Gunge and Gotchas: Noel’s House Party Remembered

Noel Edmonds and Mr Blobby

What Saturday night in the early 90’s was complete without a regular invitation to Noel’s House Party? Whether it was pre-night out or settling down to an evening of tv entertainment which happily catered for three generations of the same family, House Party had it all. Airing on the BBC between 1991 and 1999, if you were alive in the 90’s you cannot possibly have escaped the crazy world of Mr Edmonds in his gorgeous knitted cardigans, the pink creature with yellow spots recognisable to millions as Mr Blobby and, of course, the fabulous gunge tank.

Set in the fictional town of Crinkley Bottom (cue hilarious innuendos), the television programme Noel’s House Party contained great entertainment for all ages. Remember the soft-rock guitar theme tune? The stop motion animation 3D paper cut-out opening credits? The camera zooming around a cardboard version of Noel’s “house”, showing the viewer all of the different rooms and hinting at the craaaazy escapades that might go on in them? Cut from the credits to the set of a ‘mansion’, where a suited, bearded Noel Edmonds skipped down the stairs, smiling to greet his live studio audience before telling a host of atrocious dad jokes to open the show. Those were the days of real prime time Saturday evening telly!

Grab a Grand

With a host of celebrity guests queuing up to appear on the various features, the BBC’s House Party was the show to watch on a Saturday evening. Michael Crawford, Barbara Windsor, Richard Whiteley and Gary Lineker were among the victims to be interviewed, tricked, challenged and gunged. With cheesy 90’s features, Noel’s House Party was a far cry from The Graham Norton show, but fans will remember it for hilarious gags such as the celebrity ‘Gotcha’ pranks with the marshmallow-like Mr Blobby and competitions such as ‘Grab a Grand’, where contestants could win up to a thousand pounds in mystery currency (bit of a problem replicating that these days with the prevalence of the Euro) by cheering on a celebrity to catch as much cash as they could, while looking extremely silly in a box which blew the notes around.

Seriously though, House Party was a huge front runner for modern day shows such as Saturday Night Takeaway. Where Ant and Dec surprise viewers by popping up in ‘Free Takeaway Photo Booth’ in 2015, Noel was blazing the trail back in 1991 when he had a feature called “NTV” and would randomly pop up in the house of an unsuspecting viewer whose family had asked the show to feature them. Their faces were a picture! The show also engaged its audience at home by asking them to vote for a celebrity to be humiliated by being gunged at the close of the show. (I’m a Celebrity Bush Tucker Trial anyone?) The viewing public had the pleasure of seeing celebrity favourites such as Jeremy Clarkson, Carol Vorderman and Ulrika Jonsson covered in colourful neon gloop.

The last series closed in 1999 with viewers being treated to the sight of their beloved Noel being covered in foam from a fire extinguisher by Freddie Starr. A predictable prank, and a long way from the serious ‘Deal or No Deal’ host of today, but memories of Noel’s House Party will live on fondly in the minds of 90’s fans for a long time to come.

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