Top of the Pops most controversial moments and iconic performances

Top of the Pops is still widely remembered as one of the most popular music shows to have ever been on TV.

The show started on January 1 1964, when The Beatles performed their No1 hit, I Want To Hold Your Hand.

The BBC music show first aired in Black and white, but in 1969 filmed its first ever episode in colour, where the show extended from 25 minutes to 45.

Top of the Pops ran all the way up until 2006. By this time the viewership had fallen to around 1 million people, and after 42 years the show was axed.

We take a look at some of the most iconic and controversial performances

Top of the Pops – most controversial performances

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In 1991 Nirvana were booked to play on TOTP and play their hit song Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Normally when playing on live tv at the time, artists would lip-sync.

The Rolling Stones, The Smiths and many others all complied to the rules of mouthing lyrics. Nirvana did no such thing.

Producers had admitted that year that vocalists usually mime but would now always sing. Although, backing tracks would remain to be played over guitars, drums and other instruments.

As the song starts Kurt Cobain robotically strums his guitar to the camera and begins to sing, putting his mouth around the microphone.

Bassist Krist Novoselic swung his guitar around deliberately showing it was impossible to play, then Cobain dropped his voice and sounded almost unrecognisable.

He also started the song with 'loaded up on drugs, kill your friends', lyrics that were not meant to be sung on the show.

Iron Maiden were another band to break the rules. They demanded to play live too, and so they did.

However, former guitarist Dennis Stratton revealed to Classic Rock in 2018 that the instruments were adjusted in an effort to keep the decibels down.

Top of the Pops iconic performances

The first ever episode of Top of the Pops featured possibly the most famous band at the time (and of all time) – The Beatles.

The band from Liverpool played their new No1 hit, I Want to Hold Your Hand.

Epitomising the feeling of the 60s, the first performance is said to be a key factor in the show's success.

Thanks to Stranger Things, the resurgence of Kate Bush has been iconic in itself.

But at just 19-years-old, the public loved her appearance on TOTP.

At the time, she was fairly unknown but her performance of Wuthering Heights in 1978 is still remembered today.

You can see more iconic Top of the Pops performances on BBC Two tonight at 7pm on Top of the Pops 1978: Big Hits.

It will go through a selection of classic songs from 1978, featuring Ian Dury, Elvis Costello, Blondie, Bob Marley, the Boomtown Rats, Kate Bush, Sham 69, Brotherhood of Man, Dan Hill, Boney M, 10cc and Manfred Mann's Earth Band.

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