Children’s TV Tiswased

Seventies revsited: Petra Massey and Stephen Harper invite you into the world of Saturday morning televsion

Never Try This At Home

Rep Studio


Theatre company Told by an Idiot and Birmingham director Paul Hunter give us a hilarious account of the cultural phenomenon of the Seventies that was Saturday morning television.

In this world premiere of Never Try This at Home the audience see the wild and frantic world of ‘SHUSHI’, a hugely popular children’s Saturday morning television show.

The production takes its inspiration from Tiswas, arguably the most successful children’s television programme of its time. Audience members who remember the show will be delighted at the larger-than-life account of the unique world that SHUSHI gives us. It is easy to be transported to the crazy and psychedelic world this company have wonderfully created.

Mallets and baked beans - an unusual combination from Ged Simmons and Dudley Rees

The production holds no bars which only makes the audience become part of the show which contains every element that could possibly be needed from a Saturday morning show.

Unbelievable live music from sublime local bands The.Future.B (made up of excellent performers from Holyhead school pupils in Handsworth) and The Heist had our toes tapping right at the start and instantly transported us into the party atmosphere.


Of course, Saturday morning television would not be complete without countless pies to throw at people’s faces. Audience members who are lucky, or perhaps unlucky, enough to sit nearest to the stage are given plastic coverings, in preparation for the unknown.

Most of this play is improvised, reflecting the energetic spark that fuelled the originality of Tiswas. Because of the welcoming manner of the show and dry characterisations, one audience member unfortunately forgot that this was indeed a theatrical production.

Naill Ashdown used superb skills to tackle the heckler. Ashdown is a television presenter of today, making a documentary looking back at Shushi titled ‘Looking back Together’. He spurs the audience on and is quick to make humorous remarks and witty comments.

To keep the spontaneity alive, the actors perform using their own names, which again allows us to connect with the group and opens our eyes to the unique talent that each person is able to give. This show is not just simply a Children’s daytime T.V show put to stage. It makes strong and poignant observations about the culture of the time, particularly gender and race which is why this show has an age advisory of fifteen.

Naill Ashdown, documentary maker and heckler crusher

Stephen Harper plays the part of the lead presenter and is the epitome of what society should dislike; chauvinistic and unbearably rude to everyone, particularly Petra Massey, who is the only woman in Shushi and the company.

Amongst the pie throwing and general craziness, Harper and Massey provide a fantastic account of the darkness behind Shushi, which can easily be overlooked. It is clear to see that behind the neon lights and giant wigs, this company have developed a wonderful connection with each other. This inner trust from the group only made the show more fantastically funny. Because each person takes the role of silliness so seriously, this makes the production all the more hysterical. Brilliant performances also by Okorie Chukwu and Ged Simmons.

This thoroughly enjoyable show will definitely put a smile on your face and leave you pining at the many Saturday mornings spent with the familiar faces that many still hold in their hearts. To 15-03-14.

Elizabeth Halpin 


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