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Multi-Coloured Swap Shop facts for kids

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Multi-Coloured Swap Shop
Multi-Coloured Swap Shop Titles.jpg
Genre Children's
Presented by Noel Edmonds
Keith Chegwin
John Craven
Maggie Philbin (series 3–6)
Theme music composer Mike Batt (series 1–5)
BA Robertson (series 6)
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 6
No. of episodes 146
Running time 150–180 minutes
Original network BBC1
Picture format 4:3
Original release 2 October 1976 (1976-10-02) – 27 March 1982 (1982-03-27)

Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, more commonly known simply as Swap Shop, was a British children's television series that aired on BBC1 from 2 October 1976 to 27 March 1982. It was ground-breaking in many ways: by broadcasting on Saturday mornings, being live, being nearly three hours in length, and using the phone-in format extensively for the first time on TV.

The show rivalled the growing success of rival broadcaster ITV's Tiswas, though the latter was initially only broadcast in the ATV region in the Midlands and, at the time of Multi-Coloured Swap Shop's inception, had yet to be taken up by other ITV franchises around the country.


The show was hosted by Noel Edmonds with Keith Chegwin, John Craven and, from 1978, Maggie Philbin.

Also featured was Posh Paws, a stuffed toy dinosaur. Edmonds once explained that his name was actually spelt "Pohs Paws", because that is Swap Shop backwards as suggested in the phone in by 5-year-old Duncan Beck.

Another person named was "Eric" (Ilett), the often-referred-to but never-seen technician whose job was to lower a plastic globe containing postcards sent in by viewers as answers to competitions. Eric performed a similar task on the BBC's Ask The Family when technical assistance was required as part of the programme.

The content of the programme included music, visits from public figures, competitions, and cartoons. There was also coverage of news and issues relevant to children, presented by John Craven, building on his profile as the presenter of John Craven's Newsround.

The cornerstone, however, was the "Swaporama" element, hosted by Chegwin, who was very rarely in the studio. An outside broadcast unit would travel to different locations throughout the UK where children could swap their belongings with others. This proved to be one of the most popular aspects of the show, often achieving gatherings of more than 2,000 children.

Generally, the primary purpose of the BBC OB unit was to broadcast a sporting event at that Swaporama venue later that day. This allowed Swap Shop to use the same unit and save programming costs which would otherwise be prohibitive.

Edmonds, Chegwin and Philbin briefly formed a pop group called Brown Sauce in December 1981 and released a single called "I Wanna be a Winner". The song peaked at number 15 in the UK Singles Chart and stayed in the Top 40 for a total of nine weeks.

Telephone number

The telephone number for the show from the second series onward was 01 811 8055. The first series had a different number, 01 288 8055, before being changed to the number retained throughout the rest of the show's run, and retained for its successor, Saturday Superstore.

The number was well known and remembered by children and was groundbreaking for the BBC, who previously had received viewer feedback mainly by letter.

It Started With Swap Shop

A special programme celebrating the 30th anniversary of BBC children's Saturday morning shows was recorded in December 2006. The show, called It Started With Swap Shop, was made by Noel Edmonds' Unique TV company. Highlights of the programme saw the original presenting team reunited, other presenters from its successor shows Saturday Superstore, Going Live! and Live & Kicking make an appearance and celebrity fans came along to 'make a swap'.

The 130-minute programme was recorded in front of a studio audience at BBC Television Centre on 15 December 2006 and was broadcast on BBC Two on Thursday 28 December 2006 at 9.00pm with a shortened repeat (110 minutes) on Sunday 31 December 2006 at 6.10pm, again on BBC Two. The shortened version of the programme was broadcast on BBC Four on 28 May 2007 at 7.00pm as part of the channel's Children's Television on Trial season.

Other than the original Swap Shop team of Noel Edmonds, John Craven, Keith Chegwin, Maggie Philbin, live appearances were made by Mike Read, Andi Peters, Emma Forbes, Trevor Neal and Simon Hickson. A recorded contribution was made by Phillip Schofield and Sarah Greene. Telephone calls (some prerecorded) were taken from Delia Smith, Dame Edna Everage and Sir Cliff Richard. Other guests included Johnny Ball, Nicki Chapman, Fearne Cotton, Lenny Henry, Arlene Phillips, Chris Moyles and Michael Crawford who appeared on a video link from Australia. A surprise appearance came from Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen as part of Trev and Simon's Draper Brothers sketch.


Swap Shop was so popular that during its run 4 annuals were published.

The publishing dates for the books were as follows:

  • Book 1 – November 1978
  • Book 2 – September 1979
  • Book 3 – September 1980
  • Book 4 – November 1981

The annuals are full of quizzes, funny stories, pop group pictures, knitting patterns plus features on the shows stars.

Each book has presenter photos in which the hosts are seen separately as a comedy character. A memorable example of this is Book 4 which features Noel Edmonds, then in his 30s, as traditional English schoolboy Harry Copter. The character of Harry Copter is referenced throughout the annual, following a humorous split screen interview by Noel on the programme. The fictional character's name is a pun on the host's love of helicopters. This comedic picture of Noel has now made Book 4 extremely collectable.


Series Start date End date Episodes
1 2 October 1976 26 February 1977 21
2 8 October 1977 25 March 1978 24
3 30 September 1978 24 March 1979 26
4 29 September 1979 22 March 1980 26
5 27 September 1980 28 March 1981 27
6 3 October 1981 27 March 1982 25

Out of the 146 episodes that were made in total, 41 survive which are Episode 21 of Series 1, Episodes 4–5 & 21 of Series 2, Episode 24 of Series 3, Episodes 1–2, 7, 12, 15, 17, 21 & 25 of Series 4, Episodes 1–2, 12, 14–18, 21, 23, 25 & 27 of Series 5 and Episodes 1, 3, 5–7, 11, 13, 15–17, 19–22, & 24–25 of Series 6.

Due to industrial action by the ABS union at the BBC over Thursday 21 and Friday 22 December 1978, the edition which should have aired on Saturday 23 December 1978 was not transmitted. The reason being that the strike was only settled between the union and the BBC at 10.00pm on Friday 22 December 1978, and it was impossible for the live Swap Shop to be up and running in time for the 9.30am start that next day. Instead BBC One returned to the air after being blacked out for two full days, at 3.00pm on Saturday 23 December 1978. Swap Shop finally returned on Saturday 30 December 1978.

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Multi-Coloured Swap Shop Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.