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Showing posts from March, 2018

Proper Children's Telly...Swap Shop vs Tiswas

From the mid-seventies to the early eighties, viewers of Saturday morning television were divided into two camps. You were either a Swap Shop kid or a Tiswas kid. Just to be awkward, I was actually a fan of both.

Multi-Coloured Swap Shop First broadcast at the beginning of October 1976, Multi-Coloured Swap Shop was, in many ways, a trailblazer for Saturday morning children’s television. Although perennial rival Tiswas had actually debuted two years previously in 1974, this was only in the Midlands region, so was yet to become a national phenomenon. As a result, it was Swap Shop which set the benchmark for all weekend children’s shows to follow.


Every Saturday morning, starting from around 9:30am, cuddly Noel Edmonds would be at the helm for more than three hours of live fun. Each week, there would be star guests answering viewers questions over the telephone, news segments from John Craven, cartoons and, of course, the chance for youngsters to swap any unwanted items in their possessi…

Proper Children's Telly...The Banana Splits

Although originally broadcast in its native United States in 1968 under the title The Banana Splits Adventure Hour, this most beloved of children’s shows did not air in the UK until 1970 (my year of birth), its title shortened to simply The Banana Splits.



The first live action show to be produced by Hanna Barbera, the masters of animation, The Banana Splits was a simply magical mix of slapstick comedy, songs, cartoons and people dressed in animal costumes. Not to mention boasting one of the greatest theme tunes in the history of television. What more could your average seventies kid want?

When the BBC first broadcast The Banana Splits it was allocated the Friday teatime slot around 5pm. In 1971 it was moved to Saturday lunchtime just before Grandstand and would also be broadcast in the week during school holidays. As 1980 arrived, The Banana Splits was repeated early on a Saturday morning and it is these showings of which I have the fondest memory. Saturday mornings on the BBC reall…

Tony Blackburn, Lee Marvin and Me

The following is an extract from my forthcoming book on seventies and eighties pop culture. I love a bit of nostalgia!





At 7:15pm on Thursday 19 March 1970, Tony Blackburn was the presenter of the latest edition of Top of the Pops on BBC1. The official UK Top 40 singles chart on this day was awash with legends from all areas of the musical spectrum. Old school crooners such as Jim Reeves, Andy Williams and Frank Sinatra were jostling for chart positions alongside new acts The Jackson Five and Brotherhood of Man. Elvis Presley was sitting inside the Top 10 with Don’t Cry Daddy while The Beatles were enjoying their swansong with Let It Be

Somewhat incongruously however, the coveted number one slot on the UK chart that day was not held by any of these greats of the music scene. Instead, that honour went to a grizzled Hollywood veteran who sang like he had just gargled with a handful of rusty nails and then smoothed over the resulting abrasions with sand paper. That man was Lee Marvin.

Th…