Today Is Saturday. Watch And Smile. If you ever wondered why ITV’s anarchic Saturday morning TV show was called Tiswas, then there is your answer.
Before Chris Tarrant started to annoy us all by asking Who Wants To Be A Millionaire contestants if they were sure C was their final answer, and when Lenny Henry was still funny (sorry Lenny, it all started to go downhill after Delbert Wilkins), Saturday mornings were ruled over by a crazy mess of flans, water, musical guests and mad presenters who didn’t care what they were doing so long as someone got either wet or covered in foam.
Chris Tarrant and Sally James were the main hosts of the show, but only really because they were most capable of appearing sane for short periods of time. Chris would keep the show moving along, and was normally armed with a clipboard if I remember rightly. Sally James main role was to provide us with one of her “almost legendary pop interviews”, where she would ask questions to whichever musical act happened to be on that week.
Lenny Henry provided most of the intended comic relief, and would most often appear either in a suit and glasses as Trevor MacDonut or wearing a large red, yellow and green Rastafarian hat stretching out the word “Okay” to last a good ten seconds or more. As MacDonut he would often read some fake news headlines, accompanied by the bongs of Big Ben. With each bong, a bucket of water would be thrown over him.
Another comedy contributor was Bob Carolgees with his puppet Spit the Dog. Bob was quite funny despite having a ventriloquists act without any ventriloquism. Spit was a rather shabby look black terrier dog, who sat on Bobs fake arm (which was so obviously a shop mannequin style arm) listening intently to whatever Bob was saying. The punchline would be that Spit (well, Bob of course) would make a sound like someone hacking up phlegm and spitting it, and Bob would then wipe his eye with his free hand to indicate where the dogs spit had landed.
The other mystery star of the show was The Phantom Flan Flinger (try saying that fast three times). Nobody knew exactly who this black clad figure was, but whenever he appeared somebody was going to get a flan full of cream shoved into their face.
Another feature of the show was the cage of people who’s only purpose was to have buckets of water thrown repeatedly at them. I have no idea what the people in the cage had done to deserve being pelted with water by Tarrant and company, but I suspect there was never a shortage of willing victims.