Top Banana (TV-am, 1990-1992)
Here’s another look at the world of children’s programming on breakfast franchise TV-am. Along with TV Mayhem (which I still insist is one of the best things that Chris Evans ever did), another show that I looked forward to that was shown early on Saturday mornings in the early-90s was Top Banana, and I enjoyed it as much as anything that CBBC or CITV could offer.
Top Banana was a children’s entertainment show that was hosted by the Australian Mike Brosnan (who also hosted the other TV-am show Hey Hey It’s Saturday! around the same time) that was supposed to be set in a jungle. He was joined by a wide variety of unusual puppets and guests, and he also had a couple of co-hosts who were Captain Keyboards who provided the music and some woman who was called P-Nut I think?
There was also a game show element to Top Banana. Contestants would have to answer questions on various categories when a wheel was spun, and the one that it landed on would also be followed by an appropriate sound effect such as someone shouting “ping-pong!” when the question was about sport. They could also ask for “a piece of cake”, a question that is much easier but they would have to eat some cake while answering, and there were plenty of prizes on offer for everyone.
Another thing that I remember about Top Banana was that every chaotic edition ended with everyone in the studio jumping around (accompanied by myself watching at home) to a version of the old pop song “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”, meaning that by the time CITV’s Motormouth or some such show came along I had already been watching for hours and was vaguely exhausted.
I think that Top Banana lasted until 1992, but by this point it had been announced that TV-am had lost their licence and I thought that most of their children’s programming had been dropped, although there is a chance that it could have been a repeat run, but either way the show definitely made an impact on me in the early-90s, and watching a few clips again on YouTube reminded me of the way that I can’t remember much about what I did yesterday, yet I’ve never forgotten the “ping-pong!” sound effect from this show. Isn’t life strange.