Shiny Shelf

SHINY ADVENT: Top of the Pops

By Eddie Robson on 14 December 2006

The BBC may have caused a bit of noise this year with its decision to cancel ‘Top of the Pops’ but it has, very quietly, kept the show ticking over. Sister show ‘TOTP2’ is still running and, indeed, still generating new material. And one of the aspects of TOTP which many thought would be most sorely missed – the Christmas Day special – won’t be missed at all, because look at the schedule for the 25th and you’ll see it’s sitting there at two o’clock.

So this is another Advent piece that intends to sidestep dewy-eyed nostalgia for Christmas past. To be honest I can’t remember much from past TOTP Christmas specials, partly because round my parents’ house they usually crack the bubbly open at half past ten, but also because it’s one of those generic Christmas programmes that the family sits around and half-watches whilst waiting for the dinner. Plus, as I said when BBC1 broadcast its dreadful final TOTP, the show isn’t about nostalgia – it should be instant and disposable.

The TOTP Christmas special is the clearest indication yet that the BBC will give the show a few years off, then relaunch it Doctor Who-style to an audience who hopefully won’t take it for granted. All those who say the charts aren’t relevant due to the decline of singles sales might like to argue it out with those who think the album is being killed by downloading. When the charts finally get around to properly integrating downloads, they should come alive again in a world where any track – not just those carried in high street stores – could make the charts.

Nowhere does this have greater potential than at Christmas, the season of the disposable novelty song. It’s a real shame that The Killers’ speedily-recorded Christmas track isn’t eligible, as it’s arrived too late for a full release. But one day we’ll have a surprise Christmas Number One this way, and the Christmas TOTP will be their big moment.

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By Eddie Robson

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