List of Top of the Pops presenters

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Top of the Pops (also known by its abbreviation TOTP) is a British music chart television programme. Until 2007, it was shown each week on the BBC and is now licensed for national versions around the world. The following is a list of presenters who have hosted the BBC show, including the many guest presenters over the years.

1960s–1970s[edit]

Upon its inception in 1964, Top of the Pops was presented by a team of disc jockeys in rotation: Alan Freeman, David Jacobs, Pete Murray and Jimmy Savile, who presented the very first episode from Manchester on 1 January 1964 and would continue as the longest-serving presenter until hosting his final show on 30 August 1984. Samantha Juste appeared as the disc girl for several episodes until 1967. Jacobs was replaced by Simon Dee in 1966.

  • Jimmy Savile (1964–1984, plus 31 December 1988, 19 October 2001, 19 September 2003 and 30 July 2006)
  • Alan Freeman (1964–1969, plus 9 July 1981 and 31 December 1988)
  • Pete Murray (1964–1969, plus 9 July 1981 and 31 December 1988)
  • David Jacobs (1964–1966, plus 5 May 1983 and 31 December 1988)
  • Samantha Juste (1965–1967)
  • Simon Dee (1966–1969)

The start of BBC Radio 1 in 1967 brought a new influx of DJs to the presenting roster, sometimes co-presenters, although most only stayed with TOTP for a short while. Of these only Ed Stewart and John Peel would become long-term regulars, though there would be a gap before either would return as such. By 1970 only Savile and Blackburn remained of the 1960s regulars and between them they would host all the editions from January 1970 until their duopoly was broken by Ed Stewart's return in March 1971.

  • Tony Blackburn (1967–1979 and 1981–1983, plus 31 December 1988 and 30 July 2006)
  • Emperor Rosko (1967, 1974–1975)
  • Stuart Henry (1967–1969)
  • Dave Cash (1968)
  • Kenny Everett (1967 and 1973, plus 31 December 1988)
  • John Peel co-hosted a single edition in 1968, but returned more prominently in the 1980s (see below).
  • Ed Stewart (1968, 1971–1977)
  • David Symonds (1968)
  • 14 December 1967 – Mike Lennox co-presented with Alan Freeman
  • 14 March 1968 – Tom Edwards co-presented with Jimmy Savile
  • 11 April 1968 – Lulu co-presented with Jimmy Savile
  • 2 May 1968 – Alan Price co-presented with Alan Freeman
  • 23 May 1968 – Micky Dolenz of The Monkees co-presented with Jimmy Savile
  • 6 June 1968 – Davy Jones of The Monkees co-presented with Jimmy Savile

1970s–1980s[edit]

1980s–1991[edit]

The close association with Radio 1 continued into the 1980s, with all TOTP presenters drawn from the ranks of DJs at the station. The list below represents the main TOTP presenters during this period with many other Radio 1 DJs, for example Liz Kershaw, Adrian Juste and Adrian John also appearing on special programmes such as Christmas broadcasts and milestones for TOTP or Radio 1. For this reason, the 30 September 1982 show celebrating Radio 1's fifteenth birthday affords Annie Nightingale, in her one and only appearance and as one of nineteen presenters that day, the honour of being the first female presenter of Top of the Pops, beating Janice Long – who would go on to present TOTP regularly for nearly six years – by three months.

By the end of the decade, the bond with Radio 1 seemed unbreakable with the show being simulcast on the station from 1988 and even traffic reporters like Sybil Ruscoe trying their hand at presenting TOTP. Presenters were also brought in from children's television, including Children's BBC presenters Andy Crane and Simon Parkin, Blue Peter's Caron Keating, and Anthea Turner and Jenny Powell who worked together on Saturday morning show UP2U. With the exception of Turner, who presented until 1991, all appointments were short-lived proving indicative of the diffusion TOTP was about to undergo from Radio 1 in the 1990s.

Special appearances:

The 1991 Gulf War caused the episode due to be transmitted on 17 January 1991 to be rescheduled for Saturday 19 January

1991–1994 revamp: The break away from Radio 1 and Television Centre[edit]

When production moved to the BBC's studios in Elstree, Hertfordshire, a new team of young presenters were introduced in place of the aging Radio 1 DJs. Tony Dortie and Claudia Simon had been working for Children's BBC, with Dortie having presented Saturday morning magazine UP2U (with former TOTP presenters Jenny Powell and Anthea Turner) in the summers of 1988 and 1989 and Simon being one of the presenters of BFT in 1990. Elayne Smith was an underground club DJ and compere who started hosting Channel 4 late-night variety show The 291 Club just a few weeks before the revamp. Smith left after just two episodes to concentrate on The 291 Club and was replaced in March 1992 by Femi Oke who was working at BBC Radio 5, whilst 17-year-old Mark Franklin was picked from local radio station BBC Radio Wiltshire. With a new theme tune and set of titles modelled on a weathervane, the first show was presented by Mark Franklin and Tony Dortie on 3 October 1991 with the first live performance Erasure's Love To Hate You. The first show of the revamp attracted 8.93m viewers, over 1m up on the show's average. Performance rules were altered so that acts had to sing live whether they wanted to or not and performances reflected the current album charts and American Billboard Hot 100 as well as the UK Singles Chart. Two presenters from the team always hosted each episode until July 1992 when Tony Dortie and Mark Franklin began to host some shows individually. By October 1992, the rest of the team had been dropped completely.

Special appearances:

On Thursday 11 June 1992, BBC1 screened England's Euro 92 0–0 draw with Denmark so TOTP was moved to Saturday 13 June, broadcast at 5:30pm.

1994: Return of the Radio 1 DJs[edit]

The presentation changes introduced in 1991 did not have the impact producers had hoped for and by 1993 only Mark Franklin and Tony Dortie remained from the revamped team. Despite claiming 9m viewers in January 1992, the success of the revamp was short-lived and by May 1992 less than 6.5m were tuning in - a figure which remained fairly constant for the next eighteen months. Reasons for the sustained lack of popularity for the show ranged wildly from a general apathy towards the music that featured in the charts at this time to claims that the graphics styled around the 'weathervane' idea were hard to read. Dortie and Franklin presented the show individually in rotation until January 1994 when Ric Blaxill replaced Stanley Appel as executive producer. Blaxill had produced shows for Radio 1 and had survived the first wave of change under new station controller Matthew Bannister which had seen many of the DJs deemed too old for the station to resign or be sacked. Of those DJs that survived Bannister's cull, Simon Mayo, Mark Goodier and Nicky Campbell had all presented TOTP prior to the 1991 revamp and were all reinstated as presenters from 3 February 1994. Also returning was Bruno Brookes, another stalwart of the pre-1991 presenting team, though he was fired from Radio 1 in a second wave of Bannister cullings in February 1995 and accordingly he left the Top of the Pops presenting roster in April. Newer recruits to Radio 1, including Lisa I'Anson, Wendy Lloyd, Claire Sturgess and Jo Whiley, augmented the presenting line-up. Blaxill's ambition was to make the show seem like an event and he wanted the presentation between each song to be as spontaneous as the music it was introducing. To do this Blaxill introduced the 'golden microphone' and increasingly experimented with celebrity guest presenters, mainly drawn from the realms of comedy and sport, as well as pop stars who were not promoting a single that week, to introduce the show.

1994–1996: The golden mic – celebrity guest presenters[edit]

On 13 June 1996 BBC1 showed coverage of Switzerland vs Netherlands from Euro '96. Top of the Pops was accordingly moved from the Thursday to Friday, originally as a temporary move to incorporate the BBC's expansive portfolio of sport (as well as Euro '96, the 1996 Summer Olympic Games were also broadcast on the channel that summer), though it soon became clear that the move was permanent and, apart from a couple of one-off occasions on 25 June 1998 and 9 August 2001, TOTP never again returned to its original Thursday night slot.

1994: Top of the Pops 2 and the magazine[edit]

As the show entered its fourth decade, Blaxill exploited the strength of the TOTP brand by introducing a tie-in publication Top of the Pops magazine, first published in January 1995, and by launching a sister show, Top of the Pops 2, to augment the weekly music programme. Originally featuring the best of the main show's studio performances from that week with tips for future hits, the 45-minute-long TOTP2 showcased for the first time the extensive performance archive initially through spotlights on particular artists and a rewind to a given year in music each week. Debuting on 17 September 1994 in a 5.15pm Saturday afternoon slot on BBC Two, Johnnie Walker provided voice-over introductions before the show began to draw solely on archive performances from 1997, when former TOTP host Steve Wright took over. TOTP2 moved to a midweek early-evening slot in 1998, retaining a Saturday afternoon repeat, and regularly became one of the most watched shows on the BBC's second channel. Following a revamp of BBC Two's early peak schedules in 2002, the 45-minute show was given over to two shows of twenty-five minutes, and shows began to select celebrity guest editors, such as Jack Dee, Phill Jupitus and Vic Reeves, to choose their own favourite performances from the archive. After being 'rested' in 2004, a reformatted show featuring two new studio performances per week returned for a final full series in 2006-7, to replace the axed main show. Mark Radcliffe replaced Wright as presenter in 2009.

1997–2000: Into the new millennium[edit]

Ric Blaxill left in 1997, and the show was temporarily looked after by Mark Wells who continued his predecessor's policy of having rotating guest presenters. By this time, only Jo Whiley remained of the Radio 1 DJs introduced to the show by Blaxill, though Wells added Radio 1 Breakfast Show caretakers Mark Radcliffe and Marc Riley to the roster (although both Whiley and Radcliffe & Riley only appeared twice each between Blaxill's exit and the arrival of his permanent successor in June). With a background in 'serious' music broadcasting having worked on Channel 4's The Tube and The White Room, the new executive producer was Chris Cowey who stripped the show of the gimmicks bequeathed by its predecessors, increased the number of studio performances per week whilst reducing the reliance on music videos, and gradually built a new team of regular presenters with backgrounds in music television and radio to replace the celebrity guests. Alongside Whiley, who graduated from occasional host to lead presenter in June 1997, came Jayne Middlemiss and Zoë Ball. Middlemiss had presented music strand The O-Zone for Children's BBC since 1995, whilst Ball was given a full-time role after guest presenting in March 1997, and ahead of her posting as the host of Radio 1's coveted breakfast show in October. Fellow Radio 1 DJ Mary Anne Hobbs and Never Mind the Buzzcocks host Mark Lamarr were added to the team but were quickly dropped, though Jamie Theakston, co-host with Middlemiss on The O-Zone, and Ball on Live & Kicking arrived in January 1998 after guest presenting the previous October. All would continue to present The O-Zone and Live and Kicking concurrently with TOTP. Ball and Whiley departed in summer 1998 to be replaced by former Smash Hits editor Kate Thornton who established herself with Middlemiss and Theakston as lead presenters by autumn 1998. A revamp in May 1998 which included a change of title sequence, logo and theme music also saw a shift in focus from the Top 40 to the Top 20, with the chart rundown, now voiced every week by Radio 1 Chart Show host and former TOTP presenter Mark Goodier, extended from the Top 10 to Top 20. Children's TV presenter and model Gail Porter and Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills augmented the line-up from March 1999, and though Mills left in August, Porter continued with Middlemiss and Theakston as lead presenters into the new millennium.

1997: More celebrity guest presenters[edit]

2000–2003: Developing the brand[edit]

Richard Blackwood became joint lead presenter in August 2000 and presented in rotation with Jayne Middlemiss, Jamie Theakston and Gail Porter. In July 2001, Blackwood left the presenting roster, with Middlemiss leaving the following month. Josie D'Arby, who had hosted an episode in October 2000, made a short-lived return in autumn 2001 but joined Gail Porter in exiting before the end of the year leaving Jamie Theakston as lead presenter until March 2002 when he was replaced by new recruits model Lisa Snowdon and former TOTP guest presenter Sarah Cawood. Liz Bonnin joined the team from Channel 4 breakfast show RI:SE in May and the majority of shows throughout 2002 were presented by these three presenters, with Theakston only returning for sporadic appearances, and again on a couple of occasions in 2003.

After the 2000th edition on 13 September 2002, the presenting team continued to rotate solely between Liz Bonnin, Lisa Snowdon, Sarah Cawood alongside the returning Richard Blackwood until the new year. Blackwood's final show came on Christmas Day 2002, but the three females continued to present through 2003 along with an increasing number of occasional presenters drawn mainly from breakfast television and Radio 1. Colin Murray and Edith Bowman joined their former RI:SE teammate Liz Bonnin in mid-2003 and, though both were used sparingly, Bowman would return as relief presenter in 2006. Konnie Huq also presented three shows concurrent with her role as Blue Peter presenter in 2003. More successful was Huq's former Blue Peter colleague and The Big Breakfast host Richard Bacon who joined the presenting roster in January 2003, graduating to lead presenter by September. Along with newcomers and former children's television hosts Margherita Taylor, Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates, this quartet presented in rotating pairs until another revamp of TOTP took place in November 2003.

Guest appearances:

2002–2006: Top of the Pops Saturday[edit]

In September 2002, in an attempt to combat the increasing ratings success of ITV's rival chart show CD:UK, the Top of the Pops brand diversified and a children's TV spin-off was created to run alongside the main show. Top of the Pops Saturday began on 21 September 2002 as a segment to fill the final 45 minutes of the BBC One Saturday morning kids programme The Saturday Show, presented by Fearne Cotton, who would graduate to presenting the main show from 2003. For the first season, Cotton co-presented with Simon Grant. Cotton alone continued to present the show after The Saturday Show ended its second season in 2003, with TOTP Saturday gaining its own stand-alone slot on BBC One at 11.00am, immediately following The Saturday Show's replacement Dick and Dom in da Bungalow. Following the removal of Saturday morning children's television from BBC One to BBC Two in 2005, the show was renamed Top of the Pops: Reloaded from 17 September until its end in March 2006. For this final season, Cotton was joined by former Pop Idol contestants Sam and Mark and Radio 1 DJs JK and Joel as co-presenters. The final show was shown on 25 March 2006.

2003: All New Top of the Pops revamp[edit]

In 2003, former Top of the Pops presenter Andi Peters became new Executive producer and began another radical overhaul. The first edition of All New Top of the Pops was broadcast on 28 November 2003, presented live by former MTV video jockey Tim Kash. The ratings for the first show were 5.65m. Kash presented shows alone until 30 April 2004, after which he began to present with previous presenters Fearne Cotton and/or Reggie Yates, who eventually began to present shows together without Kash. After presenting 14 February 2003 episode, Cotton became a more prominent presenter from June 2003, with Yates also joining the presenting roster in August. Both continued to present regularly until the November 2003 revamp. Kash left to rejoin MTV, making his last appearance in August 2004, allowing Cotton and Yates to present alone. For three shows in October and November 2004, Radio 1 Breakfast Show host Chris Moyles was drafted in to co-host alongside Cotton and Yates, and this trio also fronted the last show of 2004 before Christmas in a show styled as a Radio 1 Christmas party.

In 2003, Tim Kash became only the third presenter, after Jimmy Savile in 1971 and Noel Edmonds in 1978, to host Christmas Top of the Pops solo.

Only two shows between April 2004 and March 2006 did not feature either Fearne Cotton or Reggie Yates:

2005–2006: The move to BBC Two and the end – return of guest presenters[edit]

In November 2004, it was announced that Top of the Pops would move from its primetime slot on Friday nights on BBC One to a new Sunday night slot on BBC Two, a move largely viewed as the last sidelining of the show before inevitable cancellation. The move was initially intended to take place in Spring 2005 and an 'extended format' was promised but the show remained on BBC One until July 2005 with the final Friday show on 8 July followed by another episode the following Monday. The first BBC Two show ran for 35 minutes, five minutes longer than the BBC One show, and aired live on Sunday 17 July 2005 at 7pm, immediately after the announcement of the new week's chart and incorporated elements of TOTP2, which had been rested a year previously, by showing two archive performances alongside the new music. However, viewing figures halved within a fortnight of the new scheduling, from an average of 2.4 million viewers on BBC One to around 1.5 million on BBC Two. The ratings never improved, despite the show going on location to the 2006 Winter Olympics and Radio 1's One Big Weekend, and on 20 June 2006 the BBC announced that Top of the Pops was being axed due to no longer being able to compete with 24-hour cable music channels, with the final episode airing on 30 July 2006.

New Executive producer Mark Cooper oversaw a return to the use of guest presenters, a full list of which is given below, but unlike in the 90s, this time the celebrities were paired with one of the already established lead presenting team of Fearne Cotton, Reggie Yates, and newcomer comedian Rufus Hound. The three lead presenters appeared on all of the BBC Two shows between them and when not joined by a celebrity co-host they presented in pairs with each other or with one of the secondary presenting team of Richard Bacon and, from January 2006, Edith Bowman. Occasionally, the show was moved from Sunday nights but remained a live broadcast, as was the case on the following Mondays: 15 August 2005, 16 January 2006 and the five shows between 13 February and 13 March 2006. The show was also once transmitted on a Tuesday: 11 July 2006.

In May 2006, BBC staff were asked to form the audience for several Top of the Pops shows after it emerged that the BBC did not have a premises licence for hosting public entertainment events at Television Centre.

Lead presenters

  • Fearne Cotton (2004–)
  • Reggie Yates (2004–)
  • Rufus Hound (2005–2006)

Relief presenters

  • Richard Bacon (2005–2006)
  • Edith Bowman (2006)

Guest presenters

After the end: Occasional events-led returns[edit]

After being taken off the air in 2004, sister show Top of the Pops 2 was resurrected for a new run on Saturday nights at 8pm which reverted to the old format of mixing archive clips with new studio performances. The new series began two months after the original show ended, on Saturday 30 September 2006, with new studio performances provided by Nelly Furtado and Razorlight and a Top 10 chart rundown. All the episodes in this series followed the familiar TOTP2 presentation of no on-screen presentation, but rather a voiceover from Steve Wright:

  • 30 September 2006 – Steve Wright (voice only); Razorlight: America and Nelly Furtado: Promiscuous
  • 7 October 2006 – Steve Wright (voice only); Richard Hawley: Just Like The Rain and Jamelia: Something About You
  • 14 October 2006 – Steve Wright (voice only); Nerina Pallot: Sophia and Seth Lakeman: The White Hare
  • 21 October 2006 – Steve Wright (voice only); Amy Winehouse: Rehab
  • 28 October 2006 – Steve Wright (voice only); Vincent Vincent and the Villains: Johnny Two Bands
  • 4 November 2006 – Steve Wright (voice only); All Saints: Rock Steady and Gnarls Barkley: Who Cares
  • 11 November 2006 – Steve Wright (voice only); Emma Bunton: Downtown and Ray Lamontagne: How Come
  • 18 November 2006 – Steve Wright (voice only); Sandy Thom: Lonely Girl and Tony Bennett: Lullaby of Broadway
  • 25 November 2006 – Steve Wright (voice only); Damien Rice: 9 Crimes
  • 2 December 2006 – Steve Wright (voice only); The Fratellis: Whistle For The Choir
  • 9 December 2006 – Steve Wright (voice only); Lil Chris: Gettin' Enough and Lily Allen: Littlest Things
  • 16 December 2006 – Steve Wright (voice only); Kasabian: Empire
  • 6 January 2007 – Steve Wright (voice only); Muse: Starlight
  • 13 January 2007 – Steve Wright (voice only); Just Jack: Starz in their Eyes
  • 20 January 2007 – Steve Wright (voice only); Regina Spektor: Fidelity
  • 3 February 2007 – Steve Wright (voice only); Simon Webbe: My Soul Pleads For You, Duke Special: Freewheel and Kaiser Chiefs: Ruby
  • 10 February 2007 – Steve Wright (voice only); The Feeling: Rose, Louise Setara: Wrong Again and Findlay Brown: Come Here
  • 17 February 2007 – Steve Wright (voice only); Jack Savoretti: Dreamers and James Hunter: No Smoke Without Fire
  • 24 February 2007 – Steve Wright (voice only); The View: Same Jeans and Corinne Bailey Rae: I'd Like To
  • 3 March 2007 – Steve Wright (voice only); Madness: Sorry
  • 10 March 2007 – Steve Wright (voice only); Westlife: Total Eclipse of The Heart and Maximo Park: Our Velocity
  • 17 March 2007 – Steve Wright (voice only); Good Charlotte: The River, Lemar: Tick Tock and Muse: Invincible
  • 24 March 2007 – Steve Wright (voice only); Kaiser Chiefs: The Angry Mob

Following the 2006–7 run, TOTP2 returned only to mark one-off special occasions and dropped the new performances. Such shows were dedicated to certain musicians such as Wham! and Duran Duran in 2010, as well as the death of Michael Jackson in 2009, or marked special occasions such as Christmas and New Year in 2008 and 2009, or tie-ins with a particular season of BBC programmes such as the School season which featured a back-to-school special to mark the end of the 2010 summer holidays, and 80s-themed show to mark the final series of BBC TV drama Ashes to Ashes, also in 2010.

As well as the intermittent broadcasts of TOTP2 on BBC Two and a yearly Christmas show which remains on BBC One, Top of the Pops is survived by occasional 'event-led' broadcasts. It has twice returned for special shows for the BBC's biennial Comic Relief charity fundraiser in 2007 and 2009, with the following presenters:

An annual BBC One show which looks back at the previous year in music also appears each Christmas Day at 2pm. In 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016 (New Year's Day in 2015), a New Year's Eve party show was also broadcast on BBC One in the early evening:

  • 25 December 2006 – Fearne Cotton, Reggie Yates and Edith Bowman
  • 25 December 2007 – Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates
  • 25 December 2008 – Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates
  • 31 December 2008 – Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates
  • 25 December 2009 – Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates
  • 31 December 2009 – Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates
  • 25 December 2010 – Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates
  • 25 December 2011 – Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates
  • 25 December 2012 – Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates
  • 31 December 2012 – Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates
  • 25 December 2013 – Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates
  • 31 December 2013 – Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates
  • 25 December 2014 – Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates
  • 31 December 2014 – Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates
  • 25 December 2015 – Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates
  • 1 January 2016 – Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates
  • 25 December 2016 - Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates
  • 31 December 2016 – Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates

The BBC has faced repeated calls for the return of the weekly chart show, but has insisted that this will never happen. In August 2010, however, the BBC disclosed that it was in talks with independent production companies with a view to developing a new weekly music show for BBC Three to begin sometime in 2011, although no such show was ever broadcast.