Live & Kicking

Live & Kicking
Starring Andi Peters (1993–96)
Emma Forbes (1993–96)
John Barrowman (1993–95)
Trevor and Simon (1993–97)
Don Austen (1994–1999)
John Eccleston (1994–1999)
Jamie Theakston (1996–99)
Zoë Ball (1996–99)
Steve Wilson (1999–2000)
Emma Ledden (1999–2000)
Ortis Deley (2000–01)
Katy Hill (2000–01)
Sarah Cawood (2000–01)
Trey Farley (2000–01)
Heather Suttie (2001)
Peter Simon (2001)
Narrated by Mitch Johnson
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 8
No. of episodes 264
Running time 3hrs 15mins
Production company(s) CBBC
Original network BBC1
Picture format 4:3 (1993–2000)
16:9 (2000–01)
Original release 2 October 1993 (1993-10-02) – 15 September 2001 (2001-09-15)

Live & Kicking is a BBC Saturday morning children's magazine programme, running from 1993 to 2001. The fourth in a succession of Saturday morning shows,[1] it was the replacement for Going Live!, and took many of its features from it, such as phone-ins, games, comedy, competitions and the showing of cartoons. Once Live & Kicking had become established in series two, it reached its height in popularity during series four, when it was presented by Zoë Ball and Jamie Theakston; their final episode won a BAFTA award. After this the series ratings dropped with the launch of SMTV Live on ITV and was eventually cancelled in 2001.[1][2][3]


Live & Kicking was conceived as a replacement for Going Live!,[3] a successful Saturday morning programme that had been running for six years.[2] It was first broadcast on 2 October 1993 at 9 am on BBC1.[4] The original hosts were Andi Peters, Emma Forbes who had presented a cookery segment in Going Live!,[5] and John Barrowman. For the second series, John was relegated to host the showbiz Electric Circus segment, leaving Andi and Emma to become the main hosts. He left after one series of Electric Circus to concentrate on acting.[6] Comedy duo Trevor and Simon and Peter Simon, in the Run the Risk segment, were also regulars who had featured on Going Live!.[3]

While the first series was not as popular as its predecessor, the second series was more successful.[2] It was broadcast during the winter months, from September to April, with Fully Booked replacing it during the summer.[7] New episodes of the Rugrats were shown. The series went out opposite ITV's What's Up Doc? but during its third series issues were raised by the ITC, and a number of people left including Don Austen and John Eccleston (Bro and Bro's puppeteers) who defected to Live & Kicking to star as a couple of leprechaun brothers Sage & Onion.[8]

Andi Peters expressed his intention to move on in March 1996, and Emma Forbes decided to follow after finding out she was pregnant.[2]

They were replaced by Zoë Ball and Jamie Theakston, who presented it for three series.[9] According to the BBC, the show's popularity was at its peak during the 1996/1997 series when the show regularly had 2.5 million viewers.[10][11] Around this time Mr. Blobby, played by Barry Killerby, also appered on series.[4]

After three series, Ball decided to move on due to a hectic schedule,[12] and Theakston followed.[13] The final episode hosted by Ball and Theakston later won the show a children's BAFTA award for Best Entertainment show in November 1999.[14]

The show returned in Autumn 1999 with new presenters Emma Ledden and Steve Wilson,.[9] They only lasted for one series,[15] due to ratings dropping to 1.6 million during their tenure. At the same time rival SMTV Live on competitor channel ITV was relaunched to feature more comedic elements and began to gain popularity, known for its innuendo and features.[11] Fully Booked, the BBC's summer replacement, was also revamped and retitled as FBi, but ratings continued to drop.[16] The following October, the final series was a complete revamp, with a line-up of four: Ortis Deley, Katy Hill, Trey Farley and Sarah Cawood.[17]

Ratings continued to plummet, due to the continuing success of SMTV Live.[18] In March 2001, the BBC made an unprecedented move and extended the series over the summer, like SMTV was broadcast, but announced it would be the final series.[19] Hill was replaced by Heather Suttie as the show was moved to BBC Scotland on 21 April until 15 September 2001 when the final show aired.[1][20] It was replaced by The Saturday Show, which continued to be broadcast all year round.[21]


Live & Kicking was a weekly magazine show broadcast every Saturday morning, normally from September to April and later all year for the final series, and it was aimed at young people.[2] It featured music performances, "hot seat" questions for celebrity guests, phone-ins, games, comedy sketches, competitions, and television programmes and cartoons. It used the taglines "Miss it, miss out" and "The only way to start your weekend" on promotional adverts for the show.[1] As well as the main presenters, there were regulars such as comedy duo Trevor and Simon, and later Ben, Gez and Rich from The Cheese Shop and SuperGirly.[4] A segment in the first few series that was an adaptation of Going Live's Double Dare was Run the Risk, a game in which teams of children completed various obstacle courses and challenges. Gunge was often included to make the tasks harder. Run The Risk was later broadcast separately.[5] From 1994 until 2000, there was a showbiz segment called the Electric Circus, which featured the latest films, music, computer games and gossip. It was first presented by John Barrowman after he stepped aside as a regular presenter, and was later hosted by a variety of people.[6]

The first series featured the computerised head of a cat named "Ratz" who provided links, but this was dropped after one series. It was replaced by commentator Mitch Johnson, who, as well as providing commentary and links for each item, would interact with both audience and presenters too.[3] From the second series, two puppet leprachauns, later named as Sage and Onion became regulars. They were played by Don Austen and John Eccleston, and were designed and built by Darryl Worbey Studios. They performed comedy sketches throughout the morning, and often interacted with the people in the studio.[8] Another comedy character who first appeared in the third series was Mr Blobby, who had previously appeared in Noel's House Party.[4] Most regular features were dropped for the final series, when the show was revamped. A feature that stuck throughout was the jingle for the phone number, first 081 811 8181, then 0181 811 8181, then 0845 610 1515.[22]

As well as the television show, Live and Kicking launched a music CD, composed of the best music that artists had sung live on the programme.[23] A video game called Live and Kicking: Showmaker was also created, where the user could combine elements of the show to create their own television production on a small scale.[24] A monthly magazine was also produced, though towards the end of Live & Kicking's production, the sales of the magazine dropped significantly, reflecting its loss of viewers.[25]

For series five and six, there was a short version of the show that aired on Friday afternoons called L&K Friday, but this was cancelled after two series. The regular Saturday presenters Jamie Theakston and Zoë Ball presented the first series, and Steve Wilson and Liz Fraser presented the second series. A 90-minute version of the show also aired on BBC Choice and was entitled L&K Replay.[1]

In May 2000, two months before Steve & Emma were officially resigned from Live & Kicking, the show was brought back for a one-off special during the summer break. It was to mix in with the BBC's Music Live and the show was titled as Music Live & Kicking with Steve & Emma returning to present along with future presenter Ortis Deley and special guest presenter Stephen Gately of Boyzone. This special was dedicated to a series of music performances (hence the title) and was the first edition to be broadcast in widescreen.

One of the last features was L&K Castaway, a spin-off of the BBC reality show Castaway 2000. Each week, six children would spend four days on a remote Scottish island, learning how to survive, among other skills. Points were earned through passing various tasks, and were lost if contestants entered the "Temptation Hut", which contained various modern electrical appliances.[26]

Demise and replacement

The Ball and Theakston series are considered to be when Live & Kicking was at its peak in popularity.[10] After their final series in 1999, it was believed the BBC would replace Live & Kicking with another programme, as its two predecessors had both lasted six years. Instead, they continued with Live & Kicking, with new presenters Emma Ledden and Steve Wilson. The series was the beginning of the end for the show; Ledden and Wilson did not know each other at the start of the series, and so there was none of the interaction between them, as seen between Ball and Theakston. Additionally, SMTV Live which broadcast opposite on ITV was slowly becoming more popular, and gaining the audience the BBC was losing.[2] After just one series, Ledden and Wilson's contracts were not renewed.[15] Wilson later said that they were dropped just as they were starting to form a relationship, and that Ant & Dec, presenters of SMTV Live, had the edge over them as they had known each other much longer. Ledden had already been dropped when Wilson went through several meetings with the BBC. He decided it was better to leave after one good series, rather than do a second "lame" series, and went on to appear in rival SMTV Live's 100th show, in the Friends skit, 'Chums'.[27] When Live & Kicking returned in October 2000, it was completely revamped, with brand new titles and a line-up of four presenters.[17] However, this did nothing to increase viewing figures, and the chemistry between the presenters was even less apparent. It was decided not to end the show in April and replace it with a summer show, because the replacement FBi had lost even more viewers for the BBC. Live & Kicking continued until September after a move to Glasgow where the summer show had normally been filmed. Just before the move it was announced it would be the final series.[19] The principal reason given for the decision was the increasing loss of viewers to SMTV Live, which had a similar format and was more successful. Live and Kicking was replaced by The Saturday Show, fronted by Dani Behr and Joe Mace, which was shown all year round until September 2003 when it began an Autumn-Spring/Summer loop with Dick and Dom in da Bungalow.[7] Live & Kicking was featured in the BBC's It Started with Swap Shop programme in 2006, where Noel Edmonds interviewed the first pair of presenters, Andi Peters and Emma Forbes, about their time on the show.[28]



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 "About: Live & Kicking". Saturday Mornings. Retrieved 22 January 2009.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Williams, Steve. "Live on arrival". Off The Telly. Archived from the original on 18 May 2008. Retrieved 18 January 2009.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Live and Kicking Introduction". BBC Online Cult TV. BBC. Retrieved 16 January 2009.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Data Sheet: Live & Kicking". Saturday Mornings. Retrieved 18 January 2009.
  5. 1 2 "Going Live! (1987–93)". Screen Online. BFI. Retrieved 18 January 2009.
  6. 1 2 "Portfolio". John Barrowman. Archived from the original on 8 December 2008. Retrieved 18 January 2009.
  7. 1 2 "Saturday Morning Timeline". Saturday Mornings. Retrieved 18 January 2009.
  8. 1 2 "The Leprechauns". Toonhound. Retrieved 22 January 2009.
  9. 1 2 "Live & Kicking names new hosts". BBC News. 28 July 1999. Retrieved 16 January 2009.
  10. 1 2 "'Fresh' show for Saturday mornings". BBC News. 29 July 2001. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  11. 1 2 "Live & Kicking gets boot". BBC News. 20 March 2001. Retrieved 16 January 2009.
  12. "Zoe leaving for a lie-in". BBC News. 6 January 1999. Retrieved 16 January 2009.
  13. "Theakston quits Live & Kicking". BBC News. 17 March 1999. Retrieved 16 January 2009.
  14. "Baftas honour Zoe and Jamie". BBC News. 8 November 1999. Retrieved 17 January 2008.
  15. 1 2 "Live & Kicking duo depart". BBC News. 4 July 2000. Retrieved 16 January 2009.
  16. Wilkes, Neil (10 April 2000). "Live and Kicking replaced by FBi". Digital Spy. Retrieved 16 January 2009.
  17. 1 2 "Live & Kicking gets new look". BBC News. 8 September 2000. Retrieved 16 January 2009.
  18. Wilkes, Neil (9 October 2000). "Live and Kicking disappointment". Digital Spy. Retrieved 16 January 2009.
  19. 1 2 Wilkes, Neil (20 March 2001). "Live and Kicking axed". Digital Spy. Retrieved 16 January 2009.
  20. "Live and Kicking Trivia". BBC News. Retrieved 16 January 2009.
  21. "Long haul for Saturday Show". BBC News. 24 September 2001. Retrieved 16 January 2009.
  22. "Give Us A Call On...". Saturday Mornings. Retrieved 23 January 2009.
  23. "Live and Kicking: the Viewers' Choice Part 1". Retrieved 23 January 2009.
  24. "Live & Kicking : Show Maker". Retrieved 23 January 2009.
  25. Hodgson, Jessica (27 March 2001). "Live & Kicking magazine wins reprieve". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 January 2009.
  26. "Kids' 'Castaway' challenge begins". BBC News. 10 June 2001. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  27. Sat Kids
  28. Williams, Steve (28 December 2006). "It Started With Swap Shop". Off The Telly. Archived from the original on 30 March 2008. Retrieved 23 January 2009.

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