The hosts of the BBC new live Saturday morning children’s TV program are promising to bring back the giddy chaos of the classic shows such as Going Live! and Live and direct.
“It’s going to be an absolute zoo on set, and I don’t think anyone, including ourselves, are prepared for what is going to happen.”
Yasmin Evans speaks less than two days away from the co-presentation of two hours of silly games, the more absurd sketches, celebrity interviews, viewer phone-ins and cartoons from the Saturday Mash-Up! on BBC two and CBBC.
With a script on the table in front of her, but without a full test until the day before she and co-host Jonny Nelson go to live, the couple was dizzy with the seat of your pants of anticipation.
“Being too prepared, especially when it comes to a live show – I do not think that is the correct way of doing it,” Evans says. “Well, it’s better not to, because I’m not!”
As the BBC 1Xtra DJ and soon-to-be children of the star of TV lists the features that will be in Saturday Mash-Up!, Nelson chips in with an essential ingredient: “the Anarchy.”
“Anarchy,” Evans repeated, before adding: “A lot of gunge.”
If that formula sounds familiar, you’re probably old enough to remember with fondness Saturday morning TV of yesteryear – Multi-Colour Swap Shop through Saturday Superstore, Going Live, Live And Kicking, Saturday show, Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow and TMi.
ITV went from Tiswas to SM:TV Live via the Wide Awake Club, but it is a decade since the Saturday morning zoo TV format was finally abandoned.
“I like the anarchy thing,” Nelson continues. “Because it is live, and events-the type of TELEVISION you have not done it for so long. Not like this. I think that’s going to give them [the viewers] something very different to what we are used to.”Classic BBC Saturday morning kids TVThe Multi-Coloured Swap Shop (1976-82)
Saturday Superstore (1982-87)
You Are Going To Live (1987-93)
Alive And Kicking (1993-2001)
The Saturday Show (2001-05)
Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow (2003-06)
There is a host of the lack of our interview – Hacker T Dog, Evans and Nelson admit that it is more experienced of the two, and that is likely to provide the largest dose of anarchy.
Before Hacker T Dog, is Going to Live with Gordon the Gopher, and, of course, Spit the Dog from Tiswas, and the new show without shame refers to what did the most shows so well-loved.
The first thing Evans did when he found out that I had gotten the job, she says, was to turn to YouTube to see 45 minutes of Wonky Donkey – Ant and Dec mad phone-in game show SM:TV.
Evans says that the show will have a game that she describes with some pride as “Wonky Donkeyesque”.
For Nelson, he turned and saw a heap of Live and direct, hosted by pairings included Jamie Theakston and Zoe Ball, who said: “I was excited, but also made me understand the magnitude of how important this is.”
With hours to fill with a cacophony games and unpredictable of the guests and the callers, the best bit was coming often when things don’t go according to plan and the hosts were way out of step as he tried to suppress the laughter.
“Those are the elements that we certainly remembers from our childhood,” Nelson says. “A lot of time that tunes in because he was going to be crazy.
“You don’t know what Jamie Theakston, Zoe Ball and Ant and Dec are going to do on that morning – that he was going to make the other one laugh, or that you are going to get their lines wrong, or what little of the set is going to fall, or what someone on the phone that you are going to say.
“I think the second that the first thing that goes wrong at the fair and style, with the will of God, that is going to be a great relief.”
Evans and Nelson have not had much rehearsal time, but they already have the warmth of old friends, and with their infectious mix of nerves and enthusiasm is not hard to imagine one or both of them dissolving into laughter as one more piece of the set from tipping over.
But can the formula of the appeal to a young generation of viewers?
The reason that was always given by the disappearance of live Saturday morning TV was that the children of today have many other channels to choose from, and many devices, so it could no longer be the focal point that it once was.
Phillip Schofield, who was Going to Live!’s master of ceremonies in the decade of the 1980’s and early 90’s, recently told BBC 5 live that if they tried to do the same program today, it would be “a very different show”.
“It would be much faster, it would be much better, it would be absolutely alive with social platforms,” he said on 5 Live that I Was There.
“If I’m honest, I’m very happy that this was my moment, because I still think of those as the glory days of TELEVISION, when there were fewer channels, and people had more time and were less likely to get bored, and they give you the benefit of the doubt on something, but stick with you.
“It was more difficult to click off and click on to something else. The pressure I think it would be great today.”
Saturday Mash-Up!’s hosts and producer of stress that they are bringing the format up to the date of taking some ideas from the heyday, and its adaptation to the pace and technology of modern life.
“Television as a whole is much more rapid than it was 20 or 30 years,” says the series producer, Jamie Wilson. “Life is faster do you not?
“An interview in which to Live could have been 12 minutes, while in an interview on our program can be of four minutes, or five at a push.”
Some of the ideas that have not grown old, though. “I think that the idea of calling by phone and talking with your idol is so exciting right now,” Wilson says.
“There are some really timeless ideas within the old formats that we are interested, but there is a great deal of new things, such as the digital interaction that simply do not exist in the 80’s and 90’s.”
He rightly points out that, in the fragmented media market, live event shows like Strictly come Dancing Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Take Away have managed to remain some of the greatest luminaries of the TELEVISION.
“Saturday mornings always had that kind of feeling,” Wilson says. “There is something for everyone, and it was a real ‘in the moment’, live, exciting place to be.
“So I’m not sure why it happened to me in the first place, but definitely felt that it was so relevant, and is expected to be just as entertaining now.”
Saturday Mash-Up is on BBC two and CBBC from 09:00-11:00.
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