Gordon The Gopher (CBBC, 1991)
In 1985, Children’s BBC relaunched their main afternoon strand, which would now feature in-vision continuity, in what became affectionately known as “The Broom Cupboard”, and the first presenter was Phillip Schofield. After about a year, he was joined by a small squeaking puppet called Gordon The Gopher (not to be confused with Larry The Loafer, oh no). Rather curiously, Phillip was the only one who could understand him.
After a while, they became an entertaining double-act with viewers, meaning that when Phillip left in 1987 to host new CBBC Saturday Morning show Going Live!, Gordon came along with him. And as they remained a success, in the early-90s it was decided to give Gordon a spin-off series where we got the opportunity to find out a little more about his exciting showbiz lifestyle (that was often described by Radio Times as “furry fun”).
The idea of Gordon The Gopher (sometimes credited as Gordon T Gopher) was that Phillip and Gordon lived together in a flat and they had lots of zany adventures. Gordon was of course a superstar at a level that Phillip could only dream of, and when he wasn’t in the flat, he was in the burrow underneath, determining in what way he could cause trouble for Phillip next. And also, although it was a good effort by Phillip, he was acted off the screen by Gordon.
We also saw Phillip in his TV presenting role, where he was often assisted by Zoe (Sue Devaney, who had appeared in a few other children’s TV shows including CBBC’s Jonny Briggs and CITV’s Spatz, along with Coronation Street), along with a few other celebrity guest appearances. It was a shame that CBBC didn’t do an equivalent show for their Broom Cupboard successors, Andy Crane and Edd The Duck, I would’ve watched that.
There was only one series of Gordon The Gopher, featuring 13 episodes that were all about 15 minutes long. But by the time that Going Live! ended in 1993, Phillip and Gordon went their separate ways. Some episodes were released on VHS, along with some books, and guess what, I actually have one of these! They predate the TV series, but feature Gordon in similarly silly stories, along with some nice illustrations, and a chance to meet more of Gordon’s family.
Gordon The Gopher was repeated a few times in various timeslots, and it was shown as late as 1995, long after Phillip had left CBBC and joined ITV where he had begun to get into primetime presenting, including such goodies as Talking Telephone Numbers, and, er, Tenball. Even if Gordon and Phillip are no longer touch with each other, I’m sure they’re both pleased that I remember this show.