Noel's Saturday Roadshow
BBC 1, 3 September 1988 to 15 December 1990 (48 episodes in 3 series)
Noel Edmonds then. No, let's not go there. Despite what anyone says, everyone will have watched one of his shows avidly at some point, despite the shirts. This pre-dated Noel's House Party but post-dated the Late Late Breakfast Show, but in essence these were variations on the same theme.
The show would come from a different place every week (magically, in the same London studio) so you couldn't get bored with the set. The very first show was set in the construction yard of the (then topical) Channel Tunnel.
The Gunge Tank game was one of the highlights (?) of the show. Members of the public would attempt to win prizes and avoid the gunge. They'd choose to find 3, 4 or 5 names within 90 seconds with bigger prizes depending on how many they think they can name. To do this, Edmonds would try and describe words to a celebrity guest. When they got it, the word would fill one of the boxes. Now here's the clever bit: if you were to read the words quite fast in your head you'd get a phrase, like a sort of verbal Magic Eye thing. Mike-Halo-Stack-Anne would be Michela Strachan. Sort of. And of course, if they didn't match their bid - or even sometimes if they did, it was fun-hilarious-Saturday-night-prime-time remember - then the punter would get covered. Hurrah! Sometimes if the celeb was really awful they'd gunge the celeb instead though - or, on a few rare occasions, the celeb would actually volunteer to get gunged with the punter (Steve Cram and Jean 'Nellie Boswell' Boht both did so). Double Hurrah! At the end of every series, Edmonds would cop it, usually at the hands of a fellow gameshow host, like Les Dennis or Phillip Schofield. Treble Hurrah! Oh, and they even managed to get Mary Whitehouse into said tank during the 1990 series, which seemed remarkable. One viewer wrote into 'Points Of View', saying that she thought Whitehouse was very sporting to do so, considering her age - and the viewer also wondered how close to the drains the gunge had been. (Actually, she had little to worry about - by all accounts, the gunge was basically harmless, mainly consisting of food ingredients and colourings, and all victims were given hot showers and their clothes were washed and ultimately undamaged: the only irreparable damage was to a pair of suede shoes, which the BBC duly replaced).
"Embarrass your parents" quiz Wait 'Til I Get You Home also appeared, where parents would try and predict what their kids will say when asked questions like "What's your Dad's most disgusting habit" and such like.
Beadle-style practical jokes played on celebrities called the Gotcha Oscars happened every week too. The American Academy took offence to the Oscar bit, so for House Party they were reduced to Gotchas. Interestingly, Noel always got gunged and won an Oscar at the end of the series because of the evil production crew. In this sense, and this was true with House Party too, it was always worth watching near the end of the series for the inevitable Noel-gets-his-comeuppance episode which was usually genuinely funny. And to build up to the event, the crew would play practical jokes on him all the time. Such is the fun of live television! The thing with the Gotchas though is that they tended to use the same actors every week. Obviously celebs never watch the show!
Let's not be too harsh on this show - it set out to do something and it succeeded. If there's one criticism we can level at it, it was that rather than replacing features they tended to be strung out too many times.