Saturday Showdown



Stephen Mulhern and Holly Willoughby (and Michael Underwood from 2004)


as Ministry of Mayhem, Carlton and The Foundation for ITV1, 10 January to 30 October 2004

Granada and The Foundation for ITV1, 6 November 2004 to 4 February 2006 (2004-05 as Ministry of Mayhem)

ITV Productions and The Foundation for ITV1, 11 February to 1 July 2006

Saturday Showdown Xtra, CITV, 11 March to 3 June 2006


After SM:TV Live came to the end of its life in 2003, ITV's replacement was Ministry of Mayhem, an attempt to revive Tiswas and compete with the gunge-filled Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow. A number of formats were tried during 2004 and 2005, none of them lasted for more than a few months. But there were a couple that we thought stuck out as the most memorable ones.

The first one was called Name That Tone where two kids, one assisted by Willoughby and the other by a star guest, are asked to identify hit songs from ringtones. There's also a random oriental bloke, Mr. Lee, who sings one of the mystery songs, for no very good reason (But random oriental blokes are just automatically funny, right? Well no, not always...). Presumably the idea was to put out a five-minute segment as an extended trailer, and thus entice people to take a look at the main Saturday morning show. We said at the time that if this was the best showcase they could come up with, they didn't stand a chance, and in retrospect we'd have to say: told you so.

The second one was called Supermarket Sneak, which we think has got to be one of the most imaginative children's TV segments since, well, the last one. This involves a presenter and a kid trying to sneak six items into another shopper's trolley, starting with something small, like an orange, through the ever-present french stick to something huge like a TV. Grannies beware... This is actually quite funny to watch, but it seems like the producers stuck their head together and said "Can we come up with something even more anti-social than Bogies?"

In a last roll of the dice, the format was tweaked into a boys versus girls competition, set in the flat shared by Holly and Stephen. Any resemblance to Dick 'n' Dom was surely a coincidence. Games were typically played for just a few weeks, then discarded, and the show never missed an opportunity to fling around muck when nothing much was happening.

An additional programme, imaginatively entitled Saturday Showdown Xtra, aired on the CITV channel after it launched in March. ITV decided to use its main channel for cookery programmes, rather than the traditional children's programming, forcing the final four episodes over to CITV. The show died without much fanfare on 1 July 2006.

The puppet hyenas from the show later got their own spin-off, Scratch 'n' Sniff's Den of Doom.

Key moments

During a sketch on the fifth episode, while Michael Underwood was going to the door Holly Willoughby was in, Holly enthusiastically opened the door and rather unexpectedly knocked Michael down on the floor.

Theme music

2004-05: Ministry of Mayhem by The Noise Next Door

Web links

Wikipedia entry


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