Photo by Lynn Goldsmith (via Morrison Hotel)
Blondie is, per Kirsty Young, “the most successful American band ever in the UK.” In December of ‘79, having just topped the chart yet again with Eat to the Beat, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein paid a visit to the BBC’s Saturday morning kids’ show Swap Shop—apparently a rival of Tiswas whose full legal name was Multi-Coloured Swap Shop—where guests offered swag to lucky contestants who wrote in with the correct answer to a trivia question. Some of the dry goods on this episode come from the recently completed “rock and roll comedy” Roadie, in which Blondie’s co-stars were Meat Loaf, Alice Cooper, Roy Orbison and Art Carney.
During the best parts of the episode, Chris and Debbie press phones to their ears as the tiny, halting voices of English schoolchildren blurt out questions and wishes for a happy Christmas:
Ian Rutledge: I wanted to ask Debbie, did she participate in any sports?
Beverly Chinnick: Um, Debbie, who designs your clothes, and um, do you choose them?
Samantha Jarrett: Um, um, Debbie, did you name your group after your hair?
Paulette Baker: Can I ask Debbie a question? Was her hair always that fair color, or was it brown like the other members of her group?
Because the proceedings are so sweet, the mention of the disgraced TV host Jimmy Savile, who was revealed to have been a serial rapist of children shortly after his death, is startling. Brace yourself. (Savile does not appear on the show, though the gross likeness of his gross hair does.)
If Wikipedia is right, BBC wiped its archival tape of this episode in the late eighties. Three cheers for home recording.