Wacaday (TV-am, 1985-1992)
A while ago I took a look back at some of the children’s programming strands on TV-am. There were plenty of enjoyable shows over the years, including Data Run, Top Banana, and TV Mayhem. But what was arguably the most popular of these shows was Wacaday, a spin-off from The Wide Awake Club that was shown live during the summer holidays and half-term.
One of the reasons that Wacaday became a success with viewers was because of the rather enthusiastic presenter Timmy Mallett (although even he was rather mild-mannered compared to Dick And Dom!). Cast your mind back to squllions of yonks ago when Timmy started out on local radio, before joining TV-am in its early days. His fashion style was two hats, big glasses, horrible shirts, and along with his high-pitched voice, he definitely didn’t mind making himself look daft for the TV.
Wacaday (usually about 35 minutes long and described as “the show your TV was made for”) was fast-moving and contained lots of features (Timmy was occasionally joined by co-host Michaela Strachan) that were much enjoyed by an excitable crowd. Timmy would often have his friend Magic The Cockatiel along with him. Timmy would also travel the world and tell stories in various countries, viewers could send in their pictures and photos or play competitions on the phone for prizes, and there was even the odd cartoon.
But the most-remembered feature was Mallett’s Mallet. This was where two children would play a word-association game, and if they gave a wrong answer, he would hit them on the head with his big mallet (and there was the appropriate silly sound effect), although this was later changed to banging buttons on a machine. The winner would get a prize of a plaster, along with a bonus prize for saying the magic word, how terrific. There would also be a smaller puppet mallet called Pinky who would often ask Timmy silly questions.
All of this became very popular, to the point that Timmy got his own CITV show that ran around the same time called Utterly Brilliant (one of his many catchphrases), and, oh yes, in 1990, he had a chart-topping single with his unique take on “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polkadot Bikini” (accompanied by a dance lots of people were briefly doing). It may have been ridiculous, but how many other children’s TV presenters can boast that they achieved that?
Wacaday continued to be a popular show until it came to an end in 1992 after TV-am lost its licence, and Timmy hasn’t been seen on TV a huge amount since (it seems that in more recent years he has had some success as an artist), but there’s no doubt that the show was always very exciting to watch in the morning inbetween the endless adverts for Lego and Frosties.