"This is what they want."
History now has it that Tiswas was the first decent Saturday morning show, and although it predates Swap Shop the honour would actually go to Ed and Zed or Zokko on the BBC. ITV had an obvious gaping hole in their schedule, but it took until 1974 for anyone to come up with a decent plan.
Until Tiswas came along, we all had a lie-
John Gorman from The Scaffold became a regular from September 1978, playing various characters including The Masked Poet, Smello, Cabbage Face and the studio janitor. Later Bob Carolgees joined with notorious punk glove puppet Spit The Dog, and Lenny Henry, fresh from summer season, brought jokes and dodgy impressions.
Regular items included Creature Feature in which animals were brought into the studio
which was fine if they took the Blue Peter line and had just kept it to hamsters
and gerbils, but this being Tiswas, apes and bears were not out of the question.
Another regular was Flan Your Folks in which kids get to win prizes much to their
parents' physical distress. Sally James had her own Almost Legendary World Exclusive
In Depth Pop Profiles and Almost Legendary Pop Interviews, similar to her role on
Saturday Scene, while Compost Corner gave Lenny Henry the chance to do his David
Bellamy impression. There were other regular characters like the dreadful Phantom
Flan Flinger and the even more mysterious piano-
There was no mystery that the cast wrote their own scripts, but on occasion others would contribute, Jasper Carrott among them.
The version of Tiger Rag used for the theme was replaced by a specially commissioned song in September 1980, 'Saturday is Tiswas day'. Although it never relied on pop music the show had two hit singles of its own. The Four Bucketeers' Bucket Of Water Song produced by Neil Innes and a frightening version of Bright Eyes by the then five year old Matthew Butler.
The mixture of Saturday morning pictures misbehaviour and pop clips soon made it
a necessity to watch. The series finally networked in 1979 and now attracted names
like Paul and Linda McCartney, Elvis Costello, the Two-
The letters that make up the title were meant to spell "This/Today Is Saturday, Watch And Smile", but as a placard on one show claimed more realistically "This Is Saturday, Watch And Suffer."
The unpredictable nature of the children-
Undoubtedly Tiswas attracted the same fanbase and respect that Monty Python had, the show even played host to Pythons' Michael Palin and Terry Jones.
It's sad to report that very few of the shows exist, but Network came to the rescue and released a DVD compilation of the three VHS titles released in the early 1990s. However, many shows seem to have been recorded by the parents of kids appearing on the show and some can be found online.
For the whole sordid story go to Tiswas OnLine.
If you want to enter any of the competitions (underates and overates) then write to Tiswas, ATVLand, Birmingham, B1 2JP.