Paddles Up



Alan Parry (1983-84)

Tony Gubba (1985)

Chris Rea (1986-91)

Michael Collie (1991-93)


Commentator: John Gosling


BBC Birmingham for BBC1, 13 July 1983 to 16 July 1993 (45 episodes in 10 series)

Co-produced by White Rabbit Productions 1987-93


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.


During its 10 year run, the show bobbed around the schedules in various time slots with the first two series airing at an evening slot after News programming, the third and fourth series aired at 5.35pm after Children's programming, the fifth series aired at 3.25pm before Children's programming, the sixth series aired in the Going for Gold slot at 1.50pm, the last four series aired at an early morning slot. The first series was the only series that aired weekly, the subsequent nine series were stripped across the week.

Early contests took place either at Llangollen or at Bala, but in later years, the venue was changed to the new, purpose-built water sports centre on the River Trent in Nottingham.

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

The show's third 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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