For children of the ’90s, it was must-watch TV at the end of the school week.
Fun House, with its never-ending flow of gunge, go-karts race, obstacle course, twin cheerleaders and, of course, a mulleted Pat Sharp as presenter, was a half hour of anarchic children’s TV fun on Friday afternoons.
A staple of CITV for 10 years, every episode of the series was filmed in the old STV studios at Cowcaddens in Glasgow.
And, as talks continue about a revival of the Fun House format, Pat Sharp says the original version of the show would never be signed off by health and safety executives today.
“If you showed that format to someone now, they would say it couldn’t go on telly – it was lethal,” he laughed. “Kids were being winded and having their heads pushed into unknown gunge and we’d be telling them to carry on and be a trooper, and they’d be crying. We’d tell them, ‘We just need to get this part filmed and then we can get you off to hospital’.
“We had good times filming in Glasgow. Myself and the twins, Melanie and Martina, would go out in the city. They would be wearing matching outfits and I would have my long hair, and they’d be walking either side of me, so we would be recognised a lot. People were always nice to us, but I remember one time this drunk bloke stopped us and asked what age the girls were. They were a bit scared, so I answered and told him they were 27 and he said, ‘What, each?’ I’ll never forget that line.”
While the locals were always pleased to see Pat and the twins, the same can’t be said for the cleaning staff at STV.
“These days, there would be an industrial cleaner to get rid of the mess or we would use two studios, but the same place where we did the games was where the go-karts went later, so there were long periods between each segment while the cleaning went on. It was just two ladies with a bucket and mop each.
“They used to glare at me as they walked by to clean something else up and they’d tell me we’d made a bloody mess. ‘We don’t get this on Wheel Of Fortune,’ they always used to say.
“People think of Fun House as being a huge part of my career, but each series was filmed in a week. We would do seven days, one show in the morning, one in the afternoon, and those 14 episodes would be shown over the next three months.”
A favourite of children around the UK, STV executives tried to replicate the show’s success with an adult version.
“It was at the end of the first or second series,” continued 59-year-old Pat. “Since the set, which took a lot of time to construct, was built, they thought they would try an adult version to see if that would sell. They got Linda Lusardi in as host and instead of teenage twin cheerleaders, she was accompanied by big hunky men wearing open shirts and bow ties. I distinctly remember it being made, but it never got off the ground.”
Pat says he and Melanie and Martina would only return to the Fun House format for TV if it was an adult version – and revealed long-held plans for an immersive version of the show, where the public could take part in the games, is closer to becoming a reality. “There is a TV company looking to do it now and are speaking to us on a consultancy basis, but we wouldn’t want to do a kids’ version.
“We’ve been having very decisive talks about the immersive experience, which is in the planning stages, but they have been scuppered for the meantime due to Covid. Adults sweating in ball ponds probably isn’t the ideal thing to be doing right now.”
Our love of nostalgia has never been stronger and Pat, who started out on Radio 1 before becoming a host – and a performer as part of the hit duo Pat and Mick – on Top Of The Pops, this week releases an autobiography or, as he calls it, a “sortabiography”, called Re-Run The Fun: My Life As Pat Sharp.
“I’ve been asked to write a memoir several times over the past 38 years but I didn’t want to do it, I felt it would be boring just listing the things I have and haven’t done,” he explained. “So we decided to do a spoof memoir. It’s not a lockdown book by any means, we’ve been working on it for five years.
“I’ve always been self-deprecating, and while it’s based on an untrue story, it all happens within my timeline. If people fall for it and think it could be real, then all the better.”
While Fun House might be coming back, Pat’s famous mullet won’t be returning, even if stars like Miley Cyrus, Rihanna and Cara Delevingne have all been spotted sporting the business in the front, party at the back hairstyle this year.
“I might have had it a little too long before it came off, but it was fashionable and to this day people remember me for it,” he added. “That’s why we’ve put it on the front of the book – people might not know me but then they’ll say, ‘Oh, the mullet guy’.
“It never hurt anyone and it still gets referred to today, with people being said to do a Pat Sharp – what’s not to like about that?”
The popularity of Fun House was demonstrated to Pat during a conversation with David and Victoria Beckham at the height of their celebrity. “I was at a Nordoff Robbins charity night in the early 2000s and David and Victoria were there,” said Pat.
“She called me over to thank me for giving her autobiography a mention on the radio. The whole time, David sat with his head on her shoulder, grinning at me but not saying a word. So I said to Victoria, ‘Who’s your friend?’ She played along and introduced him. I said hello to him and all he said to me was ‘Fun House’. I thought that was quite cool, better than him just saying hello Pat.
“He’d obviously grown up watching it and remembered it.”
Re-Run The Fun: My Life As Pat Sharp, out on Thursday from Constable
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