Live & Kicking
|Live & Kicking|
Andi Peters (1993–96)|
Emma Forbes (1993–96)
John Barrowman (1993–95)
Trevor and Simon (1993–97)
Don Austen (1994–1999)
John Eccleston (1994–1999)
Jamie Theakston (1996–99)
Zoë Ball (1996–99)
Steve Wilson (1999–2000)
Emma Ledden (1999–2000)
Ortis Deley (2000–01)
Katy Hill (2000–01)
Sarah Cawood (2000–01)
Trey Farley (2000–01)
Heather Suttie (2001)
|Narrated by||Mitch Johnson|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||8|
|No. of episodes||264|
|Running time||3hrs 15mins|
|Original release||2 October 1993 – 15 September 2001|
Live & Kicking was a BBC Saturday morning children's magazine programme, running from 1993 to 2001. The fourth in a succession of Saturday morning shows, it was the replacement for Going Live!, and took many of its features from it, such as phone-ins, games, comedy, competitions and the showing of cartoons. Once Live & Kicking had become established in series two, it reached its height in popularity during series four, when it was presented by Zoë Ball and Jamie Theakston; their final episode won a BAFTA award. After this the series ratings dropped with the launch of SMTV Live on ITV and the show came to an end in 2001.
Live & Kicking was conceived as a replacement for Going Live!, a successful Saturday morning programme that had been running for six years. It was first broadcast on 2 October 1993 at 9 am on BBC1. The original hosts were Andi Peters, Emma Forbes who had presented a cookery segment in Going Live!, and John Barrowman. For the second series, John was relegated to host the showbiz Electric Circus segment, leaving Andi and Emma to become the main hosts. He left after one series of Electric Circus to concentrate on acting. Comedy duo Trevor and Simon and Peter Simon, in the Run the Risk segment, were also regulars who had featured on Going Live!.
While the first series was not as popular as its predecessor, the second series was more successful. It was broadcast during the winter months, from September to April, with Fully Booked replacing it during the summer. New episodes of the Rugrats were shown. The series went out opposite ITV's What's Up Doc? but during its third series issues were raised by the ITC, and a number of people left including Don Austen and John Eccleston (Bro and Bro's puppeteers) who defected to Live & Kicking to star as a couple of leprechaun brothers Sage & Onion.
They were replaced by Zoë Ball and Jamie Theakston, who presented it for three series. According to the BBC, the show's popularity was at its peak during the 1996/1997 series when the show regularly had 2.5 million viewers. Around this time Mr. Blobby, played by Barry Killerby, also appeared on series.
After three series, Ball decided to move on due to a hectic schedule, and Theakston followed. The final episode hosted by Ball and Theakston later won the show a children's BAFTA award for Best Entertainment show in November 1999.
The show returned in Autumn 1999 with new presenters Emma Ledden and Steve Wilson,. They only lasted for one series, due to ratings dropping to 1.6 million during their tenure. At the same time rival SMTV Live on competitor channel ITV was relaunched to feature more comedic elements and began to gain popularity, known for its innuendo and features. Fully Booked, the BBC's summer replacement, was also revamped and retitled as FBi, but ratings continued to drop. The following October, the final series was a complete revamp, with a line-up of four: Ortis Deley, Katy Hill, Trey Farley and Sarah Cawood.
Ratings continued to plummet, due to the continuing success of SMTV Live. In March 2001, the BBC made an unprecedented move and extended the series over the summer, like SMTV was broadcast, but announced it would be the final series. Hill was replaced by Heather Suttie as the show was moved to BBC Scotland on 21 April until 15 September 2001 when the final show aired. It was replaced by The Saturday Show, which continued to be broadcast all year round.
Live & Kicking was a weekly magazine show broadcast every Saturday morning, normally from September to April and later all year for the final series, and it was aimed at young people. It featured music performances, "hot seat" questions for celebrity guests, phone-ins, games, comedy sketches, competitions, and television programmes and cartoons. It used the taglines "Miss it, miss out" and "The only way to start your weekend" on promotional adverts for the show. As well as the main presenters, there were regulars such as comedy duo Trevor and Simon, and later Ben, Gez and Rich from The Cheese Shop and SuperGirly. A segment in the first few series that was an adaptation of Going Live's Double Dare was Run the Risk, a game in which teams of children completed various obstacle courses and challenges. Gunge was often included to make the tasks harder. Run The Risk was later broadcast separately. From 1994 until 2000, there was a showbiz segment called the Electric Circus, which featured the latest films, music, computer games and gossip. It was first presented by John Barrowman after he stepped aside as a regular presenter, and was later hosted by a variety of people.
The first series featured the computerised head of a cat named "Ratz" who provided links, but this was dropped after one series. It was replaced by commentator Mitch Johnson, who, as well as providing commentary and links for each item, would interact with both audience and presenters too. From the second series, two puppet leprachauns, later named as Sage and Onion became regulars. They were played by Don Austen and John Eccleston, and were designed and built by Darryl Worbey Studios. They performed comedy sketches throughout the morning, and often interacted with the people in the studio. Another comedy character who first appeared in the third series was Mr Blobby, who had previously appeared in Noel's House Party. Most regular features were dropped for the final series, when the show was revamped. A feature that stuck throughout was the jingle for the phone number, first 081 811 8181, then 0181 811 8181, then 0845 610 1515.
As well as the television show, Live and Kicking launched a music CD, composed of the best music that artists had sung live on the programme. A video game called Live and Kicking: Showmaker was also created, where the user could combine elements of the show to create their own television production on a small scale. A monthly magazine was also produced, though towards the end of Live & Kicking's production, the sales of the magazine dropped significantly, reflecting its loss of viewers.
For series five and six, there was a short version of the show that aired on Friday afternoons called L&K Friday, but this was cancelled after two series. The regular Saturday presenters Jamie Theakston and Zoë Ball presented the first series, and Steve Wilson and Liz Fraser presented the second series. A 90-minute version of the show also aired on BBC Choice and was entitled L&K Replay.
In May 2000, two months before Steve & Emma were officially resigned from Live & Kicking, the show was brought back for a one-off special during the summer break. It was to mix in with the BBC's Music Live and the show was titled as Music Live & Kicking with Steve & Emma returning to present along with future presenter Ortis Deley and special guest presenter Stephen Gately of Boyzone. This special was dedicated to a series of music performances (hence the title) and was the first edition to be broadcast in widescreen.
One of the last features was L&K Castaway, a spin-off of the BBC reality show Castaway 2000. Each week, six children would spend four days on a remote Scottish island, learning how to survive, among other skills. Points were earned through passing various tasks, and were lost if contestants entered the "Temptation Hut", which contained various modern electrical appliances.
Series 1 (1993-1994)
Series 2 (1994-1995)
Series 2 also saw two Leprechaun puppets make their debut on 4 February 1995, both of which would later be named in a viewers competition as 'Sage and Onion'. Both Mr Sage and Mr Onion were created by Darryl Worbey Studios and were operated by Don Austen and John Eccleston, had previously been the puppeteers of the wolves 'Bro & Bro' on ITV's What's Up Doc?
Series 3 (1995-1996)
Series 3 began on 23 September 1995. The computer game for this series was called Snuffle the Truffles and involved viewers guiding a pig character around a pigpen eating truffles, whilst Trev and Simon invited two guests to review videos in the Video Galleon.
Forbes also took over Barrowman's role presenting Electric Circus.
The last episode of the series was on 13 April 1996 and also saw Peters leave the show however unbeknown at the time, it would also be Forbes last show too. She initially intended to return in September however after finding out she was pregnant in the summer of 1996, she later quit too.
Series 4 (1996-1997)
Series 4 began on 21 September 1996 with the introduction of new presenters Zoe Ball and Jamie Theakston and with them came an array of new features. One such item was called Cloud 9 which replaced the former Famous For Five Minutes. Sitting in a den surrounded by sparkles, pink feather boas and harps, Zoe would ring up an unsuspecting viewer who had been nominated by their friend or family and make their lifelong dream or ambition come true. The following week's Cloud 9 would then show how that person got on as the segment would be filmed in the week. Cloud 9 also used an edited version of Dreams (The Developed Arrested Mix) by Gabrielle as its theme tune.
The computer game Snuffle The Truffles was replaced with a parrot themed game Loot The Fruit and Mr Blobby joined the show and was given his own game called Blobby's Baggage which involved viewers having to guess where Blobby had been on holiday.
Trev and Simon were also given a new slot called Transmission Impossible which featured new characters including art critics 'Dominic and Daniel' in a new sketch Art for Em whilst the video review slot took the form of the Video Grand Prix in which two celebrities would vote on two of the latest pop videos before racing each other on a Scalextric circuit. The two videos would be represented by the cars and the winner of the race would be considered the best video.
Series 4 also saw host Theakston ask Geri Halliwell out to dinner live on air during a Q&A with The Spice Girls. Newspaper reports have since stated however that he later turned her down for being too short.
Series 5 (1997-1998)
Series 5 began on 27 September 1997 and saw a number of changes, the biggest saw the white set replaced with a new one which maintained the same shape and layout, but was curvier and larger which coincided with the show moving into the larger Studio 6. This series also saw the introduction of Ben Ward, Richard Webb and Gerard Foster (known as Ben, Gez & Rich) of The Cheese Shop who took over the comedy from 'Trev and Simon'. With them came new sketches including The Staffroom which featured the three of them portray school teachers Mr Wazzock (Foster), Mr Moody (Ward) and Mr Slack (Webb). They also created a fictitious 60s pop group called The Krazees and even created a song called We're So Crazy even though it was never released.
The computer game for this series became Grabbit Rabbit which involved guiding 'Warren the Rabbit' down a course collecting carrots whilst dodging obstacles such as fences and bushes. Ball later said in an interview that Blake Harrison of The Inbetweeners had told her that he had once been a player on Grabbit Rabbit when he was younger. Blobby's game also now became known as Blobby's Office Trolley which saw him as a postman for the BBC with viewers having to guess which celebrity a letter was for.
A new video review slot was also introduced hosted by Ball called Hit, Miss Or Maybe in which three celebrities would review three of the latest pop videos and decide whether they thought they would be a hit, a miss or a maybe.
Series 6 (1998-1999)
Series 6 began on 26 September 1998 and began with the leprechaun Mr Onion being temporarily written out of the show after supposedly being swept down the plughole in the bath. This was done intentionally as puppeteer John Eccleston was in Australia filming for Farscape for the year and would not be available. To compensate for Eccleston's absence, a new leprechaun puppet was added called 'Shamrock' (voiced by Rebecca Nagan of Rosie and Jim fame) who made her debut at the end of the first show as their long lost sister. She then became a regular fixture from the following week and performed alongside Mr Sage for the rest of the series as a replacement to Mr Onion.
Series 6 also saw the computer game Grabbit Rabbit replaced with Kwakatak - a game which involved viewers having to guide 'Derek the Duck' around a pond picking up pieces of bread before a goldfish character could get to it first. Mr Blobby's new game became Blob A Job which saw him as a handyman and viewers having to guess which celebrity's house he would be redecorating later on that afternoon.
The final episode of the series on 17 April 1999 also saw the departure of Ball and Theakston as hosts and featured them both in The Hot Seat being interviewed by Michael Parkinson about their time on the show. This episode later went on to win a Children's BAFTA in November 1999.
Series 7 (1999-2000)
Series 7 began on 25 September 1999 and saw the introduction of new presenters Steve Wilson and Emma Ledden. New features were added however unlike previous series, many of them failed to last and were continuously replaced. Short lived features included Chick or Chic, Fishing For Compliments and Great Mates. The computer game for this series was called Klunk The Junk which involved viewers guiding 'Malcolm the Alien' around space picking up space debris whilst avoiding the asteroids which would cause the player to lose a point however this too fizzled out within a few weeks. Mr Blobby's game became Blobby's Bistro however this was renamed after six weeks to Blobby's Hobbies whilst The Hot Seat became known as Live & Chatting.
This series also saw leprechaun Mr Onion return, however Shamrock, who had been his replacement, remained meaning the show now had three leprechaun puppets. More often than not though, it would be Mr Sage with either Mr Onion or Shamrock as his sidekick rather than all three together.
In addition to the leprechauns, the series also saw the introduction of a new puppet rat called 'Renoir'. The character did not speak, instead he communicated by squeaking and was puppeteered by Lee Brooks (who would later go on to puppeteer Nev The Bear).
A new comedy duo called Supergirly were also introduced from January 2000 to fill the gap left by 'Ben, Gez and Rich' who had quit the show the previous series. Supergirly, which consisted of Louise McClatchy and Jai Simeone, (known as Lou and Jai) would feature in sketches throughout the morning as BBC make-up artists who were rude to the guests, either through a misunderstanding, by being tactless or by mistaking the guests as someone else. The sketches would usually culminate with the guests storming off.
Series 8 (Winter 2000)
Series 8 began on 7 October 2000 and saw a number of major changes to the show. The set was entirely revamped with a new layout, new titles were added along with a new arrangement of the theme tune. Mr Blobby, The Leprechauns, Supergirly, Renoir and Mitch had also been removed from the show and unlike previous series, there were now four presenters instead of two: Katy Hill, Ortis Deley, Trey Farley and Sarah Cawood.
The series also saw the introduction of gunge based games too, the first being The Kid Gets It which would involve a kid from the audience, usually nominated in secret by a friend or family member, being called down to sit inside the Gunge Tank, they then had to pick one of the celebrity guests on the show that week to attempt the challenge. The chosen celebrity would have to speak for one minute about themselves (often with prompting from the hosts) without saying a certain "trigger word" that had been shown to everyone else via the low-tech medium of a bit of paper waved around at the audience beforehand. Naturally they always said the forbidden word in the end and the kid would end up being gunged.
In January 2001, the premise evolved into a courtroom setting with a trivial argument between friends trying to be settled. The person the jury found guilty would subsequently be gunged.
In March 2001, the game took on the premise of The Leakiest Sink, a parody of The Weakest Link which involved three contestants vying to meet a celebrity. After three rounds of questions which would eliminate one contestant, the remaining two would go onto the final round where the celebrity would pick plugs out of a sink whilst the contestants switched for each one pulled. Whoever was sitting under the tank when the wrong plug was pulled would lose and be gunged, the one left untouched would win.
A new game was also introduced on the roof of BBC Television Centre called Sacrifice Your Family which Cawood hosted that put two families against each other in various games. This was later renamed Sacrifice Your Friends in 2001. Other features included Talk To The Hand where a celebrity had to answer questions from viewers with the option to only be able to pass one of the questions with the use of the hand and L&K Most Wanted where viewers could win prizes if they could spot a three digit number clue placed somewhere throughout the show which was the code to the cage containing the prizes. The winner was the one who guessed the correct order out of a possible six combinations.
Series 8 (Summer 2001)
From 21 April 2001, Live & Kicking began broadcasting from BBC Scotland in Glasgow and saw Farley, Cawood and Deley joined by Heather Suttie who replaced Hill. The set remained the same after having been transported up to Glasgow from London, however a new seating area was added, consisting of pouffes and beanbags. The feel of the show also changed and was also split into three sections. The first hour became Kicking Toons which bunched all the cartoons together, the next hour would feature the main components of Live & Kicking including the games and sketches and the final hour became Live & Loud which featured all the music performances.
The gunge game The Leakiest Sink continued until May 2001 and the last edition saw host Cawood gunged under the guise of her character Anne Rim Basin. It was replaced the following week by a new feature Stop The Snot. The rules of the new game involved a celebrity speaking for as long as possible without saying 'yes' or 'no'. The player then won a prize for every 10 seconds passed. If the celebrity did say 'yes' or 'no', the player would be gunged. In later weeks, the celebrities took the place of the player in the gunge tank. For the last episode, host Suttie found herself in the gunge tank and was subsequently gunged after she said 'yes' two seconds into the game.
A variety of new sketches were also added, including Sweaty Betty's Burger Bar and QCV (Quite Cheap Value), a parody of the shopping channel QVC which saw Cawood and Suttie as fictitious presenters Hilary and Ursula, two garishly dressed middle aged women with a strong dislike for each other who would try to promote a useless product whilst making snide digs at each other underneath forced smiles and insincere laughter.
The series also gained a new true/false guessing game called False Or True however perhaps the most significant was L&K Castaway which saw two teams (boys against girls) spend a week on a small island in Loch Lomond with Tammy Huff and Toby Waterman from Castaway 2000 as their team captains. Each week would see different teams and the overall winners at the end of the series would win a holiday.
The last show on 15 September 2001 saw many of the old features and presenters return including leprechauns Mr Sage and Mr Onion who acknowledged in the final few minutes of the show that they were the longest serving presenters of the show. The show then ended with Mr Onion pulling the 'Off' switch plunging the studio into darkness. A match was then struck revealing Cawood, Suttie, Farley and Deley standing in the darkness. After saying Missed It? Missed Out!, a reference to the show's former catchphrase, they blew the match out sending the studio back into darkness symbolising the end of the show and the end of an era.
Demise and replacement
The Ball and Theakston series are considered to be when Live & Kicking was at its peak in popularity. After their final series in 1999, they were replaced by new presenters Emma Ledden and Steve Wilson. Ledden and Wilson did not know each other at the start of the series, and so there was none of the interaction between them, as seen between Ball and Theakston. Additionally, SMTV Live which broadcast opposite on ITV was slowly becoming more popular, and gaining the audience the BBC was losing. After just one series, Ledden and Wilson's contracts were not renewed. Wilson later said that they were dropped just as they were starting to form a relationship, and that Ant & Dec, presenters of SMTV Live, had the edge over them as they had known each other much longer. Ledden had already been dropped when Wilson went through several meetings with the BBC. He decided it was better to leave after one good series, rather than do a second "lame" series, and went on to appear in rival SMTV Live's 100th show, in the Friends skit, 'Chums'. When Live & Kicking returned in October 2000, it was completely revamped, with brand new titles and a line-up of four presenters. However, this did nothing to increase viewing figures, and the chemistry between the presenters was even less apparent. It was decided not to end the show in April and replace it with a summer show, because the replacement FBi had lost even more viewers for the BBC. Live & Kicking continued until September after a move to Glasgow where the summer show had normally been filmed. Just before the move it was announced it would be the final series. The principal reason given for the decision was the increasing loss of viewers to SMTV Live, which had a similar format and was more successful. Live and Kicking was replaced by The Saturday Show, fronted by Dani Behr and Joe Mace, which was shown all year round until September 2003 when it began an Autumn-Spring/Summer loop with Dick and Dom in da Bungalow. Live & Kicking was featured in the BBC's It Started with Swap Shop programme in 2006, where Noel Edmonds interviewed the first pair of presenters, Andi Peters and Emma Forbes, about their time on the show.
- Rugrats (1993–2001)
- The Simpsons (2000)
- X-Men (1993–96)
- The Marvel Action Hour (1994–95; included Iron Man, Fantastic Four, and The Incredible Hulk)
- Kenan and Kel (1997–2001)
- Smart Guy (1999–2000)
- The Wild Thornberrys (2001)
- Roswell Conspiracies (2000–01)
- Monster Rancher (2000–2001)
- Clarissa Explains It All (1993–96)
- Grimmy (1994)
- Eek! The Cat
For the first four series, Live & Kicking broadcast from TC 7 at BBC Television Centre however as of Series 5, it moved next door into TC 6 where it gained a larger set due to it being a larger studio. On 14 April 2001, the final show from TC 6 at BBC Television Centre was broadcast before the show moved to 'Studio A' in BBC Scotland the following week, which at the time, was based on Queen Margaret Drive, Glasgow. It then remained there until the end of its run.
Studio A at Queen Margaret Drive has since been demolished following the BBC's move to new studios at Pacific Quay in 2007. Property developer David Wilson Homes are currently in the process of building new homes called The Botanics on the site of the old Live & Kicking studio.
Studios TC 6 and TC 7 at BBC Television Centre also suffered a similar fate in 2015 when they too were demolished in the restructure of the building. As such, none of the studios used by Live & Kicking exist anymore.
After Live & Kicking
On Friday 16 November 2001, two months after the show had finished, parts of the old Live & Kicking set from Series 8 were resurrected and reused as part of BBC Scotland's regional studio set for BBC Children in Need. In an attempt to disguise the set's former use, all traces of L&K branding were removed and replaced with Children In Need logos and throughout the course of the evening, the old gunge tank, beanbag seating area and performance stage were reused one more time.
In 2004, former presenters Katy Hill and Trey Farley, who had presented the show together in Series 8, went on to marry each other at a register office in Surrey before flying to Tuscany to seal their marriage. They later had two children together- a daughter called 'Kaya Skye' born in 2006 and a son called 'Akira' born in 2007.
In 2009, Zoe Ball and Jamie Theakston who had presented the programme together between 1996 and 1999, were reunited to present a new game show for Channel 5 called Britain's Best Brain which ran from 28 October to 16 December 2009.
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