In this edition of Vintage Media Millennial, Jamie Dyer discusses the 1981 BBC record I Wanna Be a Winner, a Swap Shop tie-in under the name Brown Sauce.
I remember discovering this recording for the first time. It was sometime around 2010, and I would often scan eBay looking for strange novelty 45 records to play on my radio show. I picked up many over the years including records by Roland Rat, Jasper Carrott and The Four Bucketeers. It is this one by three members of the Swap Shop cast, which has remained close to my heart.
Swap Shop was a Saturday morning show which aired on the BBC between 1976 and 1982. It was a magazine variety hybrid that had a distinct feature; Children would ring in to offer to swap an item of their choosing or accept a swap. It was presented by Radio One breakfast presenter Noel Edmonds, with contributions from John Craven, Maggie Philbin and Keith Chegwin.
In 1981, Edmonds, Philbin and Chegwin released a record to tie in with a feature, it was called I Wanna Be a Winner. The song was produced by B.A Robertson, who also co-wrote it with Edmonds. It was a fun novelty record all about the subject of winning awards. It was released on the BBC Records label under the name Brown Sauce. It reached a peak position of 15 in the UK charts.
I became fascinated by this little curiosity after digging deeper into Noel Edmonds’ career. I grew up watching his work on Noel’s House Party, but I knew very little of anything before that. I watched the extended special It Started With Swap Shop in the mid 00s, and it gave me a starting point.
When I stumbled upon the music video on YouTube, I could not contain my excitement. It was a cheap visual which featured Chegwin and Philbin stood next to a screen showing various references found in the lyrics. Edmonds would appear during the chorus shaking a wine bottle. In my tired student brain, this image was the funniest thing I had ever seen. From then I knew I had to find an original 45.
The song is a fun little throwaway ditty about winning things, with a number of early 80s references including Hurricane Higgins, Willie Carson and Penny Keith at the manor. I appreciated the randomness of the line “I don’t want to paint like Van Gogh, go nationwide with Frank Bough” The BA Robertson production on this record is incredibly thin, but that was probably not helped by the 45 it came on. Given the throwaway nature of the release, this is understandable. Sections of the instrumentation have an almost soupy like quality, but its all part of the charm.
The B-side was the (then) current theme tune to Swap Shop entitled “Hello Hello” this number was also written by BA Robertson. Its an upbeat number with a better production, and a little more oomph. It still sounds pretty good coming out of my small speakers!
What do you think of I Wanna Be a Winner by Brown Sauce?