Top of the Pops - BBC Studios (Dickenson Road, Rusholme)

It was originally booked for only six programmes, but due to its immediate popularity was extended indefinitely after only the second. Transmitted on Wednesdays, later Thursdays, the entire show had to be put together in about 24 hours as the week's chart was released at 8:30 a.m. on a Tuesday morning.

The original four DJ presenters were Jimmy Savile, David Jacobs, Alan 'Fluff' Freeman and Pete Murray who were generally considered to be the country's best at the time. They compered the show in strict rotation, with the following week's DJ appearing in a cameo 'handover' at the end of the show. Assistants included Diane Hefforan, Denise Sampey ( who span the discs on the first programme ) and Samantha Juste ( who took over the role from Denise and eventually married Monkee Micky Dolenz after they met on the show ).

The original producer was Johnnie Stewart who was responsible for the show's incredible success and growth during the Sixties and early Seventies. His trademark logo silhouette always appeared beside his name on the closing credits.

The first show was broadcast on 1st January 1964 from a disused Wesleyan church in Dickenson Road, Manchester, (because most of the other BBC studios were busy at the time) which had been acquired by the BBC and fitted out as a tv studio some years earlier. The studio, though, had a long history pre-BBC and was the original home of Mancunian Films.

At 6.36 p.m. a new era in Pop was born with Jimmy Savile introducing The Rolling Stones performing 'I Wanna Be Your Man'.

The first show also featured other 'live' acts Dusty Springfield (I Only Wanna Be With You), The Dave Clark Five (Glad All Over), The Hollies
(Stay) and The Swinging Blue Jeans (Hippy Hippy Shake). Discs and filmed items shown were Cliff Richard and The Shadows (Wonderful Life), Freddie and The Dreamers (You Were Made For Me), Gene Pitney (24 Hours From Tulsa) and news clips of the Beatles to the sound of 'I Wanna Hold Your Hand.

Generally, the acts mimed their songs - not because they couldn't play / sing (although this was questionable in some cases), but to achieve a higher transmission sound quality. This changed in 1966 after a Musicians Union ban on artists miming to their actual records. Following this, the Top of the Pops Orchestra, directed by Johnny Pearson, provided live backing to specially recorded tracks by the artists. Vocal backing was provided by The Ladybirds (Maggie Stredder, Gloria George and Marian Davis).

As with Ready Steady Go, a live studio audience were able to dance to and, in the early years, meet and mingle with the stars.

By mid 1967 the Manchester studio had become too small for the increasingly complex production and it was moved to Lime Grove studios in London.

Info generously supplied by - a great site for all things 60s 


It was a time when ....

  • Even the top bands turned up in the band van
  • The bands openly mimed to records
  • The show was broadcast live
  • You could stand outside and the band walked past you to get in
  • The Mockingbirds were the warm-up band
  • Not sure, but think studios were also used to film "Pinky and Perky"
  • The show had a set resembling a coffee bar disco and the DJ's sat at turntables
  • Denise Sampey span the records for the first few programs before being replaced by model Samantha Juste - who, in 1967, left for California to be near her husband, Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees)


The images taken outside TOTP courtesy Brenda Stickland - thanks Brenda

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