The 80s, the decade of synth, electro-pop, big hair, shoulder pads, neon, and the music video.
On the 900th episode, 9th July 1981, brand new opening titles, theme tune and the legendary TOTP neon logo debuted on screen.
Computer generated titles.
April 1986 saw the introduction of the first computer generated TOTP opening titles.
January 1989 saw a refresh of the TOTP studio and presentation, but The Wizard continued as the theme tune.
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Year by Year Guides
The Story of the 80s
In 1980 Robin Nash decided to step down from his role as executive producer. Michael Hurll took the helm, and with a keen eye on the evolving music scene, he deemed it necessary to instigate significant changes to rejuvenate the show's appeal. Punk had waned, and disco was fading, while electronic music, spurred on by the "New Romantics" movement, was rapidly emerging as the dominant musical genre of the early 1980s.
Michael Hurll sought to reintroduce a distinct identity to the show, which had been somewhat diluted by Robin Nash in 1978 when the opening titles were banished. He briefly reinstated the use of "Whole Lotta Love", albeit an extended version, for the chart rundown segment. Despite these changes, there remained no official title sequence. 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 dance troupe, Zoo, in 1981. By 1983 they themselves were replaced 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 Hurll 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 complement the fresh sets, Hurll introduced new permanent opening titles in May 1981, featuring colourful flying LPs and amongst a dramatic dry ice effect. The new theme music, Phil Lynott’s 1980 hit 'Yellow Pearl,' reinforced the show's new direction. The atmosphere on set shifted toward creating a party-like experience for the viewers. Balloons, dry ice, and a troupe of professional dancers contributed to this lively ambiance. Presenters, including the first female host in the show's history, Janice Long, were directed to exude excitement and enthusiasm. The goal was to make viewers feel as though they were part of the celebration.
Michael Hurll altered the presentation dynamics by increasingly enlisting DJs as hosts, departing from the 1970s practice of having a few main presenters. Pairing presenters and rotating them became the norm, with notable combinations such as John Peel and David Jensen, or John Peel and Janice Long.
With TOTP and Radio 1 intertwined at this point, TOTP celebrated Radio 1's 15th birthday in 1982. The studio was brimming with most, if not all, of the Radio 1 DJs, celebrating in style.
In May 1983, TOTP marked a significant milestone, celebrating its 1000th episode. Michael Hurll, embracing the extravagant spirit of the 1980s, introduced the first major neon studio set. This set featured pink and blue circles and diamonds, with the iconic red and blue neon logo retained. The TOTP opening titles were updated to incorporate the 1981 flying LPs within a revolving TV tube vortex, created using the 'slit scan' process. The show's presenters continued the tradition of hosting the annual Christmas episode, and the year-end review, a format that persisted until 1985 when a single Christmas Day episode became the standard.
By mid-1985, Michael Hurll instigated another studio transformation, replacing the iconic circles and diamonds with an array of blue, pink, and yellow neon circles, arrows, and crosshatches. The neon TOTP logo remained intact. This period also witnessed a toning down of the previously exuberant "party atmosphere," leading to the discontinuation of balloons, flags, and party hats.
Toward the end of 1985, the show's presentation and studio was beginning to show its age. This led to the eventual retirement of the classic opening titles, the theme 'Yellow Pearl,' and the 13-year-old TOTP logo (until 2019 that is!).
April 1986 ushered in a fresh new logo and title sequence characterised by sharp and angular 80s design elements. These titles were computer-generated, featuring 3D blocks, saxophones, records, cassettes, and CDs set against an array of vibrant backgrounds. The accompanying theme music, composed by Paul Hardcastle, was titled "The Wizzard."
By 1987, Michael Hurll gradually relinquished his hands-on role in producing the show, passing the reins to other producers, including Brian Whitehouse, and a brief return for Robin Nash. Michael Hurll completely stepped down from the executive producer position in 1988, with Paul Ciani taking over. Ciani brought fresh ideas and perspectives to prepare the show for the 1990s.
During Hurll's transition, the studio underwent yet another makeover in November 1987. The primary set incorporated pink and blue neon bars, while other sets within the studio embraced a more generic look characterised by metallic design elements and day-glow neon accents.
One of Paul Ciani's significant changes was the introduction of younger presenters. Recognising that the Radio 1 DJs were aging and less aligned with the evolving dance music scene, he recruited younger talent primarily from children's programming, and the CBBC broom cupboard. Familiar faces from the 1980s, such as Janice Long, Peter Powell, John Peel, and others, made way for newcomers like Anthea Turner, Mark Goodier, Simon Mayo, Jakki Brambles, Andy Crane, and Andy Peters. Nonetheless, there was still room for veterans like Gary Davies and Bruno Brookes.
In September 1988, TOTP marked an important milestone alongside Radio 1 with the introduction of stereo simulcasts, aligning with Radio 1's launch of FM. Stereo simulcasts continued until September 1991.
31st December 1988 saw TOTP reach yet another important milestone, it's 25th anniversary. Many famous faces both past and present returned for the 1 hour special, featuring both archive and new performances. Special guests included old presenters like David "Kid" Jenson, Jimmy Savile, Tony Blackburn, Lulu and Status Quo.
With the 1980s drawing to a close, TOTP introduced another new opening title sequence in January 1989, but retained "The Wizzard" as it's theme theme.
Top of the Pops celebrated the end of the 1980s with a special episode, 'Review of the 80s', which saw numerous 80s artists return to the TOTP studio to perform their biggest 80s hits. With the 80s drawing to a close, the 90s were calling and TOTP entered what was perhaps the show's most troubled era…