The BBC’s censorship of archive episodes of Top of the Pops

An example of how the BBC is fiddling with the archive episodes of Top of the Pops that are being shown on BBC4 currently and effectively rewriting history in a way. Maybe to save itself from perceived “embarrassment” more than anyone else?

Top of the Pops censorship

This one is from 25 July 1985. Originally it starts with Gary Davies saying that Dixie Peach is the only man at Radio One who has “a better suntan” than him. However in the BBC4 version shown within the last few days the titles abruptly mix to Peach, cutting out the original effect, and the line from Davies has gone so he stands there like a pillock saying nothing.

Top of the Pops censorship

The original name title has had to go too and has been replaced by something that looks as if it was done by a student intern on a laptop. With completely the wrong typeface and shadow effect for 1980s television.

Who are they employing these days? I did this in five minutes…

Top of the Pops censorship

Archive programmes are a time capsule. Not just the performances and presentation but the technical side too: the camerawork, audio, lighting, graphics and special effects.

This censorship is dishonest and in a perverse way plays down what black people faced in the past, including from the BBC itself. From a technical point of view, given the BBC’s distinguished history in that field, there’s something rather tragic about the amateurish way programmes are being hacked about now.

Meanwhile The Guardian reports that people under 34 are switching off the BBC as never before. I wonder why?



  • Simone DB says:

    Astonished anyone, literally anyone cares.
    These have all been available to collectors for decades. The BBC can re-edit their archive holdings any way they want. Sane people only care about the groups performing anyway.
    I am so glad they have edited out things like Savile and Glitter. Their victims can do without seeing them leering out of the TV at them………..

  • Admin says:

    Performances are being edited too, The Sweet were omitted from the Christmas 1973 episode which was shown a few months ago.

    Not everyone just wants to see the bands and not everyone is a collector of illegally traded episodes. That’s a minority interest.

    And in the end we’ve all paid for these through the licence fee. It just needs some bright spark in the BBC Archive to decide to start disposing of those they can’t show, as has happened many times with other BBC programmes, and broadcast quality copies will no longer exist.

  • Simone DB says:

    Sane people don’t really care about these things though.

    It is nice when archival material is shown at all on current TV; throwing toys out of prams because it doesn’t have convicted sex offenders, pop non-entities in nazi regalia or ‘the right font’ are not things that most people in the real world actually care about. It seems a bizarre way to spend an adult life, moaning about these non-issues.

    People who were paying the license fee in 1973 paid for the sweet’s performance to be shown the one time. That is all.

    There was no percentage of the fee for archiving in perpetuity or repeats. In 2018, you should be grateful if the BBC deign to show material that is not exactly commercial gold dust. Be happy it is being represented at all.

    People who take umbrage over the terrible ‘political correctness gone mad’ of it all should go back to their DVDs of ‘love thy neighbour’ or ‘the black and white minstrel show’ or whatever painful stuff from the past they insist on watching………

    Literally, everyone who cares/ notices has bootlegs of this material anyway or failing that, can watch it in all of it’s ‘correct font’ glory with ‘well past their sell by date’ jokes on youtube if they really can’t enjoy it unless there is something cringe or offensive in there.

    Writing a blog entry about this sort of thing is a bit weird. Its a free country.

  • Admin says:

    You seem to be a very angry and aggressive person who is unable to discuss something without personal attacks, suggesting that the other person is insane and weird, and smearing them. What you suggest couldn’t be further from the truth.

    It’s unfortunate but sadly par for the course online these days.

    Top of the Pops is the tip of the iceberg. All kinds of programmes are being edited or not shown at all and for various reasons.

    Many adults are quite capable of reading a book or watching a programme and making allowances according to the time it dates from.

    Perversely most performances by black actors pre-1980s are now locked away never to be seen unless you visit the BFI because they form part of programmes and films which we aren’t allowed to see anymore.

  • Simone DB says:

    “Perversely most performances by black actors pre-1980s are now locked away never to be seen unless you visit the BFI because they form part of programmes and films which we aren’t allowed to see anymore.”

    Post a list of 1 to 5% of performances by black actors on British TV from 1960 to 1980 then which are proven to be commercially viable and your statement applies to. Go ahead, because I think you are plucking things out of thin air.

  • Admin says:

    Why does being “commercially viable” need to come into it for the BBC? It’s supposed to be a cultural organisation.

    One moment you’re talking about “collectors” sharing illegal copies of full programmes and the next suggesting that the rest of us should only be able to see things if they’re “commercially viable” (or broadcast in edited form).

    I’m sorry that I can’t spend half a day making a list of “1 to 5% of performances by black actors on British TV from 1960 to 1980 ” specially for you. It’s hard to know what even exists (maybe more will go given the history of destruction and the situation with D3 tapes). One thing I would like to see is Gordon Heath in Othello from 1955. It was eight years before I managed to see the film Sapphire which he appears in.

    Anyway thank you for your contribution. I’m closing the comments because I can’t be bothered with the aggressive tone.