Top Of The Pops (partially lost British music series; 1964-2006)

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This article has been tagged as NSFW due to its discussion of sexual assault.

TOTP 1964 Logo.jpg

Title card from Boxing Day 1967.

Status: Partially Lost

Top Of The Pops is a British music chart television series that was created by Johnnie Stewart and premiered on 1 January 1964 on BBC One and would go on to launch the careers of many famous bands and musicians. The show was hosted by a wide variety of popular presenters and disc jockeys from when the show was airing including Tony Blackburn, Noel Edmonds, Dave Lee Travis, Nicky Campbell, Simon Mayo and many more until the show's end on 30 July 2006 after 42 years. The show also does a lot Christmas specials since its premiere and still does to this day-long after the show ended.

While the show occasionally gets reran on British networks like UK Gold and BBC Four, a large number of episodes and performances have been either wiped or taken out of rotation by the BBC and have not seen the light of day since their original airings.

Documentation on older episodes in particular is pretty scarce and sometimes inaccurate. Because of the poor documentation, the contents of most episodes are unknown or debatable.[1] Some episodes have been taken out of rotation due to the controversy around the episode's presenter or musician featured in the episode[2] and not even other performances from a particular episode have been seen.

It was reported in April 2003 that BBC had wiped nearly 3,500 performances from the show dated from 1964 to 1976 and only holds 55 performances and very few episodes from this time period.[3] However, since that report, the number has gone down significantly, but there are a lot of missing episodes and performances still out there that hasn't been discovered yet, as of 2023 the number of missing episodes is around 503 with the oldest missing edition being from the 1st of January 1964 and the youngest being from the 4th of August 1977 though clips or lower grade copies of missing episodes are listed as surviving on the Kaleidoscope TV Brain. [4]


The Beatles

Despite their enormous popularity, The Beatles have only appeared on Top Of The Pops three times. In most performances on Top Of The Pops, the musicians would lip-sync and mime their performances, which is why The Beatles only appeared on the show three times. Their performances on the show are considered to be the most sought after because of their popularity long after the band broke up. Their only live performance was in June 1966 to perform Paperback Writer and Rain (which ended up being their final appearance on the show).

One of their performances on the show (a pre-recorded performance of Ticket To Ride from April 1965) was featured in the Doctor Who episode "The Executioners". The Doctor Who episode with the Top Of The Pops performance was recovered and released and as of right now, it is the only surviving footage of the performance. Until 2019, this was the only surviving Beatles performance from Top Of The Pops.

Originally thought to be lost forever in June 2000[5], an 11-second clip of the Paperback Writer performance being recorded off television was discovered in April 2019.[6] Two months later, someone came forward with a recording of 92 seconds of the Paperback Writer performance, also recorded off television.[7] In July 2019, an off-air audio copy of the performance was discovered.[8] As the footage had flickering from the crt and was also was missing audio, it was restored by reducing the flickering and paring the footage with the off-air audio copy of the performance. The restored footage was aired in February 2020.[9] No footage of the Rain performance has surfaced.

T. Rex

T. Rex is a glam rock band that has become very synonymous with Top Of The Pops because of how often the band has performed on Top Of The Pops. Most of the band's performances have been archived at the BBC but one performance has not been released yet. It's a performance of Metal Guru from 11 May 1972. The episode with the performance recently surfaced at an auction along with other lost episodes of Top of The Pops.[10] In a video showing a preview of what the reels hold, the first 17 seconds of the performance was used. In a BBC report on the auction, 13 seconds of the performance was shown. Although the auction was won, the episodes or the performances from the episodes have not been released online. So far only photos from the performances have made the rounds.


The British band Queen have made several appearances on Top Of The Pops between 1974 to 1982. Their first-ever television performance was a mimed performance of Seven Seas of Rhye on 21 February 1974. The band's final appearance on the show was a performance of Las Palabras De Amor on 17 June 1982. Seven Seas Of Rhye was performed three times on the show and only the first two performances have surfaced online in their entirety. Snippets of the third performance was used in a compilation video of the song's performances on the show that was released as part of the Days Of Our Lives documentary. It's likely the performance hasn't been released completely because the episode's presenter is now disgraced disc jockey, Dave Lee Travis, however a black and white copy of the performance was uploaded to YouTube by user The Queen Collector on May 18, 2022[11]. The band would go on to perform Killer Queen, Now I'm Here, Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy and We Are The Champions in their later appearances on Top Of The Pops. While the performances of Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy and We Are The Champions survive today, some performances of Now I'm Here and Killer Queen are hard to come by and are considered to be the most sought-after performances due to the band's popularity long after their heyday.

Pink Floyd

The psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd made three appearances on Top Of The Pops in July 1967 to perform the single See Emily Play. The band mined the single with frontman Syd Barrett singing live. The first performance was done on the 6 July show and was hosted by Alan Freeman, the second performance was on the 13 July show hosted by Pete Murray and the third and final performance was on the 27 July show, the host of the 27 July show is unknown. Barrett hated the fact the band had to mine their performances and was once quoted in saying "John Lennon doesn't have to go on Top of the Pops."[12] The 6, 13 and 27 July shows were erased after their airings on BBC1 and with Pink Floyd never making anymore appearances on Top Of The Pops, the See Emily Play performances became the holy grail for fans of the Syd Barrett era of the band. In October 2009, a home recording of the performances from 6 and 27 July were found by the British Film Institute. Although the footage had been badly damage, the performance from 6 July was screened at the Missing Believed Wiped event on 9 January 2010.[13] The screened footage would later be released as part of the The Early Years 1965–1972 box set in November 2016.[14] It's unknown what happened to the 27 July footage or if it ended being achieved at the BBC.

David Bowie

On 4 January 1973, David Bowie and his backing band "The Spiders From Mars" performed a rendition of The Jean Genie. This performance is special for both fans of David Bowie and fans of Top Of The Pops as this is a rare time where performance is neither lip-synced nor mimed and during the performance, guitarist Mick Ronson performs an extended guitar solo which is not on the Jean Genie single and is rare during the Ziggy Stardust era. However, the episode that had the performance was erased not long after its 4 January 1973 airing and for 38 years was considered to be lost forever until a cameraman (who used a fisheye camera lens during the performance) revealed in December 2011 that he has a copy of the performance and was mostly used as an example what the fisheye camera lens could do. The performance was transmitted on 21 December 2011 and has since been archived by the BBC.


The show's first presenter was Jimmy Savile who continued to host the program sporadically until its 2006 cancelation. He died on 29 October 2011 at the age of 84.[15] Following his passing, a huge wave of allegations about him sexually abusing children came flooding in.[16] His crimes reportedly went on from 1955 to 2009. Some of his crimes actually happened during tapings of Top Of The Pops. This revelation has lead to Operation Yewtree (which is a British police investigation into sexual abuse allegations, predominantly the abuse of children) and 19 arrests were made. Three of those arrests were musician Gary Glitter, disc jockey Dave Lee Travis and performer Rolf Harris. Glitter and Harris performed on Top Of The Pops several times throughout the show's run, with Glitter appearing the most times. Dave Lee Travis presented the show several times between 1974 and 1984 and he and Savile appeared in the show's final episode in July 2006. Immediately following the allegations and the progress of Operation Yewtree, BBC Four pulled episodes of Top Of The Pops that featured Savile, Travis,[17][18] Harris and Glitter (although Glitter's episodes were pulled in 1997 following his arrest on possession of child pornography[19]). Their episodes have never been seen since.


"No Matter How I Try" by Gilbert O'Sullivan from a recovered edition circa 1971

"I Got You Babe" by Sonny and Cher from a recovered 1965 episode.

A collection of different opening themes from throughout the show's run from 1964 up till 2013.

See Also (BBC Wiped Programs Media)

See Also (Top Of The Pops Series)