Kick Start is another great example of the sort of TV programme that just doesn’t get made any more, and really should as it was great family viewing, whether you were into motorcycles or not.
The show was based in the world of motorcycle trials, which is where riders take their bikes over an assortment of obstacles, trying to do so as fast as possible and without incurring penalties by knocking over items or putting their foot on the floor. It was quite amazing what these guys could do on their bikes, including driving over the tops of cars, the infamous bunny hop over a plank of wood or negotiating a tight circle of logs without knocking any of them down.
Of course while we all marvelled when someone got around the entire course without a single fault, secretly we all wanted the blokes to fall off their bikes in painful looking ways, and we usually got what we were after. There must have be quite a few bruised egos as well as bruised nether regions, as the comedy gold of a man falling onto a log with a leg either side was common place.
Kick Start was presented by Peter Purves who was a Blue Peter presenter in the days of Valerie Singleton and John Noakes, and he commentated over the proceedings with a calm yet genuinely interested manner. Of course, he too joined in with the giggles during the slips, with one memorable occasion being when a young lad fell into a lake, and the St. John’s ambulance men who came to help him ended up falling in too!
The show also spawned a kids version, Junior Kick Start, which had slightly simpler obstacle circuits for the teenage (and younger) competitors. They were still pretty demanding though. I must admit though, as a kid I was always a little confused why kids my age were allowed to be riding motorbikes.
The theme song was also very distinctive, and highly memorable. It was actually called Be My Boogie-Woogie Baby by Mr. Walkie-Talkie which may not sound like a fitting theme song for a show about motorcycle stunt riding, but it did fit incredibly well. OK, they added the motorbike revving sounds at the end, but I can still hum it now.
The popularity of the show was even captured in videogame form with the budget game Kik Start (note the change in spelling to avoid legal issues). In these games you had to drive your bike over a horizontally scrolling set of obstacles without losing balance, with the Kick Start theme tune repeatedly playing away in the background. A later sequel even added a level editor so you could make your own circuits.
I’ll finish off with this little clip of Peter Purves talking about Kick Start, which features some of that jolly theme song and some clips of the riders doing their thing (and falling off painfully too).