With the news that TV legend Timmy Mallett just entering the jungle on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here (a UK reality TV show) I was reminded of the show that he will always be best remembered for – Wacaday.
Wacaday was an incredibly popular early morning show that was always shown during any of the school holidays at 9am. Â It was part of the line up for TVam, the company that broadcast breakfast television to the nation on ITV during the 1980s. Â This timeslot would normally have been occupied byÂ Roland Rat Superstar, but the ailing TVam had sold the rights to Roland in 1985 to the BBC and so Wacaday was conceived to fill the void.
With the sale of Mr. Rat taking place just a matter of a couple of weeks before a school holiday it was deemed the easiest way out was to make a spin off show from TVam’s Saturday morning kids show The Wide Awake Club. Â One of the presenters of this show was Timmy Mallett, who was chosen to host Wacaday. Â Mallet was (and still is) a colourfully dressed bespectacled loon who was little more than a big kid himself, although one with an ego the size of a planet. Â There’s no doubt that Timmy Mallett brought the show to life, but he could be a bit grating at times.
The format of the show was half an hour packed with jokes, games, reports and cartoons (there seemed to be a predilection towards shape changing warrior robots as I believe both Transformers and Gobots cartoons were often aired). Â Most series featured reports by Timmy from different parts of the world, in an attempt to be educational which often failed thanks to Timmy’s tomfoolery (timfoolery?). Â Looking back it’s amazing how much was squeezed into a half hour TV programme.
However, the part of the show that most people will remember is undoubtedly Mallett’s Mallet, a game involving two children who sat on tall stools facing each other. Â In Timmy’s words, Mallett’s Mallet was (deep breath) “a word association game where you mustn’t pause, hesitate, repeat a word, or say a word I don’t like otherwise you get a bash on the head like this (hits child #1)… or like this (hits child #2)… the one with the most bruises loses“. Â After instructing the two contestants to say Bleurgh! to each other, then to camera, and then for everyone at home to say Bleurgh! back the game itself started.
Timmy Mallett was armed with a giant foam rubber mallet with a yellow handle and bright pink head, and would hit (quite hard it seemed) the kids on the head whenever they lost a round, which usually ended up in fits of giggles all round. Â Sadly, in the last series of Wacaday aired in 1992 Timmy was no longer allowed to hit the kids on the head (damn you political correctness) and instead he had an odd scoring machine with massive buttons to hit. Â Not quite the same, is it?
For two series of the show Timmy Mallett was helped out by fellow Wide Awake Club presenter Michaela Strachan, but he also had help of another kind from a small puppet mallet named Pinky Punky, which looked like the big mallet used to hit the kids on the head but had a mop of fuzzy hair on the top of it and a happy face drawn on the side. Â Pinky Punky would pop up just in front of the camera from time to time to ask Timmy questions in a squeaky voice, which most frequently was a request to go to the toilet.
Wacaday was an essential start to the day during school holidays (assuming of course you got out of bed before 9am that is). Â Indeed, even if you found Timmy Mallett annoying (and lets face it who didn’t?) it was still “the show your telly was made for” as Timmy delighted in informing us. Â If you want to learn more visit the Wacaday website which is packed full of information on the show, and the chance to buy your very own Pinky Punky!