Friday, 23 December 2016

568 Saturday Superstore

First  viewed  :  Autumn  1982

Saturday  Superstore ,  launched  in  October  1982 , was   basically  Swap  Shop  re-branded  to reflect  the  fact  that  there  was  a  new  guy  at  the  helm. With  the  benefit  of  hindsight, replacing Noel  Edmunds  for  five  years  on  the  Saturday morning  kids  TV  flagship   would  be  the apogee of  Mike  Read's  career  and  to  be  fair  he  was  a  competent  host. Other  than  that,  the   presenting  team  ( Keith  Chegwin, Maggie  Philbin  and  John  Craven )   stayed  the  same  until   the  following  year  when  Philbin  left  to  have  a  baby  and  was  replaced  by   the  much  sexier Sarah  Greene.  A  seemingly  sane  David  Icke  joined  the   team  at  the  same  time. The  format was  pretty  much  identical  especially  after  they  ditched  the  shop  theme   in  the  second  season.

I  only  ever  dipped  into  it  occasionally - it  was  kids  TV  after  all -  but  it  was  a  part  of  the  pop  landscape  in  the  eighties  and  so  there  were  a  few  incidents  that  I  read  about  and  wished  I'd  seen  such  as  a  3- year  old  Natalie  Casey  asking  Boy  George  to  take  her  to  the  toilet  and  Matt  Bianco  getting  called  " a  bunch  of  wankers"   during  a  live  Q  &  A  session.

Then  of  course  in  the  final  series  Mrs  T  dropped  by  and  a  young  girl  asked  her  where  she'd  be  if  they  dropped  the  bomb  - well  Read  wasn't  going  to  ask  her  any  toughies  was  he  ?  Thatcher  gave  the  usual  flannel  about  a  strong  N.A.T.O.  keeping  the  peace  to  which  the  kid  listened  politely  then  said  "Yeah  but  where will  you  be ? " Thatcher  icily  replied  "I  shall  be  in  London"  thereby  conceding  the  point  that  it  might  happen  after  all. Thatcher  also  participated  in  the  video  review  slot  where  she  pretended  to  like  The  Thrashing  Doves'  Beautiful  Imbalance, actually  a  pretty  good  song. It  was  a  minor  hit  and  it's  not  clear  whether  her  endorsement  helped  or  harmed  it.

The  one   episode  I  did  see  for  myself  was  Frankie  Goes  To  Hollywood's  appearance  to  promote  the  Welcome  To  The  Pleasuredome  single  on   22  March  1985 . I  was  back  home  for  a  Rochdale  game   ( which  must  have  been  called  off  because  there's  no  result  for  that  day  in  the  stats )  and  must  have  put  the  telly  on  while  waiting  for  dinner.  The  lads  gave  an  amiable  interview  but  there  was  a  sting  in  the  tail. They'd  brought  in  a  collection  of  memorabilia  to  give  away  in  a  competition  for  which  they'd  devised  three  questions  announced  by  Holly  Johnson  :

  1. Who  did  we  do  our  first  radio  interview  with ?
  2. What  was  unusual  about  that  interview ?  and
  3.  Who  banned  Relax ?
That  last  one  clearly  hadn't  been  cleared  with  Read  and  as  he  started  to  protest,  the  other  lads  jumped  in,  "No  No  you  can't  give  it  away !"  which  of  course  he  couldn't . Done  up  like  a  kipper,  Read  introduced  their  video  through  gritted  teeth.

It's  tempting to  tie  the  demise  of  Saturday  Superstore   in  April  1987  to  Read's  damaged  credibility, not  helped  by  tabloid  revelations  about  him  bonking  to  the  music  of  the  unfashionable  Icicle  Works,  but  at  most  that  can  only  be  part  of  the  story. The  show  was  coming  under  pressure  from  an  ITV  rival  called  No  73  and  another  re-boot  was  needed.

This  time  it  was  much  more  thorough. Only  Greene  and  agony  uncle  Philip  Hodson  survived  the  purge  and  went  into  Going   Live.  We've  covered  Read's  travails  in  the  Pop  Quiz  post. Chegwin  was  heading  the  same  way  but  managed  to  turn  things  around  for  himself  a  few  years  later  on  The  Big  Breakfast. Craven  still  had  his  Newsround  and  two  years  later  began  his  long  stint  on  Countryfile. Icke, well,  we'll  come  back  to  him  in  due  course.



  1. Woah, Mike Read bonked to the Icicle Works?? I can't see the arch-Tory getting his freak on to Up Here In The North of England (fantastic song IMO) and I certainly can't see him understanding the message behind it.

    I always had fond memories of this as a kid, but even then Read left me cold - a feeling that has only increased down the years. Even now, watching BBC4's Top of the Pops reruns I cringe when he's hosting. Funny, the BBC refuse to show the DLT ones cos he's a convicted sex pest, but Read being a racist doesn't bother them at all.

    Much preferred Going Live. Loved that, still miss it in fact - or is it childhood I miss? Anyways, merry Christmas to you Mike!

  2. And the same to you Mark !
    I don't think I ever watched "Going Live" - just too old by then !
    The DLT ban is ridiculous - the only offence he was convicted of happened years after his time on the show.