Saturday Banana

1978 (Summer / Autumn)

Bill Oddie
Metal Mickey

The story is that this was supposed to be called Saturday Bonanza, but a typo somewhere along the way resulted in the somewhat wackier name under which it reached the screen. The new title was certainly more in harmony with the show's presenter, "Goodies" star Bill Oddie, who also wrote and sang the theme tune.

In addition to Oddie, Banana also featured a version of the children's tv game show "Runaround", and, less happily, marked the TV debut of the irritating robot Metal Mickey.

The programme came from Southern TV's Southampton studios. Starting July 8th 1978, it ran through the summer and continued, unusually, right up to December. The Banana was shown by Anglia, Border, HTV, LWT, STV, Southern and Yorkshire. (The 78/79 series of Tiswas, with which it overlapped in the autumn, being initially shown only by ATV.) The programme started at 8.50, but some channels joined it an hour later. Apparently it was live, rather than pre-recorded like Our Show.

A second series, planned to start 8th September 1979, was caught up in the industrial disputes which took ITV off the air from August till November. According to viewer Michael Hoskin, the delayed series did return for a few editions (November to December?), which now included "a new discussion feature called 'banana-rama'". In January the show was replaced by Tiswas, and never returned.


Wilmut also explains how Bill Oddie, who had "managed to get 1978 entirely clear of The Goodies", got involved... "My reason for doing it was partly just to do something different, but rather more seriously - I do feel that most 'children's television' - shows done specially for children - are very bland and very safe. I do object to that - they do all have that in common; play safe, avoid controversial subjects, and don't for heaven's sake ever make adults look as though they're vulnerable."

"To a point I think we succeeded, and to a point we failed - a lot of that's to do with the technical resources available. And that's pretty chaotic - it's a live show, and obviously it goes wrong all the time, you just can't help it. What I've done when things go wrong is explain absolutely everything to the kids, and they seem to appreciate that. What bothered people was that I wasn't being funny - it didn't seem to bother the kids one little bit, and apparently they still find me quite funny, which surprised me, because I wasn't trying to be."

What Happened Next

Following Saturday Banana, Bill Oddie returned to The Goodies. His association with children's telly continued into the eighties with the cartoon Bananaman (also starring his fellow Goodies), and the sitcom From the Top, which he starred in as well as co-writing with his wife, Laura Beaumont. Sadly, Metal Mickey was not sold off for scrap, but instead span off into his own show (1980-83) which was - despite Irene Handl's best efforts - surely one of the most annoying children's sitcom ever.