The 80s, the decade of synth, electro-pop, big hair, shoulder pads, neon, and the music video.
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In 1980 Robin Nash decided to leave as executive producer. MICHAEL HURLL took his place and decided that the show needed some radical changes to bring it bang up to date. Punk had died and disco was dying out. Electronic music, egged on by the "New Romantics", was emerging as the main music genre of the 1980s. When Michael Hurll took over as producer, he wanted the show to have an identity, which Robin Nash got rid of in 1978, so he briefly re-introduced Whole Lotta Love, in a longer version than it had been previously used over the chart rundown. There was still no official title sequence though, and in 1981 Hurll decided to have a radical revamp. Legs & Co. were replaced with the unisex Zoo troupe and later by professional dancers who stuck out like a sore thumb among the increasingly livelier studio audience. New sets were also at the top of the list, and he introduced the ‘cascade’ set as the main one, which had various fluorescent lights, the logo in red and blue neon and using the projection screen introduced in September 1980.
To coincide with the new sets, Hurll introduced new permanent titles in May 1981 which consisted of various coloured flying LPs and lots of dry ice, along with a new theme; Phil Lynott’s 1980 hit ‘Yellow Pearl’. New sets, new graphics, and a new signature tune along with the party atmosphere affect reignited the energy back into TOTP! "The party atmosphere was to make the viewer feel like they were part of the show and there enjoying it themselves" according to Hurll. Balloons, dry ice and lots of 80’s professional dancers all were components to that party affect. As new host (and first female host in the show's history), Janice Long recalls: "...It was dead cheesy. We were hyped enough but they would make you do the charts over again and say can you be a bit livelier". Michael Hurll made the presenters host the show in such a way, that it would look like they were really excited and having a great time. Michael was employing more and more DJ’s to present TOTP instead of having a few main presenters that hosted all the time in the 70’s; Michael paired presenters up and rotated them more, with some surprising and popular results, notably in the combinations of John Peel and David Jensen, and later Janice Long. Also in the 80s there were lots of special events; in 1982 it was Radio 1’s 15th birthday and to celebrate, most, if not all, of the Radio 1 DJs, were in the studio to celebrate in style.
May 1983 saw TOTP reach it’s 1000th episode. Hurll was in full 80s excess mode; and decided it was time for another change to coincide with the 1000th episode. In came the first main neon set which included circles and diamonds in pink and blue (and later green) neon, with the now-famous red and blue neon logo remaining. The titles were changed slightly to include the flying LP’s inside a TV tube revolving in a vortex, created using the ‘slit scan’ process. Continuing the 1980s atmosphere, most of the show's presenters were on hand to host the now-ritual Christmas episode, and, like the 60s and 70s, the yearly review was broadcast in two parts until 1985 when there was just one show on Christmas Day, the format used today.
In mid-1985 Michael Hurll changed the main stage, the famous circles and diamonds replaced by various circles, arrows and crosshatches in blue pink and yellow neon. And the blue and red neon logo remained once again. The year saw a toning down of the "party atmosphere" which meant bye-bye to the balloons, flags and party-hats.
By late 1985, TOTP’s image was getting seriously dated. It meant the end for the titles, Yellow Pearl, and the 13 year old logo! A brand new logo and title sequence were introduced in April 1986. The logo had late 80s square and sharpness and the titles were now created by computer for the first time. The titles had the sharp late 80s image as well with everything from 3D blocks, saxophones, record, cassettes, and CD’s etc. with interchanging day-glow backgrounds, to accompany the new look, accompanied by new theme music from Paul Hardcastle, "The Wizard". By 1987 Michael Hurll took a less active role of the everyday producing the show and left it to other producers, such as BRIAN WHITEHOUSE, and a brief reprise for Robin Nash. Hurll decided to quit the position of executive producer all together by 1988, with PAUL CIANI becoming Hurll’s replacement and he brought with him new ideas and outlooks about how the show would go into the 90s. During Hurll's gradual departure, the whole studio got another new look in November 1987; the main set got bars of pink/blue neon and the other sets were given a generic look with lots of metallic looking design and bars of day-glow neon between the new look sets and bridges.
The next change Ciani made was the ‘ageing’ DJ’s. He was first to notice that the radio 1 DJ’s weren’t getting any younger, and that the older DJs weren’t suitable for the new dance music scene. He decided to employ younger people that were more in touch with youth culture. But because Radio 1 wasn’t the place to find young presenters, he mainly took them from kid’s programmes. We said goodbye to the likes of 1980s mainstays Janice Long, Peter Powell, John Peel, Mike Smith, Simon Bates, Mike Read and Steve Wright, and in stepped the likes of ANTHEA TURNER, MARK GOODIER, SIMON MAYO, JAKKI BRAMBLES, ANDY CRANE, ANDY PETERS among others. However, there was still a place for Gary Davies and Bruno Brookes…
September 1988 saw an important event for both Radio 1 and TOTP, with the start of stereo simulcasts! Coinciding with Radio 1's launch on FM and its gradual rollout, Ciani took this opportunity to simulcast TOTP in FM stereo. This continued until September 1991. In 1989 the show inherited a new opening title sequence, but with the retention of “The Wizzard”, and Top of the Pops celebrated the end of the 80s with a special edition and some faces from the past. With the 80s drawing to a close, the 90s were calling and TOTP entered what was perhaps the show's most troubled era…