Top Of The Pops - The Story Of 1986 was a BBC documentary first broadcast on BBC Four in July 2018. The programme was the latest in a series of Top of the Pops documentaries which precede repeat showings of most of the shows of a particular year, using archive clips and recent interviews with some of the protagonists of the shows.
The 1986 documentary highlights subjects such as the demise of British pop bands of the early 80s (Madness, Spandau Ballet, Wham!, Duran Duran) and the arrival of new American dance acts, the large number of cover versions (lack of original songwriting), the continuing rise of the Stock, Aitken & Waterman produced hits (Bananarama) and pop hits in movies and TV soap operas. Among the artists featured are Communards, Simply Red, Sinitta, Swing Out Sister and Housemartins.
Links to Peel
- Peel hosted the show six times in 1986, all with Janice Long. The documentary features several interview sequences with Long who mentions Peel twice:
- With a new look show imposed by producer Michael Hurll during 1986, Top of the Pops changed its signature tune from Yellow Pearl to The Wizard, written and performed by Paul Hardcastle. Long mentions that Hurll's choice was influenced "by the likes of myself and Peelie....really picking up on the dance scene". The theme was used for the first time on the 03 April 1986 show which was hosted by Long and Peel.
- A segment of the programme features Robert Palmer's 1986 hit Addicted To Love and its striking video famously featuring top female models posing and miming with instruments as a 'backing band'. Although in an interview the models claim they received no criticism of the sexist use of women as "clones", Janice Long claimed that she and Peel were "incredibly cross" about the video which was to be included on the show they would host on 29 May 1986. Long claims that in rehearsals she re-titled the song "A Dickhead in Love" to which Peel retorted "You can't say that or you'll get in trouble. I'll say it!". After the video was shown Peel announced live on air "That's "A dick-head in love", Robert Palmer, and how nice to see he's turned his back on all that sexist muck..".
- The success of Peel session group Housemartins is featured in the programme, and in particular their 'spiritual' hit song Caravan of Love. In the programme Housemartins lead singer Paul Heaton claims that they may have been purposely denied the coveted Christmas number one spot due to comments he had made on PM Margaret Thatcher. At the time Peel had regretted the fact that Caravan Of Love was not the Christmas number one, having been knocked off the top spot by Jackie Wilson's Reet Petite, and made the point that the song had already been heard in their second session, first broadcast on 14 April that year.
- Doctor and the Medics' cover hit of Norman Greenbaum's Spirit in the Sky is also featured on the show. Peel had played the original in early 1970, shortly after it had been first released.