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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 January 2008, 16:45 GMT
BBC's Swap Shop recycled for 2008
By Kevin Young
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

In "the good old days" of Saturday morning television, there were only two programmes to watch.

Barney Harwood and Basil Brush
Barney Harwood and Basil Brush are the new show's presenters
Children who were allowed to tune into ITV saw Tiswas, while those of us in homes where the BBC was our parents' broadcaster of choice settled for Noel Edmonds' Multi-Coloured Swap Shop.

This show ran from 1976 until 1982 and helped to make household names of presenters such as Keith Chegwin and Maggie Philbin.

Beyond the celebrity guests and light-hearted banter was one central premise - those taking part had to bring a "swap" with them, which would be exchanged with an item offered by another viewer or audience member.

Whether it was a tatty dartboard, a Sindy car set or one of the early electronic games, gifts changed hands in a show which was (mostly) full of clean, simple fun.

Bemused

We are all being encouraged to recycle much more in 2008, and the BBC is leading by example by reviving Swap Shop, this time with Basil Brush at the helm and CBBC presenter Barney Harwood as his sidekick.

A parody of Doctor Who from Swap Shop
The show produced a parody of Doctor Who, called Doctor What

Harwood appeared bemused and even a little nervous about appearing alongside an unpredictable wise-cracking furry fox during an hour of live television.

It was as if he was the only babysitter in a house full of mischievous young know-it-alls who were threatening to trash the place before their parents returned.

However, Brush stamped his authority on the proceedings by stating "it's my Swap Shop - don't you forget it" at one point, with a slight menace in his tone.

Things began with a bright title sequence full of pink, yellow and orange, and a theme tune which - to its credit - was more than a nod to the music used on the original show.

There was a mild dig at the "boring" Edmonds era when a clip from 1980 was played, showing the bearded star reading out a young viewer's letter about paper-folding, and then we were straight into the swaps.

A contestant goes into the gunk tank
One girl ended up in the gunk tank during one of the competitions

Someone wanted to exchange nine Airfix model kits and nine series of Friends on VHS for an MP3 player.

"You must be over 12 to enter this swap because of the content of Friends," Brush warned, in this era of greater transparency and responsibility on TV.

A young girl asked if she could swap a Jacqueline Wilson book for another by the same author.

And I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! winner Joe Pasquale - this week's star guest - brought an electric guitar, seeking a radio-controlled aeroplane in return, on behalf of his 12-year-old daughter.

Gunk tank

As well as the recycling of gifts, other classic Saturday morning ideas were brought back.

The set of the original Swap Shop
The BBC's original Swap Shop ran for six years until 1982

A gunk tank was filled with green gloop for a fun game in which one youngster launched their friend, strapped to a bed which had wheels on it, along a platform.

If they pushed the bed too hard, their partner-in-crime ended up covered in slime - certainly a good test of their friendship.

Some of the audience members were watching the show from a rubbish skip, a concept taken straight from the (thankfully long-forgotten) BBC quiz show Knock Knock. I remember this because I was one of the youngsters sitting in that skip back in 1989.

There was a parody of Doctor Who with Brush as Doctor What, the hard-of-hearing Timefox.

John Craven, Delia Smith, Maggie Philbin, Noel Edmonds and Keith Chegwin
Noel Edmonds (back right) was the original show's presenter
And a send-up of post-watershed drama Heroes focused on Zeroes, people who wrongly believed they had special abilities.

Brush did what he does best - keeping the corny puns flowing to the sound of wind being broken around him - and in the end, half a dozen children went away happy with new presents on what must have seemed to them like a second Christmas Day.

To today's younger generation, I'm sure it was good, clean fun and was perhaps a way for those too young to be allowed to look at sales websites such as eBay to swap their toys.

And you never know in this age of recycling - perhaps one day, Noel Edmonds will return to the Saturday morning slot and make it his own once more.

After all, he has proved himself the king of the comebacks over the years.


We asked if you or your children had watched Basil Brush's Swap Shop and how it compared to the original show with Noel Edmonds. Here is a selection of responses received.

My six-year-old twins thought it was a great new programme! The old ones are the best... They loved the gunk tank and they are rooting through their unwanted toys for next week.
Viv Johnstone, West Wickham

I watched the show with my daughter, who is almost eight, so it's an exact generation between us watching the two versions. I didn't like the Noel Edmonds bits where he was shown as god-like! But my daughter and I thought it was good. Could've been more exciting, though - not a lot of swapping going on and too many dressed-up characters. I thought that perhaps the show could introduce live locations whereby a reporter goes out and meets children at their homes to show what they want to swap. Also, you could have "nostalgia" toys of items that are perhaps parents' toys. I have been trying get hold of the original Transformers and am happy to swap my son's new ones for them.
Abi, Cheshire

Errrm, Basil Brush was great; Barney Harwood looked like he did not really know what he was doing or what was going on. Nothing like the Swap Shop I remember - bring back Dick and Dom!!
Mark Deamer, Watford, Hertfordshire

It was bad. Take it off. Another waste of licence money.
GC, Ipswich

We all watched today - my wife and myself grew up with the first one, and our daughter wanted to see what it was like. Shame about the annoying Basil Brush - rubbish in the '80s and no better now. Let's have Swap Shop with Barney and Kirsten and leave the brush behind.
Richard, Southampton

I watched Swap Shop this morning because I'm a kid and I'd never seen it before in the 1970s/80s, so it was brilliant. Keep it coming!!!
Tomas Astell, Beverley, East Riding

I watched it this Saturday morming because I am a kid and I had been watching the adverts on CBBC. They made the show look good. There is nothing special about it. All it was was a few kids swapping things, a few rubbish clips and hardly any fun games. My mum told me about the 1970/80s one and it sounded brilliant. You can never make anything as good as the original.
Bethany Sim, Aberdeenshire

I used to love watching Swap Shop when it was first on in the '70s so I watched today just to see how Basil would get on. I must say for a politically policed show it was great fun. Basil was his usual brushy self and totally in charge. I used to watch him when he was on TV with Mr Roy and Mr Rodney and the original Mr Derek - where are Basil's Jelly Babies? He never went on TV without his favorite sweeties. Oh, I forgot - we're not supposed to encourage children to eat sweets...
Sally Loveday, Bridgend, South Wales

How can we be certain that the swaps are genuine and not "set up"?
Andrew, Sandbach

The original Basil Brush was a one-off. Watching as a child I used to be in hysterics with the rest of my mates and family because you knew there was something crazy and anarchic about that little puppet. There was always a sense that the people who were working with Basil Brush didn't know what he was going to do next. Which brings me to this new Basil Brush... My daughter of eight likes him, but not in the way I loved him when I was her age. This new Basil Brush is pretty flat and boring. They need to add an element of zany humour and craziness to make it as fun as before. Why not try creating a new character, for heaven's sake, like they used to do in the old days! (I am joking but you get the point. Boom! Boom!)
Gaverne Bennett, London

Wasn't a patch on Zokko or Outer Space - but then again I'm probably showing my age!
Graeme, Edinburgh

Bring back Tiswas.
Ian, Treorchy, Glamorgan

Bring back Dick and Dom!!!!
Charmain, Scotland

It sounds like you need those two Geordie blokes presenting it.
Glenn Farron, Milwaukee, USA

It was a nice touch putting in Noel Edmonds and it would be a great idea to ask the old presenters on to the show.
Bob, Doncaster

My family and I are currently stationed in Japan, so I'm unable to watch the new Swap Shop. As a kid, I loved getting up on Saturday mornings and watching Swap Shop. Basil Brush was my highlight - I thought he was great!
Paula, Yokosuka, Japan

I thought Basil's remake highlighted one thing that the BBC does too many of - remakes. However, this one was alright, but could have been longer. Basil was just too tacky. Nev the bear and Barney would be better for the job.
Liam, Washington

It must have been bad for so many of you to want Dick and Dom back instead!
Frie, Echternach, Luxembourg

I think it is brilliant, ha ha boom boom!
Bailey Jama, Cardiff

At the great age of 54, I remember Basil fondly. Now as a British talk show host here in the USA, I will often finish a story or joke with a "boom boom". My producer looks at me strangely, and chips in saying that must be one of those typical English sayings. It is. Welcome back, Basil. When will he be on BBC America? Will he be on Torchwood?
Jeremy Taylor, Lawrence, Kansas, USA



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