Janice Long, neé Chegwin, was born on 5th April 1955 in Liverpool. She is the sister of famous TV personality Keith Chegwin.
In 1979 Janice started her radio career as a station assistant for BBC Radio Merseyside in Liverpool.
Janice joined BBC Radio 1 in 1982, and started broadcasting her own Saturday evening show on the 4th December 1982, however, she made her Top of the Pops debut on the 2nd December 1982. Janice also hosted a number of shows on BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio Wales & Greatest Hits Radio in latter years. She was also one of the main presenters of the Live Aid charity concert in 1985.
Janice was the first regular female presenter of Top of the Pops, and regularly presented the show from 1983 to 4th August 1988. During her time on the show she regularly co-presented with John Peel. Janice returned to co-host the last regular edition of Top of the Pops in July 2006 as well.
Janice sadly died at home on Christmas Day 2021, at the age of 66, surrounded by her family.
Janice Long was one of our favourite Top of the Pops presenters and we have put together this tribute video, to remember her below.
|2206||The Final Countdown|
|1189||Christmas Day 1986|
|1137||Christmas Day 1985|
|1031||Christmas 1983 - Part 1|
|979||Christmas 1982 - Part 2|
"Well, it was via Radio 1. I was working at Radio Merseyside and I'd interviewed Paul Gambiccini. Without me knowing, Paul had recommended me to Radio 1 and the next thing it was - "Janice Long - first woman since Annie Nightingale to join Radio One" blah blah blah. Then all of a sudden you’re on Top of the Pops on Thursday. I had to go along with Gary Davies and Pat Sharp who joined at the same time. They gave us anoraks and we all looked like petrol pump attendants - white anoraks with your name on it - just in case you forgot! Peter Powell was presenting and he asked me where I was from. I said "Liverpool" and everybody just went uh - that was my first appearance on TOTP."
"That was the next year and I really couldn’t believe it. It was Top of the Pops. Everybody watches this show. All of a sudden to be standing there doing it and seeing the bands perform was amazing. I remember I got there too early. They said I had to arrive at 4 or something but I was there at 10 o’clock in the morning, I was so excited!"
"I just found it unbelievable that it had taken so long! You didn’t really think about it until then. Why aren’t there more women? But there was that attitude if you’re a girl in certain quarters that you can’t be into music, which is nonsense. You worked at Radio 1 and you presented TOTP and it actually got to the stage that I was presenting more TOTP than anybody. I think I was on consecutive weeks."
"It was cheesy wasn’t it! Very Smashy and Nicey. They did personify the whole thing. You went along to TOTP to rehearse. I think I’m pretty hyper anyway but they would say "Can you be livelier "? and at the end of it you would be absolutely exhausted because you would always have to pre-record the chart run downs and they would go "No, no - one more time ". It was just mad because you were trying to be witty where possible in between the tracks with some clever banter and sometimes getting into trouble!. Saying about Michael Crawford " Somebody must have liked this record to get it to No.1" and people complaining and Anne Robinson telling us off on Points of View. And there was a wonderful time when John Peel and I were presenting and Pete Wylie was on doing 'Sinful' and we both loved this record. We were both standing on the bridge (because they had different bits - first shot will be on the bridge - always that shot when it goes right up your nose! 14 chins and up your nose) and he said "If that doesn’t make No.1 I’m going to come round and break wind in your kitchen" and I just burst out laughing."
Simon Bates always wore the same beige jacket didn’t he! It was a problem when they said you couldn’t wear this colour because it didn’t look good on screen. When I was first doing TOTP I lived in Liverpool and I used to run round all the shops to get things. But when I was living in London it was a case of the day before the show going to Hyper Hyper which was so '80s and flamboyant. If there was a bow - it was big! If it was a colour - it was the most vibrant! The outfits always cost more than your fee. Who cared though because it was great."
"It was incredible to be on with people like The Smiths. I’d seen them from the beginning doing stuff and I’d had them on a local TV programme and suddenly there you are on TOTP with them - that happened with them so many times. David Bowie came in and was incredible. Outside his dressing room he had two women who were like sumo wrestlers guarding the door. The security at Television Centre is so strict but he actually had these people guarding the door. Every time I went to my dressing room, which was next door they would stand up, as if to say "Woaah". I wasn’t even trying to get in, I was just trying to get to my room. When I think about it all of the people I’ve met through doing TOTP - phenomenal."
"Well I was familiar with the track. I used to send demos out of it before it had been signed to a record label - so I’d had it for a long time. I still don’t think it was disgusting or anything. Mike Read on Radio 1 thought it was awful - or did he - who knows! Of course it goes straight to No.1. I think it was going to go to No.1 anyway but as a result of Mike’s outburst it was banned. Subsequently on TOTP you could only play the No.2 record. Never mind, but I think now it wouldn’t make any difference."
"Funny really. People going round trying to get everybody to dance, everybody banging into each other, huge hair styles, padded shoulders and lots of dancers who looked like woodstain. It was funny standing there when it was going on but it worked on the telly. It was a good atmosphere. You did get excited and afterwards the real party did start 'cos you’d often just go to the bar and you would be hanging out with Madness. I got stuck in the lift once and just managed to get into the studio as it started - can you believe it! Do you remember the shows we had to dress up as pantomime people? Yes we had to get dressed up as a character in a pantomime - I don’t know what I was but I was standing in a big flarey skirt."
"None really. Just turn up and go for it. Any planning would make you much more nervous. I loved it. I would like to hang out there now. I went a couple of years ago - and took my son Fred 'cos he wanted to see Take That doing their final performance. It’s still got a buzz about it now - it was just a great vibe."
"I actually got wind of it beforehand. Bob Geldof and Midge Ure had told me so I knew there was going to be this big build up to all of that. It sounds really crass but it did bring people together and there was an aim and a motivation to one particular goal which was a fantastic feeling and I was very proud. I was around so much I actually launched Band Aid at Wembley."
"I think it was a fantastic era and you had all sorts of stuff going on. Wham were fantastic pop and then if you wanted it the other end you had your cred bands like Public Image Ltd, The Smiths and stuff. The dance thing was starting to come through as well so it was a great decade."
I did an awful lot of live shows but you didn’t have to do a lot. The only one I can remember is the All About Eve performance which was a technical disaster where they couldn’t hear their backing track and didn’t start miming when they should have. The nice bits for me were if there was someone you were really into like John Lydon or Morrissey and they looked over at you while they were playing - that was special!"
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