should Gary Glitter be allowed on TOTP repeats?
should Gary Glitter be allowed on TOTP repeats?

Top Of The Pops 1976 documentary proves that nothing has changed

The BBC documentary on Top Of The Pops was a curious affair.

It was a portal into a vile world of crimplene pop and vile gurning DJ’s. Of a pop mainstream run out of ideas and the creeping cabaret and variety sickness that lies at the heart of all British music.

How an incompetent buffoon like Dave Lee Travis could have had so much power in 1976 is an indictment of the times and as for Noel Edmonds…

The angle of the programme was that the BBC and Radio One were ignoring all the good stuff, locking it our and having its own jolly. And this is true.


Is it actually any different now?

If a modern equivalent of the Sex Pistols (not musically- just a music with that edge) pitched up would anyone notice? Would they be allowed anywhere near the comfy mainstream? Would Simon Cowell approve? Would Chris Moyles ‘get it’? Would the Guardian ”Ëœunderstand’ Are things any hipper?

It seems like the mainstream is still run on their terms. For the patronising me- me- me idiocy of Noel Edmonds you now have Simon Cowell, for the faintly out of place doddering pointlessness of ‘diddy’ David Hamilton you now have Louis Walsh. For the suffocating playlist on mainstream radio, you now have, er, the suffocating playlist of mainstream radio!

And for the boredom the documentary talked of in 1976, you still have the same boredom and simmering resentment now with its own ignored soundtrack.

All you hear in the mainstream is X Factor crooners, scrubbed up fake indie, celebrity pop desperadoes and hours of footage from Glastonbury festival.

Welcome to the new boss”¦

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. On the money, John. The worst of 76 is certainly matched by the excesses of 2011. But should we criticise the mainstream for being ‘mainstream’?
    It’s rather like criticising an elephant for being big or a Daily Mail reader for being right wing.

  2. Yep it feels just like 1976 right now. I am sure that if the sex pistols turned up now they would blow the whole thing out of the water just the same. Have to be a band with great songs , attitude and sound though. Not much to ask eh?

  3. I don’t think you can blame Noel Edmonds, he’s just an entertainer and a very good one. DLT’s show with the darts and stuff used to be a joy even though the music was utter crap. Now you have no music and no entertainment either.

    The problem is it’s been 1976 for about five years and it doesn’t look as though anything good is about to happen!

  4. Six Five Special, Top of The Pops, X Factor. All showbiz. Far worse, surely, is Glastonbury. Here, vapid, soulless ‘indie’ plunderers and turgid stadium plodders turn the base metal of their mediocrity into pure Glasto gold, courtesy of the slavish drooling of the BBC’s bum-licking wellie-wearing ‘pundits’, and the wider media Big Brother- speak which polishes up the fake diamonds on the myth that only Glastonbury can deliver that all-important ‘Authentic Youth Experience’ (Registered Trademark, all means of payment accepted). Not at all like a George A. Romero movie, then. Or the Nuremberg rallies.


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