TOTP 26th MAY 1983

After what seemed like a gargantuan episode last week, which in turn meant I had a very long post to write,  the TOTP producers spared me this week with a mercifully short broadcast which clocks in at just 20 minutes. The reason? The FA Cup final had gone to a replay for the 3rd year running and was scheduled for the Thursday night which meant a curtailed TOTP. For  this I must thank Brighton forward Gordon Smith, he of last week’s toe curlingly awkward interview, for this epic last second miss which forced the replay…

Gordon Smith, I thank you. OK, now that’s done, lets get on with the music. Presenting this week are Peter Powell and Pat Sharp. Now don’t be fooled –  that is THE Pat Sharp, he of the iconic mullet, but he appears here with relatively short hair as he introduces the opening act Big Country with “In a Big Country”. For some reason he over emphasises the word “big” and then does a Nicole Kidman-at-the-Oscars style clapping motion. He rounds it all off with some “middle aged Dad” dancing even though he was only 21 at the time of this broadcast. What a truly strange man he was / is.

We have already established that I liked Big Country, and similar to JoBoxers last week, they followed up their breakthrough hit with an almost identical song which obviously meant that I liked this one too. Unlike JoBoxers, Big Country would become a sizeable act well into the 80s and beyond mainly peddling the same sound throughout. Well if it ain’t broke…Of particular note in this performance is bass player Tony’s unique bandana and tank top outfit and that there appears to be a man wearing a white toga dancing behind the band.

After a quick chart rundown, there follows what is basically a plug for the BBC’s coverage of the FA Cup final replay on after TOTP wrapped around the Manchester United team song that is in the charts. There are so many things wrong with this section of the show that the audience really should have started a chant of “You don’t know what you’re doing…”. For a kick off, Peter Powell refers to the replay as a “repeat” and then follows up by saying “let’s hear the song and see some ace goals”. ACE GOALS? Nobody, anywhere has ever used the phrase “ace goals” when talking about football! He compounds this nonsense by doing the world recognised hand gesture for OK as he says the word “ace”. It looks awful. There then follows about 30 seconds of the ghastly Man Utd song accompanied by a montage of some of their recent goals including the two they scored in the 2-2 draw in the first game with Brighton. However, they even get this wrong as the clip ends with Brighton’s equaliser in said game finishing with a freeze frame of Brighton goalscorer Gary Stevens doing a fist clench. Apparently the TOTP producers thought that was a a suitable image to end a song that eulogises the “glory” of Man Utd.

After that abomination we do actually have some sensible programming when we get a commitment from Pat Sharp to squeeze in as many  artists as they can from the Top 12. We start with two condensed videos the first being “Money Go Round (Part 1)” by The Style Council. Having liked their first effort “Speak Like a Child” the shock of first hearing this was seismic. Its such a hard funk sound with very verbose lyrics that sound for all intents and purposes like a rap. Where was the soulfulness we had been promised by Weller? I didn’t like it at all and I don’t think my Weller disciple of a brother did either if truth be told but of course he bought it out of blind loyalty. It seemed an odd choice for a single and its relatively minor chart placing (No 11 was a flop where Weller was concerned) confirmed that in my mind. He would get the Weller hordes back on side with “Long Hot Summer” and especially “A Solid Bond in Your Heart” in subsequent releases but this still seems an unlikeable record to me to this day.

Following this in the No 11 position is Bob Marley and the Wailers with “Buffalo Soldier”. Now no-one could possibly argue that I am or was ever a big reggae fan but I did like this at the time. I knew that Bob Marley was dead as this was a posthumous release but I don’t think I knew much else about him bak then. Its probably one of his better known songs now though and the title and lyrics refer to the black U.S. cavalry regiments that fought in the Indian Wars after 1866. I certainly didn’t know any of that back in May 1983 – I just accepted it as a chart hit along with Kajagoogoo and the like. It never dawned on me that it was a whole different genre of music that was a million miles from the pure pop that was populating the Top 40 around that time. I just quite liked it and that was good enough. 

We are back in the studio for the No 10 sound which is Hot Chocolate and “What Kinda Boy You Looking For (Girl)?”. Watching this back I was surprised that this fairly limp and unremarkable song made the Top 10. It really isn’t one of their best. Of course, Hot Chocolate was all about front man Errol Brown who was undoubtedly the focus of the group. The rest of them? Well, they were so destined to spend their lives in Errol’s shadows they might as well have all changed their names to Hank Marvin and be done with it.

Another quick chart rundown takes us to the No 7 position and its a biggie as we get our first glimpse of a performance of a song that would continue to get massive airplay 34 years later – its “Every Breath You Take” by The Police. It seems odd to me now that there was a time when this was a song that was fresh to my eager-for-pop ears  as it is so much  a staple of radio playlists that you can’t recall a time when you didn’t know every lyric, every lick, every nuance of it. Its a monster of a song. The Police, of course, do divide opinion somewhat and I know of many people who just won’t have them. And Sting himself is undoubtedly so lost up his own arsehole that he would need a map to get out again. But this song….it has something about it. In fact I liked all of the singles from the “Synchronicity” album (even going as far as buying “King of Pain”). My favourite association with this song though is the time when X Factor judge Louis Walsh (whom I detest) told some hopeful after they had it on one of the live shows that they “made it their own”. Its a song about stalking you imbecile!

Finally we get the chart rundown to a new Number 1 which this week is New Edition with “Candy Girl” whilst the play out music is Forrest with “Feel The Need In Me”.


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 another month so you’ll have to work fast if you want to see Peter Powell saying “ace goals” and I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

Normally  I include the Top 40 run down for posterity’s sake but I can’t find this episode on YouTube for some reason. Sorry!


Order of appearance Artist Song Did I buy it?


Big Country


In a big country


Not on 7’ but I have it on a CD somewhere



Manchester United FC Glory Glory Man Utd Heaven’s no!



Style Council Money Go Round (Part 1) No but my brother did sol I had a copy by proxy



Bob Marley and the Wailers Buffalo Soldier No



Hot Chocolate What Kinda Boy You Looking For (Girl)? Nah


The Police Every Breath You Take No but I have it on a Greatest Hits CD


New Edition Candy Girl Its on my copy of the first Now LP so technically yes


Forrest Feel The Need In Me Nope

Some bedtime reading?








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