What's Up Doc? (TV series)
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|What's Up, Doc?|
|Presented by||Andy Crane
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Running time||75–105 minutes|
|Production company(s)||TVS (1992)
Scottish Television (1993-5)
|Original network||ITV (CITV)|
|Picture format||576i (SDTV)|
|Original release||5 September 1992– 29 April 1995|
What's Up Doc? was a British children's entertainment show that aired on ITV on Saturday mornings from 5 September 1992 to 29 April 1995. It was hosted by Andy Crane, Yvette Fielding and Pat Sharp. Jenny Powell replaced Fielding for the latter part of the final series. The first two series were produced at Maidstone, before transfer to Glasgow.
The series also included a variety of characters including Simon Perry, Colin, Wooly, Billy Box, Baljit, Pasty the Worm, Mister Spanky, Naughty Torty, Gaston, Sam Sam, and Bro and Bro the Wolves. What's Up Doc? was designed to promote and feature products created by Warner Bros. in the UK of which included video games, movies, tours of their studios, and of course, their vast library of Looney Tunes animated shorts from which the "What's up Doc?" catch phrase was derived, and new animated series; Animaniacs, Batman: The Animated Series and Taz-Mania.
What's Up Doc? made use of the "phone-in" game format made popular by BBC mainstays such as Going Live, using revolutionary for the time games technology to escalate the experience thanks in part to the budget and resources of Warner Bros. Phone-in games that featured on the programme included Hugo the Troll and Joe Razz. The show was also responsible for the success of Batman: The Animated Series and Animaniacs on terrestrial television. Music was also a huge part of the show and played a large role in launching the careers of music groups Take That, East 17 and Eternal.
What's Up Doc? was also notorious for launching the careers of puppet comedians Don Austen and John Eccleston as the show's central new puppet characters, a pair of wolf brothers named Bro and Bro who, amongst other dastardly deeds, would comically "devour" any celebrity guest on the losing side of the phone-in games. The pair soon earned a spin-off series, Wolf It, on the weekday Children's ITV block.
Controversy and demise
Despite the show being a ratings winner, its near-the-knuckle student humour did not go unnoticed by the ITC, and after several complaints about the show's content, Sandy Ross, head of STV at the time, was worried that Warner Bros. would take their business elsewhere. The creators and producers of the show, Vanessa Hill and Ged Allen, resigned and in essence stated that they would rather spend the Christmas period of 1994 on unemployment benefits than face the prospect of watering the show down to make it more palatable to ITC tastes. On that morning when Gary Barlow was told of this he made a speech live on air saying how important the show was and how much he wanted to thank the production team of What's Up Doc? for Take That's success. Despite this Sandy Ross went though with his changes. With the show left a shell of its former self, viewing ratings plummeted and the staff left, along with the cast of characters, one after another. The death knell finally rang when Austen and Eccleston (Bro and Bro's puppeteers) defected to the BBC's Saturday Morning show Live & Kicking to star as a couple of leprechaun brothers. With its main draw no longer there, What's Up Doc? was cancelled shortly thereafter.