Sunday, 26 October 2014

Bring back Saturday morning children's television!

Sunday, 26 October 2014

From the mid-1970s rivalry between ITV's Tiswas and BBC1's Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, through the 1980s dominance of Going Live!, into the 1990s with Live & Kicking, then ending in the mid-2000s with SM:TV Live, Saturday morning children's programming was a staple of British TV. It was colourful, inventive and anarchic. There were comedy sketches, silly puppets, gunge, phone-ins, music acts, gunge, celebrities, cartoons, games, gunge, challenges, and everything was presented LIVE. They also had gunge.

Generations of kids grew up watching them, and long into their young adult lives as comforting hangover "cures". But where are they now? Gone but not forgotten. Replaced by dull cookery/gardening shows and repeats of Murder, She Wrote. I've got a mystery for you, Jessica Fletcher: what happened to the Phantom Flan Flinger?

How tragic. There was a recent attempt to revive the format with Scrambled, but it's on the CITV channel and therefore doesn’t really count. Trevor and Simon are touring universities, "swinging their pants" for money, but, inevitably, a day will come when none of the students remember who they are.

I know times change, and the rise of multi-channel TV with networks like Nickelodeon and CBBC catering for kids 24/7 started to make people wonder why the BBC and ITV were bothering with their weekend morning and weekday afternoon slots, but culturally we're worse off without them.

Live television with an anarchic streak, aimed at the under-16s but entertaining for anyone who's young-at-heart, never outstayed its welcome. I don't know anybody who started to hate them, even when they'd started reminiscing about the "good old days" when Andi Peters and Emma Forbes were hosts of L&K. Even if you weren't enjoying the current batch of post-millennial shows, after Live & Kicking ended in 2001, chances are something would come along to revitalise the format.

So many popular presenters cut their teeth on those morning shows, too—from Noel Edmonds and Philip Schofield, to Zoe Ball, Ant n' Dec and Holly Willoughby. It feels like a valuable training ground has been lost.

And do you know how many gunge-makers lost their jobs when SM:TV ended in 2003? It's a bloody disgrace.

Bring back Saturday morning children's television! Who's with me?! Here's a walk down memory lane...