The German digital channel EinsFestival is currently showing a rake of early 1970s Top of the Pops in the dark watches of the night, in the original English (or whatever language it is that DJs speak) unsubbed and undubbed. Having missed out on the UK Gold run of later shows in the mid-1990s, I’m atoning for my sins by hoovering these off the satellite onto shiny discs.
Last week’s edition dated from 15 November 1973. Now, one of the guarantees of TOTP was that you heard (and usually saw) that week’s chart-topping act. On this show, however, it jumped straight from Tip for the Top – Kiki Dee’s ‘Amoreuse’ – to the fragrant Pan’s People hoofing through the end credits to Barry Blue’s ‘Do You Wanna Dance?’. Where is number 1 band? A glance at the Murphy’s Book of British Hit Singles (cheaper than Guinness) explained all. That week’s toppermost of the poppermost was the erstwhile Paul Gadd, teetering on spangly platforms, as he belted out ‘I Love You Love Me Love’.
Now, whatever your opinion of Gary Glitter, I have a problem with him being unpersoned in this way. Whatever he did, he was number 1 in this particular week, and without the number 1, Top of the Pops is, literally, not top of the pops. You don’t want to give residuals to a convicted sex offender? Fine, pick another edition off the shelf. It’s unclear as to whether the cut was made by the BBC, the German TV people or whether Glitter himself refused to allow clearance. The fact that Jonathan King was left in the repeat of the 29 January 1970 edition makes things even less clear.
If the motivation came from either the BBC or EinsFestival, double standards are at work. However abhorrent his crime, Glitter’s served his sentence. Leslie Grantham murdered a taxi driver, but the BBC has never had any problems with employing him. Meanwhile, EinsFestival preceded one of the recent Top of the Pops repeats with a half-hour long profile of…wait for it…Bill Wyman.