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TV Pop Diaries
Pop Music on British Television 1955 - 1999

Broadcast live from Southern's studios in Southampton the Saturday Banana opportunistically hoped to capture Swap Shop's audience while it was off the air. There were phone-ins, pop music and guests, just like Swap Shop, but unlike Swap Shop it didn't take itself so seriously. It couldn't, Bill Oddie was the host. He made a point of saying he wouldn't copy Edmonds show "because I like Swap Shop." Oddie later told the Daily Mirror "I don't want to regard Noel as a rival. It is just a matter of providing as good a programme as you can for the kids. Then it is their choice."

The show would be interrupted throughout the morning by stunts, guests and one of Oddie's co-hosts, Metal Mickey. The show had adopted The Monkees, which had been a part of London Weekend's Our Show that had finished broadcasting the week before the Banana started. Susan Tully from Our Show was also brought along as another co-host. Two members of the production team, Jude Hackett and Bill Gamon were also co-hosts at the beginning. In an attempt to attract an already existing fanbase they brought in Runaround, a Saturday morning version of the weekday tea-time series. There was also the Banaggravation spot where their young viewers could bare their grudges. Oddie told TV Times "I would like to feel that The Saturday Banana is a kind of mouthpiece; that if something is controversial, we are still able to say it. But there's also a lot of fun in it. I don't think people do take children's views seriously enough, so what we hope to do in Banana is cover the things that really annoy them or interest them." He also claimed that the show was meant to be called The Saturday Bonanza, but somehow the title got corrupted.

The show extensively used the whole of the building with almost as much going on outside in the car park as there was in the studio inside. In fact, Southern allowed a large (about fifteen foot) model of a half-peeled banana outside.

The first series was also broadcast by some other ITV stations, but they would drop the show when Tiswas returned, which was lucky for them as the show was entering its classic phase.

The show must have proved popular with both the public and station managers as in August 1978 Southern announced that the show would get an extension up to Christmas, rather than come off the air in October as was expected.

Pop guests included Mud, Darts, X-Ray Spex, a pre-fame Paul Young in The Streetband, several acts from the Stiff Train Tour, while the show had its own pop music chart, The Banana Top Ten.

Despite Oddie's Goodies fanbase the show never attracted an older audience as Tiswas had and, judging by the little evidence we have of the show, it never pitched itself beyond a kids' audience.

After concluding the first series in December 1978 it would be a long old wait until the next show, 3rd November 1979 to be exact, since the starting date of the proposed second series fell during the long ITV strike of autumn 1979. The show lasted another few editions before being cancelled, with only Anglia the only other ITV station sticking with the show. Bill Oddie had The Goodies to go back to, and Southern chose not to replace him. Like so many other ITV stations they couldn’t resist Tiswas any further.

Viewers at home can take part by phoning Southampton (0703) 38411.



8th July 1978 - 22nd December 1979