Top of the Pops, is it Too Old for a Comeback?

James Dix

Madonna might be able to consistently make fabulous and provocative comebacks (despite being older than time), but can Top of The Pops ever return to television?

The BBC has always been at the forefront of the official singles chart, but the regular broadcast of flagship chart show Top of the Pops ended back in 2006. The show now only runs at Christmas and on New Year’s Eve.

In its absence, unless you dedicate time to listen to the official chart show on Radio 1, when was the last time you knew what the number one track was?

iTunes shows their own chart of digital download sales, and although most sales of music are digital these days, there are a great number more of sites to download music from.

With the loss of the show, there is a concern that new artists lack a platform to break into the industry outside of the X Factor route. With the 50th anniversary of the show this year, has the platform become irrelevant in our modern age or could it make a comeback?


Live Music?

Back in 2003 Victoria Beckham was promoting her single ‘This Groove’, nobody expected her to sing live. Although now largely forgotten to time, Top of the Pops was a significant help in pushing the single and her career as a solo artist, as she performed the song three times on the show.

These days if any artist uses a backing track they are shamed all over Twitter and in the papers. Another former girl band member Cheryl Cole was slated for her mimed performance on The Voice in 2012, despite an intense dance routine.

The show’s policy was for a long time that artists had to mime. In the final few years of the show artists had the option of singing live if they wanted, allowing artists to engage more with their music and the audience at home.

A mimed performance these days would be too distasteful, but a live format would put off artists such as Britney Spears whose real voice is a mystery to my ears.

British TV?

The biggest sellers of 2013 include Robin Thicke from the States, Daft Punk from France, and Avicii from Sweden. Music is undeniably a global and multicultural phenomenon. Would a British show be able to attract global artists who are dominating our charts for weeks on end?

An expectation for the show to pull in the biggest names in music to perform on the show week after week when they are number one could be a feat.

Is there a correlation between the number of British Artists in the chart and the lack of platforms to promote new artists? Perhaps Top of The Pops is needed to restore new British Music as an alternative to talent shows.

The Right Platform?

Technology has swept past television. A lot of programmes are now watched on catch-up or through YouTube clips. Our accessibility to new music, unsigned acts and full albums is greater than ever, but we digest the industry in a totally different way. Has Top of the Pops been left behind?

Mega-stars like Beyoncé are now able to digitally release an album without television promotion. The success of the internet is also contrasted with hacking and songs being leaked, such as Selena Gomez’s ‘Come and Get it’.

If Top of the Pops is to make a comeback, it would have to adapt to 2014 and be relevant to how we now live and consume our music.


All in all, it is sad to imagine a generation without Top of the Pops. TOTP2 still airs, but it’s hard to imagine new artists being a part of the weekly format again.

The show is celebrating its 50th anniversary, but it looks like it will remain an annual celebration. The hard truth is that as great as it would be to see it back on television, it may not be able to survive in the digital age.

About James Dix

James Dix from Chipping Norton often meets David Cameron at the local Sainsbury's, "No I don't want an NHS cut, I just want some milk". Final year student of Journalism and English Literature from the countryside, studying at Northumbria University.

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