Noel’s House Party On BBC Four!

Saturday nights are alright… again!

The mind often plays tricks on you however sometimes, the need to check you’re not losing your marbles becomes quite acute.

 A few minutes were spent browsing Twitter recently – nothing out of the ordinary in that however, a timeline normally dominated by current affairs, sport and the weather was very quickly interrupted by some news from BBC Four.

 Their weekend evening output has recently become the home of nostalgic content from their vast archive. Top of the Pops, iconic sitcoms and from 30th July it seems, Saturday night entertainment. This would open initially with the superb documentary The Fight for Saturday Night originally broadcast in 2014. This was followed by a repeat of Bruce Forsyth’s Generation Game from 1993. The rumour mill was quickly going into overdrive…

 What would be next? When your back catalogue is as vast as BBC One’s, there’s quite a list to choose from. There’s always been one programme that is regularly referenced but never repeated. A hugely influential light entertainment heavyweight that has never been repeated – never. It’s appeared in compilations and of course, in programmes like The Fight for Saturday Night however those famous doors have never re-opened – until now.

On Saturday 6th August at 7:00pm, opening BBC Four for the evening. Noel’s House Party returns for the first time in over 23 years. Before superfans like me start to get too excited, we must stress that this is of course, a repeat. There is however, still a reason for genuine excitement. Superfans of other series have bathed in repeats for decades – Only Fools and Horses, Fawlty Towers, Open All Hours, Morecambe and Wise, The Two Ronnies to name just a handful.

For those of us who remember “House Party” with great affection, you’ll forgive us for making an occasion out of this. We’ve had nothing for over two decades and whilst this is just a one off for now, let’s hope there’s more. The show deserves to find a new audience – it was for several series, unbeatable – not only in the ratings but also, for generating the chatter in the office on Monday mornings.

Whilst some edits will be inevitable, the BBC have selected a cracking edition. As series one drew to a close, the show was a phenomenon. Avid fans will be able to wallow in nostalgia whilst anyone new to NHP will be able to discover the magic. The episode being broadcast has been confirmed – the tenth episode of the debut series, from Saturday 1st February 1992. The debut series it may have been however it was polished, slick, and relentlessly entertaining.

The founders of and also, fellow superfans like me, are equally as excited. People will finally be able to discover what all the fuss was about. Let’s hope it’s warmly received. Whilst we’re talking about the success and popularity, we’ll play a little guessing game… (answers on a postcard please). The edition of “House Party” broadcast on 1st February 1992 attracted 12.45 million eager partygoers. On Saturday 6th August 2022, it’ll probably struggle to exceed the hundreds of thousands however that doesn’t matter. What matters is that it’s happened, and a new generation of fans can join in the fun at The Great House. Tell everyone.

You can learn more about the show’s ratings and read in-depth analysis about each series by using the menu at the top of the page. There is a genuine affection from myself and the founders of the site for Noel’s House Party and whilst this repeat will pass the majority by, there’s something very romantic about a repeat showing on television.

There has always been a warmth and affection for the show however it’s taken some time for the memory to remember the better times. The show was first broadcast over thirty years ago and passing that milestone has seen interest in the series grow – culminating in the creation of this website and the superb documentary from Richard Latto, A Decade of Crinkley Bottom, which deserves a network broadcast. Add into the mix, the availability of every episode on YouTube courtesy of Andy Pearman, and you’ve got all that you need – the ultimate Saturday night boxset perhaps?!

I’ve sat and watched a classic episode as I have written this and whilst I say this with considerable bias – it’s still got it. You can watch it all, dip in and out – there’s something that everyone can enjoy. When you consider how garish some of Noel’s shirts were, you can’t even say that the clothes are outdated. No one else would have worn them before and no one else would wear them now. 

Essentially, whilst it may have been “of its time”, there can be little doubt about the influence the show has had. I’m one of the lucky ones – I appeared on it in 1999 and believe me, it meant something then and it still does today. Seeing the title “Noel’s House Party” in the Radio Times or on the EPG feels strangely familiar but also, oddly surreal. It’s not appeared anywhere for 23 years! It’s a welcome sight nonetheless.

There’s something remarkable about the human memory. It does funny things to you. We all have opinions too. NHP divided opinion. To some, it was the zenith of the BBC’s live entertainment output – to others, it was puerile and unsophisticated. My view has been clearly demonstrated and for those who disagree – absolutely fine. The likelihood is though, that if you’re reading this, you’ll remember it well and hopefully, fondly. 

A number of revivals have been muted, driven inevitably by Noel’s return to television in 2005 with Deal or No Deal. These were always quickly flattened despite a number of ewspaper articles over the years. It begs the question though I feel. Would it work now? Does it live on elsewhere?

Once again, a matter of opinion however consider this – given the affection for the show currently being driven to new heights, why spoil it with a revival? These things are best left alone – and Noel lives on the other side of the world too. NHP’s legacy is secured and rather than risk damaging this (it has taken two decades to get us here), let’s just turn the clock back.

A Saturday evening on a BBC channel, a 7:00pm start time? Perhaps we are already there? I’ll have to check the calendar to ensure I haven’t woken up as an eight-year-old. I can pretend it’s 1992 for fifty minutes. Now quickly, do I have a spare VHS cassette?

Noel – our memories will be very kind to you. To the rest of the nation, give it a try – Crinkley Bottom’s a lovely place… honest.

Brendan Bugg
28th July 2022