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I feel I should defend the Multi-Coloured Swap Shop as I feel Theo was
a little unfair on it! This was a time of innocence, a time of getting
exited when a friend owned a Soda-Stream! You mentioned about a more
'cynical' time now and isn't it good that it wasn't such a cynical
time, many kids loved the 'MCSS', myself and my younger brother
included. Yes you could watch the mindless Tiswas but for the more
erudite and intelligent child, the MCSS offered a lot more! And could
anything be funnier than Keith Chegwin, answer me that?! Not forgetting
of course, the gorgeous Maggie Philbin and the extremely interesting
John Craven. But honestly, I loved MCSS and would love to see it again!
Takes me back to Saturday mornings, watching MCSS till 12 and then
turning over to watch the footy on ITV presented by Dickie Davies,
followed by the wrestling, Big Daddy against Giant Haystacks. It might
be fashionable to say you preferred Tiswas but MCSS offered a lot more!
Long live Noel Edmonds!
Contrary to popular myth, 'Multi-Coloured Swap Shop' was NOT the first
Saturday morning children's show. That honour went to 'Zokko' in 1968,
a full eight years before Noel and co. got going.
"We're slick, we're glossy, and proud of it. We're out to entertain the whole family!", gushed Noel Edmonds in a 'Sun' interview in the late '70's. He'd been asked to make comparisons with I.T.V.'s 'Tiswas'. Noel thought that because 'Tiswas' featured people getting soaked to the skin, and sprayed with green slime, it was a bad show. Then, twenty years later, he gave us 'Noel's House Party'. Go figure.
According to a 'Radio Times' article, Noel 'likes a cup of coffee and a cartoon at eleven o'clock'. He may still do for all we know. Being a live show, anything could happen. One of the classic moments was when Noel interviewed Debbie Harry of 'Blondie' fame. He asked Ms.Harry to pick the winner of the previous week's competition, and she'd agreed. Eric's bubble descended onto the set. That week, it was made up to resemble Jimmy Savile O.B.E. Fearing Debbie might mistake the face for an unkind caricature of herself, Noel quickly pointed out it was in fact Jimmy Saville, of whom she'd never heard - his discomfiture was delicious. The Roving Swapman, Cheggers, provided another Solid Gold moment when a trophy he presented to a figure skater fell to pieces in his hands!
I often wondered what the parents of all those children wanting to swap their toys on air thought of this show. I bet that some were still being paid for on hire purchase. Hobbyists were also a regular item; one horrible boy bragged about his fabulous collection of Marvel Comics. I felt like phoning in to do a 'Five Star' on him! The best thing about 'Swap' was that it kept Noel off peak-time telly for years. Then, one day, it tragically ended, leaving Noel free to whirl his wheels and hand out gotchas!
MULTICOLOURED SWAP SHOP paved the way for Saturday morning shows like LIVE
AND KICKING and GOING LIVE , but MCSS was the original . It was also the
worst and was composed of three hours of chat , only briefly broken by the
cartoon series VALLEY OF THE DINOSAURS or a pop video . The show got its
name from the concept of viewers phoning up to swap things , like Tarquin
from Surrey wants to swap some books for a piano . The fact that this type
of barter system disappeared after the dark ages didn`t seem to register
with the producers .
The worst thing was children coming on showing Noel Edmonds their collection of ....pointless crap I think the generic term is . In a more cynical era like today I think it would be called " The Anorak Of The Week Slot " where young middle class children would bore the audience senseless with their collection of matchboxes along with the equally banal Noel Edmonds asking " How long have you been collecting match boxes for ? " . I`m sure the real question should have been " Have your parents ever considered adoption ? "
TISWAS was much better
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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