Last time I looked at a show that could still be rebroadcast on BBC4 without frightening the horses. Today’s festive effort (following on from the 1972 Christmas Day edition which featured the likes of David Cassidy, Hot Butter and Don McLean) would certainly need a few snips though …
Although the countdown clock reveals this was supposed to be a Boxing Day special, for some reason it was shunted down the schedule to the 28th. Presenter wise, we’re on safe ground with Tony Blackburn (nice tanktop, sir) and Noel Edmonds (wearing quite the shirt) who kick off proceedings by introducing Gary Glitter. Oops, best get those scissors out then.
If that’s a slightly unsettling start then things don’t get any better with Donny Osmond and Puppy Love. The white Elvis jumpsuits are a bold fashion choice but this song isn’t quite my cup of tea. Thankfully we finally get the party started with School’s Out by Alice Cooper. Alice is a vision in black, although his band opt for brighter colours. Rudimentary video effects, bubbles and enthusiastic dancing from dowdily dressed audience members all helps to add to the fun.
Lieutenant Pigeon and Mouldy Old Dough. Well, like Alice and his friends they’ve certainly come dressed for the occasion. The party mood then temporarily halts as Roberta Flack (The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face) takes her turn at the piano.
Jigging audience members wouldn’t have been the right choice to accompany Roberta Flack, but they’re back with a vengeance as Slade step up to deliver Mama Weer All Crazee Now. We’re into imperial era Slade here – Noddy has his mirrored stovepipe hat and Dave Hill is in a glittery mood (Jim Lea’s made less of an effort though). After a wobbly start, this edition is really beginning to motor.
Benny Hill and Ernie has the distinction of featuring in two consecutive TOTP Christmas Shows (although since the song had been No 1 during December 1971 and January 1972 no doubt it would have felt like old news by this time).
Chicory Tip look a bit dowdy compared to some of their glam rivals, but no matter – Son of My Father is still a top tune, thanks to its throbbing synth flourishes. Pan’s People twirl around to Nilsson’s Without You although first they unwrap a rather large present from Tony (revealing Cherry Gillespie, their new recruit).
The Osmonds and Crazy Horses (waaaa! waaaa!) keeps the studio rocking. Thankfully this time they’re left the jumpsuits at home and have decided to treat us with some live vocals (a good performance, it has to be said).
Next, Chuck Berry brings out his Ding-A-Ling. Although Mary Whitehouse tried her hardest, the song wasn’t banned at the time although I wouldn’t expect to see this performance (which features Rolf Harris doing some festive cartoons) pop up again on television any time soon.
The Jacksons and Rockin’ Robin (their clothes are so bright they hurt my eyes) are followed by T Rex with Metal Guru, the last studio band. But there’s still time to playout with Ringo Starr and Back Off Boogaloo (cue the balloons).
A few wobbles here and there then, but overall a pretty solid collection of tunes.