The programme that livened up Saturdays? I think not.
Ever since this sorry apology for children's entertainment lumbered onto the nation's screens in the early seventies, television producers have been using it as a template for pretty well all the kids' magazine programmes that have followed. WHY?! Probably because the ingredients are so easily remembered - take one headache-inducing studio set, a handful of tiresome "I'm really crazy behind this dull facade" presenters, the occasional tedious outside broadcast, a few kids who look as if their pet bunnies have just been machine-gunned, drab competitions, a few cheap cartoons and a couple of coked-up pop stars too wasted to know or care where they are, and there you have it - three hours of television to fill that nasty gap in the schedule before the sports coverage begins. It's not enough.
In short, Swap Shop was the programme your parents wanted you to watch. It never got more exciting than Noel Edmonds talking to a young lad who collects bookmarks (I am not making this up, I promise) or Keith Chegwin helping a couple of whey-faced children exchange Buckaroo for Connect 4. Of course, TISWAS was on the other side, and that was what you really wanted to watch, but it was all so silly and vulgar and pointless that it wouldn't do you any good at all and might even turn you into a delinquent. Sadly, I knew several children whose parents forbade them the illicit pleasures of the effortlessly superior TISWAS for those very reasons, and they grew up to be delinquents anyway - most probably because all those years of fuming at Edmonds in his tidy beard and gaudy shirts drove them crazy.
Almost thirty years down the line, TISWAS is gone but not forgotten, its presenters having long since ditched the custard and anarchy for sober suits, talk radio, alternative (i.e. deeply unfunny) comedy and the cabaret circuit. Swap Shop is simply GONE...but every Saturday morning BBC children's programme since continues to inhabit its corpse. Maybe the moral guardians got the last sneering laugh, after all.
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