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Tuesday, 20 March, 2001, 16:58 GMT
Saturday morning's wake-up call
Keith Chegwin and Noel Edmonds
Multicoloured: Keith Chegwin and Noel Edmonds
For more than 25 years BBC had the upper hand on ITV on the Saturday morning slot but Ant and Dec have put an end to that reign.

From the early ratings battle between Tiswas and Saturday Swap Shop it was clear there were two different markets to be pulled in.

This is where SM:TV has succeeded, by attracting audiences both young and old.

Live & Kicking appears to be aimed solely at school age children with drenching guests in gunge still considered "trendy".

Meanwhile, SM:TV has made Saturday morning viewing credible for adults, with older and cheekier humour.

Custard pies

Tiswas was in a similar mould, with adult gags blended with childish fun and games.

It started the trend for Saturday morning television, beginning in 1974, starting only in the Midlands before spreading across the country.

Custard pies and goofing around was the main premise of the show, hosted by Chris Tarrant and Sally James.

Phillip Schofield
Going Live: Phillip Schofield gets chatty
It made a household name out of comedian Lenny Henry.

Cartoons, live music, comedy sketches and celebrity interviews have been the staple diet of children's television the genre began.

BBC One hit back with the Multicoloured Swap Shop in 1976, fronted by Noel Edmonds, Keith Chegwin, John Craven and Maggie Philbin.


The show was originally planned to go out for just six episodes, but ran until 1982.

It was replaced by Saturday Superstore, fronted by Mike Read.

Keith Chegwin and John Craven transferred to the new format to be joined by Sarah Greene and David Icke.

ITV struggled to find a replacement for Tiswas and a succession of formats were tested and pulled off air.

Among those were Saturday Banana, Fun Factory and Mersey Pirate.

It was not until Number 73 came along, that ITV had a format that it was happy with, running from 1982 to 1988 and fronted by Sandi Toksvig and Neil Buchanan.

When this ended there once again came a succession of ITV shows which could not match up to their BBC counterparts.

Ant and Dec
Ant and Dec reign supreme
Saturday Superstore was replaced by Going Live, hosted by Philip Schofield and Sarah Greene.

There was also the added value of Gordon the Gopher and comics Trevor and Simon.

ITV scheduled The Saturday Show, Saturday Starship, TX and Get Fresh.

Motormouth was its only serious contender during this period and only its fourth series did it impact on the ratings of Going Live, which had started to look tired.

In 1993 Live and Kicking was resurrected from the ghost of Going Live.


The presenters in the early days were Andi Peters and Emma Forbes.

They were replaced three years later by Zoe Ball and Jamie Theakston, the most successful partnership from the programme.

But both decided to quit in 1999 and were replaced by Steve Wilson and Emma Leddon - but only for a single, disastrous series.

The BBC decided to try once more to inject life into the dying show by bringing in a posse of presenters in the shape of Blue Peter's Katy Hill, Ortis Deley, Trey Farley and Sarah Cawood.

But these proved no match for SM:TV and its pop partner CD:UK.

Viewers liked the fresh style of Anthony McPartlin, Declan Donnelly and Cat Deeley.

ITV had agreed to run SM:TV for 52 weeks of the year instead of finding summer replacements which had been the norm.

Although it got off to an inauspicious start, before long it was grabbing viewers from BBC and keeping them.

Ant and Dec have signed contracts to host SM:TV until August 2001, and until the BBC come up with an original format they will continue to be kings of Saturday morning TV.

See also:

20 Mar 01 | TV and Radio
Live & Kicking gets boot
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