01/01/81 Baggy Trousers (Top of the Pops)
A snowy festive performance for the New Year’s Day episode of Top of the Pops but there’s not much of a party going on, the audience didn’t even show up. Suggs and Chas are back in their crombie overcoats and Lee has brought his toy saxophone with him again, even taking a phone call on it at one point.
14/01/81 Interview (Countdown)
With ‘Baggy Trousers’ riding high in the Dutch Top 10, a couple of members of the band get interviewed over there by Annette Van Trigt for this music show. Clips from a concert soundcheck are also shown, apparently.
17/01/81 One Step Beyond/My Girl/Baggy Trousers/Embarrassment Medley (Jim’ll Fix It)
From the bundle of begging letters, the creepy cigar-smoking one fixes it for two hopeful kids to meet and perform with their favourite band. The young girl shows off her dance moves next to Suggs while the boy plays a wooden sax for a specially recorded medley which the band only finished mixing very late the previous night. Along with a Jim’ll Fix it badge, the two children are presented with framed ‘Absolutely’ gold discs which Suggs and Chas had just been given earlier that day.
23/01/81 Embarrassment (TopPop)
Madness appear on this weekly pop music show in the Netherlands which was apparently modelled on Top of the Pops although there’s no audience of puzzled looking school kids to be seen. Instead, the TV audience at home get a close-up of Suggs being wheeled around in front of the camera before he lands over the far side of the studio where the rest of the band are playing amongst some scaffolding. Over there, Chas is on trumpet, Chris is doing some Wilko Johnson moves and Mike is playing a xylophone…on a track where there’s no xylophone.
00/01/81 Embarrassment (TROS Star Club)
It’s another mimed performance on Dutch TV, this time in front of a live studio audience on a new programme called Star Club. Mike is back on his keyboards, Chas plays trumpet again and Suggs drops his cigarette from behind his ear. These recent appearances on Dutch TV obviously paid off as ‘Embarrassment’ became their biggest hit there, making it to no. 4 in the charts with ‘Absolutely’ hitting no.2 in the Dutch album charts shortly afterwards.
04/02/81 Embarrassment (Le Luron)
The curtain parts and the band are found tightly packed around Woody who is on a small stage riser. It’s French TV so maybe that’s what prompted them to all wear berets. Suggs misses his first line cue (he would learn from this, I’m sure…haha) as he performs a live vocal over a backing track. Otherwise, his vocal sounds great despite some chewing of the mic lead and a stumble off the back of the riser. He deliberately messes up the last line though, ‘blowing a raspberry’ into the mic instead.
05/02/81 Unknown (Avis de Recherche)
Next stop it’s Paris again where Madness appear as musical guests on this Channel TF1 show, before flying back to London that evening.
24/02/81 Embarrassment (Bananas)
It’s another one of those German TV performances. This time, surrounding the band are a bevy of topless girls holding giant banana props. It’s no time to be too serious so Madness can amuse themselves. Suggs uses his finger as a microphone, Chas takes a run and jump into his arms and they generally all just muck about. In some other Madness-banana related trivia, Mike was once employed to deliver Fyffes bananas. His co-worker on the job had a habit of saying “my girl and me” which would later inspire the lyrics for ‘My Girl’.
25/02/81 Baggy Trousers (The British Rock and Pop Awards 1980/Nationwide)
Madness perform in the New London Theatre at this music awards ceremony which was basically a predecessor of the Brit Awards. They’re mostly decked out in dinner-wear from the video of ‘The Return of the Los Palmas 7’ but they mime to ‘Baggy Trousers’, their biggest hit of 1980. There’s a nod to the ‘Baggy Trousers’ video as well as Lee takes to the air Superman-style. There’s some snow-like effect with foam on stage for some reason and as the programme credits roll hosts, Dave Lee Travis and Sue Lawley end up covered in it – courtesy of Suggs and Chas.
26/02/81 Return of the Los Palmas 7 (Top of the Pops)
The septet’s seventh single is peaking at no. 7 in the UK charts, co-incidence or wot?! I assume it must be somewhat tricky for bands to mime to an instrumental but it’s never a problem for Madness. Here, Suggs assumes the role of conductor, Chris and Bedders are acoustic Mexicans and Lee is “Waiter!” with his toy saxophone and a tray which he literally can’t shake off.
09/03/81 Feature film (Take it or Leave it)
Filming commences and continues over the next month as Madness venture into the realms of movie-making. The film ends up being an honest portrayal of the bands formation with some good action clips and a dash of dodgy acting. It premiered at the Gate Three Cinema in Camden Town on the 14th October.
19/04/81 Interview (Countdown)
Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum from this Australian music TV show travels to London and meets Suggs, Chris, Bedders and Woody sitting on a wall. This short interview was recorded early 1981 and broadcast just prior to their tour of Australia in April. Their ‘Absolutely One Step Beyond Far East Tour’ also took in New Zealand, Singapore and finally Japan where they filmed their first ‘Honda City’ adverts.
08/06/81 Embarrassment/Baggy Trousers/Madness (Pinkpop Festival)
Madness perform outdoors in front of almost 50,000 people at the 12th Pinkpop Festival in Geleen in the Netherlands. The crowd are way down below, behind ten foot-high fencing while up above, Madness are turning in a strong performance. Three songs have been broadcast on various TV programmes over the years, the rest of the set is out there to be heard on bootleg cassette. Ian Dury looks on from the side of the stage and later invites members of Madness and UB40 to join his band for the finale of “Sex and Drugs and Rock n’ Roll” – he even persuades Mike to sing along which he does briefly…in an out-of-tune kind of way. An interview may also have been shown as part of the original broadcast.
07/07/81 Shut Up/Grey Day (Razzmatazz)
It’s children’s TV time and in the audience are quite a few young die-hard fans in Madness t-shirts, hats and shades. This is the only (non-live) TV performance’ of ‘Grey Day’, they’d been busy touring the world since the single was released back in April. And they’re about to jet off again, this time to Nassau in the Bahamas to record their third album. Before they go, they give viewers a sneak preview of what to expect with a new tune called ‘Shut Up’. However it’s a different version to the one which ends up getting released.
28/07/81 When Dawn Arrives (Razzmatazz)
Recorded during their previous appearance on the show, this song was held back three weeks for broadcast. It’s another new song that will feature on the next album and as with ‘Shut Up’ last time out, it’s an earlier version that gets played. A ‘mini-me Chas’ from the audience of this kid’s TV show replaces the big Chas for this number. He has even borrowed his yellow and black tartan suit, shades and dance moves.
00/09/81 Unknown (Unknown)
Melody Maker refers to an appearance on Belgian TV where Carl is dressed in armour and brandishing a sword. No more details on this, I’m afraid!
29/09/81 Shut Up (Top Pop)
Madness prepare for their forthcoming Scottish dates by wearing glengarry/balmoral hats, kilts….and err, Doc Martens . There are models around them adopting ancient Roman poses and there is also a broken TV set (rather than a broken window?) on the stage with an arm sticking out of it doing magic tricks. It all makes little sense which is like a licence for Madness to do what they want on stage. And they do. There are two slightly different takes of this performance and they may also have performed ‘Mrs Hutchinson’ although it seems like that song was never broadcast.
08/10/81 Shut Up (Top of the Pops)
The seven samurai kick off the show, clad in clobber from their ‘7’ album sleeve. For such an upbeat song, it sort of looks like they’re going through the motions in this performance but their ‘7’ Tour is just about to kick off so perhaps they’re saving their energy for that. Behind them on the TOTP stage are Legs & Co. who do a choreographed dance routine dressed as police women…in tights and high heels. It’s surprisingly the first time Legs have danced to Madness on Top of the Pops and it turns out to be one of their very last performances on the show. Not so for Madness fortunately, there’s plenty more to come.
27/11/81 It Must Be Love/Interview (Unknown)
Madness headline a benefit concert at the Rainbow Theatre for the Jobs for Youth Campaign. A news report followed featuring an interview with Suggs and Chris plus some footage of ‘It Must Be Love’ live.
29/11/81 Embarrassment/Sign of the Times/Close Escape/Day on the Town/Bed & Breakfast Man/Disappear/Pac-A-Mac/When Dawn Arrives/My Girl/Cardiac Arrest/Promises Promises/Take it or Leave it/Shut Up/Tomorrow’s Dream/Mrs. Hutchinson/Baggy Trousers/Missing You/Madness/Grey Day/It Must Be Love/The Prince/One Step Beyond (Rockpalast)
This is a full concert recorded at the Markthalle in Hamburg and featuring a selection of tracks from the first three albums. It’s particularly interesting to see half a dozen album tracks from ‘7’ get played. The crowd are corralled behind barriers, far back from the stage so Chas heads down there during the last song, ‘One Step Beyond’. He offers the mic to certain members of the audience at the front and all enthusiastically shout “beyooond!” except for one girl who looks away with a look of disgust on her puss. It’s quite funny. This concert was made available on DVD in 2012 although some feel it may not be an official release.
24/12/81 It Must be Love (Little & Large Show)
Madness guest on the Christmas edition of the comedy duo’s show, all wearing black clothes topped with black berets in contrast to the white suited string section and Mike’s white grand piano. Suggs is also wearing those fingerless gloves which will soon become a must-have for young Madness fans. Madness had been touring since this single’s release but it’s still surprising that they didn’t perform it more on UK TV at the time as it was such a monster hit. Maybe they’d get the chance to make up for it in later years…like 25, 30 years later.
25/12/81 Appearance (Top of the Pops)
Chas, Chris and Bedders gatecrash the Top of the Pops Christmas party. The trio can be first spotted dancing with The Beat on stage before later cropping up next to Steve Wright as he introduces Toyah’s ‘It’s a Mystery’.