Pick of the Pops
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|Running time||2 hours|
|Home station||BBC Light Programme (1955–1967)
BBC Radio 1
BBC Radio 2
|Recording studio||Western House, London|
|Air dates||since 1955|
|Audio format||88–91 FM, DAB digital radio, TV and online|
|Opening theme||At The Sign of The Swinging Cymbal by Brass Incorporated|
Pick of the Pops is a BBC Radio programme, originally based on the Top 20 UK singles chart and first broadcast on the BBC Light Programme in 1955. It transferred to BBC Radio 1 (simulcast on BBC Radio 2) from 1967. Its last edition in its original format was on 24 September 1972.
Original format (1955–1972)
Initially the show did not feature the charts, but in September 1957 Alan Dell introduced the format of running through the charts of the week, playing the top tens from various music papers plus entries to top 20s. This was around 11 pm on Sundays.
David Jacobs brought the first averaged BBC Top 20 to the helm on 29 March 1958 (on a Saturday). Alan Freeman took over in Sept 1961, but finally took the show to a regular Sunday slot at 4 pm on 7 Jan 1962. The show moved to 4.30 pm on 27 Aug 1967, the chart increased to a top 30 then. When Radio One began, the show then moved to the 5–7 pm slot on 1 Oct 1967, until its demise on 24 Sep 1972.
Freeman, who presented the longest and whose name is probably most closely associated with the programme, had been a radio announcer in Melbourne, Australia. Freeman arrived in Britain in 1957 and joined the Light Programme in 1961 to present Records Around Five. That same year he replaced David Jacobs for Pick of the Pops, which was then part of a Saturday-evening programme called Trad Tavern, after traditional jazz which had a following at the time. Pick of the Pops became a separate programme in January 1962, broadcast late on Sunday afternoons. It was produced by Derek Chinnery.
Denys Jones (producer 1961–72) and Freeman split the programme into four: chart newcomers, new releases, LPs and the Top 10. (By the time Radio one started in 1967, the Top 20 was played in full).
The programme attracted a large audience as the BBC had restrictions on "needle time" and could play relatively few commercially available recordings each week.
Freeman continued with the show when it moved to Radio 1 and stayed until the programme ended in September 1972.
Freeman revived Pick of the Pops on the local London station, Capital Radio, from 1982 to the end of 1988 as Pick of the Pops – Take Two, combining the new chart (for much of the time a London-only Top 15) with a chart from the past. In 1989, Freeman returned to Radio 1 on Sunday lunchtimes, where the show featured three past charts each week, and was produced by Phil Swern from 1989–91 and Roger Pusey (who had been Jimmy Savile's final producer on Radio One from 1986–87) in 1992. Freeman's final programme, at the end of 1992, stated that he would never present it again, and signed off with the Beatles' "The End".
The slot was superseded by a similar retro show for the first nine months of 1993 under the title Ones On 1FM, presented by Man Ezeke, with number ones from all types of music charts in the UK and other countries. From April 1994 to January 1997 Freeman revived the show once more on Capital Gold as Pick Of The Pops – Take Three, featuring two vintage top 12s, and the "Battle Of The Giants", and on other occasions featuring three vintage top 10s, two vintage top 20s and a rock request, along with competitions on Saturday mornings.
BBC Radio 2 era (1997–present)
Pick of the Pops returned to the BBC as an independent production by Unique Broadcasting (who also produced independent radio's Pepsi Chart) on BBC Radio 2 in April 1997, with Freeman now counting down two archive charts each week, interspersing trivia about the records, as researched by the producer, Phil Swern.
In 2000 Freeman retired due to health concerns, and the show was taken over by Dale Winton. The regular weekly edition ended on 28 August 2004, but over the following year bank holiday specials were broadcast.
Pick of the Pops then returned on a weekly basis in September 2005, on Sunday afternoons 15.30–17.00 with Winton at the helm and one archive chart a week. It moved to 15.00–16.30 from 28 January 2007, extended to 14.30–16.30 from 25 February. Since 7 October 2007 the show has reverted to featuring two archive charts, spanning the period 1957- 1992 although previous host Dale Winton used to feature 1993 & 1995 & 1999 has been done on 3 occasions and usually featuring a couple of tracks from outside the Top 20 before focusing on the chart. On 13 March 2009, the BBC announced that Pick of the Pops would move to a Saturday slot from 13.00 to 15.00 on 4 April 2009.
Winton left Pick of The Pops on 30 October 2010 due to other work, and he counted down the charts from 1959 and 1983 with classics from Culture Club, Fats Domino, The Cult, Adam Ant and Dickie Valentine.
On 24 September 2010, it was announced Tony Blackburn would take over Pick of The Pops from Dale Winton. Blackburn counted down the charts from 1966 and 1979 for his first show with hits from The Who, Kool and The Gang, The Jam, Charlie Daniels Band, Status Quo, Paul Jones, The Rolling Stones, Suzi Quatro and Cliff Richard.
The show continues to be produced by Phil Swern, Blackburn's long-standing friend. Although Pick of the Pops was pre-recorded during the Winton era, the show has mostly been broadcast live since 29 January 2011, allowing Blackburn to interact with his listeners. Pre-recordings are now only used when Blackburn is on holiday, a departure from other Radio 2 shows where stand-in presenters are employed. Blackburn was also the first presenter of Pick of the Pops to go into the 21st century by featuring a chart from 2001 in April 2012,
- Franklin Engelmann (1955)
- Alan Dell (1956 and 1957–58)
- David Jacobs (September 1956 – September 1957, March 1958 – September 1961, September–December 1962)
- Don Moss (September–December 1963)
- Alan Freeman (September 1961 – September 1962, January 1963 – September 1963, January 1964–2000)
- Dale Winton (2000–2010)
- Tony Blackburn (2010–present)
The theme tune (1961–1966) was "At The Sign Of The Swinging Cymbal" written and performed by Brian Fahey and his Orchestra. It was later replaced (1966–1970) with "Quite Beside The Point" by The Harry Roberts Sound. Since April 1970 the show has used a new version of "At The Sign Of The Swinging Cymbal" by Brass Incorporated.
- "BBC Radio 1 People - Alan Freeman - Not Arf!". Radio Rewind. 2006-11-28. Retrieved 2013-03-03.
- "Press Office - Radio 2 announces new weekend schedule". BBC. Retrieved 2013-03-03.