music is “Rock the boat” by Forrest.


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 only works for about 2 weeks so you’ll have to work fast if you want to witness some old style Tony Blackburn inspired ageism  and I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

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

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I buy it?




Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye


It was on my copy of the Chart Stars LP so technically yes


Style Council Speak like a child


My brother did so I owned it by proxy



Mezzoforte Garden Party I did not



Ultravox Visions in Blue Its on my Greatest Hits CD somewhere no doubt



Bucks Fizz Run for your life Are you mad? That would have been social suicide at school


Joan Armatrading Drop the pilot No but I don’t know why



Bonnie Tyler Total Eclipse of the Heart


Err let me think…NO!



Forrest Rock the Boat No

Some bedtime reading?



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