Tops of the Town - The Revival!

It's about two and a half years since the John Player Tops of the Town facebook page was set up. Around the same time I wrote my original John Player Tops of the Town blog post  sharing and inviting some wonderful, cherished memories from that era. I ended the piece by jokingly suggesting that maybe there'd be 'a campaign to bring back a new format..' I wasn't really joking though, I was secretly hoping it would happen, in any format at all!

Although Tops has continued in the Wexford and Carlow area, the last official and televised Tops of the Town final was in 1996, when both Greenhills and Moate Variety Groups valiantly battled it out on the Gaiety stage for that much coveted Tops of the Town title.

It's been a long 17 years since that final. Is the interest still out there for a Tops revival? Is it even possible in this current economic climate?

Well, Mr Variety Ireland himself, Gerry Quinn, certainly thinks so! The seed of a revival was planted in his brain about 9 months ago, he says. He shared that thought with others and the interest levels just went from strength to strength. As for our current economic woes? Sure didn't the years from 1962 to 1996 contain many, many deep recessionary ones? A Tops revival is precisely what this country needs, he reckons. I'm inclined to agree with him. Something for communities and groups from all around the country,  to actively immerse themselves in, involving many people with many talents both on and off  the stage. A Tops revival is also a not-to-be-under-estimated spring board for talent in this country and will help provide continued employment in the entertainment industry.

Gerry Quinn has 30 years theatre experience under his belt and was also the producer of  a show in the last John Player Tops  in 1996. So who better to spearhead a Tops revival then?

Gerry has worked tremendously hard thus far in selecting and securing multiple venues around the country, in order for the first Tops of the Town amateur variety competition, in 17 years to take place in 2013.  He has  also managed to locate the original Tops of the Town clocks and is working on a version of the original theme music. I have goosebumps just typing this! Gerry tells me that new groups are entering every week and that he is being offered unbelievable support from many people in the industry, many with links to Tops in it's previous incarnation.This competition is still open to groups from all across Ireland so please enter your group now, while there's still time, and help make this a hugely successful first year!

The details of the venues and dates are as follows:



The Helix, Dublin - Friday 11th and Saturday 12th of January 2013

The University Concert Hall Limerick - Friday 15th and Saurday 
16th of February 2013

The Wexford Opera House -Friday 22th and Saturday 23th of 
March 2013

The T.L.T Theatre Drogheda - Friday 19th and Saturday 20th of
April 2013.

The 4 Top Marked Shows and the top 2 runners up in each region Go Forward To The Royal Theatre Castlebar on Friday the 17th and Saturday the 18th of May 2013.

The National Final will be held over the June Bank Holiday Weekend Venue to be announced at a later date.

If we have interest in other areas of the country we will look at running further heats.

Please call Gerry on 0871928177 or email with any queries.

With this exciting venture Gerry is endeavouring to keep the successful Tops of the Town concept alive whilst bringing it back to it's original roots - the communities of Ireland. He tells me that each group will use the same lighting and sound companies, stage crew and the same basic set in every venue, thereby making it affordable for all. There will also  be a projector available for any group who wishes to use it.

Gerry deserves our support with this wonderful venture.

Please come join him on facebook  by clicking here and you can keep up with all his exciting updates. Including a very exciting and  imminent announcement, when the names of  new sponsors for this Tops of the Town revival and the all important adjudicators will be revealed. Stay tuned!              

There are those of us who wanted this Tops Revival to happen and then there's Gerry who's making it happen.

Well done Gerry, I wish you every success in bringing Tops of the Town back home. May cherished memories be created anew for a whole other generation.



  1. oh the memories of this fuly recommend it to anyone great friends and good times to be had by all jazzy you couldnt have written this piece better x

  2. @Anonymous: Thanks so much! Yes I totally recommend it too, such memories and such friends. A truly wonderful experience :-)

    Thanks for your comment ;-)

    xx Jazzy

  3. I know how much this means to you and I'm so delighted that it is finally happening. Will you be watching or taking part? I can't wait to find out :) xx

  4. @Blue Sky: yes it does mean a lot....I will be WATCHING! I've done my bit, time to step aside and admire the up and coming talent.

    Thanks for your comment and thanks to all who viewed, shared & commented on twitter and facebook today. It's been a busy day!

    xx Jazzy

  5. This post has had a huge amount of hits since I posted it. Tops was not everyone's delight so some of the readers will have viewed this negatively and that's ok. Everyone is entitled to their opinion! if you don't like something you don't have to watch. For example Football is massively popular but I don't like it so I don't watch.

    A segment of this appeared in yesterday and I will admit that I had made an error in my initial posting. Let me just say that 'to err is to be human' and let 'he who is without sin cast the first stone' and not rush to meanness in calling someone's intelligence into question.

    Here's my respectful response as posted on broadsheet (link:

    'Apologies for the typo which has now been corrected. The last JPT final was in 1996 (won by Greenhills.) As the new Tops of the Town will start in 2013 that’s 17 years.

    Admittedly Tops wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, however in it’s heyday it was a top TAM rater with approx 1mil viewers! That’s serious advertisng money….and entertainment for those who enjoy watching. It was also a great vehicle for talent in this country, after all professionals have to start somewhere!

    Tops has sent forth many professionals to careers on stage here and in the Westend and it has provided careers for many others in the industry e.g. staging, sound, lighting and I know many who progressed to opening their own stage schools and directing, choreographing for many musical societies etc.

    Tops was not just what you saw on stage, there were almost as many people involved behind the scenes as there were on stage. In lots of communities and groups all across Ireland.

    Perhaps a renewed Tops can involve many people again, especially those with an interest and who now find themselves unemployed? In lots of communities all across Ireland. Perhaps it can be a training ground for future careers? An alternative to internships…and The Gathering even!'

    Thank you.

    xx Jazzy

  6. This is amazing and I'm so happy for you!!! So wish we were closer!!!

  7. jazzy well said i cant wait to see this back and encourage all the young people to get involved many marriages came out of tops as well and life long friends .lets hope it continues for many years x

  8. @Lizbeth: I wish you were too!! It's going to be fantastic!

    @Anonymous: So true. There have been a few more reasoned comments on that site inviting more reasonable discourse. A point raised that the shows that got to the televised final were of a very high standard. I totally agree but having been in 3 of them I couldn't be the one to say that! I went on to the Varity Ireland fb page and watched the Finale of 2 shows from 1995 that I wasn't in and they were fantastic.

    There's so much talent out there now, particularly with all the stage schools and performing Arts degrees that weren't there in our time. Tops gave the added bite of 'completion' to performing on stage. You had to be part of it to 'get' that.

    Thanks for your comments ;-)

    xx Jazzy

  9. Apologies...typed quickly as in a hurry. I mean 'the added bite of competition'....

    xx Jazzy


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