Top 40

This is the second part of our look over the history of the chart shows on BBC radio. This page looks at 1987-2002; we also have pages looking at 1955-1987 and 2002-date.


From October 1987, due to advances in computer technology, it was now possible for the chart covering up to the end of Saturday to be compiled on Sunday, ready to be revealed on Radio 1 at 5pm. Thus the chart show suddenly went from being 'old news' to being a 'must listen'.

The new-look Top 40 launched on Sunday 4th October 1987. In the early days Bruno Brookes would make out that the chart was still in a state of flux while the show was being broadcast - though of course this was complete nonsense!

Chartbusters continued to precede the Top 40, and in the last few moments of the show, Bruno would build up the excitement by previewing the runners and riders in the new chart. Then, following the Greenwich time signal for 5pm, there was a sound of a thunderclap (used to wake up listeners who had dozed off on a lazy Sunday afternoon) and the Top 40 show would commence.

A new music bed was introduced at this point, an instrumental version of 'When the Bad Men Come' by Outbar. From the second week, a recap of the entire Top 40 was counted down before the number 1, rather than just the Top 10. Recaps of 40-31, 30-21 and 20-11 continued to feature.

Although Gary Davies had lost the reveal of the new singles chart from his Bit in the Middle, he still got to count down the new Top 30 album chart on Mondays, and, later, the American Top 20 on Wednesdays.

On 21st February 1988, Radio 1's newest DJ Mark Goodier stood in for Bruno while he was away. (A bizarre coincidence would occur 28 years later - when Mark was brought in at short notice to present Radio 2's Pick of the Pops for the first time on 27th February 2016, one of the two charts that had already been chosen for that show was the exact same chart he had counted down on his debut on the Top 40 on Radio 1!) Mark would now be the sole stand-in on the Top 40 show for the next two-and-a-half years.

A new music bed was introduced for the Top 40 on 2nd October 1988. For the first time, this was part of Radio 1's JAM jingle package and was recorded specially for the purpose of counting down the charts. Up until now, it had been pre-existing instrumental tracks or loops that had been selected for use for the rundown.

At Christmas 1988, the chart show was transmitted on a Monday rather than Sunday for the only time in its history. The Boxing Day broadcast was in order that sales up to and including Christmas Eve (a Saturday) could be included.

In January 1989 Alan Freeman returned to Radio 1 after a decade away. During some of that time he had presented Pick of the Pops - Take Two on Capital Radio, which combined the Top 15 from a classic year with that from the current week. Now Pick of the Pops was revived solely as an oldies show, playing hits from the Top 20s from that week in three classic years, each Sunday lunchtime on Radio 1. The Brass Incorporated version of 'At the Sign of the Swinging Cymbal' was used as the theme.

A few months later Bruno Brookes swapped shows with Mark Goodier, moving from weekday teatimes to present weekend breakfast with Liz Kershaw. As he continued with the Top 40, this meant he now had two shows on Sundays.

Chartbusters, which had been reduced to a 30 minute timeslot in October 1988, was axed just before Christmas 1989.

On 1st January 1990, chart presenters old and new, Alan Freeman and Mark Goodier, joined forces to spend six hours counting down the Top 80 of the 80s.

A few days later, Radio 1 launched a new jingle package to herald the start of the new decade, and with it came a new music bed and jingles for the Top 40 show - often reckoned by fans of the chart show to be the best ever! For the first time, the same backing music was also used during Gary Davies's chart rundowns on his Bit in the Middle. Additionally, following a revamp of Gary's show in 1991 which saw it become Let's Do Lunch, it would be heard on Fridays during the self-explanatory 'Gary's Top 40 Tips'.

With Radio 1's own FM network rapidly expanding, from 1st April 1990 the Sunday afternoon Top 40 show was no longer broadcast on Radio 2's FM frequencies.

In 1990, the Chart Information Network (CIN) came into being to oversee the compilation of the charts which, at this time, was still being done by Gallup.

Bruno stepped down from the Top 40 in 1990, presenting his last show on 23rd September. The obvious successor was Mark Goodier - he took over the show the following week, but kept the exact same format inherited from Bruno - same jingles, music bed and so on.

This was to change a few months later. In December 1990, Mark announced that from the new year, the show would be extended by half an hour. Could this mean the show was expanding to cover a Top 50? Unfortunately not - from 6th January 1991 the show was retitled The Complete UK Top 40 in Radio Times, meaning that all 40 songs in the chart would now be played. This wasn't too thrilling a prospect - up to now, the songs that had been skipped during the rundown were those that were falling down the chart, the songs that listeners were fed up of hearing by now. However, some of the older songs in the chart would be cut short in order to fit all 40 tracks into two-and-a-half hours.

The new 4.30 time slot for the Top 40 meant that Pick of the Pops earlier in the day was shortened by half an hour, though it still squeezed three charts from the past into its two hour running time.

Bryan Adams made chart history over the summer of 1991, when he stayed at number 1 for 16 weeks with 'Everything I Do, I Do It for You'. Bruno Brookes spoke on a BBC4 documentary about how listeners got fed up with hearing him announce the same song at number 1 week after week. However this was impossible, as in fact it was Mark Goodier who was presenting the Top 40 at this time! However, it wasn't long before Bruno would be back...

Mark Goodier presented the last Top 40 of his first tenure on 1st March 1992. It was not his decision to leave the show - he spoke during his interview for Radio 1 Vintage of how he had been told by bosses that they didn't want him presenting both the Top 40 and the Evening Session (Radio 1's show for new and indie music on weekday evenings). This would appear slightly odd seeing as he began presenting both shows in the same week in 1990!

Tommy Vance, who had been the stand-in over the past year whenever Mark had been away, covered the show on 8th March. The following day saw major schedule changes at the station, promoted as the '1FM Remix'. Bruno Brookes was moved from weekend breakfast to present the weekday early show from 4-6am. A move that could be seen as demotion, in addition Bruno was also given back the Sunday afternoon chart show.

Upon Bruno's return on 15th March 1992, the Top 40 show had a whole new sound. It was extended by a further 30 minutes to begin at 4pm, with the extra time being used to play every Top 40 hit in its entirety. This still left a bit of spare time on the show, which would filled in various ways over the following years, including recapping the previous week's Top 3 at the start of the show, or just the previous week's number 1, or by taking a look at the album chart.

A new jingle package introduced as part of the 1FM Remix included a new countdown bed for the Top 40, which was a little slower paced than before.

Possibly to compensate for being moved off the Top 40, Mark Goodier was given his own daily Top 10 countdown based on listener phone votes - Mark Goodier's Mega Hits. Numbers 10-2 were played during the shows's half-hour timeslot from 6-6.30pm, with the number 1 being revealed half an hour later after News 92, at the start of Mark's Evening Session. Mark would also return to being the main stand-in on the Sunday afternoon chart show, covering most of Bruno's absences for the next three years. One exception was 25th October 1992, when Simon Bates made an unexpected one-off return to present the show. Neale James also covered on two occasions.

Pick of the Pops came to an end in December 1992, with Alan Freeman stating that he would never present the show again. Mark Goodier's Mega Hits then ended after a year, in April 1993.

On 18th April 1993, Radio 1 launched its first standalone album chart show. Presented by Lynn Parsons, it aired on Sunday evenings from 7-8pm, straight after the Top 40 singles. Oddly, the show started with track from the number 1 album, and then worked its way up the Top 30. The Official 1FM Album Chart was not to last long, being axed as part of a major reshuffle of Radio 1's programmes in October 1993.

In January 1994, Radio 1 updated its jingle package again, and with it came a more upbeat music bed for the Top 40. This theme would prove to be a little longer than needed for the countdown, and therefore it was 'tightened up' in subsequent weeks.

One month later, the compilation of the chart changed once again, passing from Gallup to Millward Brown.

In 1994, Bruno counted down the Christmas chart for the first time on Christmas Day, although the festive Top 10 had already been announced on Top of the Pops earlier that afternoon.

Radio 1 was going through a series of major changes in the mid-90s. Most of the 'Smashie and Nicey'-era presenters had by now departed. But there was still one man at the station who was considered a 'dinosaur' by the management, according to the 2001 BBC2 documentary Walking with Disc Jockeys, despite not yet even being 40 years old. And so Bruno Brookes was 'let go' from Radio 1 in April 1995.

This left a vacancy on the chart show - and so Bruno was succeeded for a second time by Mark Goodier. On 23rd April 1995, Mark began a much longer stint on the show. It coincided with a whole new sound to the show - gone were the JAM beds and sung jingles, replaced by a trendier, more contemporary sound.

The chart itself was changing at this time, too. Songs were now being released for radio play weeks or months before they went on sale to the general public. As a result, this would build up demand such that most songs would now enter the chart at their peak position. Songs entering the chart at number 1 had once been a rare event - now it seemed to be happening almost every week.

By this time, the Radio 1 Top 40 show was beginning to lose ground to its rival on commercial radio. The Network Chart Show had morphed into the Pepsi Chart in 1993, and, having received his doctorate in chartology, was now hosted by Dr Neil Fox. Having been denied a request to also broadcast the Official Top 40 its entireity, the commercial chart was nonetheless now allowed to incorporate the sales-only Official Top 10. It would thus now broadcast the same Top 10 songs in the same order as Radio 1, with numbers 40-11 continuing to incorporate an element of airplay.

The Radio 1 Top 40 was considered by Mark Goodier to be a matter of journalistic record - it was broadcasting the Official Chart as recognised by the music industry, and as such continued with a completely straight format - here's number 40, here's number 39, here's number 38 etc.

In contrast, Dr Fox on the Pepsi Chart created a more personality-based show, incorporating competitions, listener phone calls and artist interviews. No matter that the chart it was broadcasting wasn't the 'official one' (at least not 40-11) - the format was more appealing to listeners, who increasingly were turning away from the Radio 1 chart to its commercial rival.

As a spoiler tactic, Radio 1 were now ending their chart show at 6.55pm, in order to ensure they were the first to reveal the number 1.

Having spent a few years on Capital Gold presenting Pick of the Pops - Take Three, Alan Freeman returned to the BBC once again in April 1997 to present yet another incarnation of Pick of the Pops, this time on Radio 2. Broadcast on Saturday afternoons, the show featured the Top 10s from two classic years. Forced to stand down due to ill health in 2000, Fluff was succeeded by Dale Winton. Tony Blackburn, Mark Goodier and Paul Gambaccini have subsequently presented the show, which had since expanded to cover the Top 20s.

It was almost unheard of for Radio 1's chart show to miss a week, but it happened during exceptional circumstances on 31st August 1997. Following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, Radio 1 suspended normal programming. During the chart show's normal timeslot, the station continued with its playlist of sombre ambient music that had been on repeat all that day, interspersed with occasional announcements by Mark Goodier.

At the start of August 1998, those listeners who had stuck with the Radio 1 chart show could have been forgiven they had entered some kind of strange timewarp! The famous Pick of the Pops theme tune, 'At the Sign of the Swinging Cymbal' had returned as the show's theme tune. The original Brian Fahey version of the theme had been recut and remixed for use on the show by Norman Cook, aka, Fatboy Slim, who himself was enjoying plenty of chart success around this time.

The Fatboy remix didn't last long though. In October 1998 it was replaced by 'Crash' by The Propellerheads, a track more loosely based on 'At the Sign of the Swinging Cymbal. This would become the longest-lasted chart show theme in a long time, remaining in use for the next four years.

Radio 2 launched its own chart show on 1st October 2001. Radio 2's Album Chart Show was presented each Monday evening by Simon Mayo. Alongside the Top 20 countdown, the show also featured new releases and star interviews. On the same day, the Chart Information Network changed its name to the Official Charts Company (OCC).

A special edition of Radio 1's Top 40 was broadcast on 17th November 2002 - special in more ways than one. First of all, it was a celebratory edition to mark 50 years of the UK singles chart - 50 years since the NME had published the first singles Top 12.

But it was also Mark Goodier's final show - not just his final Top 40, but his last show on Radio 1. By now he had presented the chart show longer than anyone else, with the exception of Alan Freeman. The special programme broke away from its normal format to include live music from Robbie Williams.

The past sixteen years had seen Radio 1's Top 40 show associated with just two people. The years to come would see a much greater turnover of presenters.


Next page: 2002-date
Previous page: 1955-1987



Audio & video

From our YouTube channel, a playlist containing five compilations of clips recorded from Radio 1's Top 40 and associated shows, between 1987 and 2002. We also have a couple of short videos featuring Mark Goodier, on BBC Choice's Radio 1 TV in 2001 and CBBC's UK Top 40 in 2002.




Text copyright © Robert Williams, images, audio and video copyright © British Broadcasting Corporation