Magic the utterly brilliant cocketiel was easily one of the most popular parts of Wacaday.
Magic was named as such, because he was given to Timmy by a magician. The name certainly suited, though, because Magic soon became adept at performing a whole range of tricks!
The clever cocketiel even appeared in his own cartoons on the programme and won an army of admirers who would send him in all sorts of presents and pictures…and Magic would show his appreciation by eating them, of course.
Remember Magic giving out his special Magic Word at the beginning of each show? And did you ever notice the bit of blue silk ribbon that Magic loved and would always fly to?
A real star!
“Wacaday would never have been the success it was without the most wonderful co star in the world. It was always fun and unpredictable.
Magic even had his own car to bring him into the studio!
And after the show, many mornings would be spent trying to coax him down from the lighting rig! “Come on Magic! Time to go home!"
His favourite trick was to fly to the red light on top of the camera and his tail would hang down in front of the lens – a lovely grey blur across the shot!
Shaky the cameraman was forever scared Magic would plop on his head, which of course he did!"
The Wac Panto, 1985.
Wacaday teamed up with parent show WAC for Christmas 85’s fantastically bizzare pantomime. The panto was a crazy drean sequence that lasted the full length of the Wide Awake Club the Saturday before Christmas.
Timmy, Tommy, Arabella and James were joined by regulars Dr Pete, Charles Golding, acrobat Sally Dewhurst and (now GMTV soap queen) Tina Baker. Are You Awake Yet? stars “Down Town" Julie Brown, Pete Gosling and Terry helped out too, as did Gyles Brandreth and a couple of members of the WAC production team!
What happened? No idea – it was far too complicated to actually understand! Top moments included the song and dance finale number and Timmy dressed as a fairy of course!!
To make things even more bizzare, many of WAC’s usual features were cunningly included into the story…So the starving castaways made a WAC SNAX, Sally Dewhurt was challenged to a game of Bonk ‘n’ Boob and there were even the Questions on the cards!
Utterly bonkers TV, but loads of fun!
“I’m still not sure what the story was about but what a triumph to knit together this whole Children’s department crew and the other characters who found their way in!
There was the team from Are you Awake Yet? Wide Awake Club, Wac Extra, Wacaday and more…
Other Childrens TV shows do Christmas pantos nowadays but I reckon ours has a place somewhere in the annals – probably just in the index!"
Wacaday welcomed loads of guests into the chaos over the first couple of years. The likes of Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Howard Jones, Lenny Henry, Bjorn from Abba, Ruby Turner and Su Pollard all joined in the fun.
Jason Donovan had a great time on the show – appearing in disguise throughout the show as a secret agent (it was Timmy Bond day) before revealing himself and playing a special game of Mallett’s Mallet! Lenny Henry popped in to sing the Wacaday theme tune – he knew all the words!
Of course, most of the time the guests were just Tommy Boyd or Lizzie Webb. By 1987 celebrity guests had stopped being a regular part of the show – but if the star was big enough, there was still a place on Wacaday for them!
Most of the guests were left over from Good Morning Britain! They would only come on the TVam sofa if they were able to appear on Wacaday afterwards!
They all knew what real telly was and where their audience really wanted to see them!
For many, the ultimate highlight of Wacaday, Mallett’s Mallet was the best example of the educational-but-fun mould of games so brilliantly created on Wide Awake Club (think Silly Senses, Bonk ‘n’ Boob etc!)
So, what made Mallett’s Mallet so great? Was it the simplicity of the word association? The ropey prizes (Wham LP’s all round) on offer? The mega-fast rules? Or was it just the fact that everyone wantedto be hit by the mallet?!
Created in Summer 1986 the original mallet was so heavy Timmy could hardly lift it! But the game fast became a hugely popular part of the show. The rules got faster, the plasters got wackier and the Magic Word was added later (simply say Magic’s secret word of the day and win a great prize).
Repeat a word, hesitate or say something irerelevant and you get a bash on the head from the mallet. The only thing better than winning Mallett’s Mallet was losing! – after all everyone wanted the chance to get the Wacky Plaster and wave their chin/ear/cheek at the nation!
But don’t mention the rubbish hit-the-button-not-the-kids-heads era! Timmy still plays Mallett’s Mallet at his gigs over the country…So there’s still a chance to look at each other and say bleugh! Why Bleugh? Why not!
“Are you alright with this, Timmy? Because for the rest of time people are going to associate you with it…" Every day people still ask “where’s your mallet?"
“Please hit me with your mallet, please please please…" It’s the easiest game of all time to understand and the hardest game to play. Just try it – after you’ve mastered the rules!
From 1987 Timmy travelled the world with Wacaday. From Australia to France, Egypt to Gilbraltor, Ireland to the USA and China to Jordan…..If it was a country, then Wacaday would visit it!
These daily reports would be played each day, with each series being themed around a country or continent. (WAC Asia for Summer 89, Majorca for Summer 87 and Jordan for Christmas 89).
Every day would be different – sometimes we’d learn about a historical story (told in that unique Timmy way) – remember the time when Timmy won the French recvlution single-handedly?! Sometimes we would find out about local stuff and meet Timmy’s bizzare cousins (all played by him, of course).
Some of the favourites included Timmy Bond: The Man with the Golden Mallet in Thailand, Wacadile Dundee and Mr T in a tea plantation in Malaysia. There was tons of other stuff too. In Kenya Timmy demonstrated how water runs opposite ways down the sink on each side of the equator. In The Land of the Midnight Sun, Timmy demonstrated how the sun never sets. And he Dug an escape tunnel out of Colditz knocked down the Bleigh-lin wall with his mallet and kissed the Blarney stone!!
Everyone has a favourite story that they remember most – often something historical that they learnt from Wacaday rather than school.
My favourite place I ever went to? All of them! Stories were vaguely planned and then everyone would suggest jokes to try. We filmed them all, laughed like crazy and then went onto the next place. One thing I always insisted on – no voice over. All comments were done on location – out of respect and to give people a chance to join in and enjoy the stories.
The aborigines, soviet soldiers, and zulu warriors all enjoyed us being part of their extraordinary customs.
Dressing up was an important part of Wacaday! The great tales Fables, Parables and Miracles and Heroes, Heroines, Villains, Villainesses were regularly told over the first couple of years.
They were often mad, usually funny – and regularly included little dance routines! Sometimes they were even true! Timmy, Tommy and Michaela dressed up as everything from King Kong, to Victorian policemen and jungle adventurers!
Give me a costume, a nutty disguise and a good story and lets go! Heroes and heroines went on to become true legends of Wacaday – how do we know? “we made them up ourselves!" Jason and the wacanoughts etc. There’s a whole treasure chest of bizarre wacaday costumes in the attic.
Wacaday had more sayings than a secret society. There was virtually an entire language of WAC terms.
Remember the Wac-A-Wave, W-moats (just draw a W in the sand), the WAC Pac you could win, or was it the WAC Sac…and then there were the phrases Wide Awakers (referring to the faithful viewers) and of course The Show Your Telly Was Made For!
The lingo developed a great relationship between Timmy and the viewers…It was like a secret club that not many people knew was about. This theme devloped further with gags and phrases for the foreign trips…Top Wacaday gags like there’s NOR-WAY it’s Norway and Wac like an Egyptian. Plus the crazy Aussie sayings Timmy picked up from his mate Steve Bingham – remember Linga Longa in Yarrawonga?!
Some English graduate once wrote in to ask for a copy of the script because he was writing a thesis on the use of language in TV and found Wacaday an unusual example… the producer replied “sadly we don’t have a script. We don’t know what he’s going to say, or what it means either. If you ever find out, please let us know!"
Pinky Punky Gets His Name
Pinky Punky arrived in the summer of 1990. It was a Greek themed series that alao included the game Chat and Splat and the infamous Wac a Letter Box.
This minature mallet appeared first as an inanimate object usually residing at the back of shot. Not only did he not talk – he didn’t even have a name! And he didn’t even know what a toilet was!
Viewers were invited to send in their name suggestions for the mallet…These included Utterly Utterly Punky and Mallett’s Mallet’s Mallet. A few weeks later the lovable mallet got his name…But the production team had lost the name of the girl who dreamt it up and so Pinky Punky’s roots appeared to be lost forever!
Until 2004 in Sleaford, Linconshire! After one of Timmy’s Wacaday gigs, Helen Little approached Timmy to say it was her who had come up with the name all those years ago… His catchphrase is “Mr Mallett, Mr Mallett, Can I go to the toilet?!"
Pinky has remained a good friend of Timmy’s and has popped up on Timmy Towers and his recent radio show. You can also buy your own in the shop! And who remembers Hanky Panky (Pinky’s sister) and Uncle Punky?!
I wanted the mallet to be something to cuddle so I drew a face and gave the design to my friend Robert Lewy who made the first Pinky Punky.
Pinky Punky then went onto become the voice and face of the audience by popping up with excited comments the most memorable of which was “Mr Mallett, can I go to the toilet?!" He’s very loveable, very pink and extremely punky!
Timmy Learns To...
Timmy conquered everything on Wacaday in 1986 and 87…The Timmy learns to… series saw Timmy tackle everything from horse riding to diving and windsurfing…Why? Because there wasn’t enough money to go abroad yet!
Timmy learnt to ride in Summer 1986 which included that infamous clip that always crops up on outtake shows….Timmy grabs onto the branch and it snaps! Another memorable occasion saw Timmy try to feed sausage and chips to a horse! Almost every report seemed to end with Timmy falling off something….just how many different ways can you fall off things?!
Great idea – if only I’d kept it all up. Like my mum said “practice Timmy, you have to keep practising…"and as I say to my son “I know everything me – apart from the things I don’t know….!"
One of the best parts of Wacaday was Magic’s cartoons. Drawn by top cartoonist Ash, the adventurers followed Timmy and Magic going all over the world doing all sorts of things.
WAC to the Future….Timmy goes to Hollywood…and Magic goes to Bleughmeny….All these and other great cartoons featured over the years. There were great adventures like when Magic built a time machine and went back in time…And remember when Timmy and Magic met Steven Spielbleugh?!
The cartoons span off into their own comic (the rare last few copies can still be bought in the Timmy shop) which was drawn by Craig Davison and featured loads more great adventures, puzzles and games…Remember Mallett Man?
Ash wrote the stories and drew the pictures. Everything was big and exciting and colourful except one thing…Magic! The most colourful bird in history was only ever drawn grey. Why? Because Ash was the only person left in the world with a black and white telly! “I couldn’t see his yellow and white cheeks and his lovely white streak in the tail"
The Phone-in Games
There were loads of different phone in games on Wacaday…but it doesn’t matter, because they were all the same! The basic premise involved answering questions to move a plastic man/horse/something else up some steps until you got to the top. Then you could drop your man into some shark infested custard (this was actually just custard – no sharks!)
Initial imagination gave us names like Mallett’s Mallettine for the phone in games, though by about 1990 this was dropped in favour of the same heading Chat and Splat referring to every game. Though, as we said, they were all basically the same anyway! Great moments included the kids on the phone sounding distinctly unimpressed when being made to talk to the kids in the studio, then suddenly lighting up when talking to Timmy! You could even name your plastic man. “Who do you want your man to be?" “My nan" etc…
Brilliant, inventive and easy to understand. Sadly they didn’t always work, but they always worked in THEORY. They started with the wonderful Blackie the donkey game…which colour Blackie do you want to be? Why do you call him Blackie? Ee or, eeor, eealways calls me that!
Everyone remembers Timmy’s utterly crazy clothes….the brighter the better! And then there was the glasses. They were specially made by Anglo American and got wackier and wackier over the years…Timmy’s got hundreds of pairs – and no two are the same!
And you could join in at home with the bonkers fashion too…..Remember Twin Peaks? (Just wear two caps at once!) and don’t forget to roll one leg of your trousers upp when your watching Wacaday! Why? No idea!
“Whatever it is, it musn’t match!" The only rule for the wardrobe department! And one they seemed to get perfectly right easily!
Just as in the wacawave you can tell people you watch the show your telly was made for by the ridiculous things you wear and the way you wear them….one leg of your shorts rolled up, twin peaks. It really is a simple extension of the Englishman’s favourite thing to wear. Whatever he likes and whatever he feels comfortable in….!
There were loads of great characters that popped up on Wacaday from time to time…Remember the inanimate skeleton – Skelly on the Telly saying “Dem Bones Dem Bones" (really the voice of producer Peter Van Gelder in the gallery)…or how about the postbox that would display viewer’s pictures?
Then there was the Man from Manchester – played by Top Banana’s Mike Brosnan, who was actually Australian! And from 1991 Shaky the cameraman would nod and shake to register his approval!
Timmy’s old mate, Karen Walsh popped up as Aunty Boneykneecaps, a character born on Timmy’s Picadilly Radio show in the early 80s…but she decided not to tell the boss of her real job – reading the news on BBC 2 – that she was moonlighting – and he promtly spotted her on the show!
I always enjoyed finding something utterly bonkers to add to the Wacaday family. Rory the lion, the postbox, Michael Wacson, Norman the Norman, Its ever so easy once you get into the rhythm of it! To get to play one of the costumed characters all you needed was to be a Wacaday researcher, or one of my mates with a week off work!
Every kid dreamt of winning a prize on Wacaday, though we’re not really sure why! On Mallett’s Mallet you could get your hands on a WHAM LP or, if you were lucky enough to lose, a Wacky Plaster.
Or you could win the much sought after WAC PAC. And that’s why the prizes were so great…because they were unashamedly Wacaday! Yes – it was a piece of band-aid with WAC written on it, but to us viewers that was the brilliant Wacky Plaster!
And while you can just imagine the bordeom of the young researchers peeling labels off school lunchboxes and replacing them with WAC stickers…we all craved the mighty WAC Pac. There was even genuine thought put into the prizes contained therein…So a successful appearance on spelling game Bonk ‘n’ Boob could win you a tin of alphabet soup!
And from the late 80s, correctly guessing the Magic Word during a game of Mallett’s Mallet could get you a special prize relating to the theme of the series from Timmy’s travels…Like a teatowel for Jordan 89! Bonkers, cheap, but genius!
On the filming trips, it was always important to stop at the souvenir shops. It didn’t matter what the souvenir was we would buy it…for the set and for a prize. Amazingly some of the prizes were quite exciting… like a bit of the Berlin wall!
But the only prize anybody ever really wanted was the wonderful Wacky plaster! The bigger the better.
The undoubted stars of Wacaday were the kids…Well, after Timmy, Magic, Pinky Punky and the perperipheral characters, of course!
Squillins of viewers appeared on the show over the years doing all sorts of things…Like Mallett’s Mallet and the phone in games. But the kids really excelled during Talent on the Telly (remember the big black talent spot?!) where kids got to show off their talents….or lack of them!
There were impressionists, singers and kids doing things with a Casio keyboard that you never thought possible.
A children’s show needs to have children on it.
Surprisingly there wasn’t a studio audience though everyone thought there was. So children would write in, researchers would interview them on the phone and then they’d be brought to London on the train and put up in a nice hotel with their family.
Of course the whole thing was then utterly different from how they imagined it and many kids got rather tongued tied.
The great thing about Wacaday was that you could write in about ANYTHING! And every competition or feature had it’s own title and address caption…whether it was Mallett’s Mallet, Talent on the Telly, Hero of the Day, Drop your Toast, WAC Snaps or something else!
Squillions of letters poured in to Wacaday every week throughout the holidays…Some asking to be on the show, while others were sending in WAC Snaps (did you send in a photo of you Wac-a-Waving on the beach?!) or posting a picture or suggestion for show.
Timmy still gets stopped virtually every day by somebody saying they sent in a picture that Timmy never showed! And we love the address because everyone knew it – because it never changed! Infact Timmy still tests Wide Awakers on it at his gigs today – and everyone knows the postcode!
We reckon the address must have been read out around 5 times every show, 65 shows a year, for over 7 years – that’s er…a lot!
So all together now…
PO BOX 200
Amazing. Today everyone emails or texts so sometimes I have to stop and check I’m not still giving out the TVam address! There’s still a box of some of the funniest letters, I bet your picture is in there still!
Hero of the Day
Hero of the day produced some great wacky, but true stories.
Remember the U-Bend in the sink that, without a thought for it’s own safety, saved a fish that fell down the plug hole?! Or how about the carrot that flung itself into the fireplace to tempt down an escaped hamster!
Hero of the Day was a great chance to honour those wacky incidents that happen to us all…or if they didn’t you could make them up! What a hamster! What a U-Bend! What a hero!
Wacaday always rejoiced in the unsung heroes of our daily life. I loved the boring postcards of Wolverhampton roundabouts, and I adored the fact that the most unlikely of heroes was to be found under the kitchen sink! There’s a lesson for life somewhere here – but I’m not sure where?
The Early Days
The early days of Wacaday make it into the list because of their sheer madness! Wacaday began in October 85 and was a very different show from the one we know and love. There was no mallet, no Magic…Infact nothing reminiscent of the later years. Instead, Timmy shared the bill with Terry the Terror – a puppet boy from fellow TV-am show Are You Awake Yet?
The programme was much shorter in the first couple of series as well. There’d be a couple of cartoons, a guest (usually one of TV-am’s own personalities) and a viewer on the phone sharing some jokes. The only problem was…it wasn’t very good!
And most oddly of all, Timmy appeared to be permanantly referred to as Timmy on the Telly rather than by his proper name!
Roland Rat left on the Friday, and we started on the Monday. We had a cartoon, a puppet and a desk. The rest well, we made it up as we went along. How did this ever develop into the wonderful show we came to love so much? Well you have to start somewhere and I’m glad they stuck with it! Thanks for letting us get better and wackier!