CITV Memories – Kappatoo.

Kappatoo (CITV, 1990-1992)

This is a CITV show that I don’t really remember watching that much at the time, but I have wanted to discover more about it and share it on here. This is because Kappatoo is a show with a interesting idea that falls into a few genres. Not only is it a children’s TV show, but it is also something of a science-fiction show, and a comedy-drama show too.

The story is that Simon Cashmere who is an ordinary 15-year-old boy in the present day (which is 1990) swaps places with Kappa who is from the 23rd century 280 years in the future (both roles are played by the same actor, Simon Nash). Will Kappa be able to adjust to this strange new world and blend in with these people who don’t know his rather unusual secret. Can he convince Simon’s family and his best friend Steve that he is the real thing? With his odd turns of phrase, ability to stop time, and scoring 17 goals in a football match they soon notice that Simon definitely isn’t who he seems to be. vlcsnap-00226

One of the things that attracted me to watching Kappatoo was that the futuristic fast-talking computer sidekick was played by Andrew O’Connor (no relation to Hazel). Now if you are a regular visitor to this blog you might know that I have something of an unironic fondness for his work, having also enjoyed watching some of the game shows that he hosted in the late-80s/early-90s such as Chain Letters and One To Win among others, so it was good seeing him do his thing here including some daft impressions (it seems that he also co-wrote some of the episodes). vlcsnap-00225

One thing that Kappa has to deal with is a girl at school called Tracey (who in a good “before they were famous” was played by a teenage Denise Outen, before she added a “Van” to her surname) who Simon wants to go out with. Meanwhile, in the future Simon is enjoying his new life until has to battle in a sporting event against Kappa’s arch-rival Sigmasix who will do anything to beat him. vlcsnap-00206

In 1992 the show returned for a second series as Kappatoo II as Simon and Kappa’s lives became increasingly entangled whilst travelling back and forth in time. There were also a few cast changes. The show also featured a few gadgets and special effects (although it clearly wasn’t big budget stuff) which could make it draw comparisons with Mike And Angelo, another CITV sci-fi show from around the same time. vlcsnap-00321

Like most shows in the science-fiction genre, Kappatoo did pick up something of a small cult following that endures (but we are hardly talking Doctor Who or Red Dwarf levels here). There were also a couple of books released. 14 episodes were made in two series but it hasn’t been released on DVD, I feel that it would be good to see this show, along with lots of other CITV shows from this era, finally made available.

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CITV Memories – Mega Mania.

Mega Mania (CITV, 1992)

Back in the early-90s I recorded various shows on CITV. One of them was Mega Mania, but it was incomplete, indeed, it only came to about one or two minutes. I was never really sure why there was such a short amount on the tape, but I must have had some interest to have recorded any of it at all. I couldn’t really remember much about it though, so I was very pleased to discover that every edition is in full on YouTube.

What was Mega Mania? I would say that it was a game show. It has teams competing in various games against one another to score points and win prizes, but it isn’t listed on the UK Game Shows website which is a surprise as they are usually the authority on these things. If even they don’t remember this one then it really has been lost in the mists of time, so here’s what it was about.

Mega Mania (a Thames production for ITV) was hosted by Joe Greco (who also appeared in some other CITV shows around this time including the sitcom Spatz) who represented the red team, and Lucy Alexander (who 26 years later is still on TV as one of the hosts of BBC1’s daytime show Hammers Under The Home or whatever it’s called, I’ve never seen it myself, and more impressively, appeared in an advert for Burger King) who represented the blue team. vlcsnap-00743

Mega Mania toured the country and every week came from a different location such as a hospital, a supermarket, or a farm. Two teams of four took part and there were five rounds, which included some messy and rather silly games, making the show draw comparisons with Fun HouseThere were 20 points for the team that won the round, and 10 points for the losers, Joe and Lucy did their best to encourage them all the way through as they wanted their team to win, and it usually all to play for going into the final round. vlcsnap-00745

Prizes on offer included a pair of trainers, a camera, a board game, and a NES console. Fantastic. Having now watched some editions of Mega Mania again, a lot of the games were rather well put together and enjoyable, and there were some funny moments, but the show ended after just five editions, never to been seen again (it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry). vlcsnap-00777

However, the similar CITV shows Finders Keepers and Fun House were much more successful, maybe the market for wacky game shows (along with the likes of Double Dare and Get Your Own Back on CBBC) was already too overcrowded at the time for Mega Mania to stand out. Tommy Boyd thought that it was great though, and there can’t be much better endorsement than that.

 

CITV Memories – Skull.

Skull (CITV, 1990-1991)

I’ve already written about why I was a fan of the rather spooky CITV Saturday Morning show Ghost Train, and one of the reasons was because of the game show segment that deserves a separate piece looking back at it. I don’t think that Skull featured in all three series, but it was definitely in the last two. Skull was a somewhat chaotic game that featured a lot of mess and it was played in three parts.

In the first part a contestant alongside one of the hosts of the show had to jump in a pool and find the skull, because this contained some questions. Whilst they tried to find it, the main villain Barry and his band of baddies would squirt them with gunge and everyone would cheer them on. When they did finally find it, the host, who was already exhausted after having to search, would ask three questions. vlcsnap-00223

While the questions were asked, Barry and the baddies would be watching on, because if they got any of the questions wrong they would throw even more gunge over them, and the contestant would have a disadvantage in the second stage of the game. In case they got all three right, Barry would ask another question himself which was usually impossible with the hope that there would be at least one wrong answer resulting in a squirting. vlcsnap-00222

The second part of the game wasn’t as messy, but was just as unpredictable. The contestant would enter a room with a chequered floor which contained blindfolded baddies holding maces (how many they faced depended on how many questions they got right in the first round), and they could only step on the white squares. If they got hit they would lose the game, much to the delight of Barry. vlcsnap-00225

If they got past them without being hit though, they would enter another room to play the final game where they would have to face the man himself Barry. This time, both the contestant and Barry would be blindfolded, and if they managed to beat him in the main duel by successfully banging him on the head with their mace, they would win a prize that money can’t buy… that’s right, a jacket! vlcsnap-00226

It was also rather amusing when in the final edition of the series the game reached its rather inevitable conclusion when all three hosts took part and pushed Barry in the pool at the end. Also, one of Barry’s baddies was played by Mark Heap who in more recent years went on to have a lot of success as a comic actor. I always thought that Skull was great fun and livened up Saturday Mornings just really because it was so ridiculous.

CITV Memories – Danger Mouse.

Danger Mouse (CITV, 1981-1992)

London. Home of the Cockney, the winkle stall, the Thames Gas Board, and the world’s greatest… vlcsnap-00139

…detective of course, it’s Danger Mouse! This was the cartoon with a distinctive animation style produced by Cosgrove Hall that featured the adventures of the super secret agent Danger Mouse (voiced by David Jason, who deserves to celebrated as much for his cartoon voice work as he is for his sitcom work), and his hapless hamster sidekick Penfold (voiced by Terry Scott). They both lived in a secret postbox somewhere in Mayfair. vlcsnap-00144

Whenever there was a problem anywhere in the world (or beyond) they would be contacted by the rather bumbling boss Colonel K who gives them their instructions and then they would be on their way in the Mousemobile because seemingly they were the only ones who could come to the rescue for all of us because we were reassured that wherever there is danger he’ll be there. Crumbs! vlcsnap-00147

The baddie in the show was the hoarse-voiced Baron Greenback who was always planning something. He was accompanied by an odd little furry caterpillar-type thing that sat on his desk (once again, it’s strange how things like that stay in your mind) which it seems was called Nero, and his useless henchman Stiletto. Also occasionally appearing in the show was Count Duckula who would get his own spin-off cartoon on CITV which was equally enjoyable and I’ll review that soon. vlcsnap-00145

Danger Mouse eventually ran for ten series over a decade and it became one of the most popular shows in the history of CITV, and it was also shown across the world. Throughout the 80s there was also lots of merchandise released featuring the characters including comics, games and books, and DM even appeared on the cover of Lookin, what an honour that is. vlcsnap-00146

I only really remember watching the later episodes but I found them to be very enjoyable and still fondly remember them. I recently got the DVD boxset of Danger Mouse which is great because not only does it contain every episode over ten discs, but there are also a few interesting extras, including behind-the-scenes looks on how the show was put together on CITV shows CBTV and Splash, and also the unaired pilot where the characters are voiced by different actors! In more recent years our hero donned the old eyepatch again for a revival, this time on CBBC, with DM now being voiced by Alexander Armstrong. Although I haven’t watched this version myself, it’s good to know that our hero has won over a new generation of viewers.

CITV Memories – Terror Towers.

Terror Towers (CITV, 1994-1996)

This was a game show that was set in a haunted house which sort-of came across as a spookier version of The Crystal Maze, maybe like a warped version of the Medieval zone. Terror Towers was co-created by none other than Neil Buchanan and it was hosted by his old Motormouth mate Steve Johnson. Also assisting Steve was Boris The Spider (not to be confused with Bruce The Spider from the terrific The Winjin’ Pom of course). vlcsnap-00046

Two teams of three would play various games (just like in CITV’s other game show Crazy Cottage they wore the secondary colours green and orange. Why do I notice these things?). Before every main game there was a round where Steve would read a strange story, and then he would ask various observation questions about what happened. The teams would press their skull-shaped buzzer to answer and the first team to light all of their skull won a eyeball. It might sound horrible but collecting these was very important to the game. vlcsnap-00043

There were also various challenges in different rooms of the house against the clock such as trying to do something as the walls moved in around them, being blindfolded and having to be guided through a maze, and a game where everything seemed to be upside down. There were a various amount of eyeballs on offer for winning each game, these challenges were made more difficult because there seemed to be cobwebs and ghosts everywhere too, and the team that had collected the most eyeballs at the end went through to the final, with the losing team having the consolation of being eaten by werewolves. vlcsnap-00048

The final was called the stinky sink and it involved a lot of gunge, how amusing. The contestants had to get in the sink and they had one minute to find as many bones as they could, and Steve would always be very keen to encourage them to get stuck in at this point because the more bones they found, the more prizes they won. However, they were also told however well they did that they could never leave the house. Now that really is creepy. vlcsnap-00051

Terror Towers was another quirky show which ran for three series, and while it didn’t become as fondly remembered by viewers as Finders Keepers or Fun House, it was still definitely very good, watching an edition again recently brought back a lot of memories of watching CITV in the mid-90s, and somewhat surprisingly the show doesn’t seem to have a Wikipedia entry. However, as enjoyable as he was, I don’t remember seeing Steve hosting on TV again after the show ended, maybe he’s still in the house too…

CITV Memories – Mousetrap.

Mousetrap (CITV, 1990-1991)

CITV’s Saturday morning show Motormouth used to feature a game show segment. Originally these were the rather crazy games It’s Torture! and Gunge ‘Em In The Dungeon, which were essentially their equivalent of CBBC’s classic Double Dare on Going Live! Around the launch of the third series, they decided to do something different, and created a game based around a classic board game. All three of these games were hosted by the rather excitable Steve Johnsonvlcsnap-00026

The new game was based around Mousetrap, with a lifesize version of the board and the trap recreated in the studio. Two contestants took part and they had about seven minutes to complete obstacles and play various games depending on what square they were on. If they succeeded in these challenges and managed to get round the board in time, they would win various prizes and could play for a good quality prize in the final, maybe even a fancy TV if they were lucky. vlcsnap-00029

There was a twist though. At a random point a couple of times in the game, a hooter would go off which would start the trap, featuring everything including the ball going down a slide, and that green man that flipped over. They then had to run round to a tap to stop the trap, but this could be more difficult based on where they were on the board. Failure to stop the trap in time making the cage hit the ground would lose them the prize on offer, and they would then have to play for a smaller value one instead. Their prize value would also decrease if they ran out of time before completing all the challenges. vlcsnap-00031

When the game was over, the star prize that they were playing for was placed under the trap. The trap was then started, and if they could answer three general knowledge questions correctly before the cage hit the floor, they would win the prize on offer, and there were some rather close finishes. While not as wacky as Double Dare, Mousetrap was still good fun, and also there were a few celebrity specials, and it’s rather odd to think that Celebrity Mousetrap was a real thing on the TV. Unfortunately, we still await Celebrity Hungry Hippos on ITV. trap0001

I am a fan of board games, and around the time Mousetrap was shown I remember that I had a lot of them, including the classics such as Monopoly and Scrabble, along with many others. I do remember also at some point buying Mousetrap, I’m not sure if I was influenced by the TV version and wanted to have a go myself, but I remember how fiddly the whole thing was to set up, and how fun it was to play once everything was ready. After Motormouth came to an end in 1992, Johnson would return to host another quirky CITV game show called Terror Towers and I’ll review that soon.

More TV Memories – SpongeBob SquarePants.

SpongeBob SquarePants (Nickelodeon, 1999-present)

Back in the On/ITV Digital days in the early-2000s, one of the channels that we could get was Nickelodeon. One of the cartoons that they showed was SpongeBob SquarePants. I must admit that I didn’t watch it that much so I didn’t realise at the time that a cartoon that would go on to be one of my favourites from that era was passing me by, and the way that I finally did get into the show was a little unusual.

I know that SpongeBob was also shown on CITV and various other channels but I never saw it there either. The way that I first really discovered SpongeBob was when it was shown rather late at night on Freeview music channel TMF in about 2004. I thought that it was a little odd that it would turn up on there, but because I vaguely remembered the name from the Nickelodeon days and there did seem to be something of a buzz around the show, I thought that I might as well have a watch, and after watching only one or two episodes I became hooked. vlcsnap-01095

It was a little odd to discover a great cartoon at an age when I’d stopped watching children’s TV, but SpongeBob contained just about everything that I like in a TV show, especially a cartoon, it was just so odd and silly, I wish that I had got into it earlier, and it definitely passed my “would I have liked this show if it had been around when I was eight years old” test, and soon I wanted to catch up on all the episodes that I could. vlcsnap-01092

The character of SpongeBob is rather odd, and, as the opening theme goes, he really does live in a pineapple under the sea. When I first saw the show one thing that struck me was that SpongeBob had a rather silly voice (including a bizarre laugh) and he was able to make a variety of rather unusual facial expressions. That was merely the start of it though, as I discovered all of the other characters and the roles that they play in the show. vlcsnap-01093

First of all, SpongeBob has a pet snail called Gary who can only say “meow”, and again, in this show this is seen as very straightforward. SpongeBob works at the hamburger restaurant the Krusty Krab, and his boss is Mr Krabs. His best friend is Patrick Star, and his neighbour is Squidward Tentacles, who is rather irritable and likes to play the clarinet. There were lots of other amusingly odd characters who turned up including Sandy Cheeks the squirrel, Plankton, and the superhero duo Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy. vlcsnap-01100

I remember watching one episode on TMF at some late time which concluded with SpongeBob saying “meow” just like Gary does which even I thought was really odd and was the moment when I realised that there was something a little unusual but rather funny about this show, and it is now been a success for a long time, with a big fanbase and new episodes still being shown on Nickelodeon 18 years later. vlcsnap-01096

Since I became a fan of the show I have tried to collect some SpongeBob merchandise, and this includes little figurines, the comic, some books, computer games and plenty of other things. The show is also popular enough for there to have been two successful films, and there have also been several episodes released on DVD. I do enjoy the show, and I still find it terrifically silly after all these years.