If you’re going to study the history of British music, you will inevitably run across the term Top of the Pops. What is that? It was a prime-time weekly TV show that ran for 42 years on the BBC before it got the axe on July 30, 2006. Top of the Pops featured the biggest musical acts in the country and, specifically, the biggest chart acts for the week.
An appearance on Top of the Pops could literally make or break a career. Performers had to do cheesy mimes to their songs, although some (like Nirvana) refused to stoop that low. At its height in the mid-1970s, 20 million people (a full 40% of the British population) would tune in to watch. But by the end of it all, it had a weekly audience of just 1.5 million. If you’d like to know more, there’s a new book called Top of the Pops: Mishaps, Miming and Music by Ian Gittins from BBC Books.