A DAY AT TOP OF THE POPS

Written by Rick Price

Imagine an alarm call at 9 o'clock AM. We got to bed at 5 o'clock and you don't have to have a degree in maths to realise we've had 4 hours sleep, I answer the phone thinking I'm still dreaming and drag myself awake. My eyes feel as if they've been wrapped in barbed wire and dragged through a salt bath.

Last night was spent recording a backing track for today's show. Now you may or may not agree with backing tracks but, it's sometimes rather hard to play an instrument and be sufficiently silly at the same time. If you think I'm joking, try playing a double bass while you're doing an Irish Jig with it..... I'll just wait a minute while you do it....

There, not so easy huh??????????????

Anyway, enough of that, it's 9 o'clock and it feels as if a herd of Rhinos have played football on my chest.

9.05   Ring Bob. "You awake Bob?", "No Rick", "Ok see ya".

9.06   Ring Keith. "You up son?", "Go away Rick", "Ok Bye".

9.10   Walk into Roy's room, nearly pass out with the heat, manage to struggle to the side of his bed, "Time to get up kid", "Grunt, Grunt, Groan, clear off, I'm just dreaming about Racquel Welch".

10.15  Somehow by now everyone is starting to resemble something close to a human being, which is just as well, cause we've got to be at the studio in 45 minutes.

11.00   Arrive at the Beeb, shown to a dressing room No. 244. Next door in 246, The Goodies. Went in and said "Hello Goodies, how ya doin’?", "Ok thanks Rick, now hop it". By now I'd got the message, it was gonna be one of those days.

11.45  It's time for a camera rehearsal, this means standing on one spot for about half an hour while the technicians see if the shots that they lined up yesterday will still work when the artists are standing in each other’s way. Usually they do, of course, but as I said, this is "one of those days" and the Producer hadn't been expecting three string basses or two gorillas, ha ha. So by 1 o'clock I'm still standing on the same spot, one hour and fifteen minutes without a smoke or a cup of tea!

1.15   At last we've finished, someone shouts "Ok, break – be back at 4.15 dressed and made up please".

1.20   We all dash to the Beeb canteen for Breakfast/Lunch, but of course all the other studios finished at 1 o'clock so there's a queue of actors and newscasters as long as Oxford Street.

2.00   By now we've all eaten as much as possible (cause it's cheap, see) and drunk 19 cups of tea, trying to make up for lost time.

2.15   Back in the dressing room, Nick says "I wanna be a Rugby player today lads, OK"

"Sure Nick" Snigger, snigger.

He dives into the trunk which we carry full of various bit’s of clothing (well, you never know when you may need a five year old left-handed boxing glove, or a broken army violin) and emerges twenty minutes later, looking surprisingly like a reasonable facsimile of the aforementioned sportsman (sorry, swallowed a dikshunery). It's amazing what a dedicated sax player can achieve with a little patience and understanding. The only part he couldn't find was the shorts, but Brady came to the rescue with a pair of pyjama trousers which he'd cut off at the knees – very enterprising.

3.50   By now the dressing room looks like Woolworth's after the winter sale. There's bits of clothing, hair dryers, makeup of all colours strewn all over the floor, over dressing tables, over cupboard doors and wash basins etc.

4.15   A knock on the door .... door opens .... in steps the Beeb's answer to Larry Grayson. "Anyone for make-up darlings?" Shouts of "Clear off ya pansy" and "Drop dead ya ratbag" from one and all.

4.30   Dress rehearsal. Everything goes smoothly, we all feel good and look fairly stupid. The gorillas have decided that the age of indecency is over and have donned a pair of Levis each (family show folks).

4.45   We've finished our run through and decide to stay and watch The Goodies do their bit. Bill Oddie finds it impossible to sing the song cos Roy is marching around the studio playing "Scotland The Brave" on the pipes. The Producer rings down from the viewing gallery "Tell Wizzard to behave themselves or get out, they've already had the make-up man in tears." Finding it impossible to behave, we left. Back in the dressing room we discuss last minute improvements for the dance routine.

6.00   Up to the canteen for a quick snack and a cup of tea, which turns into a slow snack and four or five cups of tea (it's very cheap). Another chat on the way back.

7.20   Knock, knock, knock - door opens, just a crack, a feeble voice squeaks "Anyone for make-up?". This time a raspberry from the whole group and a roadie slams the door. We hear the voice muttering abuse as it vanishes down the corridor.

7.30   Show Time. Although the show is taped on Wednesday and shown on Thursday, they like to record it in one go if possible, as this gives it a more urgent atmosphere. Consequently it's just as nerve racking as a live show.
Countdown....5..4..3..2..1
Camera on Jimmy Saville.... "Welcome to Top Of The Pops" Intro music starts.... finishes…. I look at Camera 2 and shout "Are You Ready To Rock?"
Silence...........
While I was busy shouting into Camera 2 some twit had switched to Camera 4.
Start again.
This time everything is good, we all acted suitably silly, well that's what Top Of The Pops is all about, isn't it???

8.30   It's all over, removal of clothes and make-up takes about an hour then it's up to the bar for a well deserved drink, then home to bed. By now we all look as if we've gone five rounds with Ali and Foreman. "Goodnight lads, studio tomorrow at 2. 30". "Get Lost Rick!"
Ah well……

SEE YA WIZZARD WATCHAS, HAVE A LIVE 75!



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