jeudi, juin 22, 2006

Top of the Pops

Top of the Pops axed

John Plunkett
Wednesday June 21, 2006
The Guardian

Pan's People, Top of the Pops
When the Pops was tops ... resident dance troupe Pan's People

Forty-two years after the Rolling Stones opened the first show with I Wanna Be Your Man, the BBC is finally calling time on Top of the Pops. The chart show, which made TV stars out of the likes of Noel Edmonds and Tony Blackburn, will run down its last-ever top 40 on July 30.

Audiences have plummeted since its 1970s heyday, when it was watched by 19 million viewers, and fell further when it switched from BBC1 to BBC2 last year in a last-ditch relaunch.

Successive presenting teams have failed to breathe new life into the format. In its latest incarnation at Sunday teatimes, audiences have fallen to little more than 1 million viewers.

The show has been under pressure from the proliferation of 24-hour music channels and the decline of the singles chart. The internet and the growth in music downloading helped boost single sales, but internet users do not need to wait for a once-weekly chart update.

Jimmy Savile, who presented the first show from a disused church in Salford on January 1 1964, said: "Top of The Pops as such is being axed but its place is being taken by at least 20 television channels banging away 24 hours a day on satellite TV. Early Top of the Pops was something nobody else had done. Radio 1 hadn't been invented. It was a life of constant excitement for all of us involved. It was a pop phenomenon."

The show is being axed as part of BBC director general Mark Thompson's Creative Future review. Long-running Saturday sports show Grandstand is also being axed as part of the same review.

The BBC's director of television, Jana Bennett, said: "We're very proud of a show which has survived 42 years in the UK and gone on to become a worldwide brand, but the time has come to bring the show to its natural conclusion."

The programme was moved from its traditional Thursday home to a Friday slot in 1996. It doubled its audience to more than 5 million when it was relaunched in 2003, but ratings fell away again, prompting its switch to BBC2.

Edmonds, who hosted the show between 1970 and 1989 and now presents Channel 4's Deal or No Deal, expressed dismay at the decision. He said: "I think it's a dangerous thing to throw out one of the most recognised TV brands. It's a tragedy when a broadcaster doesn't understand such a powerful brand."

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2006