Kick Start



Dave Lee Travis (1979-80)

Peter Purves (1981-92)


Max King (1979-80)
Mick Andrews (1981-4)
Jack Stites (1984-90)
John Lambkin (1991-2)


White Rabbit Productions and BBC Midlands for BBC1, 6 August 1979 to 1 June 1988

as Junior Kick Start: 29 December 1980 to 17 August 1992


Young kids churning up the South Downs on motorbikes during the half-term holidays. It could only be Kick Start, the programme that must have been the precursor to other shows like You've Been Framed in using human suffering for entertainment.

Peter Purves with the wrong sort of vehicle

Jimmy, aged 12, from Coventry would drive his mini Yamaha 50cc lurve cycle around an intricate obstacle course of slalom poles, see-saws, ramps, bunny hops and trouser-fillingly steep hills. The format, for want of a better word, saw six riders go around the course against the clock with a 20 second penalty for a foot down (for certain obstacles), falling off an obstacle, or missing an exit. You also had to wheelie over the start/finish line. They would then attempt the same course in the opposite direction, slowest rider first. The rider with the fastest aggregate time won.

Coming up to the bunny hop

While everyone remembers Junior Kick Start, there was just Kick Start too - the main adult version. In fact, there were 13 series in all! Does the BBC own shares in Peter Purves or something?

The contestant line-up

Originally presented by Dave Lee Travis as a summer replacement while Nationwide was off our screens. It was also broadcast as a 'filler' programme in 1984 when "Nationwide's" unsuccessful replacement, "Sixty Minutes", was axed. Otherwise, it was normally broadcast in the mornings during school holidays - and was much-enjoyed by kids at the time. It also later gave rise to two equally enjoyable shows: Paddles Up, which was broadcast in the same timeslots, and, later still, the peak-time show Young Driver of the Year.

Key moments

The oft-repeated clip of first an attendant, then the St. John Ambulance man falling down a slope into a pit to rescue a hurt competitor - namely Mark Schofield. Peter Purves's main comment was, "One shouldn't laugh - the poor lad took a nasty knock there - but this is like something out of the Keystone Cops!"

Theme tune

Its infinitely hummable showdy-de-dow theme tune was called Be My Boogie Woogie Baby by Mr. Walkie-Talkie, composed by Renate Vaplus.


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