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Fun Factory

YET ANOTHER in the many summer replacements for TISWAS, as feeble as that show was mighty. Set in a factory (which presumably manufactured “fun”), this starred BILLY BUTLER, SOME OLD BLOKE WE CAN’T RECALL and GARY “CROWMASTER” CROWLEY, who pretended to be mentally deficient for laughs. Not much else to it, really; plenty of cartoons and appearances by the Toy Dolls, Goombay Dance Band etc., plus semi-regular cameos for the Beadlebum, one being heckled by a curmudgeonly eight-year-old boy with the immortal line “Karl Marx is OK!” Remainder of ITV’s summer output wasn’t.



  1. Mark Boyle

    October 2, 2009 at 11:42 pm

    The Toy Dolls never appeared on the disastrously bad Fun Factory (itself a replacement for the dire Mersey Pirate summer recess show with the same useless twat Billy Butler), the most unsuccessful Saturday morning kids show yet spawned by any channel. It single handedly killed Granada’s will to do any further kids shows stone dead for years.

    There was a slight air of insult to injury to the show, as it borrowed its theme in part from the second series of Granada TV’s old early morning kids show ‘Mr Trimble’ (which being a monster success, meant Granada logically decided to axe it in favour of keeping ‘Picture Box’ running which gave kids the creeps)

    Beadle’s involvement was primarily due to his cult status for the BBC2 shows The Deceivers & Eureka, as well as Game For A Laugh for ITV, whilst Wilf Lunn had been a mainstay of Vision On, Take Hart and Jigsaw. Their pithy contributions were nowhere near enough to rescue a programme fronted by a man with all the charisma of a bowl of cold diarrhoea. Contrary to the myth, Inspector Gadget did NOT feature on Fun Factory – he made his British debut three years later.

    The Toy Dolls TV debut was on the North East “Orange” Programme a year after Fun Factory folded, which sparked a minor Bill Grundy & the Sex Pistols style furore, but that’s another story…

    • Joanne Gray

      November 21, 2017 at 10:55 am

      You’ve obviously never suffered the Tyne Tees late 70s/early 80s codswallop for the kiddies that was Saturday Shake Up (did wonders for Swap Shop’s viewing figures). That was THE worst Saturday morning kids show.

      • Glenn Aylett

        November 27, 2021 at 9:56 am

        Tyne Tees refused to take Tiswas and set up this dismal alternative. I can remember Saturday Shake Up being so bad they tried to do their own pop videos and one attempt was a man riding a motorbike along Tynemouth sea front to The Revillos Motorbike Beat, a crummy song that didn’t even make the Top 40. No wonder the Tiswas denied masses in the North East largely watched Swap sHOP.

  2. Damon

    November 17, 2010 at 12:17 am

    I seem to remember presenter Therese Birch doing something with a wall on this show. A joke wall? Did people used to write jokes on a wall?

    And there was some kind of hideous precocious talent show, not too different to Junior Showtime and that thing that later had Mr Bennett from Take Hart fronting it in the late 80s. The conceit was that it was time for a break, the workers (all kids) would come to some kind of canteen area and watch other children putting on a show. This is half remembered stuff.

    Billy Butler was and probably still is a legend in Liverpool. Wearing a boater hat he was about as far removed from his ‘Hold your plums’ quiz on Radio Merseyside as you can imagine. Is that stil on? The next time I saw him was on an early evening BBC1 show called Fax – think it was on twice weekly; viewers were asked to send in questions that the team would answer. So very pre-Google.

    A character called Mr Nasty also appeared on the show. I think he wore a boater, too, now I come to think of it. He would hold court on a table of children and they’d have some kind of argument. He looked a bit post punk … and I think this was a feature on LBC’s Jellybone show at one point. Strange how this programme borrowed from LBC: Therese Birch, Jeremy Beadle, Mr Nasty.

    OH well, at least Dougie Brown (host of The Mersey Pirate in a rather weird choice) wasn’t on it.

  3. billy butler

    February 5, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    I am so upset by Mark Boyles comments I have decided not to make a TV comeback !!!

  4. Richard16378

    November 22, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    Granada’s next attempt at Saturday morning TV was the hit & mix TX, presented by Tony Slattery before he attempted to be on very other show on BBC2 & Channel 4 at least one.

    It was the first time I saw Frank Sidebottom, who had a regular slot trying to do things like fishing & making a Christmas song & video.

  5. David Haxton

    September 11, 2019 at 8:41 pm

    Does anyone remember what the theme tune was ?? It was a fast piano piece and I remember Billy Joel playing it at a gig.

    • Gary O'Brien

      November 10, 2020 at 8:19 pm

      try listening to `root beer rag’ by billy joel – that one sounds familiar.

  6. Droogie

    November 25, 2021 at 6:59 pm

    I recall some sub-Crackerjack game they’d have for kids in the studio where the winner won the opportunity to blow up and demolish a building. The winning kid would be given a detonation box and as they pushed down the handle they’d cut to a grainy piece of stock footage film of a cooling tower being demolished. The disappointment on the winners face ( as well as anyone watching this cack at home ) was not inconsiderable.

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