TV Mayhem (TV-am, 1991)
One thing I haven’t written much about on here yet is what I liked to watch on TV-am, the ITV breakfast franchise from 1983-1992. I used to enjoy a lot of the children’s programmes, including Wacaday of course, plus various weekend shows that I used to get up ridiculously early to watch including The Wide Awake Club, Top Banana, Hey Hey It’s Saturday!, and also TV Mayhem. I wondered if there were any clips of that show on YouTube and there seems to be all of about 15 minutes’ worth online so aren’t I lucky.
First, some background. Chris Evans was someone who was a radio presenter on various radio stations in the late-80s including BBC GLR, among the likes of Danny Baker and Chris Morris. In 1990 he hosted a show called Power Up on the very short-lived satellite TV service BSB, and a year later in 1991 TV Mayhem was just about a continuation of this show. I remember looking forward to seeing this show which was on Saturdays at 8am, it was clear that there was a buzz about it because there was a picture in Fast Forward magazine and everything.
From the moment I saw the amusingly odd title sequence I just knew that TV Mayhem was going to be great. Chris and his red hat hosted the show in the studio which had things in the background like a clock spinning round too quickly and a photo of Phil Collins, how random. There were also many unusual features such as Chris talking to himself on a screen, there were also various cartoons including Bill and Ted and pop stars performing their latest hits too.
One feature that I remember was when Chris took part in some comedy sketches alongside his sidekick Gary which I thought were odd firstly because Chris didn’t wear his glasses during them and also because they really did seem to have been made on a camcorder in his bedroom. I was really enjoying TV Mayhem, and I think that I began to like it even more than CITV’s Motormouth that followed… and then something strange happened.
In October 1991 it was announced that TV-am had lost their franchise and would go off the air at the end of 1992. The decision was made to drop TV Mayhem after just six shows, I believe that it was supposed to run for much longer, and it was replaced by some bog-standard cartoons shown under the name Cartoon World as they ran down the clock to the end whilst spending as little money as possible. But thankfully the story didn’t end there.
About a year later in 1992, Chris was announced as being among the presenting team of Channel 4’s new early-morning show The Big Breakfast. And it was his very amusing and energetic presenting style that got him noticed and almost instantly he became a big name, with just about all of the show’s viewers talking about him, and I just thought to myself how I already knew all of this from what he did a year earlier, and I was delighted that he had finally hit the big time.
Chris left The Big Breakfast in 1994, but the TV Mayhem-style influence on his work could still be felt in several quirky shows he hosted much later on that became a success including Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush and even TFI Friday. Chris does still seem to enjoy his mornings, as he also went on to further success in radio hosting the breakfast slot on BBC Radio 1, Virgin, and also BBC Radio 2 right to this day. Way-hey!