Chris, Sally and Spit – organising meyhem every Saturday

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It’s Saturday morning madness!

Cover of TVTimes
From TVTimes for 6-12 September 1980

IT’S SATURDAY MORNING MADHOUSE time, and the terrible Tiswas team — led by Chris Tarrant and Sally James — is back with plenty of disorganised mayhem and general chaos. First shown in Birmingham in 1974, the programme has become a cult watched by five million adults and children. Fan mail reveals that students lay down their books, housewives stop vacuuming and husbands watch it in bed.

Anything can happen and it usually does. The most unusual aspect of Tiswas is that the actors and studio audience all attack each other. Adults beg to be locked in The Cage and have buckets of water, custard pies, egg and ketchup flung at them. In between competitions, film clips, cartoons and quizzes pop stars are doused in mid-interview and return for more.

Tiswas has been translated as “This Is What They Want”, “This Is Saturday Watch And Smile” or “This Is Saturday Watch And Suffer”. What is certain is that Saturday mornings are not the same any more.

CHRIS TARRANT

Chris Tarrant

Maestro of Tiswas. Producer and presenter. Not averse to getting soaked

The Cage

“Twelve thousand people have written to ask if they can go in The Cage. We’ve had two vicars, a chief of police who couldn’t say where he was from, and half a dozen Inland Revenue men inside. We’ve not had any politicians yet. I intend to work on that one.

The Dying Fly

“The Dying Fly was introduced to us by Jasper Carrott. Once, during his act, a drunk came on stage and said: ‘You’ve got to do the Dying Fly.’ Suddenly the whole audience were lying on their backs and waving their arms and legs in the air. We introduced it to Tiswas. We hold the world record. We got 1,700 people to do it in Leicester. I read a list of dangerous sports compiled by R.o.S.P.A. (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents). They banned the Dying Fly as dangerous unless supervised, along with hang-gliding,” jokes Tarrant.

The Phantom Flanflinger

“I pay his wages but I’ve never seen him.”

Most Requested Film Clip

Says Tarrant: “Kids keep asking for the most gruesome scenes. Especially Monty Python. The Black Knight losing arms and legs is requested most often. So are scenes from Life of Brian.”

Q: What eats hay and sees equally well from either end?

A: A horse with its eyes shut.

HOW TO DO THE DYING FLY

The Dying Fly

Lie on your back on the floor. Lift your legs up, bending them at the knee. Bend your arms at the elbows and raise them upwards. Bend hands at wrists but keep your hands straight.

When the music of the song The Dying Fly starts, kick your legs around and wave your arms in time with the music.

SALLY JAMES

Sally James

Pretty witty presenter. Famous for brilliant interviews. Looks better than ever when thoroughly damp.

“It’s firn being the only girl but a bit messy. It’s different for boys. The custard pies are made of shaving foam and stick to my mascara. One Saturday I worked out that I’d washed my hair four times during the day after being soaked in the Bucket of Water song. I get through hair conditioner by the litre.”

Tarrant and James pour a bottle of liquid over a man in stocks
Chaos reigns as Chris Tarrant and Sally James douse another Tiswas ‘victim’

LENNY HENRY

Lenny Henry

Resident comedian

“I love Tiswas. I think Chris really understands the rebellious feelings in children.”

Says Bob Carolgees: “Lenny Henry used to do a very funny newscast as Trevor McDoughnut. One day Chris secretly smuggled Trevor McDonald into the studio and produced him as Lenny finished his act. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen Lenny go white.”

BOB CAROLGEES

Bob Carolgees

Owner of Spit the dog and Charlie the monkey

Says Bob Carolgees: “My dog was originally called Spot. The reason I gave him that name was because he didn’t have any. But when I first started using him in my act I accidentally called him Spit. Everybody thought it was funny so I added the spitting gesture and now Spit has really taken off.

“Spit gets a personal fan mail of 50 to 100 letters a week. Many people call their dogs after him, especially if they are Cairns or Scotties which Spit thinks he is. He gets sent scarves and hats and bones. Charlie is a really friendly puppet and is very popular. He receives quite a lot of nuts and bananas now.”

Spit is in for a big surprise in the new series. He is going to have a rival. “His name is Cough the cat and I think he will give Spit a run for his money.”

Q: What do you get if you cross a porcupine and a skunk?

A: A smelly pincushion.

HOPPING

Hopping

“This autumn hopping will be the craze,” says John Gorman. “Everyone will be hopping mad and I predict we shall all have a very Hoppy Christmas.

“Hopping has reached a state of great popularity. It has spread with astonishing rapidity to nearly every country in the known world (and a couple in the unknown too).”

Famous Hoppers include:
Hoppalong Cassidy
Bugs Bunny
Long John Silver
Kermit the Frog

JOHN GORMAN

John Gorman

Ex-Scaffold singer and chief loon. Manly responsible for the extraordinary popularity of the Bucket of Water song.

“I was chosen as the resident loon because of my devastating good looks. I am especially responsible for instructive work. I am the expert in the art of hitting your head with a tray. I have crowned heads from Europe and Tower Hamlets. It is not a piece of cake. That’s made with flour.”

 

The Phantom Flanflinger

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