Going Live: the show that made Saturday mornings for 80s and 90s kids

Thursday, 19th April 2018, 11:30 am
Updated Thursday, 19th April 2018, 11:31 am

This week marks the 25th anniversary of the final broadcast of Going Live, the children's TV programme that ran between 1987 and 1993, and revolutionised Saturday mornings for millions of kids.

Presented by Phillip Schofield and Sarah Greene, it was broadcast between Autumn and Spring, giving children (and some of their parents) a warm glow to bask in during the cooler months.

If the weather was keeping you inside, you could always rely on the sheer fun provided by Going Live.

Ramping up the chaos

The show followed on spiritually from Saturday Superstore, and aimed to be a touch more anarchic than its relatively laid-back predeccessor. Schofield and Greene's presenting styles were notably more mischievous.

They were backed up by Gordon the Gopher, the squeaking ball of fluff that became so popular, viewers even opted to send in outfits for the puppet from time to time.

A replica toy in 1990 would set you back £15.

Other regular faces included Trevor and Simon, the show's resident comedians, who would deliver sketches and generally disrupt proceedings with chaotic results.

The duo were fan favourites, but they never really felt like the higher-ups at the BBC 'got' what they were doing, with Trevor telling the BBC's now default Cult that "they never really trusted us."

"They just wanted two anchors, the smoothie presenter types," he remembers. "It was all a bit Blue Peter really. I'm not sure they understood what we did or why people liked it".

The final series saw the twosome depart, replaced by Nick Ball and James Hickish. But a public outcry brought Trevor and Simon back when the show later metamorphosed into Live & Kicking.

Agony uncles

The show was also revolutionary in its willingness to tackle more serious topics, and Going Live had its own 'agony uncle' in the form of Philip Hodson, the psychotherapist, broadcaster and author who popularised ‘phone-in’ therapy.

Nostalgic viewers will remember his penchant for knitted jumpers with animal designs on them.

Psychotherapist, broadcaster and author Philip Hodson served as Going Live's 'agony uncle' (Photo: BBC)

But Going Live knew how to balance out its more serious side with fun.

Double Dare was one of the show's more energetic segments, where two teams would battle through challenges both mental and physical, answering questions to gain enough points to see them through to more active challenges, 'It's A Knockout' style games that usually involved a lot of foodstuffs and, of course, gunge.

Running the risk

That slimy staple of kids TV would become even more widespread on Going Live with the launch of Run The Risk, a game show with a format as complicated as it was gunge-soaked.

A stunt worth 10 points opened proceedings, followed by three rounds of three questions each, with the team that answered the highest-valued question correctly given the choice to either 'run the risk' by taking part in a timed stunt, or force another team to do so.

Successfully running the risk brought yet more points to the team involved, but everyone really tuned in for the Final Risk, an obstacle course where one member from each team was placed inside a giant fancy dress costume, and tasked with avoiding obstacles while opposing team members threw objects at them.

It was Saturday morning chaos, and viewers loved it.

So much so, that when Going Live's spiritual successor Live and Kicking began broadcasting in 1993 (it would run for eight years), Run The Risk was carried over into the new show.

The 90s was a boom period for children's TV, with many of its offerings still stuck firmly in the minds of those young enough to have enjoyed it.

With guest presenters including T'Pau's Carol Decker, Shane Richie and Robbie Williams in his Take That days (a young Edgar Wright even made an appearance as a competition winner), it set the template for what the decade's Saturday morning entertainment would become.

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