A celebration of 1990s king of camp, and supermarket based game shows, Dale Winton.
It’s been a while since we inducted a famous name into the ATV Icon section, however today we change all that as we introduce another televisual star into our hall of fame.
With Mr Supermarket Sweep making his telly return as narrator on Channel 5’s Before They Were Famous, which airs tonight at 8pm, we welcome the only man who was able to get away with wearing tight leather trousers on ITV at 9.25 am; yes it’s Dale Winton.
Dale, born in May 1955, began his entertainment career as a club DJ on the London circuit. His nightclub sessions lead to broadcasting work, although not quite BBC Radio 2 when he joined United Biscuits for their ‘Industrial Radio Station’ which was broadcast to the company factories across the UK.
Dale was tasked with preparing news, making commercials and recording interviews. He progressed up the ranks of industrial broadcasting, eventually entertaining the workforce with his own morning programme.
Some may have thought he was cream crackers to give up such a position, but his days with United Biscuits, makers of such delights as Twiglets and Jaffa Cakes, came to an end when “proper radio” came calling and he signed up to host a daytime show on Radio Trent, which broadcast from Nottingham to Nottinghamshire. Other radio work included hosting entertainment programming for Radio Danube and Radio Chiltern.
In 1986 Dale got his first television break on the beeb when he hosted Pet Watch for BBC One. It’s fair to say this show isn’t exactly memorable which is possibly why Dale returned to radio where he joined Beacon FM in Wolverhampton as a producer and presenter on his own mid-morning series, The Dale Winton Show, airing for three successful years from 1988 onward.
During this time Dale also kept his finger in the visual side of the business when he occasionally appeared and produced promotional and corporate videos with CTVC, notably starring in a series of programmes training businessmen and women in radio and telly techniques.
The late 1980s also saw Dale back on terrestrial television when Channel 4 hired him as one of the presenters on their Network 7 series.
ITV viewers were first given their taste of Dale alongside Andy Craig and Fern Britton when the trio hosted Home Today from TVS in Southampton.
Television South went off the air in December 1992, however, by this point, Dale had switched to working for a number of satellite channels on BSkyB including Lifestyle, where he hosted his own chat show, Sky 1’s Anything For Money with co-host Andrew O’Connor, in which he was sent out to persuade the unsuspecting public to perform outrageous tasks for a few pounds under the eye of a hidden camera and a series of shorts including a graphology strand and music reviews.
It was however Central Television’s Supermarket Sweep, from their Nottingham studios, which made Dale a star of daytime ITV. Hosting the show, in a massive supermarket set, between 1993 and 2007 over 500 episodes were produced.
Supermarket Sweep continues to pull in viewers with regular re-runs on Challenge TV. Such was its success the show spawned a number of merchandise items, including a CD single by Dale Winton and the Barcodes. The track, entitled Will You Dance With Me, was a dance version of the theme tune with lyrics and Dale speaking his catchphrase…
“Next time you’re at the checkout and you hear the beep…. think of the fun you could be having on Supermarket Sweep!”
Another music feature saw him appear as a special guest with the band St. Etienne at The Forum, bringing on a shopping trolley of goodies to throw to the crowd, and in the video for In-betweener by Britpop band Sleeper.
Supermarket Sweep cemented Dale as a lovable king of camp, and many other television roles followed. He was out and about again with Bobby Davro in Public Enemy Number One on BBC One, again asking the public to perform even more elaborate stunts, as he had done previously on Sky 1. Dale also had a long stint as the presenter of Weekend for ITV’s Anglia Television.
Dale has even appeared in a cameo role in the movie Trainspotting, while other shows he’s presented in more recent times include the National Lottery, Pets Win Prizes and Touch The Truck.
In demand across the 1990s and 2000s, he also guest-appeared on shows such as LWT’s dreams come true series Surprise Surprise with Cilla Black, Carlton’s game show Family Fortunes, BBC One comedy chat show The Mrs Merton Show with the late Caroline Ahern and Central sitcom The Upper Hand. He was also ‘honoured’ with a gotcha from Noel Edmonds on Noel’s House Party. Another legendary programme of the 1990s.
He has also been a regular on the entertainment quiz That’s Showbusiness, displaying his wide knowledge and love of old films, soap operas Corrie and Crossroads and Dusty Springfield.
He for several years returned to radio, hosting Pick of the Pops for BBC Radio 2 when Alan ‘fluff’ Freeman retired from the show.
Dale is back on the box tonight, with the first of a two-part series looking at celebrities in clips before they became stars.
Enter a world of forbidden footage from a time before real fame, when these celebrities were young, foolish, needed the money and didn’t have a crack PR team in place to destroy the evidence.
Before They Were Famous, tonight at 8pm on Channel 5.