A few weeks ago I wrote about wanting to become romantically entangled with Funella from Cbeebies’ “Furchester Hotel”. The producer of the show then got in touch to ask if I would like to bring my family to meet the stars of the show. Which was sending out mixed signals. Ostensibly a nice day out for my daughter, Phoebe, but I had made it clear I was a puppet sex pest… What would happen?
The show is filmed in Salford, which meant an eight hour round trip in the car. But it was totally worth it. We were welcomed with furry arms!
Whilst I looked around the hotel, wide-eyed at the behind-the-scenes secrets, Phoebe became entranced by a Henry Hoover on the studio floor. We were surrounded by all sorts of props and amazing characters, but she couldn’t get over the vacuum cleaner. “We’ve got one of those at home,” I told her, but that didn’t bother her. Looks like I could have saved a lot of petrol money.
The first surprise for me was that the puppets are not operated by human beings as I expected, but are all living creatures, presumably mutated in some kind of nuclear accident in a carpet factory. The first one we met was the husband of my object of desire, Fergus. Phoebe was a bit reticent about approaching him and so was I. With good reason. Fergus has quite a thick Scottish accent, so I might have misheard him, but it sounded like he threatened my life if I came anywhere near his wife. I must have imagined that.
Funella was a lot friendlier (and even more sexy in real life than on screen) seeming flattered by my attentions. I began to suspect that the Funella/Fergus marriage is a sham and they are staying together for the sake of their TV show.
Astonishingly they film an entire episode in a day. I suppose the BBC are happy to work them hard because they are made out of cloth.
We were then shown around some of the other Cbeebies studios. We got to see where they film the Bedtime Story studio. I was hoping against hope that I might meet Rebecca or failing that Robert the Robot from Justin’s House might be reprogrammed to be my special friend (If I can’t get Gemma Chan from Humans then Robert will have to do). But pre-warned is pre-armed and I suspect they were both safely locked up in the Cbeebies Panic Room.
Next we were brought downstairs to meet Justin. Phoebe loves Mr Tumble so I was interested to see if she’d do her nut if she met him. We had to wait for ages in a corridor, like we were waiting for a Hollywood superstar. But Justin is bigger than Clooney and the delay just heightened the excitement.
Eventually Justin emerged and said hello. Phoebe smiled at him, but kept her cool. But then she fell over, as if attempting to give the king of slapstick some new moves to try out. That’s just embarrassing.
Justin was a little frazzled so I appreciated him making time for us. I feel sorry for him (as sorry as I can for a multi-millionaire). It must be tough to be so recognisable to every child in the country and never be allowed to tell your fans to eff off.
We then headed back to the Hotel set to get our photo with the Furchester team. Funella nibbled my ear. I was right about her. Totally up for it. It was nice for Phoebe to meet her future step-mum.
Today at the Edinburgh Fringe the nominees for the comedy prizes will be announced. About a dozen comedians will be cock-a –hoop and several hundred will be left feeling they have failed. But it’s all subjective and it’s crazy to turn comedy into a competition. If you’re one of the “losers”, don’t worry, none of my 39 Fringe shows were ever even nominated and look how things turned out for me… oh right… um… good luck.