Multi – Coloured Swap Shop – 1976

This one ended 40 years ago this year, just like that other Saturday morning legend we mentioned last week.

How many people reading this post remember ringing Swap Shop when they were kids?  You could actually speak to the guest and there were many famous ones over the years.  This was all in the days before twitter and live web chats, all seems so long ago.

Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, or Swap Shop as it was more commonly known was the cult kids Saturday morning show.

In it’s early days some people saw it as the BBC’s competitor for the smash ITV show TISWAS  However, when Swap Shop started in 1976 TISWAS was only being shown in the ATV region as other ITV regions had yet to take it up.

The show was considered ground-breaking as it went out live, had a phone in (one of the first shows on TV to do so) and ran for up to three hours each Saturday morning.

Starting in 1976 Swap Shop ran for 146 shows calling time in 1982, after 6 series.

After the series finished the presenters moved on to other projects: Noel Edmunds presented the Saturday night entertainment show The Late, Late Breakfast Show (this was cancelled after a stunt for the show went very badly wrong) and Noel went on to host Noel’s House Party, Keith Chegwin went on to present kids show Cheggars Plays Pop and Maggie Philbin became a presenter on Tomorrow’s World.

The show was revived in 2007 for a two series run this time presented by Barney Harwood and Basil Brush, the revived show was called Basil’s Swap Shop.


The show was presented by Noel Edmunds, with help from John Craven and Keith Chegwin, later in 1978 Maggie Philbin.  Regular extras were “Posh Paws” the stuffed dinosaur (haven’t I seen him teaching kids as somebody else on DVD’s, if you’ve got kids you’ll know what I mean) and Eric (the invisible technician who would lower the plastic globe with the postcards.

The content of the program included music, visits from celebrities, competitions, and cartoons.  There was also coverage of news and issues relevant to children, presented by John Craven, building on his profile as the presenter of John Craven’s Newsround.  Remember Noel Edmunds showing us pictures of all those crazy signs sent by eagle eyed viewers?

The highlight of the show was possibly the Swaporama element.  This was in two parts.  An outside broadcast unit would travel to different locations throughout the country where children could swap their belongings with others.  This was hosted by Keith Chegwin  (later joined by Maggie Philbin) a boxing ring type construction was set up and Chegwin would invite children into the ring to tell us what they had and what they wanted to swap it for.  He would then ask the crowd if anyone wanted to do a swap.  In the studio Noel would introduce us to the swap board, here there were the top ten swaps handwritten onto a piece of card with the numbers 1 – 10, these were displayed on a board from top to bottom 1 being at the top.  The camera would pan down the list displaying the list of swaps an example might be: X has Doctor Who board game wants action man.  As the camera panned down if the viewer saw anything that interested them they noted the number and rang in.

There were cookery spots with Delia Smith and the show had it’s own awards in the form of the Eric

In December 1981 Noel Edmunds, Keith Chegwin and Maggie Philbin formed a pop group – Brown Sauce, releasing a single called “I Wanna be a Winner” the song peaked at number 15 in the UK Singles Chart and stayed in the Top 40 for a total of 9 weeks.











Presented By

Noel Edmunds
John Craven
Keith Chegwin
Maggie Philbin


Channel: BBC1
Original Transmission Dates: 2nd October 1976 – 27th March 1982


Swap Shop became so popular that there were four annuals released in 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1981.  Because of a comedic picture of Noel Edmunds as comedy character Harry Copter, book four has reputably become a collectors item.   However checks on Ebay didn’t turn up anything exciting, but who knows.


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