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Swap Shop/Multi-Coloured Swap Shop

1 9 7 6 – 1 9 8 2 (UK)

Presented by Radio 1 DJ Noel Edmonds (pictured above) and a dinosaur called Posh Paws, Multicoloured Swap Shop provided nearly three hours of live Saturday morning television entertainment for British kids.

Viewers called in with questions for Noel or to swap on the Top Ten board. This allowed children to barter with the nation (one received 357 postcards after his swap aired).

TV, music and sports personalities took viewers’ calls and offered competition prizes.

Young viewers’ interests featured heavily on the show – from gymnastics to collecting war memorabilia, and film reports were provided by Newsround host John Craven.

The show was originally intended as a short-run fill-in show but was so successful that it was extended to 21 weeks.

It was also originally planned to be fairly small scale, with a presenter in the studio who would link items for three hours. This became claustrophobic, however, and outside broadcasts were introduced. The show was entirely live, save for some recorded music sequences and a weekly half-hour of cartoons.

When the Swap Shop opened at 9.30 am on 2 October 1976 the phone-in element initially caught viewers unawares, with calls slow to come in, but soon 1,000 calls were being logged each Saturday with 30 callers getting live on air.

Another innovation – the Swaporama open-air event – was announced at the start of each show by Keith Chegwin (pictured), getting his big television break after starting out in programmes like Junior ShowtimeThe Tomorrow People and The Wackers.

Chegwin was just 19 when he won the Swap Shop gig (after sending a begging letter to the BBC).

swapshop_keith

200 children brought items to swap at Cardiff Arms Park rugby ground that first day, shot by outside broadcast cameras covering the rugby for Grandstand. Later Swaporamas welcomed crowds of 2,000. Multicoloured Swap Shop was an established success by the end of its first run.

Series two earned a Radio Times cover feature while the third welcomed ‘roving reporter’ Maggie Philbin. The format stayed relatively unchanged over six years, although pop videos were increasingly featured and the name was shortened to simply Swap Shop in 1982.

Prompted by letters that said John Craven looked like Mr Spock, the crew produced Swap Trek, a supposedly comic sketch featuring Noel as Captain Lurk, John as Mister Speck, Keith as Spotty and Maggie as Uhura. The plot, for what it’s worth, featured the crew spinning out of control on route to Ericus X. To escape Speck’s prophecy that “destruction is inevitable” Lurk beams himself to where no spaceman has gone before – the Swap Shop studio.

Over the lifetime of the series, Swap Shop welcomed 450 different guests, aired 5,850 calls and travelled 39,016 Swaporama miles.

Noel Edmonds
Maggie Philbin
Keith Chegwin
John Craven
Posh Paws