The sweet smell of “Tiswas” – custard pies and anarchy…

I was re-watching the first episode of The Story of Variety with Michael Grade on BBC2 last night and, in it, comedian Ken Dodd says that his memory of the old variety theatres is “the smell of oranges and cigar smoke”.

I worked on the ITV series Tiswas – allegedly for children, but watched widely by students and the more anarchic of adults – and my memory of being in the live studio on Saturday mornings is of sweet-smelling toiletries.

The ‘custard pies’ used throughout the show were actually made from highly-whipped shaving foam because the mess would stick to clothing and faces but would easily and cleanly wipe off afterwards.

There were also often multiple mini-explosions in the studio. I don’t know what they comprised, but the air afterwards always smelled a bit of talcum powder.

Sweet-smelling. That was Tiswas.

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Filed under Comedy, Television

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