Saturday 15 July 2023

The Swingin’ London Scene

It’s time to fire up the Lunewyre technology once again.

Back in 2014 I dipped into the BBC Radio 1 version of Radio Tip Top that aired in 1995 and 1996. But in 1993 and 1994 the unlicensed Radio Tip Top could be heard across London on a Wednesday night beaming out in mono on 105.6 FM. Series one ran from sometime in May, or possibly April, 1993 through to October and was transmitted for three hours on a Wednesday evening (9 pm to midnight). It was also, at least for a while, also heard from noon to 3 pm on Sundays.  The second, delayed and shorter, season kicked off in October 1994 going out 10 pm to midnight on a Wednesday. In between times Radio Tip Top club members could send off for cassette compilation versions and attend live events. There were also occasional roadshow specials such as the one from the summer of 1993.

Needless to say recordings of the pirate Radio Tip Top shows – ‘free from the forces of law and order’ - are rare. At the time of writing there are recordings from September 1993, excerpts from two 1994 shows and two of the tape shows on Mixcloud.  

Fortunately due to the diligence of Mark O’Shea we can now enjoy a complete recording of Kid Tempo and The Ginger Prince hosting the Radio Tip Top Summertime Special Roadshow. This was broadcast at noon on Thursday 19 August 1993 (a date only established after a bit of detective work and digging out old TV schedules) from “a magnificent marquee in the glorious grounds of a Tip Top secret location, just outside the capital and beamed into London by the magic of Lunewyre technology”. Mark’s recording was rescued from an VHS tape, the soundtrack with a Tip Top recording whilst the picture was of Channel 4’s output that afternoon.   

As the recording starts we can just about hear the sound of Jazz FM on 102.2 before the Tip Top transmission begins. The show kicks off with San Tropez, better known as the theme to Channel 4’s Eurotrash which started this year. Can this be a co-incidence? The first track is The Swingin’ London Scene by First Impression, a Tip Top favourite.

Over at the Radio Tip Top tent with The Ginger Prince we hear performances that range from the kitsch to the obscene with Mae West (check out her Way Out West album if you really want to hear more) and Ice T’s Ice M.F.T. The Peter Lorenzo Dancers strut their stuff to Glamour Bubble by Keith Andrew Roberts.   

All the show regulars are here including Rev. Ray Floods, Norman Barrington, Penny Rider, Mitch Michelmore, Veronica Valentine, Warren Smooth, the classic jingles, the Tip Top members request line and the Tip Top Ten “as voted by the readers of Corsair magazine”. In case you’re thinking of joining “London’s fastest growing club” by sending off for your Radio Tip Top club members pack to The Back Building, 150 Curtain Road, London, please don’t. It’s now an architect’s office.   

Listen out also for the Moog Interlude with Perry and Kingsley’s Toy Balloons. That’s preceded by a version of I Think I’m Going Out of My Head by Spanish pop star Raphael.

The following year Radio Tip Top would go ‘legit’ with a pilot show, Tip Top TV, airing on some ITV regions on 30 September 1994. In February 1995, just before joining Radio 1, they presented the NME Brat Awards. In late 1997 Kid Tempo and The Ginger Prince were hosting Tip Top on the Paramount Comedy Channel, essentially providing some quirky links between some of the evening comedy shows. The same year there was talk of a It’s A Tip Top World feature film but it failed to get off the ground. And that, after just five years, was it for the Tip Top Organisation.  

I’ve posted several show of the Radio 1 show on YouTube and Mixcloud. Tip Top club members can also seek out the Facebook page dedicated to the programme.

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