Top of the Pops – 1977 Christmas Special

Sandwiched in between a repeat of Are You Being Served? (The Father Christmas Affair) and HM The Queen was the 1977 TOTP Christmas shindig. As with some previous years it was split into two (the second installment popping up on Boxing Day). Since I’m a glutton for punishment I’ll be watching both (wish me luck). Let’s tackle the 25th first though ….

David ‘Kid’ Jensen (velvet suit, ruffled shirt, dicky bow) and Noel Edmonds (blue suit, stripy wide tie) are your hosts today. But they’ve barely time to exchange yuletide felicitations before up pop Showaddywaddy with You Got What It Takes. The sort of group designed for colour television (pity those still watching in black and white as they’re denied the full glory of the Showadd’s stage outfits) the group do their retro rock’n’roll shtick as well as ever. And not only do they manage to sing and play, they also pull a few crackers and tuck into some Christmas nosh.

Denice Williams, with Free, is next. Sorely lacking in Christmas trimmings, she has to get by with just the power of her song. Luckily it’s a good one and – singing live – manages to hit the warbly high notes without embarrassing herself.

1977 has seen lots of new names in the charts, the ‘Kid’ tells us. The ears prick up at that – could this be, at long last, one of those new-fangled punky bands? Things seem promising when he goes on to say that the next act were one of the most outrageous. Hurrah! Who could these anti-establishment types be?

Ah it’s the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band.

I’m not too disappointed though, as I do love this version of The Floral Dance (so much so, it’s one of the tracks on my ‘favourites’ playlist in Spotify). In fact, I love it so much I think I’ll listen to it again. Excuse me a moment ….

Noel and the ‘Kid’ are reunited for some torturous banter, which is their way of introducing Legs & Co dancing to Fanfare for the Common Man by ELP. Legs & Co are looking mighty fine today it has to be said. There’s plenty of Christmas trees and dry ice too (for those who like that sort of thing).

Leo Sayer, presumably wearing the jumper his mum bought him for Christmas, is next on with When I Need You. Unfortunately no-one seems to have needed him, as the audience are conspicuous by their absence. Keeping the ambiance at a fairly soporific level are the Manhattan Transfer with Chanson D’Amour (rat de dat de dah). It’s almost like I’ve switched on to an episode of The Two Ronnies.

Hot Chocolate and You Win Again are wheeled on next. Not a very jolly song for Christmas Day, but Errol attempts to leaven the tone of the lyrics by smiling throughout – which sort of works. The set decoration (balloons) also helps to raise the party atmosphere a smidge, although by now the absence of a studio audience is becoming rather noticeable.

David Soul (Don’t Give Up On Us) and ABBA (Knowing Me, Knowing Me) are both on film and both continue the downbeat relationship feel of the show. At least David seems hopeful that things might work out (he’s probably deluding himself though) whilst ABBA are certain it’s the end. Hey ho. Let’s hope for something cheerful next.

Ah, that’s better – it’s Space with Magic Fly. Things then settle down again with Johnny Mathis and When A Child Is Born (one for the mums I think). Sitting amongst a pile of greenery in a director’s chair, it’s one of the odder TOTP staging decisions. Couldn’t they have popped a few baubles on the trees to make them look just a little Christmassy?

Legs & Co (dressed as Reindeers) are joined by a black Father Christmas, no doubt to reflect the fact that they’re all dancing to Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder. Yes it’s as bonkers as it sounds, thank goodness.

The maudlin tone of the show returns with Kenny Rogers and Lucille on film. Fair to say that if you’re feeling a bit down this isn’t the TOTP Christmas show to lift your spirits. Luckily Baccara jolly things up with Yes Sir, I Can Boogie.

We close with the UK No 1 – Wings and Mull of Kintyre. Paul, Linda and Denny were already booked for The Mike Yarwood Show, so appear here in video form (complete with an unconvicting grassy knoll, plenty of mist and the Campbeltown Pipe Band walking through the shot at exactly the right time).

Would things cheer up for the Boxing Day show? Give me a few days and I’ll let you know.

3 thoughts on “Top of the Pops – 1977 Christmas Special

  1. The best number two record of 1977 was God Save the Queen, which was, wrongly, banned by the BBC.

    I did catch the end of this programme at the time. My parents put the tv on for the Queen’s speech and it was partway through Mull of Kintyre, and White Christmas was played over the closing credits. (The latter was released as a tribute to the recently deceased Bing Crosby.)

    On the nine regular editions of Top of the Pops when Mull of Kintyre was number one they showed a piece of film of Wings performing the song, but for the Christmas edition they sang it on a studio set.

    As you mentioned, Wings sang Mull of Kinyre on two programmes broadcast on Xmas Day 1977. They also sang it on the Mike Yarwood Christmas Show, and appeared in a sketch with Mike Yarwood playing Dennis Healey as a punk rocker. This programme was recorded before Mull of Kintyre got to number one.

    When the TOTP2 Christmas special included Mull of Kintyre (rather than Wonderful Christmas Time) they usually show the clip of Wings playing it in the Top of the Pops studio, rather than the film. Sound of the 70s showed the clip from the Mike Yarwood Christmas Show.

    There was one Xmas edition of TOTP2 where they had Ringo Starr, Cilla Black and Basil Brush sining a song about a snowman (with Cilla drowning out the other two), followed by Mull of Kintyre, and Merry Christmas War is Over.

    The clip of Ringo Starr and Cilla Black actually came from an edition of Cilla broadcast in February 1971. The programme was shot in Norway, and also featured Ringo singing It Don’t Come Easy.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I remember Christmas Day 1977, I remember it being a full grey say, warmish as kids were outside playing football in the streets in their new football kit. Not as many skateboards given their phenomena that year. Remember what a had for Christmas, a Timex Automatic Watch, Silver and Steel, a Collins Encyclopaedia. The only thing I remembered about ToTP Xmas ‘77 was the brass band playing The Floral Dance.

    Says it all really. But least it was traditional Xmas ToTP. The charts was lame for most of this year but the autumn saw New Wave acts kick down the ToTP door and got in. Neither ToTP end of year editions of ‘77 nor ‘78 reflects that. Pity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The best Christmas Top of the Pops were the 1979 editions because they featured a lot of new wave acts. Not that surprising there weren’t many kids on skateboards. Some parents thought they were dangerous (although it was strongly recommended that skateboarders wear the correct safety gear), and they had a reputation for breaking easily, so a good skateboard would have been expensive.


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