Noel’s House Party (1991 – 1999)
Light entertainment shows are a bit scarce these days, and the genre has been all but forgotten in recent years. It won’t mean anything to anybody outside the UK, but in the nineties, if you weren’t out on a Saturday evening, you were in watching Noel’s House Party – probably the greatest show of its kind to come out of that decade. Yes, it was that good.
It’s a difficult show to describe, because there’s really nothing like it nowadays. Broadcast live, it was a semi-scripted show, set in an old mansion in the fictional village of Crinkley Bottom (yes, the ‘Carry On’ style humour was on full display – Noel’s House Party was as English as tea and crumpets). Each hour long episode would have regular segments, including short comedy skits, prize giveaways, pranks, phone in competitions, and of course, the ever popular gunge tank. I know, it sounds awful, but it had a singular charm that has not been replicated since. Noel Edmonds was the perfect host, and the format probably would have struggled under anyone else’s control.
In later years, Mr Blobby – the silly, pink and yellow polka dot character introduced in the second series in a supporting role – began to take up more and more space on the show, and the show began to steer south as a result. Blobby even had his own chart-topping single at one point, but the less said about that travesty the better.
With all the television reboots happening these days, I’m surprised nobody has brought this one back yet, but it’s a different audience now, and unfortunately I don’t think Noel’s House Party would work in 2017. Somewhere along the line, television forgot how to be fun. It’s true: they don’t make ’em like they used to.