Top of the Pops
BBC Studios
Dickenson Road

From a pilot show called 'Teen and Twenty Record Club' based loosely on the BBC's radio show 'Pick Of The Pops' this was purely a top of the charts show and has become the longest-running British pop vehicle, arguably reaching its greatest heights in the early and mid-Seventies.

Photograph taken in the late 1960s by (and with permission of) Malc. It shows his cream and green 1960 MG Magnette parked outside of the studio, early one morning in 1965.

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


These images were taken outside TOTP by Brenda Stickland - thanks Brenda
Manchester's Saint Louis Union outside Dickenson Rd Studios (images courtesy Brenda Strickland)
The Walker Bothers Tony Hicks of the Hollies
Lek Leckenby - Herman's Hermits Stevie Winwood - Spencer Davis Group

Brenda and Ian Thompson of the Black Velvets, who were a warm up band at TOTP.

The Overlanders    


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)


Sir J. Savile at Top of the Pops
in Dickenson Road, Rusholme

Many thanks to Harry Goodwin - Official B.B.C. "Top of the Pops" Photographer - for his permission to use this photo.
This photo is copyright.


As a schoolboy of 14yrs in 1964 living in Longsight I was unbelievably fortunate to be part of the Top of the Pops studio audience, during 64 and 65.

I went to school at Xaverian, which was only 10 minutes walk from the BBC studios in Dickenson Rd.
My schoolpals and Iused to hang out at the studios during our lunch break in the hope of seeing "someone" arriving for a recording, which happened fairly regularly when an artist couldn't make it for the Thursday show.

We then set about catching the attention of Cecil Korer (now happily NOT deceased - thansk for the info Cecil - and apologies!) who was then the assistant producer for TOTP's, by hanging about outside the local pub where he used to go for lunch, then quizzing him about the show when he emerged.

He was such an amiable and approachable bloke and more or less gave us an invitation to be on the show. Yeah Yeah Yeah!

Cecil Korer got to know our faces and then whenever there was an audience shortage, he would appear at the studio entrance to pick the lucky few from the crowd outside.  Recognising our faces (usually Bernard Ellis, Peter Haddon and myself) he would invariably select US week after week. Heady stuff!    

I remember Cecil directing the cameras. As he was quite a tall man, he used to crouch slightly when he was on the studio floor so he would blend in. He also had a balding head, and would don a longish brown wig. He looked so comical  and quite surreal.

I used to pick up scripts of TOTP's after the show, detailing all the camera shots, along with the DJ's comments and the words to the songs in the show. There were always a few generally lying about.  They were my prized possessions in those days, before they got lost whilst moving house. Ebay dreams aaah!

Artists we got to see at TOTP's:
Remember Jimmy Saville arriving in a bubble car one week, then the next week in a Rolls Royce.
Roy Orbison, Pretty Things, Nashville Teens, Dusty Springfield, Gene Pitney, Brenda Lee, Lulu (sat next to Lulu but was too shy to speak) John Lee Hooker, Sandi Shaw, PJ Proby, The Four Pennies, Twinkle, Honey & The Honeycombs, Wayne Fontana (he put two fingers up at the crowd outside, through a staircase window. That was well before punk, never liked him since!). There is probably more I've missed.

The whole TOTP's experience was such a complete gas for me and was probably formative in my eventual career choice! Making Music.

Gradually lost interest in Top of the Pops during the 80's. Not really sure why, perhaps because it wasn't any longer the music.of "My Generation".

Think it would be could be revived successfully as a top 20 albums show.

 Bob Mallon

I used to go to Top of the Pops in 1963, 1964 and 1965.  It was a fantastic show, I wish I could watch the old  shows when The Rolling Stones, Hollies, Beatles, Swinging Blue Jeans, etc, were on but I believe the films from them have been lost.

On entering the old church we had to put little plastic heel covers on our shoes, bottles of coca cola were given free and lots of times my friend and  I use to go round the back and look into the dressing rooms where we would meet the bands.  I sat with Mick and Brian while they use to get ready for the show.

There was and never will be a show like it again  - they were wonderful days and would do anything to bring them back - lol.

Wynne Dixon (I lived in Withington, Manchester at the time)

Me and my mates were on Top of the Pops.  One of my mates, Terry Etchells, worked at photograph agency, working with models from various companies.  One was a girl called Samantha,who worked with the late Jimmy Savile, so he got us tickets.

I remember the coca-cola and the huge cameras they had.  They told us at the start get out of the way when they start moving.  We were on with Jimmy and David Jacobs in 63/64.

Peter Byrne

Every Sunday night myself and two mates used to go to The Top Ten Club in the New Elizabethan Ballroom at Belle Vue, Manchester. Cecil from the BBC used to walk through the dancers looking out for good dancers and handing them tickets for the following weeks Top Of The Pops recording.

We managed to get a ticket each and duly turned up for the show. We saw P J Proby and Twinkle. We knew that the No. 1 was always the last to be played each week. That week it was t The Beatles and we knew that they would not be there. There was no such things as Videos back then and we knew the Camera would be trained on a very large photo of the group all the way through the song. Therefore, we planted ourselves dancing in front of the Photo and managed to be on TV virtually all the way through.

One funny thing about the recordings that the main camera was mounted on a massive four wheel trolley complete with a hydraulic system to lift the camera operator up above the crowd to get a Looking down shot of the artist The trolley had a guy crawling in front of it to clear a path through the dancers by sweeping his arm to and fro against the legs of the dancers. This led to many shots of startled people suddenly looking indignantly down to the floor behind them!

Bernard Judge

Such an awe-inspiring event. Even though I only went once to the Top of the Pops studio I even remember what I wore that night - pre mini days. A friend at school, Marilyn Boydle, had got tickets for us. We were 16 at the time. I lived in Moston so it was quite a trip to make on buses. I remember the cameras were on tracks and the dancers had to move out of the way as the cameras made their way forward. This is obvious by the startled looks on the faces on the very few saved films from the time. It was very noticeable when the programme moved 'down south' as the fashions and style of dancing was very different.

I also remember all the clubs in Manchester - signing in at aged 14, saying my date of birth was '44, and that I was an airhostess!! Also Jimmy Saville at the Three Coins announcing if any girl was 'in trouble' to come and see him (I wonder what he meant!!) Just great memories!

Beryl Cadman

I was that man (Bernard Judge, above)  Or, at least, one of them, a junior trainee cameraman at Dickie Road studio in 1964, whose first job was to gently push kids out of the path of camera 1, the main camera, on its Vinten electric crane, as it tracked through the dancers.

Later, the studio got a Vinten Heron hydraulic crane, which could move in any direction around the studio, and by 1965 I'd been promoted to driving it, under the instructions of Gordon Addison, the fine cameraman who was on camera 1 for almost every TotP from Manchester.  Gordon died last year, 82 years old.


Add a Comment to this page

Please note: All comments are moderated and will not appear straight away. Please do not re-send.
Sorry ... but personal messages not related to the purpose of Manchesterbeat may not be added to the site

Comments (35)

Topic: Top of the Pops
Dawn James now Slough says...
I was flown from London to Top of the Pops every week for over a year as I worked for Mirabelle and Rave for IPC and was a main feature writer and expert on the pop scene. I had a younger sister Twinkle who had the hit "Terry," and so ... Read More
11th March 2014 10:14pm
Carole Wilson says...
Hi I used to go to TOTP studios every week and became very friendly with Jimmy Saville and Ray Teret who is now on trial for rape. All I can say is Jimmy Saville was a very strange man and any girl would sleep with Ray Teret as he knew so many bands ... Read More
17th October 2014 9:35am
Carole Wilson says...
Ray Terret must have been so stupid to get himself into so much trouble when I was 17yrs old he asked me to marry him god I hate to think what an awful life I would have had. I am still not quite sure in my mind that he is guilty but I know he is. ... Read More
21st January 2015 12:20am
wynn dixonroxy blu says...
you are so right but savill was a horrid man he tired on me but I told him where to go and nearly hit him .
2nd July 2015 3:12am
Stuart says...
Hi Dawn - used to absolutely love Twinkle and even now hearing Terry sends me right back to that era (hard to imagine now that it was banned)..... and standing outside the studios hoping to be asked in by Cecil. Only happened once--- just my luck - ... Read More
15th November 2014 10:45pm
Vaughan Wilkinson says...
I know the songwriter Mitch Murray whose whimsical 'You Were Made For Me' by Freddie and the Dreamers featured on the very first TOTP on New Year's Day in 1964. (My partner's relative Johnny Hawksworth composed the theme tune of its ... Read More
11th May 2015 2:24am
carole wilson says...
Hi Yes I also remember mitch murray He wrote lots of songs. I was recently watching old TOTP on BBC4 it was great as it came from the old building. I think that a lot of 60s bands are now touring again but never seem to come to Cornwall. Hope to ... Read More
11th May 2015 10:43pm
Vaughan Wilkinson says...
Hi, Carole, A friend of mine worked with Spencer Davis in Birmingham in the mid sixties and Wayne Fontana once lived down the road from me here. Many artists based in the UK are still touring and can still be booked. Most do package tours. Mitch ... Read More
13th May 2015 10:21pm
Vaughan Wilkinson says...
Hi Dawn, I recall seeing your sister on TV in the nineties when she spoke of your influence on the pop scene back in the sixties. Tommy Scott was an underrated pop producer of the era more worthy of merit. I had connections with the Beatles during ... Read More
13th May 2015 10:40pm
roxy blu says...
the 60s were the best days ever ones I will never forget, I wish I could bring them back really happy fabulous days xxxx
2nd July 2015 3:15am
gwen mehta says...
I agree Roxi, the 60s were the best and I have wonderful memories of being in the audience frequently, reading all these posts brings back those great days!
19th January 2016 11:11am
maria daly (Liverpool) says...
Dawn James (now Slough). I was a big fan of Twinkle in my childhood. I recall on the last day of term we were invited to bring in our favourite record. I brought in "Terry" and the teacher took it off the record player as it was 'too ... Read More
10th November 2017 5:27am
Rob says...
Hi all

I have been trying to find out where on Dickingson road the bbc was? I know the road has changed a lot so any modem reference would be helpful,



From fallowfield
19th January 2015 7:36am
Paul webmaster says...
As a quickie, opposite Moon Street. That makes it approx 200 metres up Dickenson Road on the left, as you come off Wilmslow Road.
Or to us old ones, turn left at Roy Clarke's sports shop, past the Rusholme library and its just on your left.
19th January 2015 10:49pm
Vaughan Wilkinson says...
The easiest way to locate the site of the old church is to find Clarence Road on the map and the studio occupied the area of the newly build block of flats at the junction with Dickenson Road.
11th May 2015 2:37am
roxy blu wynn dixon says...
the bbc use to be where the new council houses have been built, at the top end of Dickinson road a short distance to Wilmslow road to rusholme.
2nd July 2015 3:09am
Geoff Williams says...
BBC studios was at the Wilmslow rod end of Dickenson Rd opposite Roy Paul sports shop. I used to go to the "scene" club on Oxford Street Manchester circa 1965-67 and I was selected to take part on Top of the pops, but although I did see ... Read More
4th September 2016 5:01am
Gwen mehta says...
I was studying at the"toastrack" Hollings College for food and fashion industry which was close to ,"Dickie Road" and used to queue up on Wednesday evening in the hope of getting in to the studios. Cecil Korer was great and I ... Read More
19th August 2015 2:47pm
Jeannette says...
Went in 1964 when long John Baldry was was was on telly in black and white and everyone who knew me seen me..shame I can't find this one..amazing time of my life.
17th January 2016 6:47am
lucy harryo blu says...
hi jeannette you wont be able to find the filming of top of the pops because all the tapes were stolen you can try youtube but I don't think you will have much luck , are you on face book if you are message me your name and I will request a ... Read More
23rd January 2016 6:12am
Jeannette says...
1964 long John Baldry was on amongst others I was on Tele but cannot find this series. It was amazing now 67 and remember it like it,was yesterday...
17th January 2016 6:54am
gwen mehta says...
SmileWe are the same age Jeannette, I also remember like it was yesterday, although I do not remember John Baldry. I too was on the Tele many times to the point where there were complaints - what fun it was!!!
22nd January 2016 2:51am
jeannette meecham says...
Hi Gwen...thanks for reply..wasn't we lucky to have experienced that era..disc jockeys was Pete Murray and Alan fluff Freeman wish I could find the footage but no luck even remember what I wore that night..
22nd January 2016 6:20am
Gwen Mehta says...
Hi Jeannette, yes "those were the days" We were very privileged for the opportunity to be part of TOTPs. I also wish we could find footage from those days. I remember well Pete Murray, Alan Freeman, David Jacobs and Jimmy Saville. Nice to ... Read More
22nd January 2016 7:02am
mick ward says...
hi just out of being nosey, dave Clarke from the dave Clarke five bought the rights to all the top of the pops tapes so you might be able to go down that route to fi
nd your tapes, mike.
23rd January 2016 7:38am
Jeannette says...
Thanks Mike ..your not being nosy you are trying to help me thank you
23rd January 2016 9:14am
Vaughan Wilkinson says...
Actually, Dave, it was the rights to Ready Steady Go that Dave Clark bought up; and many TOTP tapes were wiped so doubt if you'll see them again, sadly.
20th April 2016 8:58pm
Vaughan Wilkinson says...
Apologies, it was Mick I was addressing in my last comment.
20th April 2016 8:59pm
Jeannette says...
Hi Gwen I live in did you become to live in California..?
23rd January 2016 9:17am
Jeannette says...
Sorry meant San Francisco Gwen..
23rd January 2016 9:21am
Gwen Mehta says...
I have lived in numerous countries and was working in Israel where I met my future husband who lived in CA, voila here I am. Have been here for 15 years
23rd January 2016 9:30am
Malcolm Barrett says...
Sorry I'm late but have only just discovered Manchester Beat.Was reading Bernard Judge remarks. 3 coins club.saville owned. Went there to sort out Plumbing prob. I was 17/18. A Group was practising. Rosilyn,yeah gotta know,They Gave me tickets ... Read More
10th October 2016 12:11am
Terry Robson (Manchester) says...
I went to St Pius at the back and we use to stand at the stage door and get auograghs. I had a book with P J Proby, Kathy Kiby Gene Pitney and loads of other. The Best one was Twinkle. When she turned up we didn't know who she was. (The record ... Read More
11th August 2017 7:08pm
Pam (Manchester) says...
Remember going to see Procal Harum but don't remember year !
24th August 2017 10:36pm
Pam (Manchester) says...
Remember seeing Procol Harum and loving them but can't remember year
24th August 2017 10:39pm

Copyright ©
All rights reserved. Unauthorized use of any content is strictly prohibited.

Please read our Disclaimer/Copyright Notice