Wacaday was introduced when Roland Rat, the puppet host of TV-am’s previous weekday morning slot during school holidays, transferred to the BBC. With only a week until October half term was due to start, it was decided to produce a spin-off of the existing and successful Saturday morning programme, Wide Awake Club. Timmy Mallett, the best-known presenter of Wide Awake Club, was chosen to front the new show. The “wac” of the title took the initials of Wide Awake Club.
The initial 1985 run consisted of basic features and competitions, but from its second run in 1986, the format quickly began to develop, with Mallett’s Mallet being introduced. Michaela Strachan co-presented the show with Timmy for two spells, in during the summer of 1987 and 1989.
The programme was similar in style to Wide Awake Club, which was also broadcast live and featured items such as the word-association game ‘Mallett’s Mallet’ and ‘Drop Your Toast’, where Timmy would read out a viewer’s name in the hope that they would be so shocked that they would drop their toast. From 1987, every series (there were six a year – one for each school holiday) would be themed around a different country that Timmy had visited. Pre-recorded reports from these countries would educate viewers about the country’s culture, customs and history (though in a humorous way, including Timmy often acting out famous scenes from that country’s past). In later series, the studio set was also decorated in the particular country’s theme.
Other regular features included a narrated story about the adventures of Magic, Timmy’s cockatiel, various phone-in quizzes (typically at the end of the programme) where a selected viewer would compete in some gunge-related competition, and a short five-minute cartoon, such as Batfink or Dick Tracy. Although some minor items appeared and were retired over the years, the overall structure of the series remained the same throughout the show’s life.
The self-proclaimed ‘show your telly was made for’ eventually became even more successful than Wide Awake Club and is the programme for which Mallett is probably best remembered. In fact, many of Timmy’s trademarks, such as his giant pink mallet, Magic, Pinky Punky (introduced in 1990) and Timmy’s ‘bleugh!’ catchphrase originated on Wacaday. The “bleugh” saying actually originated from the rules of Mallet’s Mallet, where Timmy would hurriedly repeat the rules every day. On one occasion early in the feature’s life, he fluffed the lines and came out with “bleugh” – and from there, the catchphrase was born.
Later on in Wacaday’s run, Mallett’s infamous routine of hitting people over the head with his giant foam mallet was changed slightly, particularly in the Mallett’s Mallet game, where he would instead hit large buttons on a machine to keep score, as the producers feared that young viewers at home might try and copy the routine by hitting people over the head with heavy objects.
The programme outlived its parent by two years, but ended in 1992 when TV-am lost its franchise. The last episode was broadcast on 31 December 1992, the final day of TV-am’s broadcast – GMTV took over on 1 January 1993.