Revamped 'Top of the Pops' returns to old home after a decade in exile

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Britain's longest-running television music show, Top of the Pops, will get a glittering re-vamp in a purpose-built home at the BBC Television Centre.

The programme is returning to where some of the first broadcasts were shot 37 years ago at the BBC's base at White City, after 10 years in exile at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire and the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith, west London.

This Friday's show will be a one-hour special to introduce the new 10,000 square foot set complete with five stages and a built-in Star Bar where the presenter, Jamie Theakston, will interview celebrity acts as they down a cocktail or two.

Chris Cowey, the executive producer, is hoping to recreate the programme's glory days when stars such as Rod Stewart and the one-time resident dancers Pan's People used to party at the television centre bar until the early hours.

Despite claims that the show is not what it was, Mr Cowey said yesterday: "Top of the Pops is more relevant today than ever. There's no bigger name in the world of music television than Top of the Pops."

To capitalise on the name, Top of the Pops is also founding an awards ceremony, which will take place in Manchester on 30 November. Many of the categories, including top album and top single,will be voted for by the public.

Top of the Pops began in a converted church in Manchester on New Year's Day 1964, introduced by Jimmy Savile, and spent most of its first 25 years at the Television Centre.

The programme was moved to Elstree 10 years ago because of cost pressures and then to Hammersmith when EastEnders needed extra space. The show was produced on four stages, named John, Paul, George and Ringo.

This Friday's special, which will be recorded on Thursday, will include flashbacks from past shows. Most of the biggest acts of the past four decades, from the Rolling Stones to the Stone Roses, have performed on Top of the Pops. Cher, Craig David, Steps and Natalie Imbruglia are being touted to appear on this week's show.