In the beginning there was UpAndHappy! on the radio. Initially on a Monday night, it soon settled down into its spiritual home on a Saturday Morning.
I say ‘spiritual home’ because it was originally intended to be a bit of a radio version of the kind of Saturday Morning Television programmes that I (that’s me, Lee B) used to enjoy when I was small.
We’re talking Tiswas, Swap Shop and all the great shows that followed. As time went on, I got ever closer to Tiswas in real life, culminating in bringing it back onto television… and you can read about that in the Television pages on this site.
UpAndHappy! the radio show was a celebration of everything that was fun on a Saturday Morning. It was presented by Lee B and the Nikkster, that’s me – Lee Bannister – and my wife Nikki.
We started out by playing just up and happy tunes all morning. There was the odd competition, the odd movie or TV feature, plenty of entertainment news but no celebrity gossip or tittle-tattle. This was the real deal! A fun way to start your weekend – and we NEVER took it seriously!
We had numerous co-presenters, from “Da Puds” aka Rob Wood – apparently ‘Puds’ is what mates in Cannock often call each other… hey, I’m from Tipton and they call each other something quite different over there.
For a while, there was our Sport reporters Sydney Hammer-Thong and Roary Morryson, both alter-egos of “Vacuum Andy”, aka Andy Walters, the radio station’s long-suffering Engineer and erstwhile 70’s disco connoisseur. If you’re wondering about the ‘Vacuum Andy’ reference, its a daft nickname that stuck after one Saturday Morning when Andy was doing a spot of tidying up at the radio station, which included using a ‘Henry’ vacuum. As we were presenting the programme, we noticed that Andy was having trouble with dear Henry. He spotted us watching him, and commenting upon what he was doing, so he mock-kicked Henry.
A few minutes later, when he’d finished the vacuuming he picked up Henry by the handle ready to take it to the outside bins to be emptied, however the mock-kicking Henry had received had evidently dislodge the clasp which held Henry together, and in the space of 1 second, Henry came apart spraying the floor – and Andy – with both the dust he’d just vacuumed up, and the accumulated dust from (probably) the previous 6 months. I couldn’t breathe for laughter (and I’m sure Andy couldn’t breathe either). Of course I had to inform the listening public what had just happened. And Vacuum Andy was born!
Incidentally, our ‘Roary Morryson’ character was a loving tribute to a real-life professional broadcaster called Rory Morrison, who I’d known many moons before at Beacon Radio, when I first started out in the industry. Our ‘Roary’ character was a Tony Blackburn-inspired Sports Reporter, performed by Andy Walters, and introduced using the real Rory‘s old Beacon Radio name jingle which we’d found one day! The real Rory was happily nothing like that!
I suppose the real Rory had been a bit of a mentor to me, though he never knew it. Rory ultimately moved to BBC Radio 4, but one day he actually surprised me live on air with the sports news… when I thought I’d be crossing live to our own ‘Roary’. Listen to that moment here. Rory Morrison sadly died in 2013, but I’ll never forget him…
Later on, we welcomed Jenii-tastic (Jenii Lowe), Oli-pop (Oliver Williams) and the almighty Dr StrangeGlove (Philip Whitmore) along with a host of other characters (also Phil’s creations).
I’m proud to say that UpAndHappy! was the first exposure for the “Mr Custa” sci-fi radio comedy series.
Oh and finally there was “The Eeeee Man”. He just turned up and shouted “Eeeeeee” at everyone… and everything… He’s still out there. Somewhere (shudder).
(By the way, the new 2020 edition of the Mr Custa and Dr StrangeGlove websites were reinvigorated, shaken-up, vacuum-cleanered-on-the-cobwebs, and basically jazzed-up and spruced-up by Lee B … that’s me!)
UpAndHappy! – The Radio Show – ran for nearly 12 years, and you can still listen to some of the later programmes on Mixcloud. There are a series of short bite-size editions of “UpandHappy! Gold” and I’m working on gathering together as many of the full programmes as I can, so we can revisit them too!
Click here to go to the full playlist on Mixcloud!