Well, there's the first proper row this blog's stoked up. Even in such unfortunate circumstances, glad to find out that Popular, the fine UK number ones blog by Guardian/Pitchfork contributor Tom Ewing, is hosting a lively TOTP debate itself in its comments box. Also, hello back to the One For The Dads forum.
Tony Blackburn in charge this week, and he pretends to forget the show's name... until reminded by himself in a thought bubble. Cliche, I know, but this really isn't too far from one of the set-ups in Smashie & Nicey: End Of An Era. Really did their research, they did. Still can't work out what Archie Bell and the Drells are doing in their chart still. They seem to be doing laps of an inflatable boxing ring.
Sutherland Brothers & Quiver – When The Train Comes In
We start on a close-up of a 'SBQ' badge, which is one way of self-identifying. Since we last had them round Iain Sutherland has solved the problem of his receding hairline rather too well with a Breton fisherman's cap and a fulsome beard while his band have gone in for Doobie Brothers-style funk rhythm guitar, if that's not too much a suggestion led on by the train theme. Also, Bruce Thomas looks even more like Chris Langham than last time. There's plenty of dancing going on to their hi-hat heavy FM rock which from its middle eight's interplay sounds like the last chorus is just getting in the way unnecessarily, with the crowd giving each other plenty of space. Tony is so excited he bellows his link out. "Gonna be a smash, that one!" It wasn't.
Candi Station – Young Hearts Run Free
"Listen to the words of this one" Tony advises, good advice given nobody could have been concentrating on the track when presented with Flick's interpretation. As with Thin Lizzy it's awkwardly shuffling audience members intercut with a performance clip in which Candi seems to be wearing a dream catcher, which cocks up when the director fades back in seconds too early for the second chorus and we see another audience, this time American ergo confident, which had clearly been intercut by whichever US programme Staton was recorded for. Both her and the kids prove there was lots of elbow movement inherent to 1976 dancing.
The Champ's Boys Orchestra – Tubular Bells
Tony gets a head and shoulders shot with the studio lights above him, which just means loads of empty blank space as if Rusty Goffe had taken over the camera. And what's the song, Tone? "From Tubular Bells, it's called... from Champ's Boys". Idiot boards are called that for a reason. This week's big idea is to take advantage of the long hot summer and send Ruby Flipper to the Blue Peter garden, not running roughshod over the flowers Les Ferdinand-style but in fact on a big square of carpet in the middle of a dug out patch of soil. Six in white sitting in a circle being liberally doused with petals and confetti out of a big wicker bowl by Patti. There's a lot of outstretching of arms going on before the inevitable running around. It's quite paganistic in a way that doesn't suit a poor attempt to mix Mike Oldfield's theme with Love To Love You Baby. Coupled with that for further oddness, one of them is wearing inappropriate dress, a sheikh's outfit, and for once it's not Floyd lumbered with it (Philip, in fact). Some continuity kept, though - The Omnipresent Cherry Gillespie has the shortest skirt and thinnest top of all four women. Tony attempts a joke about a dead garden. It dies. Appropriately.
Billy Ocean – L.O.D. (Love On Delivery)
If all else fails, stick a soul singer in front of keen teens on the tiny tiered stage and let the orchestra do their worst. Billy's chosen to make himself known by sporting a bright pink top. One girl in the audience attempts oneupmanship in the awkward fashion stakes with triple denim (jeans, shirt, waistcoat) and a Wurzels memorial neckerchief.
Elton John & Kiki Dee – Don’t Go Breaking My Heart
The video in a pretend studio, which you used to see a lot but is always worth appreciating to see just how smug Elton's face between lines is.
The Sensational Alex Harvey Band – The Boston Tea Party
For the second time the introduction makes specific reference to the 200th anniversary of American independence, which must have been quite a big thing in that case. And in case we'd forgotten another long running perennial, Tony notes this is "just about the same age as David Hamilton". Just about the only act Tony doesn't actually call "sensational", they're back in the studio to scare the children. Harvey, with bloodhound eyes, fulsome beard and habit of staring down the lens as if it's offering him out, looks like he hasn't been to sleep since his last studio appearance. This is entirely plausible. He has, after all, chosen to appear on prime time BBC television in denim hot pants and a massive hat. There's a small cannon in front of the drumkit but we don't see it go off, and no wonder as you fear what Harvey might have thought it was and what his reaction would have been. Further point: the keyboard appears to be of that Casio-rivalling brand Professional Piano. Surely a Ronseal offshoot. "Showing a pair of sensational legs" Tony lies.
Dorothy Moore – Misty Blue
More Soul Train setpiece, this time far too slow for anyone to appreciably dance to in anything but a sway. "I've never known a time when there's been so many great records about" claims Tony, despite the evidence of this run so far.
5000 Volts – Dr Kiss Kiss
And here's another oddity that, while the records claim it made number eight, seems so out of place it's possible it never actually existed beyond osmosis. A couple of people are seen walking away from the stage after one line, which isn't that sporting but does demonstrate the folly of linking a huge voiced country singer in Linda Kelly sporting a heavy secretary-goes-clubbing fringe with a band who start out tentatively disco-funky - and only a tentative disco-funk band would pose for promo shots like this - before going the full sub-Fox. And by that we mean the most televisually ostentatious talkbox playing we've ever seen, the guitarist gurning to camera and wrapping his lips round the pipe where others (alright, Frampton) do it casually as if we might not notice. Meanwhile the bassist produces a stethoscope and for some reason checks Kelly's shoulder. I'm not making this up. After that's done with Tony introduces "a very surprise guest", which must be a superior level of surprise. It's Ian Mitchell, who seems to be about twelve but is the new bassist for the Bay City Rollers, who in a highly stilted fashion and while sporting an open shirt lets Tony know they played to 50,000 kids in America and they'll be touring here in September. Once Tony has to introduce the next performance he really doesn't know where to look. FYI, Mitchell left in November claiming he was "getting out before I stick my head in a gas oven", not that that stops him playing in America as The Bay City Rollers Featuring Ian Mitchell.
The Real Thing – You To Me Are Everything
A new number one! Presumably the three silver objects are meant to be the stars Eddie Amoo wants to take out of the sky for you, but they look more like forward planning a performance for the Christmas show. Costumes still haven't been synchronised, Eddie in a flat cap, one bandmate in butcher's pinstriped dungarees, another with the magically returned guitar apparently in a woman's orange halterneck top. Awkwardly someone is occasionally clapping along too close to a mike, unless that was an orchestra member wanting to make a point about union rates. Marvellously, at the end Tony facilitates a stage invasion, though once up there none of the kids really know what to do and end up looking like lemons, which is easy enough anyway given they're taking inspiration from Tony Blackburn. War play us out, "see you on Saturday for Seaside Special".
EDIT NEWS: There isn't any, it was only ever a half hour long show this week. Makes this gig a lot simpler.