Laters, Top of the Pops. Last night was the last ever episode of the long-running BBC music show (except that some cynical 'creative' will doubtless try to resurrect it in a few years time and it'll all have been a fuss about nothing).
The final episode featured clips from performances over the years, most of which will be familiar to many from the endless nostalgia programmes – classics like Bowie sharing the mic with Mick Jones during Starman, Nirvana mauling Smells Like Teen Spirit, Sonny and Cher's excellent Dylan rip-off dronefest I Got You Babe, The Small Faces playing football onstage while John Peel ineffectually tries to pretend he’s doing a mandolin solo, Slade.
Why did the programme die? Received wisdom says that it all went to hell after they moved it to Friday nights because all the hipsters were out on the town getting smashed. I like to think it’s because people want to see live music instead of studio miming. But that wouldn’t explain the success of CD:UK.
The miming was always something that bothered me quite a lot. When I was into the TOTP back in the day (early to mid-late 90s), I'd spend most of the programme trying to work out which acts were miming (most) and which were actually singing / playing (few). A spanner was usually thrown into the works every programme when an American rapper would appear and go "Lemme hearya make sum nauze, Tapp ah tha Papps!" before launching into an exact replica of the studio version of their song. Did the producers turn the mics on at the start for some rabble-rousing, and then switch them off so artists could mime? Now I'll never know.
I'd also watch the programme with the Ceefax subtitles turned on to find out the words to the songs. No internet back then, remember, meaning you couldn’t get hold of lyrics by clicking a cyberfinger. A particular highlight I remember was when The Prodigy's Wind It Up came on accompanied by the subtitle "Fast electronic beeping noises". I imagine the deaf found that very helpful.
"It's something to tell your grandchildren isn't it – that you were the last ever number 1 on Top of the Pops?" says Dave Lee Travis to co-presenter Edith Bowman, or someone, as the final show draws to its inevitable close. And who claims that prestigious record? "It's Shakira featuring Wyclef!" Do they really think Shakira featuring Wyclef even know that Top of the Pops is finishing? No matter; the last ever number 1 on TOTP seems an appropriately mediocre ending for this once vital show.