The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin


Thursday 10th May 2006 - TOTP in more trouble - Roger Daltrey at Arsenal

Ticket-holders for tonight's recording of Top of the Pops are being turned away from the studio at Television Centre in London. BBC bosses today appealed to BBC staff, including Radio 5 presenters, to make up the live audience.

This follows legal advice provided last night to the BBC confirming that TOTP, and some other programmes using live audiences, will require licensing under the new Licensing Act. The BBC had been in discussions with the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham since an open-air concert on 15 April by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

A BBC spokesperson confirmed that the Corporation will now submit a premises licence application to the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham. This process is likely to take some weeks. Several TOTP recordings will be affected.

More coverage likely in tomorrow's Times and other national newspapers.

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Last Sunday, 7th May, Roger Daltrey performed before and after Arsenal's last match at Highbury. This was widely advertised on the web.

A spokesperson for Islington council subsequently confirmed that Arsenal does not have a premises licence that allows entertainment in the stadium. They added:

'Under the terms of their Safety At Sports Grounds certification, we can allow them to have licensable entertainment on a match day that is incidental to the game. We worked with Arsenal and agreed a programme of entertainment that suited the theme the club wanted for the day whilst fitting the criteria set out for the SASG Act." 

The Safety at Sports Ground Act 1975 does indeed require that all activities in designated sports grounds must be certified as safe, but according to licensing lawyers, this does not exempt regulated entertainment from licensing under the Licensing Act. It was unclear whether the council regarded Daltrey's performance as 'incidental music' under the Act, and therefore exempt. When pressed on this question they declined to provide further comment.

They did, however, confirm that the playing of recorded music at the stadium was allowed since this was carried forward automatically as a 'grandfather right' during last year's licence conversion. Interestingly, the club's licence for alcohol applies to the whole premises, even though it is illegal to sell alcohol within sight of the pitch.


Rowena Smith, manager of The Old China Hand bar in Clerkenwell, said that Islington council advised her that the jazz duos she had been providing weekly until last November would not qualify for the incidental exemption. The gig was cancelled, and has still not been reinstated.

Hamish Birchall