The Wide Awake Club (TV-am, 1984-1990)
This is a show that I only vaguely remember watching at the time, but it definitely deserves a review. Throughout its just short of a decade on air, TV-am produced a lot of children’s programming, especially at the weekend. And in 1984 after trying a few different formats out a new live show for early Saturday mornings was launched called The Wide Awake Club.
Presenters originally included James Baker, Arabella Warner, and Tommy Boyd, someone whose TV and radio work I have enjoyed over the years, and along with TV-am he was also a presenter on CITV for about 15 years, including Magpie in the late-70s, What’s Happening in the mid-80s, and many others. There would be lots of features on the show, including the usual mix of studio guests, cartoons and competitions.
In the early years features included Ghosts, Monsters, And Legends, WAC Snax, and Bonk ‘N’ Boob, which was a spelling competition, honest. Among the shows was Flipper (I don’t know if the story that an episode was once shown backwards and nobody noticed is true though). The show was popular enough for there to be an actual club and you could send off an SAE to join, and some annuals were released too.
One of my favourite features on The Wide Awake Club was when musical guests took part, and they would often be asked silly questions that were chosen at random from a choice of playing cards. You should know by now that I do enjoy seeing mid-80s pop stars on these type of shows, and it was good seeing the likes of Fuzzbox, Strawberry Switchblade and Swing Out Sister being interviewed by Tommy, I hope that he enjoyed meeting them. I’d like to see a complete list of all the groups that appeared.
As the years progressed, there were a few new features introduced including a parody called The Fast Asleep Club featuring a young Mike Myers who I’m sure will go far. Around 1987 episodes of Batman and the great cartoon Jem were shown (the only other place I think Jem was shown on British TV was on UK Gold around 1993). Timmy Mallett and Michaela Strachan had also joined the presenting lineup by this point.
In 1989 there was a name change to Wideawake, but the format stayed mostly the same, with new cartoons including The Shoe People and Galaxy High, along with more features. There was then another name change to WAC ’90, plus even more cartoons including Alvin And The Chipmunks, along with the features The Wac Wac Game, Club Call, and the excitement of Singing In The Shower (there was also a spin-off shown on Sundays called WAC Extra).
There another also a spin-off shown during the school holidays called Wacaday with Timmy Mallett, I thought that was utterly brilliant and I’ll review that soon. In 1990 after about five years the show finally came to an end and was replaced by various others including Top Banana, TV Mayhem, and Hey Hey It’s Saturday! I enjoyed all these shows, they were definitely worth getting up at a ludicrously early time for.