It seems incredible now, but for three decades BBC One devoted its entire Saturday morning schedule to live kids' programmes, allowing a parade of hyperactive presenters, rude puppets and capricious pop stars unmediated access to the nation's youth. Beginning with Multi-Coloured Swap Shop in 1976 and continuing via Saturday Superstore, Going Live! and Live & Kicking through to the demise of The Saturday Show in 2005, viewers were pelted with a brilliantly unpredictable barrage of pop, phone-ins and gunge - and sometimes with bad language, too.
The live format generated an air of seat-of-the-pants excitement in which almost anything could happen - and given the right guest in the wrong mood, it sometimes did. Not that impudent pop stars were the only guilty party; when afforded their five seconds of fame live on national TV, sometimes the British public could prove to be just as naughty...
Captain Sensible hits the deck
The advent of Saturday morning kids' TV happily coincided with a golden era for British pop. Many early-80s hitmakers were former punks who jumped at the chance to subvert the mainstream - think Boy George cheerfully introducing a generation of wide-eyed kids to the concept of gender fluidity, or Depeche Mode performing their S&M anthem Master and Servant on Wide Awake Club.
Offering a more slapstick brand of rebellion was former Damned bassist Captain Sensible, who reached No.1 in 1982 with a daffy version of the South Pacific song Happy Talk. The early start required for Saturday morning TV simply encouraged some of the more wayward guests to stay up all night, and this was possibly the Captain's strategy when appearing on Saturday Superstore. Mounting a table for an impromptu a cappella version of his big hit, he took a tumble and had to be helped back into his chair by Keith Chegwin, a chastening experience for all involved.
Feargal Sharkey's miming malarkey
Another ex-punk, another moment of delicious anarchy on live TV. A key feature of Noel Edmonds' Multi-Coloured Swap Shop was the outside broadcast, which usually involved excitable children mobbing an even more excitable Keith Chegwin outside Carlisle castle. When Edmonds graduated to presenting Christmas morning shows live from the BT Tower, he upped the outside broadcast ante by periodically cutting to Radio 1's 'Ooh' Gary Davies hosting a knees-up aboard a jumbo jet.
Having gone to the trouble of boarding said plane and putting up with the company of the Krankies for several hours, you'd think that former Undertones warbler (and future UK Music CEO) Feargal Sharkey would be keen to grasp his moment. But no. As the intro to his soul stomper You Little Thief gives way to the first verse, Sharkey simply declines to mime along. At first, it appears to be one of those excruciating moments - see also: All About Eve on Top of the Pops - where the singer can't hear the music and therefore misses their cue. But clearly everyone around Sharkey can hear the song because they're all dancing wildly along. So why doesn't he just pretend to sing? Maybe he's taking a stand against the artificiality of mimed TV performance. Maybe it's a genuine cock-up. Or maybe he just really didn't like Noel Edmonds.
Big Kids on the Block
As gobby ex-punks were gradually supplanted by manufactured, media-trained boybands, the chances of something truly unexpected happening on kids TV receded. But not everyone played along. New Kids on the Block's appearance on Live & Kicking in 1994 tested the good nature of host Andi Peters to its limits, forcing him into the role of harrassed supply teacher with a display of sustained, childish petulance. Having sabotaged various scripted links and stonewalled a series of viewer enquiries during an amusingly tense phone-in, New Kids' morning of mischief culminates in Donnie Wahlberg pretending to lose the power of speech when being asked to read out a simple competition question. "Stop it now!" hisses Peters, snatching back the cue card, a man on the verge of losing his rag, desperate to cut to the gunge. "Ganja?" sniggers a New Kid.
Socking it to Cocker
Of course, phone-ins worked both ways; just as bored pop stars were liable to give a stupid answer, you couldn't always rely on random viewers to make a sensible contribution. Here's Martin from Scotland, who managed to secure himself a gig on Going Live!'s Video Vote panel without alerting the production team to the torrent of invective he would unleash once on air. Veteran rock growler Joe Cocker was the unwitting victim as Martin savaged his single and video in no uncertain terms. You have to admire the unflappability of presenter Sarah Greene here. As Sinitta and various members of The Christians squirm on the sofa, she masterfully diffuses the tension by calmly bantering with Martin - although she does tempt fate by inviting him back to comment on the new Dollar single.
The woe of Matt Bianco
Want to see another rude caller? Of course you do. Matt Bianco were purveyors of inoffensive cod-Latin pop but they evidently raised the hackles of Simon Roberts, who dialled in to Saturday Superstore in 1984 to deliver his damning appraisal. Unsurprisingly, the group look mightily miffed. But on the other hand, it's the only reason we're talking about Matt Bianco in 2017.