Overview of the show
Shown in the United Kingdom. It was first broadcast after SMTV Live, its predecessor, came to an end. The first episode was broadcast on 10 January 2004. It was usually shown every Saturday on terrestrial television and was popular with many pre-teens. It included some conventional television aspects, such as an in-studio audience who see all of the programmes shown on the show, yet has been noted for some of its more peculiar characteristics. These included seeing how far different celebrities can flip a cake into the air from a skateboard, a game known as "Cakey SK8" - and a Gunge Tank.
It was originally presented by Stephen Mulhern, Holly Willoughby & Michael Underwood, along with Ray Griffiths as "Ray" and Peter Cocks as "The Doctor", and Laura Tilli & Jessica Tilli as "Tina and Gina" who supposedly answered phones.
The theme tune was provided by little-known boyband The Noise Next Door and can be found as a b-side to their debut single Lock Up Ya Daughters.
The show was produced at The Maidstone Studios by The Foundation, working initially in partnership with Carlton Television. After Carlton and Granada merged in 2004 to form ITV plc, all Carlton productions were switched to run under the Granada name, thus MOM became a Foundation-Granada production. From 2006, Granada programmes for ITV were branded ITV Productions, and so MOM became an ITV Productions-The Foundation production for the remainder of its run.
The first revamp
The first major alteration to Ministry of Mayhem occurred on 24 July 2004. The alterations saw the show get a new set and titles, it also saw 'Tina and Gina' being axed from the show. There was also sketches such as 'At home with the Mayhems' and in an attempt to recreate SMTV's Chums there was 'Butthaven', set around a fictitious holiday camp. This sketch featured Ruth Madoc as "Miss Butthaven", however it was dropped after a short period of time.
Farewell Michael, Hello MoM
Particularly from December 2004 onwards the show started moving away from its original 'Ministry' theme. Just before the show's first Christmas on 18 December 2004 it saw the departure of presenter Michael Underwood. The reason for his departure remains somewhat unclear, mainly as the only announcement of him departing was at the end of that show followed by a compilation of clips of his best bits. However, the fact that the Christmas episode coincided with the renewal of the 26-week rolling contracts for the show and presenters suggests that at some point before the Christmas recording Michael either quit or was fired. The Christmas Day show was presented by Stephen and Holly, featuring specially adapted Christmas lyrics for the show. The move away from its original 'Ministry' feel became most apparent for the first show of the new year, when it was renamed MoM.
Animals & Additions
MoM continued to provide Saturday morning entertainment. In March 2005, two new characters were introduced. The Hyenas, Scratch & Sniff, played by Don Austen & John Eccleston. They are virtual recreations of their past characters- "Bro & Bro", the wolves, who they played on former Saturday Morning show What's Up Doc? between 1992 and 1995, and spin-off series Wolf It between 1993 and 1996. Their introduction was fairly built up as initially viewers were asked to guess what was in a large box, which eventually was revealed to contain the hyenas. There then followed the process of naming the Hyenas, with their eventual names being chosen by the viewers. Towards the end of the series, the hyenas took up residence making their own home in a small set located under the tiered seating.
Another new character was also added, Mr. Lee (played by Vincent Wong), who originally only had a small role in the game 'Name That Tone, but soon after became a regular, with his own theme tune. In September 2005 MoM got another new addition in the form of a real puppy. This puppy later was named Snowy. After the show's format was changed to Saturday Showdown, Snowy was rarely seen on our screens until Snowy came back on the final show grown to full size.
Holly & Stephen's Saturday Showdown
After a week's break for Christmas, Ministry of Mayhem returned on 7 January (2006) with a new name and a new look and a new theme tune by Mr Miller & Mr Porter. The new name for the show was Holly and Stephen's Saturday Showdown, however, for the first few weeks of transmission the ITV Sales website still had the show's off-screen name as Ministry of Mayhem, but this was later corrected. The show was set in Holly & Stephen's 'flat'. The idea of the show was that kids called in for competitions and if the winner was a boy 10 points go to the boys team and vice versa. Two teams were brought into the house every week and competed for points and prizes. Ray, Scratch and Sniff the Hyenas and Snowy the dog remained from before the revamp. The most noticeable character absences were The Doc and Mr. Lee. The new format introduced a new character; Wallace, a rapping child who lives in the closet; however he disappeared after the first episode.
On Saturday 11th March 2006, the show was the first programme to be seen on the finally awaited CITV Channel with Holly & Stephen launching the channel with a party at the start. It also was the day it launched Saturday Showdown Extra, which would be shown only on the channel from 11.30am to 12noon. The 'Extra' programme was axed when the main show was axed off ITV1 in June.
It's notable that in all but 3 editions, Sniff only appeared in the "Dodge Dolly's Balls" segment of the show, which has led to speculation that, despite having the appearance of a live phone-in game, this segment was actually pre-recorded. After the game ended, Sniff was not seen until the final show on the 1st July 2006.
It was first reported on 12 May that Saturday Showdown was to be axed. The show was gradually phased out, with it being dropped from ITV as of 10 June. The show then continued to run on the CITV Channel for a further 3 weeks, and finally ended on Saturday 1 July 2006. For the final show 'Mr Lee' (Vincent Wong), 'The Doc' (Peter Cocks), and 'Sniff' (John Eccleston) returned. There were also many features from Ministry of Mayhem added to the final Showdown such as the Thank You desk at the end of the show. In addition there was highlights of the best bits from Ministry of Mayhem and Saturday Showdown. Also guests included girl band Frank who performed their debut single I'm Not Shy and had appeared the previous week too.
It is currently unknown if there will be any replacement Saturday morning show. The Foundation are unsure of what will be replacing it, hinting that they may not be involved if a replacement is made. From 8 July there are cartoons under the name of "2N BAS3" which means Toon Base scheduled in the Saturday Showdowns' time slot. The last show not only marked the end of Saturday Showdown but the end of an era for children's Saturday morning shows on the ITV network ever since Tiswas in 1974.
The Lab has been with the show since the start and has survived the many revamps, though the set itself has changed. The Lab is primarily used by the Doc, a mock German scientist and 1970s throwback from the University of Brighton, played by Peter Cocks. Although nowadays he's never referred to by name, in an early edition of the show, he revealed his surname to be Undgoggles, presumably making his first name Helmut. The Doc is usually accompanied by Stephen (as a lab-hand) for this part of the show, and the two attempt a simple experiment in order to demonstrate some scientific principle; the Doc also tries to incapacitate Stephen with laughter (and has succeeded on several occasions) by laying on thick innuendo, as well as comedic hints towards homosexuality and Nazism, much to the hilarity of adult viewers. At one of least experiments has resulted in a complaint to OFCOM being upheld for fear that it would encourage children to imitate a dangerous procedure.
The original Lab was a plain white room located somewhere in the large studio. Post revamp it occupied a fairly large part of the studio in an enclosed set. However, to make room for a new seated area within the enclosed set, and larger outdoor-oriented experiments, the Lab was reduced to at least half its original size and equipped with a cupboard that acted as a portal to the outdoors for larger experiments.
When the programme was renamed Saturday Showdown the show no longer had the Doc or his lab. Though on the 18th March 2006 the Doc made a surprise appearance at the end of the main show. The part went as follows: Just as Holly and Stephen are about to say goodbye, Stephen found a German towel. They both say "he isn't back is he?" and we see through the door's frosted glass, the blur of The Doctor and he shouts through the letterbox. But viewers without cable or satellite never got to see him that week, as he only fully appeared on the CITV Channel's Holly and Stephen's Saturday Showdown: Extra. Though Stephen asked the Doc on the show if he could come back next week it was to be a one off appearance, and The Foundation confirmed that the Doc was only a guest for this show. However, the Doc re-appeared for the final show on 1 July 2006.
MoM was also host to many children's shows and cartoons, including SpongeBob SquarePants and Finders Keepers. After the launch of the CITV Channel, viewers could switch over for a different show (similar to the interactive feature on CBBC's Mighty Truck of Stuff).
In 2005, the programme aired the first run of Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet. However, the treatment by M.O.M of the series was highly criticised, with episodes being split into segments, spoken over and cut in places. Certainly, the series was not seen by its intended audience due to its inclusion in the "Ministry".
Full Shows List:
- Spongebob Squarepants (On and Off occasions,2004 to 2006)
- Tutenstein (2004)
- Mucha Lucha! (2004)
- Teen Angel (2004)
- Sabrina The Teenage Witch (2004)
- Angry Beavers (2004)
- All Grown Up! (2004)
- My Parents Are Aliens (2004)
- Creature Comforts (2004)
- Drake & Josh (On and Off occasions, 2004 to 2006)
- Pet Alien (2004 to 2005)
- Atomic Betty (2004 to 2005)
- Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet (2005)
- King Arthur's Disasters (2005)
- Planet Sketch (2005)
- The Amazing Adrenalini Brothers (2006)
- Shuriken School (2006)
- Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids (2006, CITV Channel only)
- Bratz (2006, CITV Channel only)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2006)
- Finders Keepers (2006)
As Stephen is also a professional magician, the programme often featured performances of various magic tricks and illusions by him or visiting guest magicians. Although the illusions sometimes featured the use of professional magician's assistants, very often, either Holly or one of the guest celebrities would take part in them. Some of the illusions performed on various shows included:
- Holly being sawed in half by Stephen inside a glass-sided box where she was visible all of the time.
- Holly having a sword pushed through her neck.
- Holly being chopped into three by Stephen in a trick called the Zig-Zag Girl.
- Holly having a pipe pushed all the way through her stomach, through which Stephen then poured milk.
- Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen both being sawed in half at the same time, and then re-assembled with their lower halves switched.
- Cheryl Cole from Girls Aloud having her head chopped off by a guillotine.
- Kimberley Walsh from Girls Aloud being made to levitate.
- Emma Bunton being sawed in half while standing up in an illusion called Modern Art.
Celebrities propel cakes from skateboards, and the cake which reaches highest up the wall wins, the wall had to be extended after it was found that celebrities using it were getting the cakes higher and higher.
This game saw Stephen (in one episode, Holly) dressed up in a bumblebee costume and colloquially known as the "Spellminator" and another contestant who usually wrote in to the Ministry to take part. Michael was dressed in a black dinner suit and was the MC. There were three rounds of spelling, in which each contestant was given a word with its definition and had to spell it one letter at a time. The person with the most points at the end would win and later receive the Spelling Smackdown belt. If there was a tie, then a spell off contest would take place. The spell-off would involve being given a word and each competitor would take it in turns to spell the word letter by letter; the first person to make a mistake would lose. The game disappeared after a few weeks and then revived for a short while where the rules changed, in which the spell off format was prominent
Name that Tone
Mr Lee (played by Vincent Wong) brings on the ring-tones to his own theme tune. Then contestants from the studio audience pair with a celebrity to guess ring-tones usually for a mobile phone or an MP3. A spin off show entitled "MoM's Name that tone" featured on CITV on Tuesdays for a while.
Ram Ray was the most popular game in the show. It involved the dwarf stuntman Ray charging into a set a of five doors, four wooden, one made of paper. A caller would select a door, hoping it to be made of paper. Ray would then charge at a door and either run through it if it was made of paper or slam into it and fall backwards if it was made of wood. Ray would often fall and roll across the floor of the studio rather dramatically, and he was often checked to see if he was hurt (although Stephen often found his collisions hilairous). To suit the theme of an episode, Ray would often wear a matching costume.
Relly from Helly
An audience member is embarrassed by a relative which also became a feature of the very first Showdown as the Parent Trap where the viewer embarrassed the parent.
Two teams, composed of one of the presenters and a child, go to a supermarket with a trolley full of items in progressive sizes. The aim of the game is to place all of the items into unsuspecting shoppers' trolleys. The first team to do so wins. The introduction of this game came a matter of weeks before the new series of Dick and Dom in da Bungalow started which was to feature an almost identical game, which had been pre-filmed in August.
Saturday Showdown Games
Showdown had lots of games to fill up the time gaps between shows. Some of the games included:
Dodge Dolly's Balls
Despite the rude sounding name, it is actually Granny Dolly in her loft with Scratch and Sniff. They both have to dodge her moth balls and the one with the least hits wins. The golden ball also wipes out all of your hits. Despite having the appearance of a live phone-in game, this segment is actually pre-recorded. This has been proved by the fact that Sniff only appears in this segment, the game has appeared on editions where Holly Willoughby was absent, along with the lack of any obvious entry details for the game, either on the show or the website, and with the speed Holly would have to change costumes if the segment was live, as she appears on screen within seconds either side of the game. It has been speculated that the callers on this segment are either somehow connected to the crew or the winners of keys to the studio, and are present in the studio at the time of recording. According to Sniff, Granny Dolly is now dead as he had to eat her as he had no food which is why DDB finished.
A version of Relly from Helly in which the child embarrasses the parent, which was discontinued after one show.
Pumping on your Stereo
A similar format to Name that Tone, based around distorted songs rather than ring-tones, and featuring Scratch rather than Mr. Lee. On the final show, Mr Lee returned.
In Saturday Showdown, a revised version of Ram Ray is played. This version uses only four "doors" - a dresser, a cupboard (later a jukebox), a toilet door and a set of shelves. Two callers take it in turns to guess which of these objects is 'soft' i.e. will break when Ray runs into it. This segment primarily used furniture but as weeks went by, they have slowly reverted back to 3 doors and a dresser ...
Taken from MOM. Cut after 3rd show.
Since Ministry of Mayhem started many games have been played, to date many have been discontinued...
- Snap: This is the most recent edition where the "hyenas" Scratch and Sniff put their paws into mousetraps attached to a 'Wheel of Fortune' style wheel. The caller that selects the trap that Doesn't go off wins a prize.
The main guests were Sally James from Tiswas, Neil Buchanan from No. 73, Finders Keepers, and Motormouth, Gareth Jones from Get Fresh, Gaby Roslin from Motormouth, Pat Sharp from What’s Up Doc? and Fun House, Jenny Powell from Gimme 5, Gail Porter from Scratchy & Co, and Brian Dowling from SM:TV. The show also saw a special appearance of Timmy Mallett from Wacaday, who had a round of Mallett's Mallet in the Hyena's hideout with Scratch and Ray. There were also interviews with Chris Tarrant, and Ant & Dec and a few appearances from The Phantom Flan Flinger (mascot and character of Tiswas).
ITV bosses allowed MoM to run over Christmas 2004 and 2005. Both shows contained a wide variety of guests and had specially adapted lyrics to the opening song and the titles were changed to the "Ministry" covered in snow. Presenter Michael left the week before the Christmas Day edition of 2004, although he was seen in the last ever 'At Home with the Mayhems' sketch. Also, instead of running until 11.30am it finished fifteen minutes later at 11.45 giving more time for all the features and shows it featured. But the show never ran over New Year 2005 as the new set was being built for the revamp: Holly and Stephen's Saturday Showdown. The new set still contains some of the same elements as the new MoM set such as the skylight windows and the pictures above the fireplace (the lighting panels on the steel walls). The stairs were also set in the same place which the guests walk down every week.
The show is also famous for its use of gunge on the show, especially that each week, Holly would always receive a gunging of some sort, either in a tank or in later episodes, the Thank You Desk, where when reading out a long list of thank you's, she would be gunged by everyone, including Stephen.
In 2004, the show let the viewers decide who to vote for to be gunged in a text vote. Stephen, Holly & Michael were mostly the main choices. But occasionally there would be Ray, The Twins and The Doctor (who was gunged once the first time he was voted).
Celebrity guests who came on the show would be gunged sometimes. But as of 2005, guests were getting gunged more than the presenters. As of 2006, male guests would be gunged if the boys team lost or female guests would be gunged if the girls team lost due to the Saturday Showdown format.
At the end of the final show, Holly & Stephen had 'the ultimate gunging' at the desk. They were gunged by all the crew as they said their final thank yous.
When the show launched in 2004, Walkers's Monster Munch was the main sponsor (which also previously sponsored SMTV Live from 2002 to 2003). From 2005, Cheestrings took over and remained the official sponsor until the the show's end on 1st July 2006.