TOTP 29 DEC 1983

Well, it seems that we were absolutely spoilt over Xmas ’83 for TOTP shows. As well as the 22nd Dec broadcast which included the announcement of the Xmas No 1, we were then treated to a show on Xmas day itself and this one from 29th Dec. The latter two shows were basically a two part review of the year’s hits. We don’t get to see the Xmas day broadcast due to presenter issues but thankfully, despite a herd of Radio 1 DJs in the studio, there was nobody unpalatable.

There doesn’t seem to be any structure to the show such as working through the year chronologically month by month and unfortunately we have seen all the songs before (i.e. they don’t show any that were missed out in the repeat broadcasts because the show they featured on was skipped). It’s a mixture of videos and especially recorded studio performances.

First up is JoBoxers with “Boxerbeat”. The band had come off the rails by Xmas with their downturn in fortunes confirmed by 4th single “Jealous Love” stalling at No 72 in the charts. I wonder what the band were thinking when doing this particular TOTP? That it was a chance for them to remind the record buying public that they were still around and jump start momentum or that it was a valedictory swansong? Unfortunately for the band it was the latter. Fare thee well JoBoxers….

Right, a video next which I don’t think we saw in the previous repeats – Mike Oldfield with “Moonlight Shadow”. The video seems to be based around singer Maggie Reilly recounting a tale to her bandmates whilst all sat around in a stately home with the tale depicted in a number of scenes which call to mind an episode of Poldark or some such period drama. I can’t believe I was duped into buying this because of the video surely?

And now here come the Thompson Twins with “Love On Your Side”. The band had been riding high in the charts with current single “Hold Me Now” at this time which was just starting to drop down the Top 10 so they must have been loving the chance to maintain their profile with an additional TOTP performance. In a few short weeks their appeal would rocket with the release of “Doctor Doctor ” which was another massive hit so we catch them here just about to ride the crest of the wave.

The next video is Tracey Ullman with “They Don’t Know” which we have seen before so we won’t delay too long here other than to note the very daring bowling ball through the legs as Tracey straddles the rail shot! Not sure the 15 year old me picked up on that!

Back to the studio for The Cure with “The Love Cats”. It’s a standard Robert Smith performance:

  • Shades √
  • Badly applied lipstick √
  • Fidgeting about √
  • Looking uncomfortable √

Still a great song though and they would be back in the Spring with the equally idiosyncratic “Caterpillar”.

Here comes the year’s first No 1 – Phil Collins with “You Can’t Hurry Love”. Again we have seen this video lots of times before so let’s not bother again. What is rarely mentioned about this song is that the follow up “Don’t Let Him Steal Your Heart Away” flopped at No 45 and therefore qualifies as one of the decade’s worst performing follow up singles to a No 1 hit (see also “It’s the Same Old Song” by KC and the Sunshine Band and “E.S.P.” by the Bee Gees).

Back in the studio, here are a band probably going through the same thought processes as JoBoxers. It’s The Belle Stars with “Sign Of The Times”. Now I haven’t checked for sure but I’m pretty confident that this would have been the last time on TOTP for both these bands. In the case of the Belle Stars that’s a shame as I think they had more to offer. Indeed, in the latest edition of the excellent Classic Pop magazine, the band came a creditable 9th in their list of the Top 40 girl groups of all time which given their small discography is quite something.

 Another No1 video that we have seen may times before is up next – Paul Young with “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)”. Like The Thompson Twins previously, Paul is about to go super nova in terms of his commercial appeal and he would return in 1984 with another two hit singles which would pave the way for the 1985 No 1 album  “The Secret of Association” (which I bought).

Two studio performances follow, “Dear Prudence” by Siouxsie and the Banshees and “True” by Spandau Ballet (or “the Spands”) as Richard Skinner introduces them. Siouxsie is covered up for this one  with a neck high black leather outfit (except for the backless bit!) ensuring there would be no repeat of the hairy underarms horror of the promotional video. Meanwhile, Spandau pretty much recreate their original run through of “True” complete with suits and ties.

As with Paul Young, another of the year’s breakthrough artist is next – it’s Howard Jones with “New Song”. Howard has been ubiquitous on the show of late and here he is again  and …oh no…he’s bought mime artist Jed with him once more. As it’s Xmas, Jed has combined some tinsel with his “mental” chains. but if you actually watch him, I have no idea (“preconceived” or otherwise) what he is actually trying to convey with his mimes. Surely thats the point of mime? That it’s a form of communication? Thankfully, I don’t think we ever see Jed on TOTP again after this.

Another No 1 video from Rod Stewart (“Baby Jane” ) is next and despite what DJ Adrian John (who?!) says in his introduction, it doesn’t still sound great, it still sounds shit. Next.

Here comes The Style Council to get us back on track with “Long Hot Summer”. It’s a studio performance and Weller and co seem to be having some fun with Paul taking on the keyboard duties rather than Mick Talbot who is playing a banjo?! Weller’s haircut here would be my brother’s chosen style for the next 30 years.

The last performance of the show is reserved for the biggest selling single of the year and as we all know that is “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club and I’m not wasting any more time or words on this song…

The play out music is “Say, Say, Say” by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson.

Links and things


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 if you remember who Adrian John was and I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

Order of appearance Artist Song Peak Chart Position


JoBoxers Boxerbeat



Mike Oldfield Moonlight Shadow



Thompson Twins Love On Your Side



Tracey Ullman They Don’t Know



The Cure Love Cats



Phil Collins

You Can’t Hurry Love



The Belle Stars

Sign Of The Times



Paul Young Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home)




Siouxsie and the Banshees


Dear Prudence



Spandau Ballet True



Howard Jones New Song



Rod Stewart Baby Jane



Style Council Long Hot Summer



Culture Club Karma Chameleon



 Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson Say Say Say


Some bed time reading?







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