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Home > Media


23 June 2006

'They think it's all over... it is now!' ...will not feature at all in this article.

And so, we see the end of 'Top of the Pops' after a long, terminal illness; finally put out of its misery by the BBC who spent much of the last decade unable to press a pillow onto its comatose face.

In its 1970s, early 80s heyday, 'The Pops' soared. Bands fought to get on the programme, and audiences regularly tipped ten million. It was essential viewing on a Thursday evening at half seven straight after 'Tomorrow's World', itself the victim of the Corporation's confusion over what to do with its crown jewels. 'The Pops' was on a Thursday for a reason. It was an adults' show for kids, who would then talk about it in the playground on a Friday, and go out and buy the record on a Saturday with the money from their paper round.

'The Pops' could get any band they wanted, any time, and that included the Sex Pistols when they were public enemy number one. Then, they refused to play Frankie Goes To Hollywood, and the game was up. The public realised that the programme wasn't the end-all of music programming, and bands started appearing on the show only to go down in the charts the following week.

Moving the programme to a Friday, then, killed it stone dead. Putting it up against 'Coronation Street' thrust something long and pointy where the sun doesn't shine; and the subsequent arrival of MTV, back when they actually played music, meant that its days were numbered. It's just taken this long to realise that nothing was going to bring it back to life. Not even Andi Peters, bless him, fighting against the tide of the Internet and satellite channels.

And it's not just 'The Pops'. As mainstream television slides deeper into a pit containing nothing but soaps, celebrity specials and 'Heartbeat', CITV quietly shuts down its home-grown programme-making division.

'Top of the Pops' died because young people stopped watching, and adults just weren't interested. CITV is dying on its arse because, frankly, not even kids watch kids' TV these days. Recent viewing figures for ITV in the tea-time slot have been pitiful. We're talking shows hardly registering on the scale, with less than 100,000 viewers. With junk food advertising on childrens' television set to be banned, ITV is cutting its losses and getting out, condemning our kids to screens filled with imported cartoons. There's only so much Spongebob even the most hardened ten-year-old can take.

So, welcome back, then, the 'Blue Peter' badge. Not even the Internet could kill you off.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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