RAKISH RELIGIOUS saccharine for kids, taking advantage of the Sunday morning fallow period to sow some do-gooding public service oats. Taking its cue from winsomely clean-cut New Testament musical hit GODSPELL, the toothsome gang comprised four young people: handsome, slightly serious leader JD, stereotyped bespectacled boffin “Boff” (given to whimsical outbursts like “splice me sprinkled sprockets!”) and two girls, self-confessed “slow” country bumpkin Dodo and chirpy cockney Teena (good old TINA HEATH, who naffed off after a couple of years to be replaced by an Alison).
Dressed in dungarees and Burton’s finest co-ordinated leisurewear, as was the style at the time, the gang would chat to each other in best 1970s youth worker style before sitting down at a table whilst one would read a Bible story (only they didn’t call it ‘the Bible’, they called it ‘the Big Bumper Storybook’) and the others joined in with specious comments like “…and didn’t anyone help the poor man, or was it just the Samaritan?”. Then they’d chat, slightly over-excitedly, directly to the viewer. (“We believe that this is God’s world!”) Suddenly, what seemed a bit of aimless yet welcome Sunday morning fluff took on a slightly uncomfortable air. Then, as if to dispell the creepy evangelical atmosphere, they’d argue with a giant white mouse puppet called Mackintosh Mouse that lived in a cage and spoke in the broadest Scots accent ever heard on television, while tending his ‘haggis patch’. There was also God-bothering vox-pop segment Bran Tub and God-bothering guest interview slot Halfway House (guests of the calibre of BOB WILSON, no less) and a ‘kung-fu cuckoo clock’ for extra whimsy points.
Then Boff would activate his special organ (as in keyboard) which would play the closing music. Over-ebullient opening signature tune ran: “Knocking on doors, opening windows/Up and down and round/[Punch air with cheery Christian defiance over next line] WE! ARE! The Sunday Gang!/There’s a lot to be found around/Taking a trip through God’s creation/Finding out the way [Cue hilarious cartoon of anthropomorphic signpost with ‘WAY’ written on it]/WE! ARE! The Sunday Gang!/Why don’t you come with us todaaaay…”