Pop picker Peter charts TV show’s lost years

POP PICKER: Peter Checksfield with his Top of the Pops book

A Thanet author, music historian and photographer has released a new book delving into the BBC’s Top of the Pops show.

Peter Checksfield, who lives in Birchington with partner Heather Carter, has compiled an episode guide and chatted to celebrities for Top of the Pops: The Lost Years Rediscovered 1964-1975.

From January 1, 1964 to July 30, 2006, BBC TV’s ‘Top Of The Pops’ was the UK’s longest-running and most influential music TV show. Yet, the BBC didn’t start semi-regularly keeping tapes of the show until the spring of 1976. Fortunately – thanks largely to sneaky TV technicians, overseas TV stations and early home-video pioneers – the picture isn’t quite as bleak as it at first appears.

This book affectionately recaptures those musically and historically important years, and includes:

  • Complete episode guides to all 619 episodes from 1964 to 1975.
  • The 1969 ‘Pop Go The Sixties’ and 1970 ‘Into 71’ one-off TV specials.
  • Hundreds of black and white screen-shots of surviving footage.
  • Nearly 900 mini-bios on every act seen, heard or danced to during those years.
  • Memories and anecdotes from some 50 artists who performed on the show, as told exclusively to the author.

Peter, 58, said: “This is my 10th book, so I wanted it to be a little special and not just endless pages of lists. That’s when I thought it might be a nice idea to try to get a few celebrity quotes about the show.

“I was amazed at some of the people who very kindly gave me their time; Ray Dorset of Mungo Jerry chatted on the phone for a hour, and other legends who responded include Suzi Quatro, Graham Gouldman (10cc), Anita Harris, Bev Bevan (The Move/The Electric Light Orchestra), P.J. Proby, Peter Asher (Peter and Gordon), Dee Dee Wilde (one of only two surviving original members of Pan’s People), and about 50 others! 

“Perhaps my biggest scoops though was getting all three surviving members of The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band (Roger Ruskin Spear, Rodney Slater and “Legs” Larry Smith) and both front-men of The Searchers (Mike Pender and Frank Allen) to send in anecdotes.”

The book is available from Amazon at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09HC1LK8G

Find more of Peter’s books at http://peterchecksfield.com/


      • Alan “Fluff” Freeman was probably mine (“Not ‘arf mate!”). He lived up to his name too: there is surviving footage of him introducing Dave Davies of The Kinks, and calling him RAY Davies (much to Dave’s irritation!).

        • Peter , I have so many happy memories of listening to Alan Freeman on the radio in the 70’s on his Saturday afternoon Rock show whilst doing my homework .
          I have Alan Fluff Freeman to thank for getting me into Progressive Rock music . Not Arf Folks ! Lol.
          Peter Gabriel era Genesis were ( still are ) a big favourite of mine .
          He always played new album tracks ( not singles ) by big bands like YES, Rick Wakeman ,Floyd , Led Zep ,Black Sabbath , plus bands like Caravan from Canterbury, Gentle Giant , Focus, Renaissance,, Pink Faires ,Sensational Alex Harvey Band , Hawkwind who were briefly led by Margate Arlington House guy Bob ( Robert ) Calvert who I met in 1973 shortly after he wrote the top 5 hit “ Silver Machine “.and before it was a big hit .
          The Hawkwind fans out there will know of their strong connection to Thanet in the 70’s especially Margate .
          I fondly remember recognising Nik Turner , Sax player with Hawkwind in that then wonderful record shop at the top of Margate High Street by The Plaza cinema called “Funhouse “ after the classic Iggy Pop and the stooges album
          There was always the smell of joss sticks in there to disguise the smell of weed .and they always had Neil Young being played in there .
          Do you remember this shop Peter ?
          Steve and Malcolm were the.excellent owners of this much missed record shop that also sold bootleg albums from literally under the counter !
          I bet the Bowie ones are worth a fortune now !
          Nik Turner / Hawkwind walked in one day when I was looking through the new and 2nd hand Vinyl and he was one laid back dude ( I wonder why ? Lol ) and he signed a brown paper bag for me with the words “ Stay High ! Nik Turner …”
          . And I’ve still have it to this day. Lol.
          Funhouse Records later moved to the old town part of Margate opposite Mad Hatters Tearooms before Steve sold up , which was a pity .

          • I didn’t move to Herne Bay/Thanet until 1985, but I remember the record shop when it was in the old town during the late 90s & early noughties (great shop!). I think there was still an Our Price at the top of the High Street at the time. Until 2005 when Westwood Cross changed everything Margate was a lot of fun! Often went to gigs in The Ship, The Britannia, The Millenium Bar, etc.

  1. Incredible to think how many shows the BBC & others taped over. Of course nobody could have foreseen VHS, DVD etc back in the 1960’s & most of the 1970’s & tape was expensive back then.

    • Only 5 of the 300-odd episodes from 1964-1969 still survive, with only 2 of them in pristine broadcast quality.

      A slightly blurred 1969 episode was taped on an early reel-to-reel home video by Maurice Gibb of The Bee Gees, then donated to the BBC by his ex-wife Lulu 40 years later.

      Another episode (from 1974) came from the estate of Dick Emery – apparently he set the timer wrong on his recorder, accidentally recording TOTP instead of his own show!

      Other long-lost episodes from 1976-1977 were home-taped by David “Diddy” Hamilton, and given to the BBC many years later.

      • Didn’t know there were any missing from that period. UK Gold used to show them all the time, so assumed everything from probably early 1970’s onward was intact as per ‘Til Death To Us Part, Callan etc. Of course now anything with DLT or JS is forbidden to be shown on BBC 4.

        • It wasn’t until early 1976 that the BBC (sort of) started keeping all the shows, even so, 15 are still missing from that year and 4 from 1977.

          As well as DLT & JS, any episodes featuring Mike Smith aren’t shown. Not because he was involved in any scandals, but because he refused to give permission for repeats when he was alive and the BBC are still respecting his wishes since his death.

          Noel Edmonds never allowed any of his episodes to be repeated on UK Gold, but relented for BBC4. Loved those early 90s UK Gold repeats, they’re what really got me into collecting all the 60s/70s TOTP footage I could find!

          • Sorry Peter but I have to disagree with you . Glam Rock / Pop was at its height in 1973 not 1972 .
            You’ve only got to see the dates of the massive hits by Slade ,The Sweet , T.Rex , Bowie , Suzi Quattro,Roxy Music , Elton John .,Gary Glitter .
            The classic Goodbye Yellow Brick Road album by Elton , and “ Aladdin Sane by Bowie both came out in 1973 .
            I rest my case m’lord ! Lol
            Excellent Bands like Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel and my big favourites Sparks came along afterwards …with “This town ain’t big enough for the both of us “.
            Sparks are still very much going and I saw them in concert just before Covid and they blew me away with how good they still are
            Singer Russell Mael has still got tons of stage energy and their recent albums are well worth investigating..
            Brother Ron Mael is still as entertaining as ever

          • Maybe, maybe… but my point is that only 2 full-length episodes survive from a musically important year. Fortunately, a German TV show called “Disco” also broadcast several 1971-1973 TOTP performances, and they have retained the tapes in pristine quality. Without the German show, key performances by T-Rex (‘Hot Love’, ‘Get It On’, ‘Telegram Sam’, ‘Metal Guru’, ‘Children Of The Revolution’, ‘Solid Gold Easy Action’, ’20th Century Boy’), The Sweet (‘Poppa Joe’, ‘Little Willy’, ‘Wig-Wam Bam’) and Slade (‘Gudbuy T’Jane’, ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’) would be lost forever.

            Anyway, this and much, much more are in my book, complete with 100’s of stunning ‘screen shot’ photos… The perfect Christmas present for 60s/70s music buffs! ; )

    • Thanks Dave! Hope you enjoy it.

      Incidentally (for anyone interested), here is a list of the people I interviewed for the book:

      Frank Allen (The Searchers)
      Peter Asher (Peter and Gordon)
      Russ Ballard (The Roulettes/Argent)
      Peter Bartholomew (The Overlanders)
      Eric Bell (Thin Lizzy)
      Bev Bevan (The Move/The Electric Light Orchestra)
      John Cameron (C.C.S.)
      William Campbell Jnr. (Marmalade + solo)
      Jeff Christie (Christie)
      Frank Collins (Arrival)
      Peter Daltrey (Fairfield Parlour)
      David Van Day (Guys ‘n’ Dolls)
      Kiki Dee
      Ray Dorset (Mungo Jerry)
      Ralph Ellis (The Swinging Blue Jeans)
      Steve Ellis (Love Affair)
      Ray Ennis (The Swinging Blue Jeans)
      Nigel Fletcher (Lieutenant Pigeon)
      Graham Gouldman (10cc)
      Julie Hammersley (The Angelettes)
      Anita Harris
      Murray Head
      Catherine Howe
      Spencer James (The First Class)
      Steve Jameson (Nosmo King)
      Georg Kajanus (Sailor)
      Jonathan King
      Sonja Kristina (Curved Air)
      Mick Liber (Python Lee Jackson/Ashton, Gardner and Dyke)
      Jim McClusky (Wigan’s Ovation)
      Ian McCredie (Middle Of The Road)
      Jacqui McShee (Pentangle)
      Peter Oakman (Harley Quinne)
      Bill Oddie (The Goodies)
      Dave Pegg (Fairport Convention)
      Mike Pender (The Searchers)
      Brian Poole (The Tremeloes)
      P.J. Proby
      Suzi Quatro
      Milton Reame-James (Cockney Rebel)
      Steve Rowland (Family Dogg)
      Chris Sandford (Yin and Yan)
      Roger Ruskin Spear (The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band)
      John Sebastian (The Lovin’ Spoonful)
      Rodney Slater (The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band)
      “Legs” Larry Smith (The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band)
      John Springate (The Glitter Band)
      Livingston Taylor (singer-songwriter brother of James Taylor)
      Barbara Thompson (sax-playing wife of late drummer Jon Hiseman from Colosseum)
      Sylvia Vrethammar (Swedish singer of ‘Y Viva España’ fame)
      Alan Whitehead (Marmalade)
      Dee Dee Wilde (Pan’s People legend)
      Robert Woodward (Lieutenant Pigeon)
      Philip Wright (Paper Lace)

      (Some famous, some more obscure, but I wanted to cover all possible eras and genres! A few of them have been promoting the book on their own websites and facebook pages, quite a honour).

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