Wide Awake Club
|Wide Awake Club|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Running time||30 min.|
|Original network||TV-am (ITV)|
|Original release||13 October 1984 – 1989|
|Related shows||Wacaday (1985 – 1992)|
Wide Awake Club started on Saturday 13 October 1984, broadcasting for an hour each Saturday morning at 8.30 am as the first Live kids show on TVam. It was presented by Timmy Mallett, Michaela Strachan, Tommy Boyd, James Baker and Arabella Warner – all newcomers to television, except Boyd who had previously presented Magpie and Mallett who had presented the Oxford Road Show.
It was devised by producer Nick Wilson to be TV-am's flagship children's programme, replacing Data Run and SPLAT which were created by Anne Wood then as Head of Children's Programmes, as part of the cost cutting by management.
The live programme combined comedy, games, celebrity guests, competitions and viewer interaction. There were also more educational features, including visiting experts such as Carol Vorderman for the science slot, as well as attempts to explain historical and contemporary events like the Cold War. A spelling contest, 'Bonk and Boob' was praised by teachers for encouraging children to learn to spell properly. The show also launched the career of Mike Myers, later a major Hollywood star, who made guest appearances with Neil Mullarkey on the show for a brief time, parodying the show's title in his segment "Sound Asleep Club", in which he sported pyjamas and a "bed-head" hairstyle. His roles included making earrings out of spoons, tape and string, as well as making a glass of water in a cookery section.
When Wide Awake Club returned after its summer break on Saturday, 14 September 1985, the series was extended to broadcast for almost two hours from 7.30 am until 9.25 am.
The programme was so successful that it launched two spin-offs: Wacaday, a programme for holiday mornings presented solely by Timmy Mallett (joined by Terry a puppet during its first series and Michaela Strachan for later editions) that became even more successful than its parent, and WAC Extra, a Sunday morning version of the show. Both Wide Awake Club and Wacaday introduced the Wacawave, done by making a 'w', by putting one's thumbs together, and waving.
Meanwhile, Wide Awake Club continued for many years with only minor changes to the format. However, in April 1989 it was relaunched as WAC '90, a longer programme broadcast from Granada's studios in Manchester (as opposed to TV-am's in London). The programme ran until June 1990, when it was replaced by Hey, Hey, it's Saturday!. However, that was not the end of the Wide Awake Club franchise as Wacaday continued until 1992.