Watch: DJ Pat Sharp says random strangers still thank him now for happy childhood memories
He’s an in-demand live British DJ, who plays sets in “Norway on Friday and then Billericay on Saturday”, yet veteran radio and TV presenter Pat Sharp, 61, is frank about the main key to his success.
“I work hard at my live sets,” he told Kate Thornton on podcast White Wine Question Time, “but to be honest with you, it's all to do with kids’ TV.”
Sharp was referring to ITV’s Fun House, a lively children’s TV show he co-hosted in the nineties with twins Melanie and Martina Grant. In it, teams played energetic, messy games such as Lava Swamp, Balloon Tunnel and go-kart Grand Prix. The highly popular children’s programme ended in 1999, after a decade.
Yet nearly 25 years later, its impact on a generation endures.
“If I'm at Butlins, a guy will come up to me – about six-foot-six and probably, I mean, width-wise, he’s just a big fellow,” Sharp said. “And he’ll go [Sharp breaks into an intimidating slow growl], ‘You… made… my… childhood.’”
Sharp joked, “To which I reply, ‘Well, that's probably just as well!’”
“And it doesn't come from radio or anything. It's just from doing Fun House.”
Listen to the full episode to hear Pat Sharp relive his favourite celebrity encounters with Kate Thornton and the joys of working with Stock Aitken and Waterman
Sharp’s passion for hosting started with an early fascination with radio jingles.
It was a “geek behaviour”, he told Thornton, that impacted on his teenage social life.
“I can remember going out with my pals, you know, when we were 17, 18,” he said. “And a couple of girls would say, ’Do you want to come back to our house for tea?’”
Sharp continued, “After 20 minutes, I'd say, ‘I'm sorry, I have to go because the Top 40 is on and I've got to tape the jingles… my mate looks at me and goes, ‘You what?!’”
Sharp’s passion for radio, however, paid off.
At just 20 years old, he covered for Steve Wright on BBC Radio One, and went on to become the station’s youngest DJ, working alongside Tony Blackburn and Lenny Henry.
Four decades later, he has hosted and guested on numerous TV and radio stations and shows, including London’s Capital One and Top of the Pops.
While Sharp sports short hair today, it was his early hairstyle that added to his fame.
The style – short on top, long at the back – was inspired, Sharp revealed, by a trip to Norway, where he met Monica, his wife of 36 years. It was there, he spotted young men sporting “fantastic” mullets inspired by 1980s Norwegian ice-hockey players.
His own version, Sharp proudly told Thornton went on to become “pretty much the most well-known mullet in this country” and “I think it overtook the likes… of Peter Stringfellow… and Andre Agassi.”
Only Noel Edmonds, his colleague at Radio One, could compete.
It was a point made when Sharp did a guest spot on BBC’s Noel’s House Party, at a time when his mullet, he revealed, was “in its most ridiculous stage”.
Edmonds’ own hair was, at the time, Sharp joked, “coiffured” and “beautiful.”
Sharp recalled knocking on the “door”, during Noel’s House Party, and Edmonds answering.
“And he went, ‘Look at your HAIR!’” Sharp said. “I just replied, ‘Well you can talk!’”
Later, Sharp would recall such showbiz anecdotes in his spoof memoir, Re-run The Fun: My Life As Pat Sharp.
In it, he “twisted” real-life encounters with the likes of Cilla Black and Bob Monkhouse to make them “more fun”.
One unlikely claim in the book is that he wrapped Spice Girl Geri Halliwell in a “Union Jack tablecloth” so that “she could get on stage really fast and wear that as a dress” at the Brit Awards.
“Because obviously that’s what happened – ish!” Sharp laughed, referring to one of Britain’s most famous fashion moments.
Today, even as he DJs for packed crowds in Dubai and Ibiza, and hosts a popular Greatest Hits Radio show, it is Sharp’s children’s TV work that remains his legacy.
There is one (true) showbiz encounter that proves it.
Read more: Pat Sharp: David Beckham was a Fun House fan
Sharp told Thornton about meeting Victoria Beckham at a lunch. The star wanted, he said, to thank him for being “nice about” her memoir on his radio show.
It was then that Sharp saw David Beckham trying to join the conversation.
“Oh, this is my husband, David,” Sharp recalled Victoria saying.
“And I went, ‘I know, mate – hi’,” Sharp said.
“And he goes, ‘Fun House!’”
Watch: Pat Sharp shares his love of radio on White Wine Question Time