As you may or may not be aware, Sir Terry Wogan passed away today. I have fond memories of listening to him charm the nation on BBC Radio 2, and slowly lose the will to live while enduring The Eurovision Song Contest. However, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to The Togmeister’s dulcet tones at a very early age, thanks to my parents buying me and my brothers a VHS cassette containing every episode of Stoppit & Tidyup.
Made in conjunction with the Keep Britain Tidy campaign, it’s hard to pin down Stoppit & Tidyup. True, it was a show made in the 80’s that had multicoloured blobs getting into all sorts of hijinks, but it lacked the brash palette and in-your-face philosophy of most cartoons from that era.
It sort of evokes the simpler era of children’s television with characters like toy-obsessed Go And Play, skittish Calm Down and the omnivorous Eat Your Greens, albeit filtered through a more surreal post-modern bent.
Actually, forget what I said… there is one word that sums up Stoppit & Tidyup: weird.
Okay, maybe two: really weird.
Make that three: really, really weird.
Come to think of it, does it even count as three words, given that I’m repeating one of them?
Look, I could post screenshots of this show all day long, but it wouldn’t really explain why Stoppit & Tidyup was such a fun show, as opposed to the horrifying acid trip that you might (not unreasonably) assume it was, had you never watched the programme before. The thing is, this show could have been a deeply confusing and mildly unpleasant way to scar children’s minds, had it not been for one man: Terry Wogan.
Nestled inbetween the end of his career as a TV chat show host and his triumphant return to BBC Radio, Terry Wogan turned this bizarre little thing into a series of cozy anecdotes that were sometimes happening as he was recounting them (I told you this show was weird). Wogan was the gentle uncle, guiding you through the land of Do As You’re Told with a delightful mixture of gentle absent-mindedness and sincerity in everything he told you.
Thank you, Terry Wogan. You made my childhood even more of a delight, and I’m so sorry that I can never tell you that in person.