TOTP 22 MAR 1984

Well here’s something we haven’t come across before  – if you exclude John Peel and ‘Kid’ Jensen that is – a genuine TOTP presenter romance! I swear down! Any fool can see it – although I’m pretty sure the 15 year old version of me didn’t notice back in 1984. Yes – Peter Powell and Janice Long were going out together at this point. Now I had either completely forgotten this or  never knew in the first pace but as soon as this episode was rebroadcast, Janice confirmed the relationship on her Twitter feed. Witness her intro at the top of the show:

“Hey, do your realise that this is the first time that ah…*nudge nudge wink wink* we’ve done it together?”

Cue Powell looking to the heavens and blushing furiously. We’ll see some more outrageous flirting later in the show but first the return of a band that had a good 1983 and would consolidate with a great 1984….it’s Depeche Mode with “People Are People”. I liked this  – its catchiness made it immediately accessible and it would become their joint highest charting single ever (No 4). However songwriter Martin Gore does not share my enthusiasm for the track and it is one of his least favourite Depeche songs. Apparently the lyrics lack that subtlety that allows listeners to form their own ideas as to what the song is about  – well it’s certainly true that there is no doubting the song’s meaning with its rather clunky lyrics imploring us to self-examine our racial intolerances. Even the not yet politicised 15 year old me could pick up on that. The band seem to be enjoying themselves in this performance though giving it plenty of energy and Dave Gahan showcasing his new blonde streaked flat top haircut. 1984 would see them have two further hit singles whilst the parent album “Some Great Reward” would go top 5.

Now, not content with bagging herself Peter Powell, Janice Long introduces the next song – “It’s Raining Men” by The Weather Girls – by saying it would be great if men were just falling out of the sky as she would be spoilt for choice! Shocking behaviour! The video for this one is quite literal with its of images of men falling to earth from the heavens though why they would be dressed in flasher macs and speedos…

…well… let’s move on quickly as indeed the show does as we literally get just two minutes of this one before we are onto the next  act who is…. oh Christ it’s Shaky! Yes, Mr Stevens is amongst us again this time with a drippy ballad called ” A Love Worth Waiting For”. This is yet more syrupy shite from Shaky with some rip-off Buddy Holly strings and its filler track from an Elvis movie feel (the internet won’t tell me if it’s a cover version or not). This enormous turd somehow made it all the way to No 2. Shaky’s less than enthusiastic dance moves suggest even he thinks this is money for old rope.

Some more shameless flirting between Janice and Pete next as she asks him whether he can move like Shaky. Then, with head tilted, she gazes up longingly at him. It’s quite sweet really. OK – it’s Culture Club next with “It’s A Miracle” and its the Monopoly video. I certainly know the song – it was the final release from the “Colour By Numbers” album and despite being the 4th single taken from it, still managed to reach the Top 4.  I also vaguely remember the video but watching it back, there’s lot’s to it I had forgotten. As Peter Powell says, its the story of the band so far and it tracks their rise using the motif of playing a game of Monopoly. Quite a neat idea really. I’d forgotten that it includes clips of previous singles (which presumably cut down the production costs) but what really sticks out to me is the camera time that  Mikey Craig, Jon Moss and Roy Hay get. Presumably they were a bit miffed with their blink – and – you’ll – miss- them appearances in the video to previous hit “Victims” and had a word with their management to sort it out. It’s a bouncy feel good tune but a bit light weight compared to “Victims” (their best song for me). It could be argued that this song represents the last vestiges of their pomp and majesty period. Their next release after this would be the calamitous “War Song’ which was the beginning of the end for the band (in the 80s at least).

Another video next – Bananarama with “Robert De Niro’s Waiting”. So the first thing to say is that Robert De Niro does not feature in the video. Apparently the girls did meet him at the time when he took them for a night out to say thank you for writing a song that name checks him. The details of said event are lost in the mists of alcohol fuelled time although there are some photos on the internet to corroborate its happening. Secondly, as mentioned in my last post, there is a dark side to this song as it is about date rape and the video itself has some menace to it when it shows the girls being followed at night time back to their flat by a mafia styled man. The ending though is completely harmless as he turns out to be the pizza delivery guy. The girls would maintain this more serious side to them in their next single “Rough Justice” which was about social injustices such as poverty and starvation.  Bananarama as social commentators – who knew? 

Man-fond Janice is back after this saying how she wouldn’t mind waiting in for Robert De Niro before she does a chart rundown. Scandalous! She goes onto introduce another band testing the patience of their record buying fans by releasing a fourth single from their album – UB40 with “Cherry Oh Baby” taken from their “Labour of Love” LP. It is of course another cover version (originally a hit for one Eric Donaldson) but interestingly (and I didn’t know this until researching the song) had already been covered by none other than the Rolling Stones! No really they did…come look here….

If you enjoyed that and it has encouraged you to explore more of the Stones back catalogue, then check out my old pal from Poly Andy’s blog below as he has just finished reviewing every Stones album.

Back to UB40 and I always thought they were pushing it with this release – they had stumbled upon the mega- successful covers formula and ridden it for all it was worth in 1983 but to carry on releasing singles from the parent album some 3 months into the new year seemed…cynical I suppose. My misgivings about the song didn’t stop it making the Top 20 although this was still in the ball park of diminishing returns since the massive No 1 “Red Red Wine” (subsequent single chart placings were 10, 16 and 12). They would however be back before the year was up with some new material of their own.

OK, we have another studio performance by Sade next who we only saw the other week. By this time her single (“Your Love Is King”) had gone top 10 and the whole world seemed to be falling in love with her. One such person was Peter Powell. In his link into the chart rundown this exchange with Janice Long occurs:

Janice: You really enjoyed every moment of that didn’t you?

Peter: Totally crushed on her  – beautiful 

Janice uses the exchange to put a proprietorial arm around her man. You can almost smell the chemistry.

Right then, new No 1 time and this one really should come with a warning so here it is:


Its one of those songs that is so huge that its transcended just being a pop song and crossed over into something that has stamped itself on popular culture. Where to start? OK, well there ‘s the “Hello….is it me you’re looking for” lyric as a kick off. How many times a year do we all hear someone use this for comedic effect in conversation? Check out the memes on the internet that use that line. Then of course there is this little thing that went viral after Adele released a song called “Hello”…

Then of course there is that video with that sculpture. The video’s plot revolves around our Lionel playing a drama teacher who has fallen in love with one of his students who is blind. The love seems to be unrequited until she sculpts a likeness of his head….which looks nothing like him! This set up has been parodied countless times but I think I like this one best with Richie himself joining in with the piss-taking.

OK – enough already. This blog is meant to be a serious appraisal of 80s music! This video is full of deeply dubious moments though, none more so than when Lionel creeps up on Laura from behind at lunchtime, seemingly about to stoke her hair before he recoils as her friends approach her. Some friends by the way! Why didn’t one of them challenge him and say “WTF man! What are you doing?!” The scripted parts at the start and the end of the video are what completely jar though and lend the whole thing an element of creepiness. The fact that TOTP included them in the broadcast I think was meant to mark it out as what we would now call a “water-cooler moment”. Did you see that Lionel Richie video last night? I did and I’m still having nightmares….

And from one set of love birds to another as we go back to Janice and Peter to do the goodbyes. There’s more arms around each other and Powell is so distracted he gets the name of the play out song wrong when he announces it as “Do What I Do” instead of “What Do I Do?”. It’s Phil Fearon and Galaxy of course and here’s the video….its crap by the way.


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 witness the blossoming Powell / Long romance for yourself as I can’t find the full programme on YouTube.

I make no claim to the rights of this show and all ownership and contents including logos and graphics belongs totally to the BBC.

Order of appearance Artist Song Did I buy it?


Depeche Mode People Are People Not the 7” but it’s on my vinyl copy of their first Greatest Hits


Weather Girls It’s Raining Men No


Shakin’ Stevens A Love Worth Waiting For I would rather have eaten my own arm


Culture Club It’s A Miracle Pleasant enough but no


Bananarama Robert De Niro’s Waiting Catchy but not enough to catch my attention (or money)


UB40 Cherry Oh Baby No but it’ll be on a Greatest Hits CD somewhere in the house


Sade Your Love Is King That would be a no


Lionel Richie Hello Only if I’d wanted to be laughed out of the school gates every night on my way home – that’s a no for the record


Phil Fearon and Galaxy What Do I Do?


Oof no!

Some bed time reading?







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