Was it really Top of the Pops?

YOU think they had it all, but hit the pause button and look at the sadness in their eyes.

If they could have freeze-framed their lives at that moment, would they?

The bloke softly patting the drum as Rolls Royce drift through Love Don’t Live Here Anymore – he’s not looking too stressed. The rhythm is light and the workload low. Lower than that of going down the pit or working in a factory all day, so we believe.

Boney M are Ra-Ra-Rasputin their way through some impressively wild Russian monk-inspired dance routines, but all is not well.

Racey sing some dodgy lyrics about “some girls” who do and others who don’t, while Sting fronts a Police band attempting to come across as white reggae innovators.

It’s Top of the Pops Two and the world appears to be one beautiful happy melting pot, but in the green room and beyond, who knows?

It’s Saturday night, it’s late, maybe even Sunday morning and I’m scrolling for something to watch to justify that “one last drink”. There’s Bullseye, Man vs Food and “Classic” who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”. I locate TOTP2 and the info tells me who’s on. I pour that drink and click on the channel.

Pockets of information pop up to accompany each song and I Google the bans as I have an over-bearing need to discover what happened to them when the adulation died down and the cameras pointed elsewhere.

The singer looks happy, but the bassist not so. He’s not cut in on the royalties and is merely there as lowly-paid session musician. He’s enjoying it while it lasts but it knows it won’t be much longer until he has to find proper employment.

The camera pans in on the drummer and he flashes a white toothed smile. As the focus goes elsewhere, I spot the look in his eyes. The guilt, perhaps? Maybe he realises that whatever he has done is about to catch up on him and it’s almost all over.

It looks good for the next band, but behind the scenes the singer’s drink and drugs problem is about to send them back to oblivion. I find out he hasn’t got long left – did he know this would be his last Top of the Pops as the carefully selected throng threw inappropriate shapes to the last bars of the song in the hope of catching the attention of a watching talent spotter(scouting for what, I don’t know).

Gary Glitter is introduced by Jimmy Savile standing next to a gurning Jonathan King. Except he’s not. He’s even blanked out of the chart rundown if he was on there, Jim’ll wouldn’t be shown and neither would the odious Jonathan King.

They never existed you see. They were merely figments of your imagination.

I used to know someone who was selected to be in the TOTP audience. They were different times and the criteria was, shall we say, perhaps not the same as it was. Someone else I know said she was groped by a presenter. These were the days when TYOTP albums featured none of the artists – only insipid cover versions – and their covers displayed images of buxom women in the hope of attracting a few sales from those perusing the Woolworths’ £1.99 albums rack.

The crowd, the bands, the presenters some naively living for the day as if there were no consequences to their actions, others just hoping to get away with whatever it was they were doing.

Some did, others didn’t and as TOTP2 showings retreat ever further away from their original screenings the stories of more not so perfect lives will be revealed and then erased from history, aside from uncomfortable TV dramas made to ensure all is not forgotten.

How many of those cheesy chancers are still smiling 30/40 years on?

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