1 9 8 5 – 1 9 8 8 (UK)
32 x 60 minute episodes
This revue-style series for up-and-coming comedians was based on the American model of Saturday Night Live. For the show, the cavernous studio 1 at LWT’s complex on the South Bank of the Thames was filled with an audience, fairground rides and some of the most promising up-and-coming talent on the scene.
After a problematic start involving items too dubious for an early evening audience and rotation of guest presenters (including, incredulously, Michael Barrymore), the show was shifted to a 10 pm time slot and Ben Elton (the ‘smug git in the shiny suit’) hired as the permanent host.
In between anti-Thatcher PC-rants, Elton introduced a selection of “alternative” comics destined for glittering careers: Jo Brand, Julian Clary and Craig Charles (Red Dwarf) amongst them. But the entire showcase was stolen by Harry Enfield, whose “Hello, matey peeps” Greek kebab shop owner character, Stavros (pictured above), was only eclipsed by his turbo-driving, wads-of-money-waving plasterer, Loadsamoney – a character and catchphrase combined, and probably the most telling caricature of Essex Man during the 1980s; “shut your marf and look at my wad!”.
When Loadsamoney became appropriated by the selfsame Essex Man, Enfield introduced the character of Buggerallmoney as a balance, before killing off the character entirely.
Despite its topicality, Saturday Live (the programme being re-titled Friday Night Live for its change in transmission day) stands up to re-viewing remarkably well.
The show was revived on Saturday nights twice: ITV tried one series in 1996 with Lee Hurst hosting and Marcus Brigstocke fronted their 2007 revival.