I made a mess of this in the comments box the other day so let's get this straight - now all the schedules are out, here's how BBC4's 1976 commitment comes to its thrilling conclusion, namely by still taking a Sky At Night week off and then having to compress the denouement into four days:
Thursday 15th, 7.30pm - 9/12/76
Monday 19th, 8pm - 23/12/76
Tuesday 20th, 8pm - 25/12/76
Thursday 22nd, 8pm - 26/12/76
Both the Christmas shows are in hour long slots, though originally they were 50 minutes long, and are being repeated back to back on Christmas Day from 10.40pm. Seems a bit odd to keep the Sky At Night slot next week when that means having to cram an extra show in out of time on a Monday, but there you go. And then last I heard The Story Of 1977 is being shown on New Year's Eve, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. (EDIT: the reason why there's nothing on Wednesday is that's when BBC2 are screening the annual TOTP2 Christmas special, at 7.30pm)
It's our first Jimmy Savile show since his passing, and immediately we get a taste of the man's work as he pretends he can't work out whether to talk into the mike or a stick of rock. A cheap gag, but the visual comedy of Jimmy's rapid double take just about keeps the idea afloat.
The Kursaal Flyers – Little Does She Know
There's something very Southend about the construction of the name in lights sign above them, and not just because it says 'KURSAALS'. The band, meanwhile, are all over the shop. Paul Shuttleworth is about an alarming a frontman as we've seen in 1976, sporting the kind of tousled, short at the sides cartoon Teddy Boy pompadour that wouldn't be seen again this side of the Stray Cats, a spiv's pencil moustache and the sort of teeth that explains all those jokes Americans make, particularly noticeable in his instance from his insistence on singing held notes through them as much as they'll meet in the middle. Whether his choice of shiny blue suit and matching cummerbund was meant to somehow offset all this isn't clear, but standing next to Richie Bull in a Hawaiian shirt with garland of what may be daffodils, crimped hair and what seems to be a developmental version of a Zapata/David Crosby tache it seems as if he couldn't quite go the full sartorial distance. As for the rest of the band there's a white suit jacket like their mentor Lee Brilleaux's, a Panama hat like Geoffrey Boycott's offset with second hand car dealer chic and a prominently placed drummer in shorts who plays entirely in double whacks and looks a bit bored of it by the last verse. Behind them a washing machine spews constant bubbles. What sort of image is this? It's like a workaday Camden Britpop band gone back to late period rationing. The song's laundrette love given the full Spector by Mike Batt, here with what seems to be castanets and cymbals at the front of the mix, is reflected in a mighty set of Shuttleworth body language gestures and full-throated singing, which just means more unflattering closeups. Jimmy calls them the Kursaals as well for some reason. Maybe he wasn't sure about the full name either. It was they that brought the stocks "as it happens, do you see", but all they get from him is a "that one is going to go up the charts". It'd be a different story had Noel been around.
Dr Hook – If Not You
Standard live clip, which allows us to talk about Jimmy's top, if the credits are to be believed the work of one L Rowland-Warne. Here, you'd better have a look at it yourselves.
Now, what's going on there? Rangers and Celtic did actually play the previous night and maybe Jimmy had the top lying around from a previous incident when he'd accidentally angered some Glaswegians with football/religious talk and took a broad approach to allaying their annoyance, but then he never really showed a wider interest in the game. He could have clumsily chosen it to reflect music and the show's broad church. This is all far more interesting than the song, in which someone to "patch my pants" and "kiss where it hurts" is requested before one of their million guitarists plays a smug solo.
Billy Ocean – Stop Me (If You've Heard It All Before)
Jimmy gets someone else, "a real life disc jockey" to introduce this one, someone wearing a T-shirt all of which we can read says 'Join Jim'. Self-promotion? And if so, by whom? As usual Billy has mixed and matched his attire and it's supper club night, which means the huge bow tie, grey waistcoat and tight matching trousers. You can see his religion, as they say, though Jimmy would know what trouble that can lead to. No wonder the director spends the first twenty seconds trying to tactically lose him out of the bottom of the shot and not too long later films him upwards from behind. More castanets show up. Did an extra percussionist turn up with the orchestra?
Be Bop Deluxe – Maid In Heaven
Jimmy namechecks the floor manager, and due to the lost shows here's our first naming of Legs & Co. This seems an auspicious choice of dancing material, presumably a late replacement for something else, and it's clear Flick and the girls aren't quite sure of the best movements to interpret Bill Nelson's art-prog outfit into. So it's lots of shaking, some meaningful arm movements and bobbing around, repeat. There's some brave experiments in synchronised arm circling towards the end that only succeeds in taking everyone out of tight choreography. The costume designer meanwhile must have had a bad experience in a children's art class as the Co are all wearing paper tassels attached variously around their person and to their underwear, the thinking of the lack of garments perhaps being... that they're Top Of The Pops dancers, yes, but also flashes of skin detract from whatever they're trying here. Come the end there's a tight shot of Sue heavily breathing, which I'm entirely sure was in no way meant in any other way than to suggest she got more exercise.
Cliff Richard – Hey Mr Dream Maker
Jimmy and sailors! Again! They all wanted in on those Savile and seamen (just don't) special links. Jimmy gets so animated he begins waving his arms about wildly. "We're in a hurry, you see" he explains, before linking to a ballad that seems to last years. Cliff, wearing a black T-shirt with white specks and a spider by way of HR Giger design that suggests less soulful pop long stayer and more patron of a goth clothing shop in Kilburn, is shot almost entirely in insert with some sort of meaningful film, bleached out and partly recoloured in pale red like someone wants a craft Bafta, in which a woman (it very briefly goes to normal colours at one point but not for long enough to identify her) wanders round some trees and looks around a bit, intercut with shots of branches and specks of light. It's not clear what it's supposed to represent, unless everyone who watches it will die horribly within seven days. After he's finished singing and once he's done with pointing, Cliff raises the mike cable above his head, not in victory but as if spent of life force. Maybe it got him too. Oh, no, wait, that can't be right.
ABBA – Money Money Money
"We aren't half in a hurry tonight!" Jimmy reasserts, which can't be right given how much time was taken up just then. Even with a gift of a title Jimmy's struggled with this one, asserting "many years ago everybody in the pop business was skint" but now we have a song "for all the new pop types". In the video Agnetha gets the white dress, Annifrid the black, both with glittery headbands in their colour and no sense of choreography as Agnethea struts and Annifrid... doesn't.
Elton John – Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
Jimmy's found two girls in Union Flag waistcoats. Meanwhile Elton is liberated from the pretend vocal booth only to be placed in one of those studio settings where you're not quite sure whether the audience are watching him at the time, so dark is everything but man and piano in the lights. The soberness of Elton's suit is offset by the biggest tinted glasses he could find and the director reaching instinctively for his box of cascaded mirror image-based effects as seen most effectively with Joan Armatrading. Of course with Joan you had a good head shape and nothing else to get in the way, here you've got huge glasses and a great big piano so the effect is lost. By the end he gives up and points a camera at a monitor, the cheapest effect in his arsenal.
Chicago – If You Leave Me Now
Jimmy's getting brave with the setting now, absolutely surrounded by girls, one of whom chooses the very moment he starts talking to somehow lose her seating position, reacting with a jump and yelp as if she'd been electrocuted. Suspiciously, as she shifts wildly about and the camera pans ever closer to Jimmy's face we see she's holding flowers the same as our Kursaal friend was sporting and a stick of rock. So there's someone he's trying to get off with having promised them a moment on telly only for their reactions to taint it. Chicago, it transpires, is a three syllable word with every one enunciated. Just the video again. Gah. Wanted to see Terry dance to Mississippi again.
And one last note right at the end as producer turns out to be Johnnie Stewart, who created the whole enterprise but left in 1974 and must have been tempted back as a stopgap. For the occasion he's earned himself the man-on-chair-holding-jacket silhouette, which is grand of him.