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I TALK TO Pat Sharp

To celebrate 3 years of I Talk Telly I recently spoke to Pat Sharp about one of the most popular children's TV shows ever and whether or not Fun House would ever make a comeback.

If you were a kid growing up in the nineties, the words "It's wacky, it's fun, it's crazy, it's outrageous!" will bring back memories of gunge, go-karts and a very famous mullet.

I am of course talking about Pat Sharp and the brilliant kids gameshow that was Fun House, which ran from 1989 to 1999.

Getting home from school on a Friday afternoon meant only one thing, sitting in front of the TV and watching Fun House. It was the gameshow every kid (including myself) wanted to be on, and whilst I never did get the opportunity to run around the house or have a go at The Fun Kart Grand Prix, I did get to speak to the man, the legend that is Pat Sharp.

How important was Fun House for your career?

To be honest with you Elliot it was very important, because at the end of the day, it's still to this day being repeated, it's on Challenge TV every weekend and some weekdays. They keep running it week after week, month after month, year after year, so it's often on. On top of that it's sort of cult status now, because I get tweets and stuff from people who are watching the show with their children.

And they originally were children when they watched it, so it's now spanned a whole generation. The funny thing is that their children are demanding that mum and dad keep the show on the planner, and don't get rid of it because they want to watch it. It's not on enough for them! They need to have it there recorded so that they can keep watching it, because kids today are not getting that kind of children's television you know.

You must get people coming up to you all the time talking about Fun House, how does it feel knowing the show is still held in such high regard today?

Yeah they do Elliot, it's amazing. It's really nice. The funny thing is, that when we did it we just thought it would be what it was, one series maybe two, but it ran for twelve years in the end and it was probably one of the most successful kids TV shows of all time. It's great to be remembered for it and to be liked. I still see the girls, the twins are good friends of me and my family.

We still do some corporate shows together, the twins come with me and we do some normal hosting and a DJ set and have a Fun House party, so it's good that all these years on people still remember it and want to be involved with the sort of live version of it which is available from my website.

You touched on it a bit, but what do you make of kids TV today? How do you think it's changed?

Well one I don't watch it, because obviously all my kids are grown up, they're all in their twenties. My days of kids TV were kind of when I did it you know. There are so many more channels now, and to be honest with you, if Fun House was on now it probably wouldn't make the impact it did when it was on. When it was on it was either me or The Broom Cupboard, and that was it.

There two choices, but now the main channels don't have much children's telly on at all. Everything's thrown at satellite channels somewhere, where there is more choice, and there are many more things to watch I'm sure.

But are they the same quality? Do they invest the same money in children's TV? For example I did Saturday morning TV as well, What's Up Doc? in the nineties for three years, and the money that was thrown at that production was enormous! There were probably 50 or 60 people working on that every weekend, for a massive live show. But all Saturday morning TV has been replaced by cooking shows!

What was it do you think about the show, that made it so successful for so many years?

I think the successful thing about the show was the fact that mostly it was on on a Friday afternoon, they did move it around a bit but it started off on Fridays. It was a good time for kids to run home from school, put their schoolbags down, not do their homework that night because it was the weekend and sort of turn on the telly, have a sandwich or a biscuit and there was this very colourful, fun-filled show.

It was dynamic, it was fast moving. I based it on my DJ work that I was doing at Capital at the time. So it was speedy and fun, eventful and it was fun. It was a really nice atmosphere, lots of messy games and running through this house and grabbing tokens. And really we were giving away good prizes!

We sent kids to Australia and Canada and gave them really good hi-fi systems, or mountain bikes. The prizes were spectacularly good for children's TV at that time.

It's a bit like asking "Who's your favourite child?", but did you have a favourite round?

I don't think I had a favourite Elliot. I just used to enjoy hosting the show for the whole series. I don't think I had a particular favourite round.

We recorded the show in one week each year. It took me seven days a year to make Fun House. I would take a week off work, fly from London to Glasgow, go to STV and we would record 14 shows, 14 weeks, one a week was the series. We would record two shows a day, from 6am to 9pm, one in the morning and one in the evening for seven days.

A 22 minute show used to take the best part of 7 or 8 hours to record.

Do you think Fun House would still work if it was on today?

I think Fun House would work, but not as a kids show, I think it would work as a family version of the show, a Saturday night, 7 o'clock adult family Fun House. With mums and dads playing. We are actually trying to bring it back, we haven't had any specific interest but we are definitely in discussions as we speak. It would have to be different, it couldn't be the same.

There's no point in doing family Fun House the same. I don't think it'll work if I said - "Right, here's three games, go and stick your head in there and get a bit messy and do..." - it would have to be updated and be cooler. It's something that we definitely want to do and I think it would make a great transition into an early evening, Ant & Dec type slot.

Would you still host the show if it was to come back?

Well look, if the show did come back it would be up to the television company to decide whether they'd use me, Melanie and Martina, or if they would use a Vernon Kay type guy and two dolly dealers you know. ITV obviously have some rights to the name and could use it if they wanted to, it was on ITV for all those years. Scottish Television made it, so STV have the rights to do something with it if they wanted. But who knows... maybe there'll do a newer version rather than using us old chaps.

What's the one lasting memory you'll have of Fun House?

The one memory for me, was probably the fact that the kids always seemed so excited at the start when they met you the night before. They were brought in by their parents or their chaperones and they met us and we were like "See you tomorrow."

We'd rehearse the go-karts and then the next day you'd go in and the kids were a lot less mouthy and a lot less outgoing than they were the night before. They were all nervous and shy and didn't tend to speak up that much which was a shame.

That was my lasting memory really, that the kids never really grasped that this was their one big shot.

Have you ever met these kids recently, now that they're all adults?

Oh many many times. Many times people have come up to me at gigs and said - "I was on Fun House in 1992." Sometimes they're bullshitting and they make it up, you can normally find out when I go - "Which team were you on?" - and I don't say red or yellow so they go - "Oh, green team."

But I have genuinely met people who have been on and I've even seen a photograph on their phone of the photograph that we gave them on the day and they brought it along to show me. so yeah I've probably met about 15 or 20 people over the years who have been on the show. They say they had a great time and they enjoyed the experience.

It is now at absolute cult status, I can almost anywhere and people will go - "Oh my God, Fun House!"

Are there any other shows that were on around the time of Fun House that you'd have liked to present?

No not at all. I was presenting the one that was the biggest one anyway so I was quite happy with what I was doing.

I never wanted to do Get Your Own Back with Dave Benson Phillips, that was a poor man's imitation for me. Not that I'm knocking Dave, because I work with Dave a lot these days. But Fun House smashed everything. It beat every other show that was ever up against it. It was always number one.

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