Gilbert’s Fridge (CITV, 1988)
A while ago as part of my Saturday Morning Memories series, I looked back at various shows, including Get Fresh, where they travelled around the country in the Millennium Dustbin. One of the most memorable features on that show was the puppet character Gilbert The Alien, a rather horrible-looking green thing who was voiced by Phil Cornwell. He had a rather snotty nose and most of what he said was improvised so he could be rather unpredictable.
After that show ended in 1988, someone at CITV must’ve thought that this character had some potential for further success, so he was given the spin-off series Gilbert’s Fridge (I hope that Nobby The Sheep wasn’t jealous), which was also written by Cornwell and (just like the mighty Chain Letters) was a Tyne Tees Production. It was a sketch show, but further description beyond that is rather difficult really. TV Times had a go though by describing the show as “a huge heap of hilarity”.
There were a few regular features, including the Prisoner Of War drama parody “How Far To Hitchin?”, where Gilbert starred as Major Cuthbert Gwendolen Poppinjay, alongside the comic talents of Clive Mantle, Neil Mullarkey, and John Sparkes. There was also the game show parody “Giz The Dosh”, where two contestants constantly failed to correctly answer Gilbert’s ridiculous questions.
Gilbert also interviewed some rather bemused pop stars of the time including Wendy James, Kim Wilde, and Voice Of The Beehive (goodness knows whether they were in on the joke or not). And there were lots of other bizarre characters and ideas throughout the show. Every edition also ended with the credits running as the whole show played again on fast forward.
There were ten editions of Gilbert’s Fridge in one series (which hasn’t had a DVD release), and it has to be one of the oddest shows that has ever been on CITV. I don’t think that viewers expected to be bombarded by something that was so surreal on a Thursday afternoon. Gilbert was clearly being given a push while he was still popular, as also around this time he was regularly appearing in Lookin.
There was also a one-off comic released (although I didn’t have that), and there was even Gilbert’s Guide To Life, a book. Then in 1990, there was the sequel series Gilbert’s Late. This was a comedy chat show shown in a later timeslot, seemingly as an attempt to aim his strange style of humour at an adult audience and gain a cult following. Another Tyne Tees Production, it was short-lived though, and presumably after that Gilbert went back to his home planet.