Pat Sharp. The man, the myth…the mullet. Even though he was the bloke who put the ‘fun’ into 90s kid’s gameshow Funhouse, he was professional with it. The ringmaster of this gungy circus, the conductor of this wacky orchestra, the referee of this hyperactive match. Well, you couldn’t expect any less from someone whose hairstyle said ‘Business at the front, party at the back’.
Funhouse ran from 1989 to 1999 on ITV. I was trying to explain the concept of Funhouse the other day to an 18-year-old friend and the best I could come up with was ‘It was kind of like the Krypton Factor but with kids, and a s***-load of gunge, with these two thick but saucy twins and go-karts and this, like, awesome scramble at the end to find these tokens for some shockingly modern prizes like a hand-held telly and a trip to Coronation Street, and Pat Sharp’s mullet………..all on crack!’
Needless to say, my youthful friend had never heard of the Krypton Factor either, but I thought I’d struck the nail on the head here. Up yours to the English teacher who said I wasn’t succinct enough!
Funhouse was indeed all of those things…and more. First, you had a seminal masterpiece in theme songs.
A whole lotta fun
Prizes to be won
It’s a real crazy show where anything goes
It’s a quiz
It’s a race
A real wacky place
Use your body and your brain if you wanna play the game…’
You just know that any show that promises all that in the first 20 seconds will not fail to deliver, it would be false advertising. And this was the 90s, when honesty was everything, kids were respectful and programmes did exactly what they said on the tin. And things just got even better from there. The Mullet rode in precariously on the back of a motorbike, whooping and hollering as if to summon his lost youth back to him. The contestants were introduced with the help of the delightfully dumb Cockney twins Melanie and Martina. These kids all had incredibly healthy pastimes like collecting keyrings or playing chess. See, that’s another reasons why the 90s were so good. Kids nowadays are likely to be collecting swear words or playing truant.
The game consisted of three rounds, the first being a gory gamut of gunge where everyone but The Mullet got as messy as possible. No-one gunges anyone nowadays. Why is that? Health and safety gone mad I expect. We all need a giant snot injection from time to time.
The second round was the highly revered Funkart Grand Prix where the red car and the yellow car have a race. I know what you’re thinking. Kids + GoKarts = FUN, right? And it would have done if the karts went faster than 3mph. The all-child audience still cheered as if they could feel the G-force from their seats. In fact, heavily choreographed cheering was a trademark of Funhouse. The show was the epitome of good sportsmanship. The kids modestly cheered (for the scripted four seconds) when they’d won and accepted defeat gracefully when they crashed and burned. It was as if they’d been bussed in from the Village of the Damned.
The culmination of all this was the third and final round where the team entered the Funhouse to retrieve tags with various prizes on them. By far the best bit of the show, if the team got their mitts on the power prize they had to answer a question to win a life changing, amazing prize like acting lessons or a pottery weekend. Wholesome through and through, this show.
By Danielle Mellor