PUBLISH DATE: 3rd August 2003




BBC Television Centre TOTP at the Beeb

July 30th 2003, has to be one of the most exciting Farlowe happenings ever! When we heard that Chris and the Norman Beaker Band were going to record for Top of the Pops 2, at the BBC Television Centre in London, we were over the moon and wouldn't have missed it for the world. Then we found out that Chris had managed to obtain ten guest tickets so some of you folks could come as well. 

There wasn't time to run a competition or anything like that......
Outside TOTP studio ... so we dashed out a quick 'News Flash' to our newsletter subscribers offering pairs of tickets to the first five that responded, and boy were you guys all quick of the mark. We only wish we had a few hundred tickets so you could all have come!

TOTP is probably the oldest music show in the world. It began on
1 January 1964 and has been broadcast on the BBC once a week ever since. Virtually everyone in the rock and pop world has appeared on the show over the last thirty nine years, though to be honest, the current charts and crop of pop stars aren't really to our taste, so we don't tune in that often anymore. 
Kris with Pam However, to satisfy the desires of the more 'mature' and discerning viewer, the BBC hit on the idea of having a 'sister' show'. This is called (somewhat imaginatively) TOTP2. TOTP2 shows a mixture of recordings from the last forty odd years as well as showing newly recorded, as yet non-charting material by quality artists, hence Chris' forthcoming appearance. There is a great website for TOTP2 at . It lists all the artists who have appeared on the show and has updates on what they are up to now, video clips , lots of competitions including a quiz to test your music knowledge.
Kris checks everyone is ready Chris and the band were due to record the show live on Wednesday evening and there were rehearsals at the studio, the evening before. They wanted Chris to record three tracks and these were; 'Handbags and Gladrags', 'Out of Time' and of course, the new single 'I'll Leave the Light On'. Rehearsals went well, the sound was great and Chris and the boys were in fine form. The Beaker Band line-up for the show was; Norm (guitar), John Price (bass), Dave Baldwin (keyboards), Damian Hand (Sax) and Steve Gibson (Drums), plus backing singers Doreen and Irene Chanter
Irene & Daughter, Chris n Kris Wednesday dawned bright and sunny and following a liquid lunch in Chiswick, the troops rendezvoused at KDs Recording Studios, and set off in a fleet of minicabs to launch our TOTP offensive. Once through security, we were free to explore the warren of corridors and floors that is the BBC. 

We met some very nice and helpful people at the beeb who helped us with our passes and issued us with rather nifty blue wrist bands and most importantly showed us all up to the roof top bar. If only it had been that easy to find the dressing rooms! 


Rehearsal on Tuesday The other pre-show drama was a mix up over the tickets for the ten lucky ticket holders which meant despite everyone arriving on time and queuing in the right place, the BBC staff didn't know they were coming and wouldn't let them in. Fortunately Kris was on hand to sort out problem and eventually the list with everyone's name on was located and our folks allowed in. 

At a round about five 'o clock we all headed off to the TOTP studios where Chris and the band played HBAGR twice followed by ILTLO and then OOT


I'll Leave The Light On As well as being a final rehearsal, this was a run through for the crew to get the sound and correct camera angles sorted before the live shoot at 7.00pm. We sat on the edge of one of the stages and watched and listened with amazement. The sound and acoustics were fantastic. Once complete, we had some time to kill, so we all trooped off to the roof top bar on the fourth floor where we all chilled out with drinks and a meal. Adrian was amazed to fine three real ales being served and dually tried one of each! Dylan & Danny managed to find a different bar just around the corner from the TOTP studio called the 'Star Bar' where all the 'Stars' hang out (so what were they doing in there)?
Practice on Wednesday Once refreshed we all headed down to the ground floor where we were greeted by a sea of young fans for all the various acts for TOTP, making their way into the studios. Obviously it was time to make our way into the studio ready for filming.

On entering the TOTP studio, the first shock was the youthfulness of the audience! I think we slightly more mature folks stood out a bit, but we didn't let it us daunt us and maneuvered our way through the 'teenies' to the near the front of the stage along with CF/NBB no.1 fans
Pam and John Henderson
Dave, John, Steve (Drums), Damian, Norman, Chris, Doreen & Irene Pam H and Adrian decided they would like to star on tv and made it right to the front row, so keep an eye open for them when the programme is broadcast.

It was very, very hot in there and the warm up guy insisted on creating yet more bodily heat by encouraging everyone to dance, shout, clap and jump around energetically. Put it this way - we found ourselves sweating in places we didn't know were capable of perspiring! 
Damian's Sax Solo: ILTLO I think the CF contingent surprised our fellow audience members with our hysterical reaction whenever Chris and the Band were mentioned (no way were we going to let any other bands get a louder cheer)! 

There were about five acts on. But we hadn't heard of any of them, even the current chart topper who we think was called David Bedding Plant (or something like that)! Chris and the Beaker Band were on first - brilliant for us, but very bad for the bands that had to follow their superlative performance! Everyone looked great, the BBC makeup lady had obviously been working overtime.

Chris was especially dapper in his dinner jacket and red silk shirt, Norm was blatantly plugging his website with a NBB tee-shirt under his jacket and we mustn't forget Dave in his very cool sunglasses (sorry Dave but we think Interpol will still recognise you). Damian had obviously had the Brasso out as his sax was gleaming. Steve had specially creosoted his sticks, and John, that shade of lipstick was soooo you! 

First song was
HBAGRs which received a rapturous reception and not just from us, as the youngsters obviously knew this song from the recent Stereophonics cover and happily clapped and sang along. 

Norm's excellent solo also got a great response, which made us think that the youth of today aren't entirely without taste!

Next came a change of mood with the new single, '
I'll leave the light on', which had everyone swaying from side to side, and the dozen or so of us that know the words, singing along. Once again the crowd responded to Damian's really smooth sax solo and the song got a really good reception which bodes well for the future. They closed the set with 'Out of Time' and everyone was really into it by now.

We were so pleased that the audience seemed to like what they were hearing - maybe Chris and the Band have picked up a new generation of fans. 

Well, it was over all to soon and the only thing to do, was to take refuge on the rooftop bar, again! and enjoy a couple of cool beers in the evening sunshine. So a truly memorable day came to an end. All that remains is to thank everyone who made it happen and who contributed to the success of the occasion. Big thanks must go to
Kris Gray & Ziggy for inviting us along and organizing everything and everyone. 

Thanks to true fans,
Pam & John Henderson, Colin & Alison Hawes and Paul & John Feazey who came along to lend their support . Thanks also to the nice folks we met at the BBC who looked after us so well. And last but not least, many, many thanks to Chris, Norm, John, Dave, Damian and Steve for their amazing performance and for giving us some great memories to take home with us.

The show should be aired in the near future and we are really looking forward to reliving the experience and maybe starring on tv! As soon as possible, we will put some pictures on this page of the actual performance.