1968 – Tops Programme – Waterford Crystal Vs ACEC

1968 - Tops Programme - Waterford Crystal Vs ACEC
1968 - Tops Programme - Waterford Crystal Vs ACEC

1968 – Tops Programme – Waterford Crystal Vs ACEC

For more Tops programmes click here. Click on the image below for the programme.

1968 – Tops Programme – Waterford Crystal Vs ACEC

For those of a certain age in Ireland, “TOPS OF THE TOWN” or “John Player Tops” may evoke fond memories. This annual variety competition ran from 1962 to 1997. This was well before the days of “X Factor”. It was a significant part of Irish popular culture.

Starting in Waterford in 1962, “TOPS OF THE TOWN” soon became a nationwide event, with financial support from John Player and coverage from national broadcaster RTE. Local and national finals featured community groups and businesses from across the country showcasing impressive 55-minute shows, with singers, dancers, comedians, and other performers.

Each production had armies of talented people working behind the scenes, from producers, directors, and stagehands to set-builders, writers, costume-makers, lighting technicians, committee members, and fundraisers. Thousands of people were involved in the competition around the country, from big companies to community groups with limited resources.

Challenging but fun

Despite the challenges, “TOPS OF THE TOWN” was incredibly popular. Reaching the national finals meant months of rehearsals and a chance to perform in front of a live audience for up to six months. The competition was seen as a kind of “GAA for amateur performers,” and even those who were knocked out at the local level didn’t mind.

A Sad Demise…

The last Waterford group to win the competition was Waterford Crystal in the 1994 final. This was produced by the late Bryan Flynn. The Woodville group was their opponent in the final.

Sadly, John Player’s sponsorship ended in 1997 due to a ban on cigarette advertising, marking the end of “TOPS OF THE TOWN.” The last televised final was won by Moate that year.

It’s been many years since “TOPS OF THE TOWN” ended. To this day it remains an essential part of Irish popular culture history. Its legacy lives on in the memories of those who participated and watched it.

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