This article needs drawing with children carnival citations for verification. Look up tiswas in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. British television series which originally aired on Saturday mornings from 5 January 1974 to 3 April 1982 and was produced for the ITV network by ATV Network Limited.
1973 when he tried out a few competitions and daft stuff between the programmes. Tiswas began life as a ‘links’ strand between many ‘filler’ programmes, such as cartoons and old films. The popularity of the presenters’ links soon eclipsed the staple diet of filler. It was originally produced as a Midlands regional programme by ATV and was first broadcast live on 5 January 1974. The then federal structure of ITV, with its independent regional companies, meant that not all of these operations broadcast the show when it became available for networked transmission. The show was a stitch-together of competitions, film clips and pop promos, just about held together by sketches and links from the cast.
The show also regularly featured spoofs of BBC children’s programming. Nottingham-based duo Sleaford Mods included the song “Tiswas” on their 2014 album, Divide and Exit. The original logo featured the word “TISWAS” in chunky letters. A later version of this logo featured a circle going round the edge with “Today Is Saturday Watch And Smile” embossed upon it. The first series was intended to be eleven episodes, purely acting as links between the usual staple fillers of old films and cartoons that ATV would transmit on Saturday mornings. Presented by Chris Tarrant and John Asher from just a desk in a continuity studio, the pair had to rely on ad-libs and jokes sent in by viewers. Billed in TV Times as “Today Is Saturday or the Tis-was Show”, the title sequence features both “Today Is Saturday” and the original “Tiswas” chunky letters logo, shown over a background very similar to that of The Golden Shot.
Series 2 of Tiswas began from late 1974, and spanned almost every Saturday in 1975, finishing in early 1976. The presenting team was doubled to four presenters, and these were usually culled from ATV’s presentation department. Chris Tarrant and John Asher retained their roles as the main presenters, although John would leave during this series. Producer Peter Harris would leave the show in the summer to help produce fellow cult TV success The Muppet Show at ATV’s London-orientated operation in Elstree. Running from late 1976 to early 1977, Chris Tarrant, Peter Tomlinson and Trevor East were the main presenters.
Almost all these shows were produced by Sid Kilbey. The 2 April 1977 show was a landmark edition, as part of the programme was broadcast outside the Midlands for the first time, on HTV Cymru Wales and HTV West, filling up their ’round-the-regions’ compilation of Saturday morning programmes called Ten On Saturday. This series, running from October 1977 to May 1978, marked an end to the provincial macro-budget shows of the previous series, as the initial edition of this series brought significant changes. Sally James was drafted in as the series’ first regular female presenter. Chris Tarrant was retained as the anchor presenter, and behind the scenes was annoyed with the changes, particularly the inclusion of a woman as presenter. However he later retracted this viewpoint, having witnessed the progress Tiswas had made with Sally’s contribution. One significant change almost never happened.
ATV management were displeased with the visual slapstick element – the hurling of custard pies and water. They believed this was setting a bad example to the young viewers. John Gorman made his debut in this series, but with just four appearances, it would not be until series 5 that he became a regular visitor to the Tiswas studios. Likewise, child performer Paul Hardin made sporadic appearances. The programme expanded its footprint further outside its home region. As well as appearing in part on HTV, Anglia, Border, Granada and Scottish Television began to screen Tiswas in its entirety. This series ran from September 1978 to May 1979.
John Gorman became a regular performer from November onwards. STV and Granada dropped the series in 1978 instead showing other content but begain broadcasting the series again in 1979. Bob Carolgees made his debut in early 1979, having been told to go on the programme by Irish comic Frank Carson. Carolgees appeared again two weeks later, and Chris was so pleased with his contribution that he decided to make a regular fixture out of Bob.
Lenny Henry made sporadic appearances throughout this series, but was not established as a regular. ITV had been off the air across the nation since August due to a massive strike by technicians. With an almost national audience, the show became inclusive of its increased viewership by making a bigger role out of specially invited viewer performances. Many of these were children who sang songs or performed dance routines. Chris Tarrant, now producer as well as presenter, found most of these contributions to be of little value, until he came across a unique act by a five-year-old boy called Matthew Butler.
Also appearing a number of times in this series was Norman Collier, the Yorkshire comedian best known for his broken microphone routine and chicken impressions. Tiswas team, under the name of The Four Bucketeers, which tied in with their spin-off album on CBS Records. By now, ATV had increased the budget for Tiswas, and Chris Tarrant had more of a say in the programme’s production than ever before. A proper theme tune was created and the studio set was based around ATV cartoonist Chris Wroe’s caricatures of the presenting team. This series can be considered as the definitive series, due to the material drawn from this era that usually gets an airing on documentaries and clips shows when Tiswas is the subject. In addition, the three video compilations that have been released for sale have been packaged around a seventh series theme, with the bulk of the clips also being from this age. Midway through this series, Chris Tarrant decided to leave upon the series’ conclusion.