The show featured performances by artists who had performed well in that week's pop singles charts, including the number one song. Shows were firstly broadcast live, with a studio audience, although with artists miming to their songs, although were later pre-recorded, moving back to live shows in the early 1980s. Live rather than mimed performances were also brought into the show in the 1990s. BBC radio (later Radio 1) DJs had the task of hosting the show and introducing the acts in the studio and also 'counting down' the charts. The task was eventually applied universally to all Radio 1 DJs, regardless of their particular tastes which emerged from their regular radio shows.
The show also had unwritten 'rules' concerning appearances, such as a song not being featured for two consecutive weeks, unless it was at no.1. Songs featured were for the most part already in the charts, save for 'upcoming' hits or 'breakers', or were just outside the highlighted charts of that particular week. Recordings of performances were often repeated where artists were not able to appear a second or third time. Promo videos were shown as the medium became popular in the 1980s although promo films and early video recordings had been used in the 60s and 70s. These became less important from the nineties onwards when the focus was on live performances and live 'exclusives'. Satellite links were also used from the mid-nineties.
- Wednesdays: 01 January 1964 - 16 September 1964
- Thursdays: 24 September 1964 - 19 April 1973
- Fridays: 27 April 1973 - 31 August 1973 
- Thursdays: 13 September 1973 - 29 May 1980 until strike, resuming 07 August 1980 - 06 June 1996.
- Fridays: 14 June 1996 - 08 July 2005
- Sundays: 17 July 2005 - 30 July 2006. (last 'regular' show 23 July 2006)
- 01 January 1964 (Wednesday) - first episode broadcast from Manchester on BBC TV from 6.35 to 7.00 pm, introduced by Jimmy Savile
- 22 April 1964 - first show on BBC One.
- 24 September 1964 - first episode broadcast on the 'traditional' Thursday evening slot.
- 27 April 1973 - show moved to Friday evenings, but then restored to its regular Thursday slot on 13 September after a fall in ratings.
- 29 May 1980 - last show before two-month strike
- 07 August 1980 - show resumes after strike.
- 05 May 1983 - 1,000th edition
- 05 September 1985 - show moved to 7.00 pm (Thursdays)
- 01 September 1988: First Top of the Pops simulcast on BBC1 and Radio 1 FM.
- 31 December 1988 - 25th anniversary edition.
- 03 October 1991 - drastic changes in the shows format such as new presenters replacing the traditional Radio 1 DJs, and a new purpose-built studio.
- 04 January 1994 - Smashie and Nicey's Top of the Pops Party 30th anniversary special
- 17 September 1994 - TOTP2 begins. "a mix of current music and pop nostalgia" 
- 06 June 1996 - last show on the Thursday 7.00 pm slot.
- 14 June 1996 - show moved to Fridays at 7.00 pm.
- 22 June 1997 - Top of the Pops radio show begins, broadcast on Radio 1 on Sunday afternoons at 3.00 pm, a one-hour 'backstage' show preceding the Top 40. Initially presented by Jayne Middlemiss then by Scott Mills until final show 17 December 2000.
- 28 November 2003 - All New Top of the Pops launched.
- 11 July 2005 - special Monday edition. The show is broadcast on BBC One for the last time before being moved to Sunday nights on BBC Two.
- 17 July 2005 - first show in new Sunday 7.00 pm slot.
- 10 September 2005 - Top of the Pops Reloaded begins. A new series shown on Saturdays at 11.00 am. 
- 23 July 2006 - last regular show.
- 30 July 2006 - 'The Final Countdown'
- The absence of a particular act whose single had done well that week was covred by the inclusion of a female dance troupe carrying out a dance routine over the song. The first of these was The Go-Jos, who were succeeded in 1968 by the most famous dancers, Pan’s People, choreographed by Flick Colby. In 1976 they were replaced briefly by Ruby Flipper, then within the same year by Legs & Co. The latter survived until they were phased out in autumn 1981, then in December that year the last in-house dance act, Zoo, the first to feature both men and women, started a run of just under two years. From October 1983 it was felt that pop videos made a dance troupe unnecessary, and the style of the whole show had moved on as well.
- ↑ NB no show on 07-09-1973
- BBC News Top 10 pop picks as TOTP turns 50, 01 January 2014.