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About It Started With Swap Shop

On Friday 15 December 2006 in Studio 3 at BBC Television Centre a very special television programme for BBC TWO was recorded. It was a programme that reunited a team of presenters who had not worked together since 1982, and the result was a mix of pure magic and total nostalgia. The programme was called It Started With Swap Shop.

It Started With Swap Shop was put together by Unique Television to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the start of the Multi-Coloured Swap Shop in 1976 and would take a look back at the programmes that have filled the BBC's Saturday mornings slot since then.

The idea was that the 2 hour programme would be recorded in front of a studio audience 'as live' - and it was with great sweeps of the programme recorded in a single take. The luxury of recording meant that several parts of the programme were shot out of sequence. The first, Noel's interview with Fearne Cotton was shot as the second sequence of the night, although formed almost the last part of the programme. The second part was the phone call to Dame Edna Everage (Barry Humphries) in Australia - this was recorded slightly later than planned as, according to Keith chatting with the audience, the production team had not been able to get hold of she (he) at the appropriate moment.

Recording the programme meant that a few mistakes could be reshot, but generally when things didn't quite go quite to plan they were left in to retain the 'live' look. The only sequence that was entirely pre-recorded and shown to the audience was Noel's wander off through TV Centre to interview Lenny Henry (he was at Television Centre on the night, but was recording his own show at the same time). Interestingly, Noel's video link interview with Michael Crawford (who was on holiday in Australia) was not done in front of, or indeed shown to, the live audience being recorded outside of the main recording.

The set was a new take on the classic Swap Shop 'rainbow' 1970s look and was split into four parts. The centre section was the main Swap Shop desk area, with the comfy interview area off to the right. To the left of the desk was an area that was initially shielded off from the audience's view, but was revealed to contain the set for Trev and Simon's Draper Brothers Dry Cleaners sketch. The fourth area tucked away around the back housed the Saturday SuperStore basement and the access road behind the studio was used for Keith's 'outside broadcast' introduction.

Former presenters Mike Read, Andi Peters, Emma Forbes, Trevor Neal, Simon Hickson, Fearne Cotton, Crow and Gordon the Gopher attended the recording, and Phillip Schofield and Sarah Greene appeared on a pre-recorded insert alongside Trev and Simon. There were a number of celebrity guest who brought along 'Swaps', those being Johhny Ball, Nicki Chapman, Arlene Phillips and Chris Moyles. A surprise appearance was made in Trev and Simon's Draper Brothers sketch by Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen as a 'cleaned up version of Chris Moyles'.

As previously mentioned, Lenny Henry appeared on a pre-recorded insert talking to Noel about the differences between the BBC shows and Tiswas, and Michael Crawford appeared a video link from Australia. There were live phone calls taken from Delia Smith and Dame Edna Everage and a pre-recorded call from Sir Cliff Richard asking Noel a question for the Saturday morning quiz element of the show.

The never seen Mitch Johnson provided the voice over for the Live & Kicking montage, and Noel read out a message from Tony Hart. John Barrowman, who appeared on the early years of Live & Kicking, also appeared on a pre-recorded insert asking Emma Forbes a question for the L&K section of the Saturday morning quiz. Sam Nixon, Mark Rhodes and Caroline Flack from TMi, the current Saturday morning show, appeared as part of a pre-recorded sequence sending their regards. And to top things off, the first part of the final insert sequence had a voice over by Tom Baker who was the star guest on the very first Multi-Coloured Swap Shop.

The original broadcast of the programme made at 9:00pm on Thursday 28 December 2006 was 130 minutes in length, the repeat of the programme, which was 20 minutes shorter, was broadcast at 6:10pm on Sunday 31 December 2006. The 20 minutes were trimmed with some careful editing that did not affect the flow of the programme, but two entire guest sequences featuring Johnny Ball and Arlene Phillips were cut from that version and subsequently their names were not shown on the credits at the end of the programme. Although, confusingly for those who did not see the full length version, Arlene Phillips was standing behind Noel as he closed the programme.


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