Today Is Saturday Watch And Smile – Tiswas 1974 -1982
The hugely popular Cult Saturday morning children’s TV series which ran from 1974 to 1982, produced for the ITV network by ATV Network Limited.
Tiswas was created by ATV continuity announcer Peter Tomlinson, who would later become a regular presenter on the show. He got the idea during a test period in 1973 when he tried out a few competitions and daft stuff between the programmes. The series had a huge following amongst all age groups including parents and children a like.
The show introduced us to many faces familiar today: Lenny Henry, Chris Tarrent, Jim Davidson appeared briefly as did Bernard Manning and who could forget the legendary Sally James.
Originally produced as a Midlands Regional Program, the make up of ITV at the time with it’s different regions meant that when the series was available for broadcast across the network not all the companies took it up at once. Although most did Granada and Southern were last in 1979 and Tyne Tees finally took it 1981 for it’s final series.
The show was a stitch-together of competitions, film clips and pop promos, just about held together by sketches and links from the cast. Tiswas would also regularly feature spoofs of BBC children’s programming.
One of the show’s most popular features was The Cage wherein initially the child audience, and later their fathers, were confined and periodically doused in water , whilst the series was also frequently visited by the Phantom Flan Flinger, who would throw flans around the studio at all and sundry.
Both Tarrant and the Flan Flinger would take great delight in trying to ‘flan’ cameramen who would go to great lengths to avoid being hit.
Created By: Peter Tomlinson
Produced By: ATV
Original Run: 5th January 1974 – 3rd April 1982
Like many programs of the time episodes were wiped after transmission, therefore very little of the original program remains.
Tiswas was a pioneer for children’s television, making its way to shop shelves. Books, t-shirts, a regular magazine, an album, various singles and even a ceramic money box have all been daubed with the Tiswas logo. Although no longer available die hard collectors may find items for sale on ebay.
A new programme was broadcast by ITV on 16 June 2007 – Tiswas – Reunited it started with the traditional ATV logo and jingle. The programme had been delayed from May, to allow for an extended transmission slot.
Celebrities and ‘old Tiswas mates’ alike joined in the fun. In an interview publicising this, Chris Tarrent put out an appeal to the public to submit any surviving video footage of the series to be included in the new programme – which resulted in the discovery of further footage.
A DVD release of the programme, featuring an extended edition plus a short featurette on the history of Tiswas was released shortly after transmission.