This week’s column is especially for you if you were born somewhere between 1965 and 1995… that’s not to say that it won’t mean anything to anyone else, but if you first appeared on this planet during that thirty-year period then you really were part of something special – something that I don’t believe we’ll ever experience again.
You see, I got thinking this week about how I used to spend my weekends when I was younger. I used to have music lessons on a Saturday morning – in fact I spent a good six months learning how to play the piano before throwing in the towel and giving up. Why? Saturday morning kids TV – that’s why.
Before the mid 1970s there was nothing to entertain youngsters on a Saturday morning other than the odd cartoon or seaside special, but a revolution was around the corner, and it was one that made every ten year old quake with glee. Tiswas came to ITV – a whole lifetime’s worth of mayhem crammed into a couple of hours, and then the BBC had their own Multicoloured Swap Shop.
After Tiswas, which was as popular with grown ups as it was with kids, came to an end in 1982, ITV’s output became the weaker of the two. Do you remember Motormouth? Ghost Train? Number 73? Thought not… but the BBC went from strength to strength.
Swap Shop was followed by Saturday Superstore, and then in 1987 came Going Live! As a child of the eighties, Going Live! was a huge part of my weekend – enough to make me give up my music lessons! Everyone would talk about what Philip Schofield, Sarah Greene and Gordon The Gopher were up to at school on Monday morning.
Going Live! was replaced with the equally brilliant Live and Kicking and the slightly less successful The Saturday Show, while ITV were back in the game with the Ant & Dec-fronted SMTV. Then in 2005 something unthinkable happened – kids Saturday morning TV was replaced… by cooking!
I love to cook, and I love cookery shows, but the idea that a Great British institution disappeared overnight makes me a little sad. The reason that kids telly went from BBC1 and ITV on a Saturday morning is because we have so many channels for youngsters all day every day. Just like Top Of The Pops, the market wasn’t there any more.
So raise a glass and light a candle for the ghost of Saturday morning kids TV… because there’s a poor gopher somewhere just waiting for that phone call!