Culture: Pop Will Eat Itself as Music Show Fails; Culture Top of the Pops Is No Longer Relevant to Young Audiences and a Former Children's Television Presenter Has Been Appointed to Usher in Unprecedented Changes. Lisa Salmon Looks at the Show's 39-Year History and Asks Music Pundits Whether TOTP Has a Future
Byline: Lisa Salmon
It is the longest-running music show on television, but Top of the Pops could be facing an overhaul as the BBC faces up to the slump in singles sales.
Now former children's television presenter Andi Peters has been appointed to spearhead a revamp and make the 39-year-old show more relevant to today's young music lovers, They have been abandoning TOTP in droves, with just 2.8 million tuning in to last Friday's show, compared with 15 million in its heyday. The BBC1 controller Lorraine Heggessey has even conceded that a move from BBC1 to BBC3 could be considered for the show, She has said: 'It's on BBC1 now, but BBC1 has to appeal to all of the people some of the time.
'For the moment, it will stay on BBC1. The thing is, are the charts as valid as they once were?'
The possibility that TOTP could be revamped or even abandoned by BBC1 has been met with fury by the man most closely associated with the programme, Sir Jimmy Savile.
Despite the fact that viewing figures have dropped dramatically from 4.3 million even since the show was relaunched in October 2001, Sir Jimmy says it should either be left alone, or revert to the audience-led theme of 1964, when he presented the very first show.
He says: 'People have tried to torpedo Top of the Pops ever since it started in 1964, but they have never succeeded.
'The people who knock it will go long before the programme ever will. 'They've lost what I used for 20 years as the main part of my Top of the Pops -the audience. They were so important.'
Sir Jimmy used to give out prizes to the best dancer and the best dressed person in the audience, and he says they loved it.
'The audience were interested; it wasn't about the groups, it was about the amazing people.
'Top of the Pops belonged to the people, but along came people who sat behind desks, and they started to run it from the top down instead of from the ground up.'
Sir Jimmy, who stopped presenting TOTP after 20 years when he started doing Jim'll Fix It, says early recordings of the programme show the audience having a good time -unlike now, he says, when the audience just aren't shown at all.
He says: 'Let's get it back to what it was supposed to be -that's a celebration of current records enjoyed by an audience, instead of some sort of factory.
'Kids want to see their own kind on the screen.'
He adds: 'I invented it, I loved it and still love it, and I believe it's a celebration of pop. …