1 9 8 7 – 1 9 9 3 (UK)
179 x 180 minute episodes
Going Live! took over from Saturday Superstore in 1987. Phillip Schofield, who had established himself as an accomplished and popular presenter on Children’s BBC with his sunny, boy-next-door personality, joined Sarah Greene as co-presenter.
Schofield had his own comic sidekick, squeaky glove puppet Gordon the Gopher.
The 3-hour programme followed the basic Swap Shop formula: it was broadcast live from Studio 7 at BBC TV Centre with phone-in’s, guests, pop music (a lot more than in the early days of Swap Shop), competitions and children in the studio.
A comedy element was introduced with Trevor Neal and Simon Hickson, who were encouraged to create short sketches to punctuate the show. Characters like the wheeling-and-dealing bouffant-haired Sister Brothers, spandex-clad rave freak Moon Monkey and the folk duo The Singing Corner (inviting viewers to ‘swing your pants’) built a cult following.
There was also a definite move to include more serious items and to involve children as much as possible in the programme. In earlier shows, the children – particularly those in the studio – had sometimes seemed more like set dressing than real people.
New items such as ‘Soap Box’ in which children spoke out on issues, or ‘All About Me’, a strand in which children (often disadvantaged and/or disabled) talked about their lives in video diaries, were introduced.
‘Growing Pains’, hosted by Phillip Hodson, the agony uncle, allowed the programme to deal with subjects as difficult as eating disorders, child abuse and AIDS.
For the final series, Trevor and Simon made way for Nick Ball and James Hickish, but they proved so unfunny that public outcry brought Trevor and Simon back when the show metamorphosed into Live and Kicking.
The final series also saw celebrity presenters added to the mix. Philip Schofield needed a lie-in due to his Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat commitments and so Kristian Schmidt (Todd from Neighbours) was hired. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get a work permit, so instead the likes of Shane Ritchie, Robbie Williams and Jason Donovan took turns in presenting the first hour.
Sarah Greene was also unavailable for presenting duties after being in a helicopter crash with Mike Smith. Step forward T’Pau songstress Carol Decker, who co-hosted during the first show of the 1988-89 series. Part of the episode was broadcast from Greene’s hospital bed, where the unlucky lass was serenaded by The Proclaimers
Other presenters included Annabel Giles on fashion, astronomer Heather Couper, and Jonathan Porritt presenting environmental segments.
Fun cookery items – usually messy disasters for Schofield – were provided by Emma Forbes. Forbes returned alongside Andi Peters (like Schofield, a former CBBC continuity presenter) to helm the similar Live and Kicking from 1993.
Gordon the Gopher