The good news for fans of the 1990s game show Fun House is that it’s back! The bad news is that instead of being on ITV at child primetime, it’s a one-day-only event in a soft-play area attached to a pub, the Fradley Arms, north of Birmingham.
“We went there to do a photoshoot recently,” Martina Grant, one of the show’s cheerleading twins, tells me. “It was fantastic. All of the parents were like, ‘Oh my god, it’s Pat Sharp and the twins!’ The kids were all confused and didn’t have any idea who any of us were.”
To combat that flaw in the Fun House revival plan, the event (on 13 June) will allow parents to compete alongside their children for the first time. (“And yes,” Grant assures me, “adults can fit into the programme’s legendary go-carts”.)
Fun House, which ran for 10 years from 1989, has now been off air for longer than it was on. But are there any plans to revive it properly? “Things move on,” says Grant, who is now 43 and a mum of two who works for Clarins. “We’ve tried over the years to bring it back but nothing’s ever come of it. And anyway,” she says, “it would have to be changed now because of health and safety concerns. They’d never allow all that gunge, the slippery floors and the risk of kids slipping over any more.”
See fayre-square.com for full details
While Scrabble players were debating among themselves the pros and cons of the 6,500 words added to the new Collins Official Scrabble Words (“But surely ‘Ridic’ is an abbreviation”), for another set of word lovers a far more important discussion was taking place. Because finally, sub-editors were given a definitive ruling on how to spell “Cazh” (the casual version of casual). But where was that other word that magazines such as Grazia would use all the time if only somebody knew how to spell it?
On their behalf, I contacted Helen Newstead, Collins’ head of language content, who says: “We see some evidence in the corpus for ‘Zhoosh’ [variant spelling ‘Zhoozh’; verb, to make more exciting, lively, or attractive] and the great news is it is now playable in Scrabble.” Zhoosh? Really. I think they might need to jooj up that spelling if it’s going to catch on.
Fear runs in the family
When he died earlier this year, Brian Clemens – the film and TV writer/producer/director behind The Avengers, The Professionals and various Hammer horrors – left behind one last idea. To honour his memory, Clemens’ sons, Sam, 34, and George, 32, went straight to work on turning that idea into a short film.
Surgery is now, as they say, “in the can”, but Sam and George need to raise £4,000 for postproduction in time to screen it at this year’s Fright Fest (see phundee.com).
The Clemens Bros team, set up in 2005 to write and produce their own material, are following a long family tradition that stretches back beyond their father. “It was said in our family that we were direct descendents of Mark Twain,” Sam tells me. We were named Samuel Joshua Twain Clemens and George Barnaby Langhorne Clemens in honour of him, and our father always maintained that writing was in the family.”
Along with passing on the creative gene, Clemens Snr was an avid collector whose ephemera – much of it gathered from his golden years in television – is now in the hands of his sons. Certain key items, though, fell victim to Clemens’ giving nature. “Many people won’t know this,” Sam tells me, “but Dad used to have a stall at Portobello Road market selling antiques, bric-a-brac and furniture. His motto was always ‘If I’ve got it, you can have it.’ He was so generous. Sometimes – as in the time he gave away Steed’s bowler hat – to the detriment of our own inheritance.”
One of the more depressing acronyms of recent times is the internet favourite “TL; DR”, which means “Too long; didn’t read”. It is a term which might well be applied to a 6,000-word-plus piece published last week in the online magazine Grantland.
Daniel Kellison spent eight years working in various roles on the Late Show with David Letterman, and with the programme now finished, Kellison felt he could finally spill some anecdotal beans. While his tales of, among others, Peter O’Toole, Madonna and Julia Roberts are all worth reading, here’s a snippet for the TL;DR crowd. “There was a standing offer of $500 to anyone who booked a Beatle on the show. In 1989, Morty [the show’s executive producer] booked Ringo Starr and went to Dave to collect his money. Dave told him, ‘Ringo doesn’t count’.”
No rhyme or reason
Another in a regular series of limericks based on recent events:
At Cannes they’ve banished flat shoes,
But some think it’s all been a ruse,
Because even the newbies,
Who work in the movies,
Know controversy makes bigger news.
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