TVS's predecessors Southern Television had made the plucky but unlucky Saturday Banana, hosted by the great Bill Oddie, but like so many other ITV channels in the end they gave in and replaced it with the titanic Tiswas, brought in from ATV. Their unwillingness to even consider replacing it with another local production couldn't have endeared them to those charged with awarding the next round of ITV franchises in 1981, and sure enough, Southern was given its marching orders and a much more professional team in the shape of TVS was awarded the contract.
One of their promises was a new Saturday morning kids' show. However, Tiswas' producers ATV had also been shown the door, but instead of being replaced by a new company a sort of sequel in the form on Central had been awarded the job and they decided to continue with the show, albeit with a new cast. The disappointment of Tiswas' established fans would be to Number 73's benefit.
The Daily Mirror, presumably quoting TVS' own press release, claimed that Number
73 "Is a house lived in by an eccentric old lady who plays host each week to children
and famous personalities for music, comedy and competitions." The "old lady" was
in fact nothing of the sort. She was Danish actress, writer and presenter Sandi Toksvig,
now something of a International Treasure. Toksvig played Ethel as an old lady to
begin with but by Benjamin Button-
The show was first broadcast from Southern's old Southampton studios, while the later series were broadcast from Gillingham, and then at TVS's newly built studios in Maidstone in Kent.
The first series had a opening credit sequence which showed kids piling into a house, but thankfully they weren't to be seen in the show itself. The more well known 'hey you' intro song was brought into the third series.
The show debuted the same day as Central's OTT, the ill-
Each show had a plot-
Existing Saturday morning shows had either been set in a stuffy, tightly controlled
studio environment like Swap Shop / Superstore et al or in a jungle or playground
like Tiswas, but Number 73 was set in its own unique dramatic universe and as such
won over many looking at an alternative to the BBC's prescriptive fun or the forced
anarchy of the new re-
Each week the house would play guests to a pop group who would perform two songs live in the basement. Iggy Pop had been invited to play in 1987 only to take interest in a large teddy bear who he dance around with and dry humped, leading to a ban from children's TV in the UK.
After Sandi Toksvig's departure in summer 1986 the show lost direction, employing
too many characters and trying too many ideas that didn't stick and as a result the
public lost interest. The show was re-
Toksvig would become a British media regular as a performer and writer, while Andrea Arnold became a greatly respected film director.