There was something magical and thrilling about classic kids’ gameshow Fun House.
Whether it was the hilarious games, copious gunge or because you got to actually drive at the incredible speed of one mile an hour, it all seemed ludicrously exciting.
“It was mostly on in the winter when there was nothing else to do and this show was all bright and colourful,” presenter Pat Sharp tells RadioTimes.com. “And there was me with my strange hair [see Pat’s trademark mullet below], Go Karts running around the studio – it was every kid’s dream.”
But behind every dream is the real world. And when we caught up with Pat to discuss the crowd-funding campaign hoping to turn Fun House into a live immersive experience, we got him to reveal some hilarious home truths about our favourite kids’ show from the 1990s…
1. Pat had to take holiday from his ‘proper’ job to film Fun House
“We went to record Fun House at Scottish television one week per year. I took one week off work at Capital Radio and I would go for seven days to Glasgow, and then I would go home and go back to work on the Monday on the radio. People would think I’d been on holiday for a week and didn’t think I was very tanned and I said ‘Well that’s because I’ve been in Glasgow stuck in a studio’.”
2. One 22-minute episode would take up to SEVEN hours to make
“We’d record from Saturday morning straight through to Friday and we’d do two shows a day: one in the morning, one in the afternoon. They would take six or seven hours to film each.
“So we’d have 14-hour days with lunch in the middle and it was really hard work, starting filming at 7am and finishing late at 9pm. Then that’d be 14 weeks – that’s three and a half months of telly shows. So we only did it for one week a year and that was it. Although nowadays it’s even worse. If you’re doing a game show or quiz show, they probably do 15 a day. God knows how many they make of The Chase in one go!”
3. Kids who came to watch the show often left after two hours having seen NOTHING
“Kids would come along from Scottish schools to sit in the audience. They would come along for an hour or two and were then replaced two hours later because they had to go back to school. Sometimes they wouldn’t see anything happen because in those two hours the set would just be cleaned up.
“The kids would come expecting to watch a whole show like they knew it from TV and they would never see the whole thing. No-one was there for seven hours. We kept changing the audience. If you watch a show and look at the kids in the front row in the first game, they’ll be different than the kids from the front row in the Fun House run.”
4. The studio was muckier than Wheel of Fortune’s
“It was hard to clean up all the mess and all the gunge. That all had to be cleared up before the Go Karts could go round because they were in the same place – in the one, small studio.
“There were two Scottish ladies who used to come in with a mop and just be really angry and say ‘Bloody messy people’. They used to say our studio was much dirtier than Wheel of Fortune’s and I used to say ‘Well that’s because it’s a kids’ show and it’s messy!’ – but they never quite understood…”
5. Pat was largely barred from the Fun House
“When the audience was in the studio, we were never allowed to go in the Fun House at all because they didn’t want to spoil it. The fact that it’s kids’ TV, the bosses didn’t want the image of that to be ruined by you as grown-ups running around there while the kids were all watching and waiting for the reset and the clear up.
“The most we could do during a reset or a wait of any kind was to sit in the ball pond and to use the balls as a pillow and have a rest and close our eyes for ten minutes.”
6. …but he still went in the Fun House anyway
“I must admit I did walk around it. I would go up, look at it and realise it wasn’t actually all that well put together. It was made for television, like most things. And yeah there were some things that were a bit rickety and maybe a little bit…well, it wouldn’t have passed health and safety.”
7. The gunge probably wouldn’t pass health and safety these days, either
“That was pretty much like every single game that we played. We were dipping kids’ heads in this stuff and they would look at me and go ‘What is that?’ and I’d say ‘I don’t know…stick your head in it! Who cares what it is?’. I don’t know how they made the gunge, but they used to stir it backstage with a big piece of wood so I don’t know how many splinters came off. But we never hurt anyone!”
Here’s information about #BringBackFunHouse and how you can pledge to make the Fun House live experience a reality