19 March 2009

Swap Shop Or Tiswas? That Was The Question...

Up until a couple of months ago, many of you wouldn't have seen "Tiswas" because it wasn't fully networked...

A page from the first Look-In magazine of the 1980s - Tiswas was becoming more widespread. However the Look-In ITV programmes listings revealed that a few channels, including Tyne Tees, were still lacking the show!

The marvellous Tiswasonline site history of the series notes...

Tiswas (series 7, 1980 - 1981)

When the subject of Tiswas is brought up, it is this series that is used to define the show. The opening titles, the bucket of baked beans over Sally, the "REAL Trevor MacDoughnut", the cartoon festooned studio set, this is the definitive image Tiswas has, or rather, what nostalgic clip show compilers tend to use to illustrate the impact it had on television.

The 1981-2 season was a little different, with several notables absent (the "adult" version of Tiswas, OTT, was in preparation for 1982) but the show still had many loyal viewers - as did its BBC rival Swap Shop.

On 3/10/1981, the Sun asked:

KIDS! Are you a Swap Shop Swot or a Tiswas Terror?

The Saturday morning battle to win the hearts and minds of Britain's kids starts again today.

Swap Shop (BBC 1, 9.30) returns after a six-month break to compete with Tiswas (ITV, 10.30).

Tiswas, which returned to the screens four weeks ago, has a head start. But Swap Shoppers who do not go for Tiswas's rough-and-tumble pie-throwing pandemonium will be switching back to Noel Edmunds and his team of phone-in funsters.

Is there a typical Tiswas kid, a terror who never stops looning about and does not mind a dousing with a bucket of water?

Are Swap Shop watchers swots? Are they studious, mature children who need more to grab their attention than the Phantom Flan Flinger?

We asked the kids of Britain what they thought of the Saturday morning battle for their time.

Reproduced below are a few of those views...

Brother and sister Dirk and Sandra Brusse of West London, are Tiswas fans. Dirk, seven, says: "I like the songs and the pop groups."

Sandra, eight, says: "I like it when they play Pass The Pie, it's just like pass the parcel. Only whoever gets it throws it at the person next to them. I'd like to play that."

Keith Elsender, nine, of Slatyford, Newcastle, says: "It's about time Swap Shop made some changes. I don't like Tiswas either because they make fools of children. We're not as silly as grown-ups like to think."

Benjamin Pitts, six, from Selly Oak, Birmingham, says: "I'm cartoon crazy and you get the best cartoons on Swap Shop."

Kylie Nurse, nine, of Bristol, says: "Tiswas is very, very funny, with all the pies flying about. My dad has it on and he won't let us watch the other one. But I wouldn't watch it anyway. Sally James is much more interesting than Noel Edmunds."

Rebecca Surtees, nine, of Newscastle upon Tyne says: "I haven't watched Tiswas because I've been told it's stupid. Swap Shop has its faults, like those silly phone-ins. But the rest is quite interesting. I wish people who run television would ask children what they like before deciding what we should see."

Richard Wyatt, of Bristol, says: "My gran calls Tiswas dirty. But I don't care because it makes me laugh."

And what about me, your humble purveyor of 1980s bloggie goodies? Well, I never really liked Swap Shop. I found it rather staid and middle class. Tiswas was better, but I was never really a Chris Tarrant fan for some reason. However, Sally James was a different matter! 'Phwoar!' was the very non-PC expression I used to describe Miss James back in the Tiswas era.

The delectable Miss Sally James in 1982.

Fabulous 1981 Tiswas clip, featuring the Rubik's Cube maestro Patrick Bossert, Aneka of "Japanese Boy" fame and Sally James. Look out for the coffee ad in "Telly Selly Time"!

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