‘We’re wide awake, it’s good to know you’re ready and you’re wide awake, so on your marks and get set go!’ It’s a song that reminds all of us 80s kids how amazing Saturday mornings were when we were young, as it introduced what was surely one of the most memorable TV shows of our childhood. Wide Awake Club was the first live children’s show to be broadcast on TV-AM, first hitting our screens in October 1984 and filling the slot from 8:30 until 9:30 every Saturday morning – then during the holidays it would be on daily as Wacaday.
How well do you remember the Wide Awake Club, and its presenters? Let’s ‘get set go’ down memory lane as we see what the stars of WAC have been up to in the years since…
Unlike his fellow Wide Awake Club presenters (all of whom were total newcomers), Tommy Boyd came to the Saturday morning children’s show with a few other presenting gigs to hi name. He had previously appeared on Magpie, Jigsaw and The Saturday Show. Post-WAC, Boyd hosted CITV, as well as presenting Channel 5’s coverage of Major League Baseball and appearing on the now-defunct Children’s Channel.
Unfortunately, you don’t often get to see Boyd on TV these days, but you can still hear his voice if you tune in to The Tommy Boyd Late Show on the local radio station Hampshire Hit Radio.
The first crush of many younger viewers, Michaela Strachan made her TV debut as a Wide Awake Club presenter, but soon made waves beyond the children’s TV show. As well as being an early morning star, Strachan also appeared on late-night music show The Hitman and Her alongside Pete Waterman, and by the 90s was a co-host on Children’s BBC wildlife series The Really Wild Show.
Nature hosting proved to be Strachan’s forte, as she has worked extensively in that field ever since on such shows as Countryfile, Springwatch and Autumnwatch.
If there’s one name synonymous with the Wide Awake Club, it has to be Timmy Mallett. The larger-than-life character famous for his garish dress sense and colourful glasses was the host of the holiday-time offshoot Wacaday, and kept us entertained all summer long with his ridiculous antics. Most memorable of all was his legendary word association game Mallett’s Mallet, which saw him regularly hit young children over the head with a soft mallet.
Mallett went on to release a million-selling number one single called Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polkadot Bikini. Today he is – believe it or not – a well-regarded artist with his own art website.
Arabella Warner was one of the original co-hosts of the Wide Awake Club when it first hit screens in 1984, but it didn’t prove to be the start of a presenting career. Instead, Warner has since worked behind the camera as a writer, producer and director on shows including Teletubbies, Brum and Bottletop Bill.
These days, Warner works as a freelance filmmaker as well as working for a number of charitable theatre organisations.
James Baker was another of the first WAC hosts, and came to the role as a total newcomer – although he was the son of BBC news reader Richard Baker.
This job seems to have been the beginning and the end of Baker’s TV career, and there’s very little info out there on what he’s been up to since.
You may recall a segment on the Wide Awake Club entitled Sound Asleep Club, centred on two quirky comedians who took an oddball, tongue-in-cheek approach to the format. One half of this team was Neil Mullarkey, British comedian and actor who went on to appear on such comedy shows as Whose Line is it Anyway, Paul Merton: The Series, Smith and Jones and QI.
Mullarkey has also taken small roles in a number of major films, including two of the Austin Powers movies – alongside his former Sound Asleep Club co-host…
Yes, believe it or not comedy legend Mike Myers got his first break in TV as the other half of the Sound Asleep Club. The Canadian funnyman’s quirky humour charmed young British audiences, paving the way for him appearing on iconic US comedy series Saturday Night Live, then appearing in such hit movie franchises as Wayne’s World, Austin Powers, Shrek and The Cat in the Hat. (Actually, forget about that last one.)
After becoming one of the biggest movie stars of the 90s and 2000s, Myers has largely stayed out of the limelight since. However, 2022 saw him appear in Netflix series The Pentaverate and writer-director David O. Russell’s film Amsterdam.