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Top Of The Pops

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(Related page: Top Of The Pops (Appearances))

Top of the Pops was a weekly music show on BBC Television that ran from 1964 to 2006 (with Christmas specials continuing subsequently), where DJs would introduce (mainly mimed) studio performances of the latest chart hits. Peel was an occasional presenter from the late 1960s until the 1990s, though this included a fourteen year ban from the show, when in 1968 he opened an edition by protesting about its lack of Captain Beefheart and Tyrannosaurus Rex material, and then forgetting the name of the band Amen Corner. He appeared particularly regularly from 1982 to 1987.

John Peel Being Great On Prime Time BBC100:36

John Peel Being Great On Prime Time BBC1

Compilation of Peel's sarcastic Top of the Pops introductions

Unlike other presenters of the show he was noted for his caustic remarks about the acts and songs appearing, for example saying of George Michael and Aretha Franklin's "I Knew You Were Waiting For Me":

"You know, Aretha Franklin can make any old rubbish sound good, and I think she just has."

However, he would always enthuse about acts he thought deserved the credit, for example when introducing the Associates' "18 Carat Love Affair" and Musical Youth's "Pass the Dutchie" in 1982. His intros became more frequently sarcastic by the mid-1980s, when the crossover from his shows to the charts was much reduced from the early part of the decade.

He also caused controversy on the show in 1986 by saying (in reference to Pete Wylie's Sinful): "If that doesn't make Number One, I'm going to come round and break wind in your kitchen". This caused a number of complaints to the BBC. Peel responded:

"Michael Hurll (the producer) was in Australia and was apparently woken in the middle of the night, and alerted to the extraordinary danger to national security engendered by me making this remark about breaking wind in people's kitchens. I thought this was hilariously funny - not the remark itself, but its consequences."
Rod Stewart and the Faces04:50

Rod Stewart and the Faces. Maggie May

Peel "playing" mandolin with The Faces, Top of The Pops, 1971

In 1971 he appeared not as presenter but performer, alongside Rod Stewart and The Faces, pretending to play mandolin on "Maggie May."

He also parodied it in an episode of The Goodies in 1973, where he impersonated its original host Jimmy Saville introducing an act. 1992 saw Peel present a sarcastic tribute to the worst of the show's output in Rock Bottom, a part of BBC2's 'TV Hell' themed night.

He was invited to present TOTP again in 1995, but as a camouflage for his appearance on This Is Your Life.

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