Today Is Saturday Wake And Smile

The 'classic' version of the Tiswas logo as designed by Stuart Kettle, revised by Chris Wroe (Wikipedia)

We weren’t allowed to watch ITV because we might see toys in the advert breaks and ask for them. On Saturday mornings we would watch The Multi-Coloured Swap-Shop with Noel Edmunds on BBC1, but there was something much more exciting on the other side. (I’ve said before and I’ll say it again, there were only three channels and one of those showed Open University programs all day long.) Sally James was the presenter of TISWAS (Today Is Saturday Wake And Smile) and Sally James was my first crush.

She had long dark hair that fell over her luscious eyes. She would wear tight teeshirts and dungarees. She was funny and she liked making a mess. There were always messy games to play and slop everywhere. I loved the show and I especially loved Sally. I watched it if I was staying with my Gran, which I did once a year, or if I found myself at a friend’s house on a Saturday morning.

In Tiswas the Phantom Flan Flinger threw custard pies at people for the vaguest of reasons. Chris Tarrant jumped around, yelling excitedly. Spit the Dog spat at everyone. There was an audience of lucky kids who got splatted regularly. Being a Brummie, I loved Jasper Carrott and the Dying Fly Dance. Cartoons from America played throughout the morning. It was a total lush-fest.

It’s difficult for children today to understand how deprived we were back then. There were no children’s channels showing all day cartoons. There was generally about an hour and a half of telly in the evening which was devoted to children, and most of that was educational and uplifting. When I mention this to my son, he says, ‘I wouldn’t mind, I could watch a video.’ (If I have to explain to you why this is funny then you’re probably on the wrong site.)

The particular memory I have of when it suddenly dawned on me, at age six, that I was in love with Sally James, was in my own home. I must have switched channels while my mother was out of the room. I wouldn’t risk this too often or for too long because if Mum caught me watching the other side she’d be angry and then the TV would go off for the rest of the day.

I was sitting cross-legged with my nose six inches from the screen. I was on my own in the room; my sisters playing outside. I was hot and breathless with excitement. The fear of discovery must have contributed to this. This was an innocent crush in that I hadn’t yet been told that I wasn’t meant to feel it. I’d never really noticed that it had to be boy-girl all the time and my love for Sally James seemed perfectly natural. My only secret guilt was that I was illicitly watching ITV.

Tiswas used to mean Today Is Saturday Wake And Smile, or it could have been Watch And Smile, depending on who you talk to. But now that the people who loved it are all over 35, it apparently means thirty-somethings without any savings. How depressing. I’ve just looked up Sally James on Wikipedia and found out that she’s as old as my Mum. Even more depressing.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

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One Response

  1. […] Donny Osmond and probably wouldn’t have been anyway, given that my obsession with Blondie and Sally James from Tiswas *kinda* gives an indication as to my future proclivities. (Apart from the fact that I thought he […]

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