Yes, I’ve been on Top Of The Pops. Now who wants to touch me?
This all began a few weeks ago when the radio station for to whom I happen to devote a fair bit of my working life decided to get behind one of the many records being released to cash in on the Euro 2004 tournament.
The song they got behind was called “Come On England”, a rather tacky reworking of ‘Come On Eileen’ with new lyrics set to cheer on our boys in Portugal. The instruction went out that every show on the station was to give it the highest priority and that it should be played at least once every couple of hours (this on a speech radio station for goodness sake). The problem was the record was dire in my opinion and I muttered to a few people that we were setting ourselves up for a fall by promoting something so terrible. Top 30 was the best it could hope for said the resident chart expert here.
Well sometimes it is nice to be proved wrong I guess. All the promotion we gave it must have helped as last weekend the single shot to Number 2 in the charts and I had to write it up on Launch after showing my hand and declaring that for the first time ever I had an interest in the song and could not be relied upon to be objective.
Of course when you have a hit record, there is only one thing left to do – Top Of The Pops. The call reached me earlier this week that virtually the whole crew were being invited down to stage a big production of the song. The producers wanted crowds of people, footballers, cheerleaders and the band all taking part.
So it was that Wednesday evening saw the massed ranks of the production crew (myself included) pitching up at television centre in central London, signing in and being issued with security tags and being escorted through the corridors to the central doughnut (a circular concrete area and the scene of many a Record Breakers tap dancing event). We put our things down in the famed Star Bar and sat around whilst the set was built. BBC engineers were hard at work constructing stands, an astroturf pitch and a goalmouth. With us were the band, a crowd of hangers on and the odd page 3 girl just for effect.
Suitably issued with England t-shirts we were given our positions on the set. I was to be a footballer and along with several others had to stand to one side, jump up and down and dance to the song as it played until the final few bars at which point we raced forward and began kicking footballs around the pitch. Sounds silly but it was good fun.
What only then became clear was how cheaply the whole production was done. It was all to be filmed with just a single steadicam and in order for a range of shots to be available for the final edit we had to perform the song eight times. Yes that is right, eight times in a row we took up positions, jumped up and down and sang and then ran forward to kick footballs around. All this on a very warm summers evening to boot. Needless to say by Take 5 everyone was drenched with sweat and the sight of coolers full of water bottles was a very welcome sight.
Two hours later all was done and we trudged down the road and fell into the nearest pub to celebrate. The show aired this evening and in truth the whole performance looked a bit of a mess with far too many people stood around waving flags. You caught a glimpse of me a few times, jumping up and down and looking knackered although on occasion my head was obscured by the breasts of a large blonde model. Such are the perks of fame I guess.
Still, at the very least it is something to tell the grandchildren. I’ve never made a record in my life, never been recorded singing and have limited musical abilities of any kind. I’ve still lived the dream and performed on Top Of The Pops. Now who wants to touch me?