G&TV: Noel’s House Party (12/03/94)

With Noel Edmonds currently commanding his biggest TV audience since his mid-90s heyday on the superb current series of I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!, now seems an appropriate time to revisit the Saturday night behemoth that was Noel’s House Party. Any Brits aged around 30 and over will need no introduction, but for everyone else: this was a hugely popular live entertainment show, featuring pranks, gunge, celebrity guests, competitions, and a huge amount of involvement by the general public. It’s perhaps most notorious for introducing the world to spoof kids’ TV character Mr Blobby, a hugely divisive figure who was absolutely ubiquitous for a few years, spawning videos, books, a single that reached the coveted Christmas number one spot in 1993, and even an ill-fated theme park.

There’s nothing quite like it on British TV these days, although Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway comes closest. Indeed, fans of that show may recognise a fair number of familiar formats in House Party‘s various regular features. Those segments were, of course, framed with live studio sections, with Noel hosting his various guests in the Great Hall of fictional village Crinkley Bottom. Popular television stars of the time would pop by throughout the show for a scripted comedy chat. For example, Chris Barrie, portraying his most famous character at the time – Gordon Brittas.

You can see a selection of clips here, courtesy of Chris Barrie Fans, but why not treat yourself to a full episode of the show, in which Brittas makes cameos at various points throughout:

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Not A Good Day

With Dwarf understandably going quiet since the last audience recording, maybe it’s time to check in on the world of Brittas. When we last “reported” on things, a revival was “in development”. Let’s hear what Chris Barrie has to say:

“Regarding the possible return of The Brittas Empire, which caused a moment or two of excitement last year, things have gone very quiet indeed – in fact totally silent. I believe a script was being developed with a view to recording a special or pilot at some stage. So if you are a journalist, don’t bother emailing me about an interview as I would prefer to wait until there is something concrete to talk about and that doesn’t look likely at the moment.”

Oh. Cock it.

Something to ponder: the BBC’s sitcom season this summer contains a number of revivals, which Brittas would have slipped neatly into. The fact that the project hasn’t managed to capitalise on this really isn’t promising, unfortunately.

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Exxxxxxxxxxxxxxcellent, etc

As reported seemingly everywhere: Brittas to return?

Well… maybe. In fact, the only thing the story actually confirms is that something is in development. Which is all very well, and matches stuff we’ve heard elsewhere – Chris Barrie’s site, for instance – but this is hardly a guarantee of anything actually making it to air. As ever, it’s slightly bizarre when it’s G&T which has to add a note of caution. BLAME MODERN JOURNALISM.

(What I’m finding odd is this idea there are 53 episodes of Brittas – something both the British Comedy Guide and The Mirror are reporting. There are 52 episodes. As ever, watch incorrect information spread across the media just because nobody could be bothered to look at an episode guide and count the number of episodes.)

On the plus side, the mention Richard Fegen being involved is highly promising. And there’s an interesting parallel here with Red Dwarf X, beyond the obvious. Whatever issues I had with that series, one thing it did was prove you can still have production ambition with audience sitcom.

The return of Brittas could well prove you can still do a pre-watershed sitcom which has a bit of fucking edge to it.

UPDATE (10/07/15): FFS.

High & Low: The Cast’s Other Shows

Hello and welcome to High & Low, our brand new monthly feature looking at the very best and very worst offerings from the wider world of Red Dwarf. Each month, we’ll be taking a subject and picking out the top ten best examples of whatever that category is. It’s a bit like Buzzfeed, but with lots of words instead of animated gifs taken from Youtube videos. But that’s not all. Because this is G&T, we’ll also be pouring scorn all over the bottom five shit bits from each particular field.

So, what subject will be kicking off this glorious brand spanking new feature? We present the Top 10 and Bottom 5… Cast Members’ Other Shows.

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DVD Roundup

Yes, like the proverbial dormouse, I have woken up and am ready for action. Unfortunately, this means a long and boring news story, on stuff that you all already know about anyway. Sorry about that.

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Pets

Pets. A puppet sitcom, 26 x 11m, broadcast by Channel 4 in the excellent and sadly-missed 4Later slot in 2001/2. And directed by Mike Stephens, who produced and directed Brittas, which is the rather tenuous excuse for posting this.

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