Before he went grey and started hanging out with Fern Britton on This Morning, Phillip Schofield was best known for hosting Children’s BBC from the legendary Broom Cupboard – otherwise known as the BBC1 continuity room, the place where the announcer sits when telling you what TV programme is on next. By sticking a camera in the room a mini studio was formed from which Phillip and the other Children’s BBC presenters that followed him could introduce the days kids TV shows.
The first broadcast from the Broom Cupboard came on September 9th 1985, and was an immediate success. Not only was Mr. Schofield introducing the programmes he was also responsible for pressing all the buttons and twiddling all the sliders to start the programmes running as well as fading his own image and voice up onto our screens. The whole affair was perhaps a little rough around the edges, but this was part of its appeal and what kept us watching. In fact, one such mistake almost cost Schofield the job, when he mistakenly brought up the BBC1 globe instead of himself, then lost sound when he did return to the screen. He was apparently only saved the chop because the then Head of Presentation found it the most amusing thing he had ever seen.
The fun continued by involving the watching kids too. Viewers could send in their pictures which were pinned to the back wall of the Broom Cupboard, and they could also request word sheets for the theme tunes for some of the popular cartoon shows, which Phil would sing along with live on air – The Mysterious Cities of Gold and Dogtanian and the Three Muskehounds spring to mind as good examples of this.
Schofield was later joined in the Broom Cupboard by Gordon the Gopher, a squeaky glove puppet that he had been given as a gift. Kids went mad for the Gopher, and he became a star in his own right. Gordon the Gopher toys were one of the most popular toys for a period in the late 1980′s.
Eventually Phillip Schofield was offered the job of presenter alongside Sarah Greene on new Saturday morning magazine show Going Live! with Gordon following him too. His replacement was Andy Crane, and Gordon’s was Edd the Duck. Crane did a good job of replacing Schofield, and eventually went on to present videogames show Bad Influence and Saturday morning show What’s Up Doc? (alongside Most Haunted’s Yvette Fielding and Radio DJ Pat Sharp) for the ITV.
When Crane left things started to deteriorate. His replacement was Andi Peters, who I always found a little over excitable and his attempts to carry on the singing of theme songs were generally pretty dire – his singing voice wasn’t great. He too was finally replaced by the even less effective Toby Anstis, and eventually the Broom Cupboard went off air in September 1994 to be replaced with a larger proper studio and multiple presenters. It seems however that the BBC may be trying recapture the glory days, as they have a slightly more polished attempt at replicating the Broom Cupboard for the CBBC Channel, featuring new presenter Ed Petrie and puppet helper Oucho the Cactus, who seems to have a wonderfully gruff mumble for a voice.