Back aback Pat Sharp was still active his kids to school, he would stop off forth the way to aces up added accouchement as allotment of a agenda system. He remembers one of those accouchement vividly. “Whenever I looked in the mirror for traffic, he would aloof be activity …” Sharp gawps bottomward the lens of his Zoom camera for me, eyes vacant, jaw blind down. “He never said acknowledge you, like the others. He never said anything, he aloof stared. I thought, this kid is so rude.”
Thirty years later, the aloft kid angry up at Pat Sharp’s house. He capital to advice address his adventures and he had an abnormal abstraction about how to go about it. “All that time in the car, he charge accept been authoritative plans,” action Sharp. “And he did apologise for never adage acknowledge you. He said: ‘I aloof couldn’t accept the guy who presented Fun Abode was active me to school.’”
Now, let me be honest actuality and say that I wasn’t ever aflame by the anticipation of a Pat Sharp autobiography. Yes, Fun Abode – the bouncy ITV kids appearance that ran through the 1990s in a becloud of go-karting, gunge and cheerleading twins – had been a allotment of my childhood. Yes, I had been dimly acquainted of Sharp bustling up on shows such as I’m a Celebrity and Appear Dine With Me since. And of advance I still remembered The Mullet, conceivably one of the best era-defining haircuts. But Sharp didn’t actually accept like a key cultural amount in 2020. He was aloof a presenter and DJ on Greatest Hits Radio, blithely accepting on with life. At best, I thought, I ability get some Accidental Partridge-style quotes.
So it came as some abruptness to apprehend Re-Run the Fun: My Activity As Pat Sharp and acquisition that it’s one of the funniest books I’ve apprehend in ages. Not aloof amusing, but arranged with gags. So abundant for Accidental Partridge: Sharp has produced a Actual Deliberate Partridge, berserk sending up his post-fame life. At one point he writes: “It’s alone occurred to me now, as I sit actuality in this bistro alternating amid autograph these pages and acute F5 on my inbox to see if the University of Roehampton accept afflicted their apperception about booking me to be allotment of their freshers’ week, that I realise you sometimes don’t acknowledge aloof how abashing your bearings is.”
The book is abundantly untrue. Unless, that is, you are able to accept that Pat Sharp played a allotment in German reunification (“It was a bit like the time we threw a abruptness altogether affair for Timmy Mallet,” he writes. “A lot like that, actually, as both saw a lot of smashing of walls”), assertive Geri Halliwell to abrasion a abutment jack dress at the Brits and already had a coughing fit during an adventure of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
Sharp’s aboriginal DJ gig wasn’t at a garden centre. His mother wasn’t a cleaner who argued with clients. And – I can’t accept I’m actually autograph this – Mike Leigh didn’t absolute an unaired adventure of Fun Abode that featured 17 account of agonizing aborticide babble afore any of the amateur began. So why did Sharp, 59, appetite to ad-lib his absolute activity story?
“I anticipate I’m actually appealing boring,” he says. “I’ve never drunk, I’ve never smoked. I’ve never done drugs because I’m blessed abundant afterwards them. I actually like abrasion my car, really.”
I doubtable Sharp’s co-writers, Darren Richman (the aloft staring child) and Luke Catterson, ability accept been the book’s active artistic force. Which leaves me in the rather camp bearings of aggravating to account addition whose adventures I’ve aloof apprehend and yet whose activity I apperceive adored little about. Our hour-long babble is abundantly spent as a bold of accurate or false: untangling nuggets of actuality from the book’s all-inclusive web of fantasy.
So actuality goes: Patrick Sharpin (he beneath it for showbiz) says he had a actual common accomplishments – his dad ran his own PR and business business in Grosvenor Square, while his mum gave up an acting career to accessory afterwards him. An big-ticket apprenticeship (Merchant Taylors in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire) saw him leave academy with aloof the one O-level because “by that date I knew I aloof capital to be a DJ”.
His absolute attraction with radio is one affair from the book that turns out to be accurate – Sharp says he actually did almanac the blueprint briefing with his feel aerial over his band recorder’s abeyance button, not to cut out the presenter’s articulation as best adolescent admirers did, but rather to abstain taping any music so he could accept aback to a cassette of authentic links and segues. Sometimes, he says, he would put a thermometer beneath his hot-water canteen in adjustment to get a day off school. “I would afresh sit there all day, alert to the radio, crumbling bottomward the music and accomplishing my own links as if I was the DJ.”
Aged 18, Sharp travelled to California with friends, demography a ghetto blaster on to the even so he could accept to his favourite Capital Radio DJ recordings. Already there, he concluded up taping over them with the American DJs who blew his mind. On afterwards trips to New York, he would accelerate his wife, Monica, out arcade while he sat in the hotel. “I’d tune into Z100 and WPLJ and accept to them bathed in answer like you were with them on top of the Empire State Building, and I would appear aback and try to charm that at the top of the Euston belfry for Capital. I played jingles added generally and faster than anyone else, and that’s article my aeon accept consistently been affectionate to me about, adage I was a glossy little abettor aback in the day.”
Sharp presented his aboriginal BBC Radio 1 appearance in 1982, age-old aloof 20. His characteristic radio appearance adapted a characteristic look. While alive in Norway for Sky Approach (a pop video approach that became Sky One), the bounded ice hockey players bent his eye. “They were blond, butch and handsome with absurd hair. I thought: ‘I appetite a bit of that!’”
He met his wife of 34 years in Norway, and it was Monica who eventually assertive him to cut off his mullet. Sharp says he was out active aback his “huge new carphone” (OK, he does sometimes blooper into Accidental Partridge) started ringing, and he answered it excitedly. “She said: ‘Can you appear home now? We charge to talk.’ We had an au brace at the time who put the kids in a abstracted allowance while Monica sat me bottomward and said: ‘Can you amuse cut your hair?’ I was so adequate she wasn’t unwell and annihilation bad had happened that I said yeah. It was alone afterwards that I went: ‘Oh shit, really?’”
And how did it feel aback it was gone?
“Cold!” he says. “But it was time to abound up. It’s a air-conditioned affair to accessory aback on but I couldn’t accept it now. I’d accessory like Joe Exotic.”
Sharp’s brilliant was so aerial during the 1980s that he artificial an absurd pop career with the DJ Mick Brown as allotment of the alms duo Pat and Mick, scoring hits on the Billboard Hot 100 aloft the brand of Phil Collins and Sting. “But I wasn’t actually adequate with it because I can’t sing, so they had to use a lot of buttons at Stock Aitken and Waterman’s studios to accredit me to feel accustomed on the record. Actuality a pop brilliant wasn’t for me and I would accept hated to accept relied on it to pay my mortgage.”
Instead, his account instalments were taken affliction of by Fun House, which ran from 1989 until 1999 and charcoal actual affectionately remembered. The book runs anarchism with the appearance – including a (let’s accept fabricated) adventure in which an asthmatic boy died on set afterwards inhaling effluvium from Sharp’s acute hairspray routine. “I took to the stage, briefly award myself afresh and canonizing what was important – a alternation of amateur based on pratfalls area accouchement could win accessories they didn’t need.”
I anticipate this is why the book afraid me – at times it seems rather abreast the address for Sharp’s audience. “There are still a few things in it that I anticipate are a little bit racy, to be honest with you,” he admits. “And some things we had to accent down. I assignment for a affable radio base – nice music, communicative – and I didn’t appetite them to think: ‘Maybe he’s not for us.’”
Fun Abode is atrociously mocked, but Sharp seems bedeviled with the show, and had been authoritative advance axis it into an immersive accident for adults until the communicable put a breach on things. “As you can imagine, a agglomeration of bashed bodies decrepit saliva over artificial assurance and go-karts apparently isn’t the government’s aboriginal antecedence at the moment.”
Since lockdown, he says, he has “lost a amount of money” afterwards accepting 78 alive DJ sets and anniversary gigs cancelled. But he says it’s the adolescent bodies he feels apologetic for. “They’ve aloof angry 18 and all the nightclubs are bankrupt … it’s terrible. I can accept their frustration.”
When Fun Abode ended, Sharp broke into its homesickness agency by acceptable a approved on the apprentice circuit. In the book there’s some Partridge-style acerbity about the actuality he’s no best on the TV, but he says this couldn’t be added from the reality. “I would never accuse about any of the gigs I’ve done because I’m annihilation but adored at every gig I do. Everybody wants a selfie, bodies appear up and say: ‘You fabricated my childhood.’”
I’m aggravating to brainstorm annihilation added abhorrent than accessory apprentice gigs as a grownup teetotaller, but Sharp paints a altered picture. His fizz comes from actuality in ascendancy and ensuring the punters accept a abundant night out. Still, he charge accept been faced with some annoying requests.
“Oh, 100%. But that’s not aloof students,” he says. He puts on a arrested lad articulation and replays the affectionate of approved chat he has with strangers. “‘You all right? Where’s the twins? Did you abandoned the twins?’” He sighs. The twins were Melanie and Martina Grant, his co-presenters on Fun House. “Even afterwards all this time, ‘Did you abandoned the twins?’ is my most-asked question. But you aloof accept to accord with it.”
The absoluteness is he is still abundant accompany with Melanie and Martina; he says if they were aback all put on date calm they would bang instantly because they had that chemistry. In the book, Sharp describes how he would affably avoid the connected “Did you abandoned the twins?” questions from bashed bistro crowds …until, that is, he realised he could contentment his crowds and agreement added bookings by regaling them with more abandoned (and fabricated up) tales of threesomes in the Fun Abode go-karts. Er, accept the twins apprehend about this yet?
“They haven’t,” he admits. “They accumulate asking, but I say: ‘No, you delay your turn.’”
What about the added celebrities mentioned in the book? Did he run any of it accomplished them? It does claim, afterwards all, that Noel Edmonds has a assumption aperture knocker of a bobcat that has been adapted to resemble his own face. And that Sharp has affianced in a lifetime of petty animosity with Art Attack’s Neil Buchanan. Did he seek permission afore advertence them?
“I didn’t allege to anybody, no. But best bodies will be actually accomplished with it … and if they’re not, they should lighten up. I’ve been mentioned in a few books and actually admired it.”
At this he springs up and goes to acquisition me article on his computer. It’s an audio blow from Alan Partridge’s Nomad, in which Sharp does absolutely get name-checked. “Was that an honour? 100%!” he beams. He afresh had a Partridge bender with his two sons – eight episodes of Knowing Me Knowing You in one night – and the access of Steve Coogan’s ball appearance on his own book is adamantine to ignore.
Sharp believes he has a appropriate acknowledgment for Partridge because he’s lived the activity (“Radio DJs all adulation Partridge; we’re apparently bisected of his audience”). And so it seems applicable that Sharp wraps things up with a Partridge-esque chestnut he has “dined out on for years”. It’s the aboriginal 00s, and he is at a Nordoff Robbins alms cafeteria aback he spots Victoria Beckham adorable him over with her finger. He had been nice about her adventures on air and she capital to acknowledge him. But while they’re chatting he keeps accepting absent by her husband, David, staring at him. Sharp does an impression, and it’s the exact aloft afraid gawp he did for the adolescent in the aback of his car. The England captain is appropriately speechless, but eventually Sharp says he managed to clasp out two words: “He aloof said: ‘Fun House!’”
Re-run the Fun: My Activity As Pat Sharp is appear by Constable on 5 November. To adjustment a archetype for £17.40 (RRP £20), go to bookshop.theguardian.com. P&P accuse may apply.
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