MASTER OF PUPPETS with WAVIS O’SHAVE ON THE TUBE

Ground breaking ‘80s live music show The Tube was broadcast from Tyne Tees studios in Newcastle for Channel Four from 1982 to 1987. The last post featured Wavis O’Shave who appeared regularly on the programme.

For one of the shows some filming was scheduled at the South Marine Park, South Shields and Wavis asked his mate Phil Whale to accompany him. Phil was a miner who lived on the Whiteleas council estate, South Shields.

Wavis: ‘I took Phil with me because he was the leader of the Whiteleas Massive and as a miner pissed off being involved in the Miners Strike. Thought I’d cheer him up!’

Phil Whale: ‘If there is one thing having a mate like Wavis has taught me is to always expect the unexpected. I’ve had hilarious times in his presence and witnessed surreal bizarre events’.

‘At that time Wavis was a regular on the show with his character The Hard who in essence was a delightfully exaggerated alpha male tough guy who was on a quest to demonstrate that he was the hardest guy on the planet’.

The Hard in his Hard backyard, South Shields.

‘I remember feeling excited at the prospect of watching him undertake his TV work, yet also feeling nervous at what he may do to challenge the norms and expectations of those in attendance because that is one of the things that he’s about. Funnily enough I do remember him having a glint in his eyes’.

‘We met a camera crew all wearing Barbour jackets and talking in middle class accents. Wavis politely explained to them that he was going to present new characters to the cameras such as Mr Ordinary Powder, Mr Starey Oot and a hand puppet scene called the Non Sweary Puppet Show’.

The Tube crew were expecting The Hard to turn up as that character was starting to make a big impression on their viewers. Even the staff in production meetings used to do impersonations of The Hard. But on the day Wavis had other ideas.

Filming Mr Ordinary Powder in the South Marine Park, South Shields.

Phil remembers ‘The director begged him to do The Hard and asked him if he would consider doing six episodes for Channel 4, but Wavey was having none of it stating that the Hard was now consigned to the past and as an artist he wanted to move on’. 

‘It was just mental watching Wavis perform these new surreal characters in a public park with Mr Ordinary Powder who was naked apart from a loin cloth, carrying a shopping basket containing a talking loaf of bread, and Mr Starey Oot just staring everyone and everything out – in a manner that the Hard would be proud of’.

‘Mind you the best part of the day had to go to the Non Sweary Puppet Show which involved Wavis hiding behind a wall then up popped glove puppets arguing and screaming at each other that included loud explicit references to sex and constant use of the F word – all in Geordie!

The crew and gathering members of the public stood in a stunned silence at what was happening.

‘Wavis maintained a rock steady face in between takes which added to the surreal nature. I remember experiencing a wide range of thoughts ranging from ‘what the feck this is brilliant’ to ‘Get in Wavis’. 

‘At the end of the day payment was discussed with the director, at first Wavis refused money but after haggling was pleased to get a brand new Scotland football strip.’

Phil wraps up his feelings about the day… ‘To cap it all off Wavis asked if I would accompany him to the Tube Studio for the editing. Was he valuing my comedic opinion or was he sticking two fingers up to the producers expectations?’

‘I suppose I will never know but it didn’t matter to me as the experience was priceless. Oh and by the way you won’t be surprised to hear that The Non Sweary Puppet Show didn’t survive the cuts which was a shame but not unexpected’.

It’s reported on good authority that while the Non-Swearies Puppet Show was unsuitable for terrestrial TV broadcast it was a huge favourite in The Tube Office.

‘The Non-Swearies…even I’ve lost the original demo VHS performance’ remembers Wavis.

Alikivi   October 2022