Paddles Up



Alan Parry (original host and commentator)

Chris Rea

Michael Collie


Commentator: John Gosling


White Rabbit Productions for BBC, 13 July 1983 to 16 July 1993 (45 episodes in 10 series)


BBC1's canoeing-based answer to Kick Start.

Each show consisted of two rounds, a white water rafting leg and a sort of obstacle course leg where they had to barrel roll under gates, tilt their canoe so the end hits a levitating football, that sort of thing. One notable feature was the fact that some contestants competed in standard-design canoes, while others were kneeling in round kayaks. This inevitably meant that the former had the advantage of being lower down in their canoes and therefore better equipped to duck under the gates, while the latter, being higher up, were able to hit the targets more easily - swings and roundabouts in more ways than one, you might say!

The final element of the course was to throw your paddle over the finishing gate to stop the clock (hence "Paddles... UP!"). There may have been a time bonus if they caught them, we can't remember.

An enjoyable series that passed the time quite happily for many, not least kids, given that it was always usefully screened during school holidays.


Early contests took place on the river at Llangollen, but in later years, the venue was changed to the new, purpose-built watersports centre on the River Trent in Nottingham.

Richard Fox was the winner of most of the men's contests.

The show's second host, Chris Rea, was the Scottish-born Rugby Special presenter and former rugby player (surname pronounced "Ray"), not to be confused with the Middlesbrough-born singer Chris Rea (pronounced "Rhea").


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