Tiswas’ Sally James fancies a showbiz return

Sally James fancies her chances on the Strictly dancefloor.

Sally James on ATV’s Tiswas.

Sally James was a viewer favourite with all ages in the 1970s and 80s and is still best remembered for her co-presenting role on ATV’s Tiswas almost forty years since the last edition was broadcast.

“It’s nice that people still ask me if Tiswas is coming back, which is a little odd seeing as it ended 37 years ago… but its nice that people remember.” – Sally James speaking to The Weekly News

Despite being hugely popular with audiences of ITV back in the day Sally has only made guest appearances on shows such as game show Celebrity Pointless in recent years, with her main concentration being on her business – a school uniform shop, school outlets and website. ‘It grew, took over a lot of my life, and is still going more than a quarter of a century later.’ She told this week’s (April 30th-6th May) issue of The Weekly News. The shop, Unismart, is based in Cobham, and while it takes up a lot of Sally’s time she still has ambitions in the world of television.

“I had talks about going on I’m A Celebrity but I didn’t want to do it. I’d love to do Strictly Come Dancing because I love Dancing.” – Sally James speaking to The Weekly News

Tiswas was well known for its Phantom Flan-Flinger and buckets of water.

Chris Tarrant and Sally host an edition of Tiswas.

In the 1970s Sally hosted series such as Saturday Scene, UltraQuiz and 6.55 Special. However, the lack of television presenting roles in recent times the 68-year-old believes is due to her self-withdrawal from the industry.

“I was offered TV jobs that I couldn’t do while I was either pregnant or bringing up children… Then everything changed and presenters were celebrities known for something else like being married to a footballer. I did radio and bits and pieces but never really got back into presenting [on television].” – Sally James speaking to The Weekly News

The last time Sally was seen hosting was just over a decade ago on ITV’s celebration of Tiswas with a primetime nostalgic look-back in the one-off special Tiswas Reunited. The show paired Sally back up once more with co-host Chris Tarrant as well as the regulars of the Saturday morning children’s magazine show. She recalled to the newspaper how she originally got her television break.

Having had acting parts in series such as Yorkshire Television’s soap Castle Haven, the BBC’s The Railway Children and as a background artist on big-screen movie To Sir With Love Sally auditioned to be a presenter on twee BBC One children’s afternoon series Blue Peter. It was however over at the hip London Weekend Television where she got her presenting break on Saturday Scene.

“They wanted a denim-clad young girl… I was the in-vision links between their morning programmes which included Junior Police 5 and Space 1999, doing things like reading out birthday cards and doing interviews, which sadly included Marc Bolan’s last one.” – Sally James speaking to The Weekly News

Sally and Gordon Astley host Tiswas.

Tiswas returns to ITV screens in 2007 for a one-off celebration.

It is, of course, Tiswas that Sally will be best remembered for. The show, produced by ATV in Birmingham was a live mix of features and semi-organised chaos. Mixing cartoons with live music performances, comedy routines, star interviews and quirky items the show was a big hit with ITV viewers from 1974 through to 1982. Sally joined the show in 1977 fresh from her stint at LWT.

“Chris Tarrant thought having a woman join them was a stupid idea, but eventually he begrudingly admitted ‘actually she’s alright!’… He and I got on really well. The success of Tiswas was down to the team. We were a very odd bunch if you think about it. And a lot of the stuff we did then we’d never get away with now, like sitting small children under the desk and pulling them up by their ears. Imagine running that past Health and Safety today!” – Sally James speaking to The Weekly News

Despite 37 years passing since the last live Tiswas aired on ITV the series continues to be fondly remembered by many fans of the show. A dedicated website Tiswas Online operates celebrating the series while DVDs featuring ‘best of’ moments have been released and in 2015 BCTV in the Midlands screened highlights from the show.

Sally married music producer Mike Smith in 1978 and have three sons, Josh, 27, a lawyer, Nick, 30, a campaign manager at the FA and Adam who presents for Sky Television.

“I get recognised a lot on Spain funnily enough, as a number of ex-pats out there are a certain age… [I’d love to get back on TV] but I’m probably too old, although a lot of old entertainers are turning up in weird programmes like Five Go Caravanning and The Real Marigold Hotel.” – Sally James speaking to The Weekly News

Tiswas Reunited John Gorman, Lenny Henry, Bob Carolgees with hosts Chris Tarrant and Sally James.
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One Reply to “Tiswas’ Sally James fancies a showbiz return”

  1. Sally James back on the telly why not its a pity Tiswas doesn’t return!

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