Firstly, because people are starting to question this and I had an email about it since we all last met up (hello David), the issue of missing weeks. Despite what was made known at the start of the run there are eight shows missing believed wiped from the year, especially in its last couple of months. In fact I think 1976 has been chosen because it's the first year they've got a good set of unbroken runs of retained shows for. As it stands they're showing The Sky At Night once a month in that slot, which works because... well, because it's a well known monthly programme, but for our purposes it actually works out that missing out a week a month means hitting the last pre-Christmas show of 1976 on the Thursday before Christmas 2011. There's no official confirmation of all that but it works out so well it's the most likely explanation. The first lost programme is in fact next week, which is annoying if only because it contains a failed comedy single that sounds fantastic, and we will be covering that absence.
Oh yeah, and for at least the next couple of weeks the live Proms coverage shoves TOTP back onto Wednesday. As for this week we're back in the 1970s one-liner and dubious hairline realm of Diddy David Hamilton, sporting huge badges on *both* lapels, one reading 'I'm In The Mood For Love', the other as far as I can tell 'It's No More'. "I'd like you to meet my fan club" he begins. I don't need to fill in the details, apart from how he ends by doing a pointless but flirtatious fall back aided by a Nicola Roberts lookalike, right down to the complexion and nervous half-smile. Her, not him. Though it could easily apply to him, actually.
Pilot - Canada
First things first, this is the fifth time in six weeks the show has started with a record that failed to make the top 50 at all. Not only that, but this is a run that will become eight in nine weeks. What's causing this? You have the marketing opportunity of the prime position in the country's top music show and it turns out to be a poisoned chalice? In further contemporary news, the director has brought in a wobbly fade. It doesn't achieve much other than a showy way of getting from one shot to another but it's more interesting than the band, who weren't going to chart again now the days of Magic and January were gone. No wonder, given this is a song maybe trying to hitch a ride on the Typically Tropical-esque ticket of marvelling at things across the Atlantic but choosing to deliver them in the medium of plodding AM rock, which doesn't wash when the best specific toothy Paul Whitehouse lookalike singer Billy Lyall can come up with is their "snow peaked mountains tumbling down, you had them from birth". There's some guitar solo duelling with Ian Bairnson cheating by using a twelve-string, even though he only seems to use half of it. The bassist has an open shirt, maybe attempting to cement a status as Pilot's looker.
Bryan Ferry - Let's Stick Together
"What more appropriate? In this weather we can't do anything else" chortles Diddy, our first reference to the long hot summer of '76. You've seen this video already. Spiv tache, Jerry, all that, though it must be stated for permanent record that a red spotted tie does not complement a suave look when worn over a suit jacket. Diddy claims everyone's wearing white suits as "we're all doubling as ice cream salesmen". Having already begun the link by extending a hand towards an imagined stage, it seems he's trying to convince us that Ferry was there all along.
Mistura - The Flasher
Ruby Flipper time, and anyone making reference to how it should have been a literal performance can get out now. In fact it's as opaque a raiding of the dressing up box as any TOTP dance troupe ever got, and they get to do it in the round too. So that's the girls in tiara and evening wear (long gloves inclusive), already retro white polka dotted skirt and flower garland taped to chest and hula skirt (Cherry, inevitably, and for the vidcappers' record it should be stated it stays in place when she's turned upside down) and the boys in cossack wear, flying suit and full tiger catsuit with appropriately painted face (Floyd, inevitably - was he just slow to rehearsals every week? If he were a footballer he'd be spending years only driving a yellow Robin Reliant). And, well, they get into a circle and perform one by one in the middle. Occasionally some expressive lifting occurs, ending with the girls on the boys' shoulders in an ever decreasing circle. At other times they all come in together in formation and do a move. It's Wigan Casino meets speciality suit hire £15 a night.
Demis Roussous - Forever And Ever
"It's been quite a long time since we had an EP in the charts" says Diddy enticingly. We get a live in concert clip featuring a particularly glistening kaftan and the biggest mike head you've seen. In the original stage version it was José Feliciano's version of Light My Fire and it was changed for copyright reasons, you know.
The New Seekers – It’s So Nice (To Have You Home)
"A lot of people were very sad when the New Seekers split up and no doubt they'll be glad to know that they're back together now." Really? Well, it's possible, but then so is that fans will spot that two members have changed. Very much an air of ITV LE, all forced jollity and smiley handclap and sideways movement from the two female singers as if Abba had never happened with a comparatively brave brief middle eight attempt at falsetto harmony. They seem to have an extra acoustic guitarist where the drummer usually sits. This didn't reach the top 40, by the way, and co-founder Paul Layton later said "I think that with hindsight we identified less with that song than the others". Given it features a new member proclaiming "it's so nice to have you home again and you're looking just exactly as you looked before" I can understand that.
Osibisa – Dance The Body Music
Ooh, Noel's turned up for this one, he's there in the back of shot...oh, wait, this is a repeat of the performance from his most recent show and the producer didn't spot him. That cheap champers won't drink itself.
Art Garfunkel – I Believe When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever
Having been given something the shape and about the size of a wedding cake base to perform from, Art's a bit stuck for things to do as he overemotes a Stevie Wonder song that threatens to carry on for as long as John Miles' Music. With thumbs in pockets he chooses to stand stock still. At least one girl in the audience is prominently doing likewise. In fact, the big wobble just before the final panning out camera shot might well be its operator falling asleep on the job. No, this didn't chart either. Sackable work by the editors at the end as an audience almost entirely in shot sway noncommittally yet are clapping on the soundtrack.
The Real Thing – You To Me Are Everything
This week's mix and match of outfits is less pronounced, though it does seem to incorporate a crimson butcher's apron and matching trousers. Or maybe they're stylised dungarees. Eddie meanwhile rocks a choker and satin suit, the latter in the future style of Lenny Henry's Theophilus P Wildebeeste. Are the other three meant to be clapping in unison? They appear to be not so solid about whether they should be a backing singing trio in unison - no rhythm guitar this week - or just some mates mucking in. Again we hear applause but don't see it, but one of the girls flocking to Diddy's side for the last link is dancing along nevertheless. Maybe she got confused. Another of his companions seems to be an exact cross between Kathy Burke and Rebecca Front. They get to hear Diddy's introduction to the Beach Boys record that was this week's pointless reissue first hand - "if you want to get good vibrations for yourself try sitting on the washing machine after the show, it works wonders for you". Burke/Front grins. The dancing girl is too preoccupied with the middle distance to take it in.
EDIT NEWS: All studio work - the Sensational Alex Harvey Band (back in the studio very, very soon) and the monologuing Lee Garrett repeated, Cherry alone (see what we mean?) doing Dorothy Moore's Misty Blue (One For The Dads archive and, losing out to the vagaries of how easily the edit can be made, Johnny Nash, again in the studio, covering (What A) Wonderful World.