Top of the Pops hosts now – sex scandal, game show death and cancer conspiracy

It has officially been 16 years since the cancellation of iconic BBC music programme Top of the Pops – and what a rollercoaster those years have been.

Though TOTP still returns to our screens every Christmas Day for an instalment of the top hits of the year, its stint as a weekly programme officially ended in 2006 after declining ratings.

And the show didn’t only make stars of the artists and dancers it showcased, but its hosts, too. Everyone from Deal or No Deal star Noel Edmonds to Fearne Cotton has presented the smash hit programme during its run.

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Of course, there have also been some presenters the BBC would rather forget, including Jimmy Savile, Gary Glitter and Rolf Harris.

Daily Star takes a look back at what the presenters have been up to after the show ended.

Tragic deaths

TOTP and BBC radio presenter Janice Long was the first woman to regularly host the programme, as well as the first woman to have her own daily show on BBC Radio 1.

She sadly died on Christmas Day in 2021 at the age of 66, following a short illness.

A statement released upon her death confirmed: “Janice was a wonderful, warm human being and exceptional broadcaster.

"She told a brilliant story and always made you roar with laughter with her sharp wit. She will leave behind her husband Paul and two children, who she thought the world of.

“Janice wanted it known she was so thankful to the NHS and all who looked after her there.”

Original presenter Alan Freeman also died in 2006, the same year TOTP was cancelled – he suffered from arthritis during his lifetime, with various co-stars and DJs attending his funeral.

He had been living in Brinsworth House, a retirement home reserved for actors and other entertainers, while battling arthritis and asthma from smoking 60 cigarettes a day.

He was 79 when he died.

Sex offences

Jimmy Savile, one of Britain’s most prolific sex offenders, presented Top of the Pops for much of his career, before being found dead at his Leeds flat in 2011.

Though there had been allegations about Savile throughout his lifetime, it was Operation Yewtree in 2012 which eventually saw the full extent of his crimes exposed, with a total of 450 alleged victims contacting the police in just 10 weeks.

Thirty-one of those allegations had been of rape, with a Broadmoor nurse further alleging that Savile engaged in acts of necrophilia in the mortuary of Leeds General Infirmary.

He was reportedly friends with the chief mortician, who granted him access to the facility.

Savile wasn’t the only convicted offender to come out of the programme, however – Gary Glitter remains in HM Prison The Verne to this day, while Rolf Harris was held at Stafford prison until being released on bail in 2017.

Presenter Dave Lee Travis was found guilty by majority verdict of one count of indecent assault in 2014, and handed a three-month custodial sentence suspended for two years.

Cancer controversy

Veteran TOTP presenter Noel Edmonds incited fury in 2016 after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

The game show host appeared on This Morning to discuss his health battle, in which he insisted the cancer was caused by “negative energy” and had “cured” it using electromagnetism.

He said: “I am absolutely sure the negative forces acting on me impacted on my health.

“There is a wealth of information from various clinical studies of a direct link between stress and cancer. I am absolutely certain there was a link in my case.”

He went on: “I was, I thought, very, very healthy. I know why I got my cancer… the definition of stress is negative energy. It didn’t just decide to manifest itself, there was cause.”

Things only got worse as he told the audience: “Thanks to electromagnetism, I’m now cancer-free.”

Further outrage was caused when Noel replied to a man suffering from kidney cancer, lymph node metastases and psoriatic arthritis: “Scientific fact – disease is caused by negative energy. Is it possible your ill health is caused by your negative attitude? #explore.”

He later clarified: “Noel later said: “I don't say cancer was caused by the stress, but that my health deteriorated to such an extent I got prostate cancer. I am absolutely sure the negative forces acting on me impacted on my health.”

Game show death

Noel has been through his fair share of dramatic incidents, and none were more dramatic than the death of a contestant on his programme.

Noel was presenting The Late Late Breakfast Show’s ‘Give It A Whirl’ segment in 1986 when contestant Michael Lush, aged just 24, attempted a daring bungee jump.

The stunt would see him jump from an exploding box raised more than 100 feet in the air, and held by a crane.

However, the show failed to hire trained stunt people to oversee things, and Lush fell to his death after hesitating for a full two minutes before jumping.

It was determined in the inquest into his death that he was attached to a faulty clip, with malfunctioning equipment that wouldn’t have been strong enough to hold even a bag of sugar.

But Lush’s wasn’t the only injury in the show’s run, as stunt driver Richard Smith fractured his pelvis and suffered head injuries after crashing at 140 miles per hour in 1983.

Barbara Sleeman also broke her shoulder that year after being fired from a cannon, claiming: “The BBC don’t give a damn. They just want the viewers.”

Adoption drama

Nicky Campbell might now be better known for his role on Long Lost Family, but he was an iconic member of the TOTP team in its heyday too.

But the drama of reuniting people with lost loved ones hit his real life, as Nicky found out he was adopted when he was just four days old, leaving him feeling that he was “living a lie”.

He traced his own story later in his 20s after being adopted by Scottish couple Frank and Sheila Campbell.

His biological mum Stella Lackey has now died, but initially gave Nicky up for adoption to escape the shame of being an unmarried mother and Protestant from Dublin.

They eventually met in a hotel when Nicky was 29 years old, but he admitted he felt “no emotional connection” to her, and struggled with her desire to be part of his life.

Eventually, Stella died in 2008, with Nicky in attendance at her funeral.

Fat-shaming row

Anthea Turner left fans fuming when she incited a fat-shaming row on Twitter during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The former Blue Peter star shared an offensive cartoon to the social network which showed a larger woman carrying a McDonalds bag telling a woman refusing to wear a mask: “Put a mask on! You’re putting my health at risk.”

Anthea echoed on Twitter: “I’m incensed by the selfish attitudes of people who can’t see we actually are ‘all in this together’ & wilful destruction has an impact on us all especially those with other illnesses pushed down the line & charities who are missing out on funding.

“We have to take responsibility.

“If the government put half the amount of money into health as they have in locking us up we wouldn’t be in this mess. Keep McDonald’s open and close gyms many council run and open air – great.”

Outraged Twitter users flocked to the replies section to highlight Anthea’s fat shaming attitude, which also appeared to hit out at those who were already vulnerable from Covid.

Labour MP Jess Phillips said the comments had “just about done me in”, adding: “Stop with the god damn hierarchy of whose life matters!”


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