Are the days of Saturday morning kid’s TV over?

The presenters of new Saturday morning show Scrambled. Photo: ITV

The presenters of new Saturday morning show Scrambled. Photo: ITV

ITV launched a brand new Saturday morning kid’s show yesterday.

Scrambled is set to mimic the style of nineties/naughties classics like SMTV Live and sees a group of young presenters playing host. But being well over ten years since Ant, Dec and Cat Deeley stopped gracing our tellies with their weekend morning presence, is this kind of show really needed any more? And can it work?

For me at least, SMTV Live inarguably made the late nineties/early naughties. Back in the days when you were so young it was acceptable to get up at the crack of dawn for no apparent reason, this regularly hit 2.5 million viewers. Whilst millions of parents were walking around like zombies, or even still asleep, it provided wonderfully energetic entertainment that suited your overly-hyper-for-9am stage in life perfectly.

Looking back at it now, it really was utterly horrendous – which is what made it so good. Ridiculous games like Wonkey Donkey, Pokefights (pretend Pokemon Battles) and  parody shows like Fartbeat and Chums (an odd parody of Friends) were so jam packed with cheese  that it was impossible not to be hooked and impossible not to love.

It was funny, often quite crude and full of innuendo making it the perfect start to any weekend. In one Pokefight clip alone, found on YouTube, Dec refers to giving birth and bum fluff.  Farting and other ‘rude’ things are often referred to as well. It pushed the limits of kid’s TV to a max without stepping over the line. Of course, the choice of hosts was imperative. Until I began writing this, I’d completely forgotten other people attempted to present it after Ant and Dec abandoned ship for Pop Idol. This was mostly because no one could ever have replicated their genius – and after they left, ratings declined massively.

This could be a problem for Scrambled – Ant and Dec were already a duo bursting with chemistry before SMTV even began, with Cat completing the line up perfectly. Scrambled’s presenters almost look awkward and even bored beside one another in the show’s promo photos. I’m not sure whether this is the case on the actual show and it is in the *very* early days, but unless these guys can pull off the exact humour that young people so enjoy (as Ant, Dec and Cat did), then it could prove to be pretty bad.

As mentioned earlier, the games and features are also very important. Scrambled has a feature called Pets in Pants, in which viewers are encouraged to send in pictures of their pet wearing pants. This would probably be funny once, but if it’s a regular feature it will easily get boring fast. The best thing about classic Saturday Morning TV was the randomness, crudeness and originality. As the total opposite of school, it gave you something to look forward to every week. There was nothing better than this show where the ‘adults’ were silly and rude and everything you hoped to be in life. There are pictures of cats wearing pants all over the internet (just Google it).

A bit of nostalgia in this VHS featuring SMTV Live's classic line up.

A bit of nostalgia in this VHS featuring SMTV Live’s classic line up.

The other issue is of course the amount of other options kids have these days. With smart phones, laptops and various other forms of modern technology around in abundance now, it’s very easy to imagine kids watching TV ‘in the background’. Back in the days of SMTV, technology played a much smaller role in children’s lives (for me, at least). Bearing in mind that this was back when the PS1 and Game Boy Colour were fairly new and mobiles/laptops etc were barely a thing, TV was quite easily the best and most popular form of entertainment for us nineties kids. You actually watched and enjoyed it, rather than half watching it while chatting to your BFFL for hours on end on Facebook. I imagine that is how it works now. Whilst I was working in camp, so many of the kids (who were around 11) spoke of how much they missed their iPhones. Almost tragic, really.

Kid’s TV taught you how to have fun in the most minimal ways. I’m pretty sure many of the pretend Pokemon battles I had in the playground were influenced by those seen on SMTV – not only did it create a talking point, but it also sent imagination and creativity into overdrive. You didn’t need the latest version of Candy Crush or whatever to have fun. As soon as my cousins turned 4, they were bought a Wii and were instantly addicted to a world where their own imaginations took a back seat. I’m not trying to be cynical, I just think the days of proper Saturday morning kids TV are over; it would probably take an awful lot to inspire kids imaginations away from the modern world, after all.

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