BBC4's weekly Top of the Pops repeats are rapidly turning into a roll call of shame

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The BBC’s decision to repeat every existing episode of Top of the Pops was supposed to provide a nostalgic insight into the cultural mores of the 70s. But BBC4’s weekly hit parade is rapidly turning into a roll call of shame.

Jonathan King, given a seven-year jail sentence in 2001 after being convicted of sexual assaulting five teenage boys, won a humiliating apology from the BBC when his appearance was cut out of a show.

The broadcaster and occasional musician spotted that his hit, Only Takes A Minute, which reached No 9 in the charts, had been removed from a 1976 BBC repeat.

Mark Thompson, then BBC Director-General, wrote to King saying the omission should not have happened and pledged that future episodes would not be re-edited.

The BBC committed to showing full Top of the Pops episodes, warts and all, since it should not “rewrite history”. Episodes would now struggle to fill their running time if the censorship continued.

An outcry followed when the convicted sex offender Gary Glitter received a royalties windfall after his appearance singing It Takes All Night Long was shown during a 1977 re-run. 

Glitter, convicted of making indecent images of children, sings “Cuddle me close, Hold me tight” in the opening line.

Until last night, the BBC appeared determined to show forthcoming 1977 episodes presented by Savile in his garish-outfitted pomp, joking with young girls in the audience.

There is no shortage of scandal-hit pop stars to come when the repeats enter the 80s – enter Boy George (jailed for 15 months for falsely imprisoning a male escort) and George Michael (sentenced to eight weeks in prison for drug driving). Fortunately the Pete Doherty years are some time away.