1981 Episode Guide

TOTP finally embraces the 80s with a new signature tune & opening title sequence. Legs & Co. get their marching orders, but Zoo & some cheerleaders usher in a new party atmosphere to the programme.


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Monthly Episode Guide

Christmas 1980 - Part 2

Dave Lee Travis and Tommy Vance introduce a special edition, featuring some of the top records of 1980. Including performances from Ottawan, The Jam, The Detroit Spinners, and Kelly Marie.


08/01/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Adam & The Ants, Barry Manilow, Sad Café, and Chas & Dave. Introduced by Richard Skinner.


15/01/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Gary Numan, Dire Straits, Phil Collins, and Mac Davis. Introduced by Dave Lee Travis.


22/01/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Blondie, Racey, Visage, and Adam & The Ants. Introduced by Peter Powell.


29/01/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from John Lennon, Madness, Ultravox, and Diana Ross. Introduced by Tommy Vance.


05/02/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Blondie, Fred Wedlock, Dire Straits, and Cliff Richard. Introduced by Simon Bates.


12/02/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Ultravox, Coast To Coast, George Benson, and Slade. Introduced by Richard Skinner.


19/02/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Rainbow, Headgirl (motorhead & Girlschool), Stray Cats, and Visage. Introduced by Dave Lee Travis.


26/02/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Roxy Music, Kim Wilde, Madness, and Coast To Coast. Introduced by Peter Powell.


05/03/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Talking Heads, Toyah, Headgirl (motorhead & Girlschool), and Kool & The Gang. Introduced by Mike Read.


12/03/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Kim Wilde, Kelly Marie, Status Quo, and Landscape. Introduced by Tommy Vance.


19/03/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Sharon Redd, Dave Stewart & Colin Blunstone, Stevie Wonder, and Bucks Fizz. Introduced by Peter Powell.


26/03/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Kim Wilde, Hazel O’connor, Gillan, and Lene Lovich. Introduced by Richard Skinner.


02/04/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Dave Stewart & Colin Blunstone, Liquid Gold, The Jacksons, and Sugar Minott. Introduced by Simon Bates.


09/04/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Bucks Fizz, Keith Marshall, Graham Bonnet, and Eddy Grant. Introduced by Mike Read.


16/04/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Bad Manners, Girlschool, Department S, and Whitesnake. Introduced by Peter Powell.


23/04/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Matchbox, Roger Taylor, Barry Manilow, and Keith Marshall. Introduced by Dave Lee Travis.


30/04/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Madness, Sheena Easton, Ennio Morricone, and Quincy Jones. Introduced by Jimmy Savile.


07/05/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Stray Cats, Keith Marshall, Eddy Grant, and Reo Speedwagon. Introduced by Peter Powell.


14/05/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Sheena Easton, Kim Carnes, Adam & The Ants, and Thin Lizzy. Introduced by Tommy Vance.


21/05/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Shakin’ Stevens, Toyah, The Teardrop Explodes, and The Human League. Introduced by Dave Lee Travis.


28/05/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Champaign, Tenpole Tudor, Enigma, and Coast To Coast. Introduced by Simon Bates.


04/06/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Shakin’ Stevens, Squeeze, The Jam, and Toyah. Introduced by Richard Skinner.


11/06/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Hazel O’connor, Elaine Paige, Ultravox, and Enigma. Introduced by Jimmy Savile.


18/06/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Phil Collins, Kool & The Gang, Siouxsie & The Banshees, and Imagination. Introduced by Peter Powell.


25/06/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Elaine Paige, The Evasions, Depeche Mode, and Quincy Jones. Introduced by Simon Bates.


02/07/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Third World, Quincy Jones, Linx, and Michael Jackson. Introduced by Dave Lee Travis.


09/07/1981

A special live edition of the chart show, celebrating the 900th episode. A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from The Supremes, The Dave Clark Five, Randy Crawford, and Tom Tom Club. Introduced by Jimmy Savile, Alan Freeman, David Jacobs, & Pete Murray.


16/07/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Third World, The Jacksons, Kate Bush, and Spandau Ballet. Introduced by Peter Powell.


23/07/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Sheena Easton, Reo Speedwagon, Tight Fit, and Gidea Park. Introduced by Richard Skinner.


30/07/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Kim Wilde, Bill Wyman, The Undertones, and Spandau Ballet. Introduced by Steve Wright.


06/08/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Sheena Easton, Lobo, Reo Speedwagon, and Tight Fit. Introduced by Jimmy Savile.


13/08/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Kim Wilde, Startrax, and Elo. Introduced by Simon Bates.


20/08/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from The Human League, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Randy Crawford, and Lobo. Introduced by Dave Lee Travis.


27/08/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Cliff Richard, The Nolans, Elo, and Genesis. Introduced by Richard Skinner.


03/09/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from John Foxx, Bucks Fizz, Gary Numan, and The Pointer Sisters. Introduced by Peter Powell.


10/09/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Cliff Richard, Randy Crawford, Imagination, and Ottawan. Introduced by Jimmy Savile.


17/09/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Omd, Sheena Easton, Hi-gloss, and Godley & Crème. Introduced by Steve Wright.


24/09/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Alvin Stardust, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, Diana Ross & Lionel Richie, and Heaven 17. Introduced by Simon Bates.


01/10/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Godley & Crème, The Teardrop Explodes, Ottawan, and Bad Manners. Introduced by Mike Read.


08/10/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, Shakin’ Stevens, Elvis Costello & The Attractions, and Tight Fit. Introduced by Dave Lee Travis.


15/10/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Toyah, Altered Images, Godley & Crème, and Squeeze. Introduced by David Jensen.


22/10/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from The Human League, The Four Tops, Gillan, and The Jam. Introduced by Jimmy Savile.


29/10/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Rod Stewart, Olivia Newton-john, B.a. Robertson & Maggie Bell, and Omd. Introduced by Simon Bates.


05/11/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from The Police, Rush, Elo, and Abc. Introduced by Peter Powell.


12/11/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Omd, The Fureys With Davey Arthur, Air Supply, and Daryl Hall & John Oates. Introduced by Dave Lee Travis.


19/11/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Julio Iglesias, Abc, Fun Boy Three, and Soft Cell. Introduced by Steve Wright.


26/11/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Earth, Wind & Fire, Cliff Richard, Ultravox, and Kool & The Gang. Introduced by Mike Read.


03/12/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Soft Cell, Duran Duran, Rod Stewart, and Diana Ross. Introduced by David Jensen.


10/12/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Madness, Ken Dodd, Bucks Fizz, and Abba. Introduced by Jimmy Savile.


17/12/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Cliff Richard, Godley & Crème, Rod Stewart, and Jon & Vangelis. Introduced by Simon Bates.


24/12/1981

A look at Britain's best-selling discs, artists, and news from the Top 40. Including performances from Adam & The Ants, Bucks Fizz, Kool & The Gang, and Altered Images. Introduced by David Jensen.


Christmas Day 1981

A special Christmas Day edition, where the Radio 1 DJs present their favourite hits of 1981. Including performances from Ultravox, The Human League, Kirsty Maccoll, and The Jacksons.


New Years Eve 1981

Mike Read takes a look back at the some of the No.1 records of 1981, in this special edition. Including performances from Adam & The Ants, Roxy Music, The Police, and Joe Dolce Music Theatre.



Year in Review

1981 was a big year for Top of the Pops, and it saw a lot of changes to the atmosphere, sets, graphics, and of course the music! As 1981 opened TOTP felt as if it was a work in progress, with many features being trialled and with the ‘party atmosphere’ being slowly turned up throughout the year. The first big change was the removal of the ‘coming up’ section at the start of the show. In it’s place was a very simple title sequence - a black and white 70s TOTP logo inside many spinning squares. It would usually be accompanied by the opening bars of the first performance. From May, the show began to be transmitted live some weeks, a practice which continued on and off during the rest of the 80s.

The music video era was truly here, but TOTP felt a little lost. It had no theme tune, it felt dated, and it’s identity didnt feel memorable or current. July 1981 marked the 900th episode of TOTP, a memorable landmark. The "Whole Lotta Love" themetune which had been in use since the early 1970s was cast away, and replaced in favour of Midge Ure & Thin Lizzy's new tune, "Yellow Pearl". This new themetune was accompanied alongside flying coloured flashing vinyl records to open each show. 'Yellow Pearl' also accompanied the new look chart rundown, which was revamped with more modern graphics. A Top 10 video countdown which had been present since 1980 was ditched in July 1981 onwards, with numbers 10-1 now counted down in the same way as 30-21 and 20-11.

In October 1981 it was time to say goodbye to another mainstay of Top of the Pops, as Legs and Co. disbanded. After five years, the idea of an all-girl dance troupe seemed old-fashioned and outdated. With the advent of music videos becoming more commonplace, Legs and Co. were appearing less frequently, and merely as an adjunct to artists performing in the studio. Their final stand-alone dance was to the Tweets' 'Birdie Song’.

As Legs and Co. left the TOTP studio, a new mixed-gender dance troupe named 'Zoo' entered. Like their predecessors, they were choreographed by Flick Colby, however, ‘Zoo’ was a much larger team of dancers than previous dance troupes, with members coming and going all the time. The number of dancers would vary according to how many were required for that routine. They would also dance more frequently alongside the artists rather than just standing in for an artist who couldn’t make it to the studio.

Mike Read introduces the chart rundown in April 1981.
In July 1981 TOTP reaches it’s 900th episode, hosted by Jimmy Savile, Alan Freeman, David Jacobs & Pete Murray.