Peel said at the beginning of the year that we should forget about the Festive Fifty for a year or two: yet here he was again, from the 20th December 1979 to the 1st January 1980, playing the hits and the Sex Pistols at number 1 for the second year running. Noteworthy in this chart was his favourite band, the Fall (as if you didn’t know) making their first appearance at number 40 with the abrasive anti-prescription drug noisefest Rowche Rumble, the Undertones charting with two songs that never reared their heads again, and the old guard chuntering on in the shape of Led Zeppelin , Pink Floyd (who astounded us all by making the UK Christmas number one), David Bowie and the Who. JP scorned accusations that his chart had ever been fixed: as if to prove it, he points out that Teenage Kicks would have been top of the pile if he had, in this case settling for also-ran status. This was still in the days when the FF was an all-time jobby, and Joy Division were yet to appear, although Something Else was bold enough to feature them:
We fare better in terms of recorded evidence for this chart than 1977, since a C90’s worth of highlights, with JP’s links, surfaced this year: Part 1, and Part 2.
This was otherwise the year when snow fell in the Sahara Desert, UNICEF announced the year of the child and a telecast concert and soundtrack album preceded Live Aid by six years. Two major disasters occurred in spring: April saw 26 tornados hit the mid-west of the USA, and in May the Woolworths fire in Manchester killed 10 shoppers. Politically, the biggest disaster of the year was the Conservatives under M******t T******r winning a forced General Election in May, thereby ensuring 18 years of misery for the UK. A revolution in Iran deposed the Shah and ushered in an Islamic Republic and a fuel crisis.
Musically, the LP of the year was Michael Jackson’s triple platinum Off The Wall, and the Specials’ debut marked a year in which punk was seen as a dying breed and ska ruled the airwaves.
The last episode of a sitcom that still sits in the all-time echelons of the genre eventually aired after being postponed due to a strike at the BBC. Fawlty Towers’ episode ‘Basil The Rat’ at least went out on a comic high note: