all saints were told they couldn’t perform on tv if they didn’t get topless
Breaking news: not much has changed in 20 years.
Top of the Pops was one of the greatest shows to have ever aired on British television, but it was also the actual worst — or at least its male producers were. According to late-90s comeback queens All Saints, the band was once instructed by the patriarchal powers that be to remove their shirts for one especially traumatic taping. In fact they were told they wouldn't be allowed to perform if they didn't comply.
"Because it was such a huge show, we were told 'if you don't do it, you don't get to go on the show,'" All Saints' Melanie Blatt recalled in a recent interview. "The girl that worked with us was in tears because she was trying to fight our corner," added bandmate Natalie Appleton. "We ended up having to compromise with the producers. We dropped our tops to here [indicating her armpits] so it would look like we were topless."
To rub salt into the wound, the group were labelled "difficult" for not flashing the cameras four beaming smiles along with a bit of boob. "We did it but we were stroppy about it," says Nicole Appleton. "Again, we got labeled as being difficult." Apparently this was a label they got slapped with on the reg for not making maniacal grins part of their now-iconic aesthetic.
A BBC spokesman said: "We're not able to comment on something that is alleged to have happened nearly 20 years ago, but today we seek to ensure that everyone working at the BBC does so in an environment in which they are comfortable." If only that much really had changed in 20 years.
Text Hannah Ongley
Photography Paul Phung