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Saturday SuperStore (1982)

Courtesy of BBC

Main image of Saturday SuperStore (1982)
BBC, 2/10/1982-18/4/1987
142 episodes in 5 series, colour
Producers includeChristopher Tandy
 Nick Wilson
 Richard Simkin
EditorsRosemary Gill
 Chris Bellinger

Presenters: Mike Read, Sarah Greene, Keith Chegwin, John Craven, David Icke, Vicky Licorish, Phillip Schofield, Philip Hodson, Peter Simon

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'General Manager' Mike Read opens up the Superstore for three hours of live entertainment, guests and pop music.

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The hugely popular Multi-Coloured Swap Shop (BBC, 1976-82) was succeeded on 2 October 1982 by Saturday SuperStore. Building on its predecessor's 'shop' idea, the studios were dressed to resemble a department store, with threadbare shelves and Special Offer posters - oddly fitting in a decade of consumerism.

Mike Read (like Noel Edmonds, a Radio 1 breakfast show DJ) was General Manager and at his right hand was former Blue Peter presenter Sarah Greene, recast as a fashion-conscious blonde in 'Customer Services'. Swap Shop retainer Keith Chegwin went on location with his 'Delivery Van' roadshow or answered viewers' letters in 'the warehouse'. Fellow Swap Shop stalwart John Craven was retained though his role would lessen in later years. Craven's news items were accompanied by features from David Icke in the Sports Department. Competition prizes were described as 'bargains', with winning postcards plucked from shopping baskets or trolleys. This contrived framing device faded over time.

But SuperStore lacked Swap Shop's swapping and much of its interactivity. This left a curious vacuum, increasingly filled with celebrity guests and pop videos. The pop promo was all-powerful by the mid-1980s and SuperStore guests reviewed the videos, as well as the songs they promoted, in their Pop Panel. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher gave her opinions on Pepsi and Shirlie in one edition. SuperStore's final season also welcomed political leaders Neil Kinnock and David Steel as well as Prince Edward.

Among SuperStore's minor innovations was a dedicated Outside Broadcast unit, allowing the Delivery Van more scope than when sports coverage had dictated locations. A ferry trip to Jersey was almost scuppered when half of pop group Bucks Fizz were stranded by fog - a live CSO link-up reunited them. A regular new feature was talent competition 'Search For a Superstar' - 1986 winner Claire Usher had a Top 20 hit with 'It's 'Orrible Being in Love (When You're Eight and a Half)'. 'Worthy' fare included a pets corner and, in the last series, 'Growing Pains', a teenage problems segment with agony uncle Phillip Hodson.

Another semi-regular in that final run was fresh-faced Phillip Schofield with his 'TV Talkback' section for viewers' television opinions. Soon after SuperStore's 'closing down sale' in April 1987, Schofield and Sarah Greene returned with Going Live! (BBC, 1987-93).

Alistair McGown

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Video Clips
1. Visual effects (4:51)
2. John Craven's news (6:28)
3. Plymouth Ho roadshow (4:43)
Production stills
Craven, John (1940-)
Saturday Morning TV