TISWAS - The Soundtrack CD

Saturday, 28 November 2009 15:07

‘Back in the day’, as they say, you were either a Swap Shop household or a TISWAS stronghold.  Straight-laced conservative pop entertainment from ‘Auntie’, or anarchic slapstick and rock from ITV’s entrant … watched by as many adults as children. And now’s the time to get ready to celebrate and reminisce about one of the original, anarchic and groundbreaking Saturday morning series in British television!

Yes, it was rebellious, and its irreverent nature became the trademark and part of the legacy of this iconic ITV show, first aired in the Midlands area only in 1974, before blossoming from a wrapper for other TV series and cartoons and watched by millions. Me? I almost gave up on it in spite, when the week before a single episode of Thunderbirds had been screened, which I had hoped would herald an entire rescreening.  How wrong I was, but eventually I lived to love the format that replaced one of my favourite shows of all time.

TISWAS - Soundtrack CDsKey to the success of TISWAS was its quirky team of presenters, led by Chris Tarrant and including its only female presenter, Sally James, but who could possibly forget the notorious Phantom Flan Flinger – whose identity was never unmasked! The cast of regulars grew during the course of the show’s evolution, and a team of cult heroes soon became apparent.

Frequent appearances were made by popular comedians such as Jasper Carrott, Bernard Manning (no, really), Jim Davidson and, notably, a young Lenny Henry - who later became a regular member of the notorious TISWAS team. Lenny reveals in the CD notes that Billy Idol and Generation X were awesome on the show, and that all the blokes were captivated by the performance of Sarah Brightman and Hot Gossip!

The most memorable parts of the Tiswas shows include the segments at 'The Desk' (where the show usually started with Tarrant and James), 'Compost Corner' (always heralded, Crackerjack-style, with a mass chant of the segment’s name), 'The Cage' (adults locked up for the entire show with a variety of liquids thrown over them), 'The Dying Fly' routine (adults and children on their backs waving their arms and legs in the air) and loads of water and custard pies sent the way of adults, children and celebrities alike.

This triple-disc album takes you back to those heady days before political correctness went mad and the only thing you had to do on a Saturday morning was get out of bed and switch on the telly. Music was a key ingredient on the menu, and it certainly wasn’t the more ‘plastic’ performers in evidence that was a staple of Swap Shop.  Status Quo were regulars, and they really did enter into the spirit. Sally James was the musical director, picking the videos to screen and the acts to invite into the studio, but many of the most memorable tunes were originated by the cast and those who joined in the fun in the studio.

Indeed, the TISWAS “Bucket of Water Song” even made it to Top of the Pops … unfortunately, and showing the sheer ludicrousness of the BBC, the team were not allowed to throw water, ending up instead with buckets of glittery paper! BBC health and safety was clearly more stringent than that of ATV!

Meanwhile, the sleeve notes also reveal that Madness were banned from TISWAS for a not-too-hilarious incident involving silly string, and that the only person spared custard pies or water was Sir Cliff Richard.

Meanwhile, Bob Carolgees (he of Spit the Dog, Charlie the Monkey and Cough the Cat fame) also contributes a feature article for the sleeve notes, alongside that from Sally James.  He reveals that Frank Carson was entirely responsible for him getting the ‘gig’, and that even years later the ATV studios never quite lost the odour of the ‘custard pie’ shaving foam!

There’s some very useful trivia in the booklet, but for some reason they miss out mentioning Gordon Astley as one of the presenters (he had the impossible job of filling the gap left by the departure of Chris Tarrant in the show’s final year – Sally James on her own was not enough to sustain the spirit of the show).

A&R guru Ashley Abram of Box Music was the main consultant on the track listing for this release, together with a search of the ITV archive notes. Sally James has been involved in the promotion of the album and loves the tracks that have been chosen. The choices themselves are the essence of the late 1970s and early 1980s, with some unexpected inclusions from well-known artists (for instance, “Wow” from Kate Bush, “Saturday’s Kids” by The Jam, and “5 Minutes” by The Stranglers).

Some may find the choice of only two specifically TISWAS tracks “The Bucket of Water Song” and the almost tuneless version of “Bright Eyes” from then-youngster Matthew Butler as a little bit errant.  But fear not! The reason that more tracks such as “The Dying Fly” and the TISWAS themes are left out is because they are hoping that this will be the first in a series of TISWAS albums, so they need some candy to tempt you next time out!

It's even possible that they could include the Matthew Butler version of Pink Floyd’s “Another brick in the wall” next time - Matthew is also helping with the PR for the album and is very involved. Something to take note of is that “Bright Eyes” is now ‘chart eligible’ and there have been so many requests to download the track already that there looks like being a big campaign to get it released.

The new TISWAS album also includes some unexpected picks amongst its number – The Babys performing “Isn’t It Time”, Scott Fitzgerald and Yvonne Keeley’s “If I Had Words”, Mr Big with “Romeo”, and even Be Bop Deluxe with “Ships In The Night”.

This was a really incredible era to live in, almost surreal.  Perhaps it’s best to leave it to Lenny Henry to sum it all up:  “I have very fond memories of walking into a Quo concert in my Algernon Razzmatazz Rasta hat and finding myself as being the only un-blonde person in attendance... spooky!”

TISWAS – THE ALBUM is available now courtesy of EMI TV, priced £11.99 or less from www.culttvstore.com


TISWAS Track Listing:



01. Queen - Crazy Little Thing Called Love

02. Status Quo - Whatever You Want

03. The Tom Robinson Band - 2-4-6-8 Motorway

04. Meat Loaf & Cher - Dead Ringer For Love

05. Iron Maiden - Run To The Hills

06. Dr Feelgood - Milk And Alcohol

07. The Boomtown Rats - Lookin' After No. 1

08. The Jam - Saturday's Kids

09. Blondie - Picture This

10. The Sweet - Love Is Like Oxygen

11. Thin Lizzy - Dancing In The Moonlight (It's Caught Me In Its Spotlight)

12. Frankie Miller - Darlin’

13. The Babys - Isn’t It Time

14. Raspberries - Overnight Sensation

15. The Motors - Forget About You

16. The Members - Sound Of The Suburbs

17. The Stranglers - 5 Minutes

18. Skids - Working For The Yankee Dollar

19. Buzzcocks - Everybody’s Happy Nowadays

20. Tenpole Tudor – Wunderbar



01. The Specials - Too Much Too Young

02. Madness - Embarrassment

03. Squeeze - Up The Junction

04. Elvis Costello & The Attractions - I Can't Stand Up For Falling Down

05. Adam & The Ants - Antmusic

06. Duran Duran - Girls On Film

07. Haircut 100 - Love Plus One

08. Lene Lovich - Lucky Number

09. The Selecter - On My Radio

10. Dexy's Midnight Runners - Geno

11. Fun Boy Three & Bananarama -  It Ain't What You Do It's The Way That You Do It

12. Jona Lewie - You’ll Always Find Me In

The Kitchen At Parties

13. The Human League - Don't You Want Me

14. Joe Jackson - Is She Really Going Out With Him?

15. XTC - Making Plans For Nigel

16. Ian Dury & The Blockheads - What A Waste

17. M - Pop Muzik

18. The Flying Lizards - Money

19. Roxy Music - Dance Away

20. Kate Bush - Wow

21. Be Bop Deluxe - Ships In The Night



01. Tiswas Presents The Four Bucketeers - The Bucket Of Water Song

02. Shakin’ Stevens - You Drive Me Crazy

03. Cliff Richard - Wired For Sound

04. Bucks Fizz - Making Your Mind Up

05. Racey - Lay Your Love On Me

06. Alvin Stardust - Pretend

07. Chas ‘N’ Dave - Ain’t No Pleasing You

08. Dennis Waterman - I Could Be So Good For You

09. The Wurzels - Farmer Bill's Cowman

10. Sheena Easton - Nine To Five

11. Sarah Brightman and Hot Gossip - I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper

12. Hot Chocolate -  Every 1's A Winner

13. Linx - Intuition

14. Dr Hook -  Better Love Next Time

15. Paul McCartney & Wings - With A Little Luck

16. Mr Big - Romeo

17. Suzi Quatro - If You Can't Give Me Love

18. Scott Fitzgerald & Yvonne Keeley - If I Had Words

19. Matthew Butler And The Four Bucketeers - Bright Eyes



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