Noel's House Party

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Noel's House Party was a BBC light entertainment series hosted by Noel Edmonds. Set in a large house in the fictional village of Crinkley Bottom, leading to much innuendo, it was broadcast live on Saturday evenings in the 1990s on BBC One. The show, once described by a senior corporation executive as "the most important show on the BBC", was cancelled in 1999 due to poor ratings.[1] In 2010, Noel's House Party was voted the best Saturday night TV show of all time.[2]

Noel's House Party
300px-NHP1994.jpg
Genre Entertainment
Written by Malcolm Williamson
Noel Edmonds
Charlie Adams
Garry Chambers
Richard Lewis
Stuart Silver
Louis Robinson
Directed by Guy Freeman
Duncan Cooper
Michael Leggo
Phil Chilvers
Presented by Noel Edmonds
Theme music composer Ernie Dunstall (1991–96)
Stephen Green (1996–98)
House of Fun by Madness (1998–99)
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 8
No. of episodes 166 (+ 17 specials)
Production
Executive producer(s) Michael Leggo
Producer(s) Mike Brosnan
Jonathan Beazley
Editor(s) John Sillito
Running time 45–65 minutes
Release
Original network BBC One
Picture format 4:3 (1991–98)
16:9 (1998–99)
Original release 23 November 1991 – 20 March 1999
Chronology
Preceded by The Noel Edmonds Saturday Roadshow

History

Noel's House Party was the successor to The Noel Edmonds Saturday Roadshow, carrying over some of its regular features such as the 'Gunge Tank', the 'Gotcha Oscar' and 'Wait Till I Get You Home'.

The show had many celebrity guests posing as residents of Crinkley Bottom, including Frank Thornton and Vicki Michelle. It gave birth to Mr. Blobby in the Gotcha segment. There was also a contrived rivalry between Edmonds and Tony Blackburn. One-off celebrity appearances included Michael Crawford as Frank Spencer, who came in to find the whole audience dressed as Frank, and Ken Dodd in a highwayman's outfit—"going cheap at the Maxwell sale"—as Noel's long-lost 'twin', Berasent Edmonds (a play on Bury St Edmunds).

After several changes, the show began to decline in popularity. Its theme tune was changed in 1996, and set redesigns followed. In January 1998, an episode had to be cancelled after a disagreement between Edmonds and the BBC. The budget had been cut by 10 per cent, with the money saved being used to help fund the BBC digital switchover. Edmonds reportedly walked out, claiming the show was "of a poor standard and cobbled together."[3][4]

The BBC cancelled the show in 1999 after ratings plummeted from a high of 15 million to eight million.[5] Edmonds closed the final episode of House Party on 20 March 1999 by saying:

It's an overworked expression when people say 'it's the end of an era', but for BBC Television, the entertainment department, for me, and possibly you, it really is the end of an era. I hope your memory will be very kind to us. After 169 [episodes]... bye.

He was then playfully attacked with a fire extinguisher by Freddie Starr. The closing credits were followed by a brief comic skit of Edmonds' 1970s children's show Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, in which a seemingly young Noel wakes from a dream in the Swap Shop studio - recounting the events to Keith Chegwin and John Craven of a typical House Party episode (reminiscent of the infamous Bobby Ewing "shower scene" in Dallas) suggesting that the entire run of House Party never really happened.

In a statement, Edmonds said:

I am delighted this decision has been made. I feel as though a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. History will prove that House Party was one of the most successful entertainment shows of all time.

He partly blamed the Ronan Keating talent show Get Your Act Together for poor ratings leading into House Party.[6]

Awards

In 1993, Noel's House Party won a BAFTA for best light entertainment series.[7]

In 1994, the opening titles won a Bronze Rose of Montreux. The stop-motion animation title and credit sequences were made by 3 Peach Animation.

Regular features

Gotcha

Originally called the 'Gotcha Oscars' until the threat of legal action from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (which also prompted a redesign of the award), hidden camera practical jokes were played on celebrities. Notable victims were Barbara Windsor, Carol Vorderman, Jill Dando, Kriss Akabusi, Lionel Blair, Dave Lee Travis, Richard Whiteley, Eddie Large, Samantha Janus, Yvette Fielding, Status Quo, and the Queens Park Rangers football club. In the final series, Dale Winton turned the tables on Edmonds with a surprise challenge that ended with a gunging. Another notable victim was Annabel Giles, the first victim who managed to spot the hidden camera, which had been placed in the back of a car, which meant the prank backfired. Maggie Philbin became aware that she was part of a 'Gotcha' within seconds of the filming even though she did not spot any cameras. She left the set-up ostensibly to get help for a stranded victim seeking her aid, but never returned. When she appeared in the studio to 'review' the skit and be presented with her 'Gotcha', she admitted that she had gone shopping.

Wait Till I Get You Home

Parents watch pre-recorded footage of their children being interviewed by Edmonds, and try to guess the children's answers. In later series, it was replaced by a similar feature called Secret World of the Teenager.

The Lyric Game

In early series, celebrity duos competed against one another to complete the lyrics of a song after being given the first line. This feature was originally in The Noel Edmonds Saturday Roadshow.

Grab a Grand

A phone-in competition where a viewer chose from three currencies (aiming to select the greatest value of money; £1,000 in the first episode), and a celebrity (usually a sports star like Graham Gooch, Frank Bruno, Kathy Tayler, Kriss Akabusi, Nick Gillingham, Henry Cooper, Stephen Hendry, Steve Davis, David Gower, Gary Lineker, John Regis, Paul Gascoigne, John Barnes, Lennox Lewis, and others) would climb into a perspex box containing a fan and a large quantity of banknotes. The celebrity had to grab as many of the notes as possible as they were blown around by the fan. Noel would ask the caller three questions based on that week's news, and each correct answer gave the celebrity 20 seconds in the box, up to a total of 60 seconds with music length of number of correct answers and audience counts down from ten to one. There were variations: 'Grab a Granny', 'Grab a Grand Piano', and 'Grab a Grand National'. The money was quickly counted on stage using a Cashmaster counting machine.

Cash for Questions

Introduced in Series Six & Seven, similar to Grab a Grand. First, the Wheel of Fortune is spun. A person is strapped horizontally to a wheel. The wheel stops spinning and points to one of eight phones. The person on the other end of that phone has to get a question correct. If they get it wrong, the wheel is re-spun. However, if they get it correct then they are given a further three current affairs questions. Each correct answer is worth twenty seconds for B-list celeb to go crazy in the Basement.

The Basement is pitch black and the caller, with infra-red camera at their disposal, tries to guide the person through the basement collecting bags of money along the way. Each one was worth £100, with golden ones worth £500. At the end of the time the lights came on, so there was nothing stopping the celebrity grabbing an extra bag or two on the way out. Named after a political scandal.

NTV

A camera was hidden in the home of a member of the public and Edmonds would talk to them through their television.[8] Some would be shocked, other bemused, others would simply try to run away. Whatever the reaction, they would subsequently end up doing some embarrassing performance in their living room or garden. Celebrity victims included Chris Evans, Garry Bushell and Dale Winton.

One hilarious incident on NTV from the very early series had a woman running out of the room and didn't come back, leaving Noel and the audience in complete stitches.

Sofa Soccer

In the final series, a similar idea to Bernie the Bolt in The Golden Shot, a viewer at home would attempt to score goals by directing a machine to fire a huge football. The commands were 'left', 'right' and 'shoot'. The music used for this game was based on Crazy Horses by The Osmonds.

The Big Pork Pie

The Big Pork Pie was a regular feature from Series Three and Series Four, where a member of the audience with an embarrassing secret was sat in a big pork pie, made to wear a lie detector and questioned by Noel. Noel himself was subjected to this torture on one episode, with Bob Monkhouse taking on the role of question master and as a result it turned out that Noel's middle name was Ernest.

The Gunge Tank

Carried over from The Noel Edmonds Saturday Roadshow, the gunge tank was put to various uses, usually gunging celebrities or unpopular members of the public after a phone vote was carried out during the show. Gunging usually took place in the final minutes of the show. Gunged guests/celebrities include Jenny Hull, Nina Myskow, Jilly Goolden, Mary Peters, Frank Carson, Keith Floyd, Lynn Faulds Wood, Kristian Schmid, Mat Stevenson, Anthea Turner, Myleene Klass, Nigel Mansell, Richard Whiteley, Carol Vorderman, Adam Woodyatt, Piers Morgan, Edwina Currie, Garry Bushell, Mr Motivator, Richard Clayderman, Gloria Hunniford, Jeremy Clarkson, Gary Olsen, Samantha Janus, Keith Harris and Orville, David Hasselhoff, Graham Cole, Anneka Rice, John Leslie, Paul McKenna, Annabel Giles, Nicola Stapleton, Bodger & Badger, Phillip Schofield, Andi Peters, The Chuckle Brothers, Robert Kilroy-Silk, John Virgo, Pat Sharp, Eamonn Holmes, Ulrika Jonsson, Ross King, Katie Boyle, Annabel Croft, Tony Blackburn, Bruno Brookes and Liz Kershaw.

The 'gunge' was a food thickening agent called Natrosol, coloured with various food dyes. The gunge tank got progressively more sophisticated. From Series One a standard tank was used, with an ornate look to it. Series Two introduced foam (often coloured) rising up from the bottom prior to the gunging. Series 3 introduced the 'Car Wash', where the individual was carried along a lengthier tank, going through a set of brushes designed to soak the victim, then having the gunge descend from above before being spun out of the contraption. In series Four and Five, it was developed into the 'Trip Around The Great House', where the victim was placed on a miniature railway that took them on a journey around the set, finishing up in the giant fireplace, where gunge was finally released onto the victim. From Series Six, there were changes to the format, and gunge was used less frequently. For Series Eight, a member of the audience would be gunged by a tank lowered from the studio rafters, or their chair would be lowered into the undercroft of the seating area, where they were gunged, and came back up again.

Edmonds was often gunged himself, usually in the final episode of a series.

Number Cruncher

A regular feature for Series Four and Series Five, where a phone box modified to contain a gunge tank and a TV screen was placed somewhere in Britain. The code to get into the phone box was broadcast live on air, and the first viewer to reach the phone box got to play a game. Once inside, they had 45 seconds to rearrange a code on the screen to win a prize and get out again. If they ran out of time, they were covered in gunge. If they solved the puzzle, they had an opportunity to gamble their prize. By pulling a handle, they could either double their money, have random objects dropped on them, or be covered in gunge.

Beat Your Neighbour

One of the main features on Series Five, in which two neighbours would run round to each other's house and, in one minute, grab as many belongings as they wanted. Then, following a series of alternate questions, one neighbour would win everything, including their own stuff back.

My Little Friend

My Little Friend was a feature used from Series Six to Series Eight. This involved small school children being faced with puppets that start talking to them (one voiced by Noel). In the final series, Phibber the frog and Waffle the Squirrel spoke to the children, and sometimes scared them away.

The Hot House

Members of the public and sporting celebrities compete against each other on exercise machines hooked up to gunge tanks.

Panel Beaters

A celebrity panel game from the second half of Series Seven, in which celebrities had to spot the imposter from three members of the public with apparently bizarre occupations. If they failed, they got gunged.

Three to Go

A game from towards the end of Series Eight. Noel would link up with three regional news programmes, who would each bring an improbable-sounding news story from their region. The contestants would have to guess whether the stories were true or false.

Mr Blobby

In 1992, during series two of House Party, the character Mr Blobby was introduced as a way for Noel Edmonds to play practical jokes on celebrities. The success of the characters resulted in a large amount of merchandise, public appearances and even theme parks based around the character.[9]

Crinkley Bottom Theme Parks

With the House Party set in the fictional village of Crinkley Bottom, Edmonds opened three Crinkley Bottom attractions at pre-existing theme parks in the UK. The first, based at Cricket St Thomas in Somerset, featured many Mr Blobby attractions and was due to include a replica of the Great House from the series.[9] The park closed in 1998 following dwindling attendance figures.

In 1994, a Crinkley Bottom theme park opened in Morecambe. It closed 13 weeks after opening. A two-year investigation by the district auditor was started due to the investment of £2 million by Lancaster City Council.[10] It resulted in both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats withdrawing from the cabinet, leaving four councillors from Morecambe Bay Independents and the Green Party running the authority.[11] A third Crinkley Bottom theme park was based at Pleasurewood Hills in Lowestoft, but has since closed.

Transmissions

Series

Series Start date End date Episodes
1 23 November 1991[12] 28 March 1992[13] 18
2 24 October 1992[14] 13 March 1993[15] 20*
3 23 October 1993[16] 26 March 1994[17] 22
4 22 October 1994[18] 25 March 1995[19] 21
5 21 October 1995[20] 30 March 1996[21] 22
6 19 October 1996[22] 29 March 1997[23] 22
7 18 October 1997[24] 21 March 1998[25] 20
8 17 October 1998[26] 20 March 1999[27] 21

* Originally to run for 21 episodes. The show scheduled for 6 March 1993 was cancelled due to a bomb scare at BBC Television Centre. A repeat of Noel's Christmas Presents and a Tom and Jerry cartoon were shown instead.

Originally to run for 22 episodes. The show scheduled for 3 January 1998 was cancelled due to a disagreement between Edmonds and the BBC. A repeat of The Best of Noel's House Party, originally broadcast on 11 October 1997, was shown instead.

Specials

Title Date
The Best of Noel's House Party 31 May 1993[28]
Noel's Garden Party 4 September 1993[29]
The Best of Noel's House Party 29 August 1994[30]
The Gotcha Hall of Fame 3 May 1995[31]
The Gotcha Hall of Fame 17 May 1995[32]
The Gotcha Hall of Fame 30 December 1995[33]
NTV Stars 18 April 1996[34]
Noel's NTV Stars 25 April 1996[35]
The Best of Noel's House Party 7 September 1996[36]
Gotcha Hall of Fame 28 December 1996[37]
Gotcha Hall of Fame 17 July 1997[38]
Gotcha Hall of Fame 24 July 1997[39]
The Best of Noel's House Party 11 October 1997[40]
Noel's Greatest Gotchas 10 January 1998[41]
Noel's House Party Gotcha Special 13 March 1999[42]
The Best of NTV 19 March 2000[43]
The Best of Noel's House Party 26 March 2000[44]

International versions

Country Title Host Channel
 Belgium Binnen Zonder Bellen[45] Koen Wauters VT4
 Denmark Greven På Hittegodset[45][46] Eddie Michel TV 2 (Denmark)
 Germany Gottschalks Haus Party[47] Thomas Gottschalk Sat.1
 Netherlands Monte Carlo[48] Carlo Boszhard RTL 4
 Spain Vaya Nochecita[45] Pepe Carroll  ?

References

  1. ^ "BBC Lowers the Boom on Noel's House Party". The Guardian. 26 February 1999.
  2. ^ "Noel's House Party voted best Saturday night telly show ever". The Mirror. 30 October 2010.
  3. ^ McCann, Paul (3 January 1998). "BBC pulls plug on Noel's House Party cancelled". The Independent. London. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  4. ^ Cozens, Claire (19 August 2003). "Edmonds: I'm guilty of bad TV". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  5. ^ "Noel Edmonds to leave BBC". BBC News. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  6. ^ Morgan, Kathleen (26 February 1999). "Party over for Noel - Show axed as viewing figures hit all-time low". Scottish Daily Record. Glasgow.
  7. ^ "1993 Television Light Entertainment Programme or Series". BAFTA. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  8. ^ Gareth Palmer (2003). Discipline and Liberty: Television and Governance. Manchester University Press. pp. 149–. ISBN 978-0-7190-6693-1.
  9. ^ a b "Crinkley Bottom Park History". Dunblobbin.com. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  10. ^ Gledhill, Dan (3 September 2000). "Edmonds to testify in Blobby fiasco". The Independent. London. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  11. ^ "'Crinkley Bottom' row leads to cabinet walkout". BBC News. 21 February 2003.
  12. ^ "Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 23 November 1991". BBC Genome. Retrieved 4 December 2014.
  13. ^ "Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 28 March 1992". BBC Genome.
  14. ^ "Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 24 October 1992". BBC Genome.
  15. ^ "Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 13 March 1993". BBC Genome.
  16. ^ "Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 23 October 1993". BBC Genome.
  17. ^ "Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 26 March 1994". BBC Genome.
  18. ^ "Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 22 October 1994". BBC Genome.
  19. ^ "Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 25 March 1995". BBC Genome.
  20. ^ "Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 21 October 1995". BBC Genome.
  21. ^ "Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 30 March 1996". BBC Genome.
  22. ^ "Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 19 October 1996". BBC Genome.
  23. ^ "Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 29 March 1997". BBC Genome.
  24. ^ "Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 18 October 1997". BBC Genome.
  25. ^ "Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 21 March 1998". BBC Genome.
  26. ^ "Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 17 October 1998". BBC Genome.
  27. ^ "Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 20 March 1999". BBC Genome.
  28. ^ "The Best of Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 31 May 1993". BBC Genome.
  29. ^ "Noel's Garden Party - BBC One London - 4 September 1993". BBC Genome.
  30. ^ "The Best of Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 29 August 1994". BBC Genome.
  31. ^ "The Gotcha Hall of Fame - BBC One London - 3 May 1995". BBC Genome.
  32. ^ "The Gotcha Hall of Fame - BBC One London - 17 May 1995". BBC Genome.
  33. ^ "The Gotcha Hall of Fame - BBC One London - 30 December 1995". BBC Genome.
  34. ^ "NTV Stars - BBC One London - 18 April 1996". BBC Genome.
  35. ^ "Noel's NTV Stars - BBC One London - 25 April 1996". BBC Genome.
  36. ^ "The Best of Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 7 September 1996". BBC Genome.
  37. ^ "Gotcha Hall of Fame - BBC One London - 28 December 1996". BBC Genome.
  38. ^ "Gotcha Hall of Fame - BBC One London - 17 July 1997". BBC Genome.
  39. ^ "Gotcha Hall of Fame - BBC One London - 24 July 1997". BBC Genome.
  40. ^ "The Best of Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 11 October 1997". BBC Genome.
  41. ^ "Noel's Greatest Gotchas - BBC One London - 10 January 1998". BBC Genome.
  42. ^ "Noel's House Party Gotcha Special - BBC One London - 13 March 1999". BBC Genome.
  43. ^ "The Best of NTV - BBC One London - 19 March 2000". BBC Genome.
  44. ^ "The Best of Noel's House Party - BBC One London - 26 March 2000". BBC Genome.
  45. ^ a b c "Game On; The Broader Picture". The Independent. London. 27 July 1997.
  46. ^ ""Greven På Hittegodset" med Eddie Michel - Egon Olsen kommer forbi, TV2 13. sept. 1996". YouTube.
  47. ^ "Gottschalks Hausparty - Opener 1995". YouTube.
  48. ^ "'Unique' signs Dutch co-production deal for World of the Secret Camera". Broadcast. 17 Dec 1999. Unique also revealed this week that BBC Worldwide had agreed a format deal with RTL 4 in the Netherlands for Endemol to produce a second series of Noel's House Party which is broadcast under the title Monte Carlo.

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