Top of the Pops: The Story of 1997, Saturday, 20.30, BBC2
We didn’t expect much about the shift to Fridays in the 1996 doc, the minutiae of BBC1 scheduling not really the kind of thing that gets bums on seats on Saturday nights, but it did get a brief mention with Ric Blaxill saying he deliberately ran the short-lived archive slot to coincide with the ad break in Corrie to grab floating viewers, which we’d never heard before. We’re now way ahead of where we are on BBC4 as we look at one of those transitional years for Pops, with Blaxill departing in February, then a couple of short-staying stand-in producers for a couple of months before Chris Cowey took over and stayed there for six years with his own rather idiosyncratic ideas. That involved going back to basics and getting rid of the celeb hosts and the exclusives, which is how people probably think it should be, although with records now being promoted weeks in advance of release it made the show look increasingly out of date. He was also a big one for recycling studio performances so if you were watching it at the time some of the clips in the Big Hits show might be a bit familiar, but it has been a quarter of a century, remarkably.