When we were kids Saturday morning TV was epic! From the mid 70s to the late 90s both BBC and ITV dedicated their entire morning schedule to programmes for us. Not just cartoons and dramas but big production shows with presenters we all wanted to be and features that were both hilarious and serious when they needed to be. Kids viewing habits have changed dramatically since then and it’s unlikely we will ever see the likes of such amazing TV again. So here are the best 11 Saturday Morning TV shows from the last few decades!
Multicoloured Swap Shop (1976-1982)
This is where it all started for the BBC! Noel Edmunds, Keith Chegwin, John Craven and Maggie Philbin presided over a series of features but the main theme of the show was pairing people who had items they wanted to swap with each other. The show was hosted by Noel Edmonds with Keith Chegwin, John Craven and, from 1978, Maggie Philbin. It also featured was Posh Paws, a stuffed toy dinosaur. Edmonds once explained that his name was actually spelt “Pohs Paws”, because that is Swap Shop backwards as suggested in the phone in by 5 year old Duncan Beck.
Another person named was “Eric” (Ilett), the often-referred to but never seen technician whose job was to lower a plastic globe containing postcards sent in by viewers as answers to competitions. Eric performed a similar task on the BBC’s Ask The Family when technical assistance was required as part of the programme. The content of the programme included music, visits from public figures, competitions, and cartoons. There was also coverage of news and issues relevant to children, presented by John Craven, building on his profile as the presenter of John Craven’s Newsround. The cornerstone, however, was the “Swaporama” element, hosted by Chegwin, who was very rarely in the studio. An outside broadcast unit would travel to different locations throughout the UK where children could swap their belongings with others. This proved to be one of the most popular aspects of the show, often achieving gatherings of more than 2,000 children
Tiswas (1974 – 1982)
This is Saturday Watch and Smile or Tiswas as it was known, was really the forerunner of all the Saturday morning shows to come! Headed by Chris Tarrant and featuring Sally James, Bob Carolgees and a young Lenny Henry, it could only be described as chaotic! But we loved it! The phantom flan flinger was a particular favourite.
Tiswas began life as a ‘links’ strand between many ‘filler’ programmes, such as cartoons and old films. The popularity of the presenters’ links soon eclipsed the staple diet of filler. It was originally produced as a Midlands regional programme by ATV and was first broadcast live on 5 January 1974. The then federal structure of ITV, with its independent regional companies, meant that not all of these stations broadcast the show when it became available for networked transmission. Over a period of time, most ITV regions did, with Granada Televisionand Southern Television being among the last to pick up the show in 1979. Tyne Tees finally decided to take Tiswas for its final series in 1981. The smallest broadcaster in the network, Channel Television, did not carry the programme.
Most famously hosted by Chris Tarrant between 1974 and 1981, and later, Sally James, it also featured the young Lenny Henry and occasionally Jim Davidson together with Bob Carolgees and his puppet, Spit the Dog. John Gorman, former member of 1960s cult band The Scaffold, was also a presenter. On the programme, Birmingham folk-singer and comedian Jasper Carrott was to introduce the nation to the “Dying Fly Dance” and also to many local hospital casualty wards as the dance at one point soared high in the RoSPA list of common causes of household injury. Like its cleaner BBC counterpart, Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, it had a running order but no script (with the exception of some specific sketches). The programme was broadcast from Studio 3 at ATV Centre in Birmingham; this was the weekday home for the company’s regional news magazine, ATV Today. The show was a stitch-together of competitions, film clips and pop promos, just about held together by sketches and links from the cast. The show also regularly featured spoofs of BBC children’s programming.
Saturday Superstore (1982-1987)
Saturday Superstore was very similar to Swap Shop, it even had the same presenters! But this time Noel was replaced by Mike Read. In one infamous episode the pop group Matt Bianco were called a very rude name in a live phone in!-)
aturday Superstore was a children’s television series broadcast on BBC1 from 1982 until 1987. It was shown on Saturday mornings with presenters including Mike Read, Sarah Greene, Keith Chegwin, and John Craven. The show was very similar to its predecessor Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, which had ended the previous October–March season following its presenter Noel Edmonds moving away from children’s TV to present his prime time Late Late Breakfast Show. A regular spot on the show was their children’s talent show “Search for a Superstar”. The winner of the 1986 search were Claire and Friends spawning the top twenty hit “It’s ‘Orrible Being in Love (When You’re 8½)”. In 1987, the contest was won by Juvenile Jazz, which included future OMD and occasional Stone Roseskeyboard player, Nigel Ipinson.
For much of its run, Saturday Superstore retained the same famous phone-in number 01-811-8055, as its predecessor. Amongst its most memorable moments were the pop group Matt Bianco being verbally abused by a phone-in caller and The Flying Pickets offering as a competition prize a tea-towel bearing the face of Karl Marx. Other notable guests included Wham!, who answered questions about their lives to callers and read out competition answers and winners.
The Saturday Show (1982-1984)
This was the show that replaced Tiswas. It was originally titled ‘Big Daddy’s Saturday Show’ however Big Daddy dropped out at the last minute and Tommy Boyd stepped in to co host with Isla St. Clair!
The Saturday Show was Birmingham-based Central Television’s Saturday morning children’s TV programme which replaced their previous show Tiswas. It ran on ITV for two series between 1982 and 1984. It was originally planned that popular wrestler Big Daddy would host and that it would be called “Big Daddy’s Saturday Show”. A pilot show was recorded with Big Daddy presenting, assisted by Isla St Clair and short films were shot with Big Daddy to insert in the upcoming series; a trailer for “Big Daddy’s Saturday Show”, complete with logo was shown on ITV the Saturday morning before the show was due to air. It was then announced during the week that Big Daddy was dropping out and that Isla St Clair would now take the lead, with ex-Magpie host Tommy Boyd assisting and with Jeremy Beadle being used as an occasional “stand in” host. The actor David Rappaport was also a fixture playing the character “Shades”, as was footballer Jimmy Greaves. It was never made publicly clear why Big Daddy dropped out so close to transmission; no settlement was ever reached between him and Central.