They brought anarchy to live children’s TV in the Seventies, flinging custard pies around with abandon and drenching anyone within throwing distance with buckets of water. And while the stars of Tiswas were a little calmer as they reunited on stage 40 years on, they couldn’t resist the odd throwback to their wilder days.
In between reminiscing about the Saturday morning ITV show, Chris Tarrant, Sally James, Bob Carolgees and John Gorman treated a theatre audience to a soaking, while the programme’s Phantom Flan Flinger also struck during recreations of some of Tiswas’ best-loved sketches.
The presenters, known as the Four Bucketeers, were given a lifetime achievement award at the Slapstick comedy festival in Bristol. Tiswas which stood for Today Is Saturday: Watch And Smile ran from 1974 to 1982. As well as Tarrant, 75, Carolgees, 73, Gorman, 86, and Miss James, 71, it helped launch the careers of Lenny Henry and Jim Davidson.
Its eight-year spell on ITV featured a mammoth 302 show and was created by Peter Tomlinson, ATV’s continuity announcer, who later went on to become a regular presenter. It was originally produced as a Midlands regional programme by ATV, and owing to the then federal structure of ITV, with its independent regional companies, not all of the stations broadcast the show. Granada Television and Southern Television were the last to pick it up, three years before it went off the air.
The pioneering programme was popular amongst parents and children alike, and its logo appeared on a plethora of merchandise goods, including books, T-shirts and a regular magazine.