The House Of Gristle (CBBC, 1994)
Rather a long time ago now, one of the first CBBC shows I remember from the 90s that I reviewed on here was Dizzy Heights, the sitcom that was set at a rather chaotic seaside hotel that starred comedy double-act Heap and Wall. One of the most memorable things about the show was the only people who ever seemed to stay there were the Gristle family, a rather gruesome group of puppets.
After Dizzy Heights ended in 1993, someone at CBBC must’ve thought that this family still had some potential to be successful with viewers, so a year later, they were given their own spin-off series. The House Of Gristle was a sketch show that starred Vera (voiced by Steve Nallon, best known for his contributions to Spitting Image), Victor, and their son Eustace. Heap and Wall didn’t appear in this one, but they were among the writers.
The show began with the family on stage before the sketches began, that were accompanied by what suspiciously sounded like canned laughter. There were a few regular features, such as the usual spoofs of TV shows and adverts (“Dad Automatic” indeed), and Eustace often liked to perform terrible poems that resulted in him receiving a rather nasty fate, such as having a big weight dropped on him.
There were plenty of amusing moments throughout the series. Among my favourite sketches was when Eustace would read a story in his bedroom, and sat alongside him was a rather odd small furry thing called Derek who used to open and close his eyes and make squeaking noises as the story excitingly unfolded. He was definitely the star of the show for me.
There would also be an ongoing horror story that took many twists as the weeks went by. Another rather unusual memory that I have of the show was that I moved house during its run, so it was one of the very last shows that I remember watching where I had lived since I was born. There was only one series of The House Of Gristle, which ran for nine editions. But it didn’t end there.
We did see the family one final time on CBBC at the end of 1995 when they appeared in the one-off horror comedy mystery The Curious Case Of Dr Hertz Van Rental. After this though, the Gristles weren’t ever seen again. There was no repeat run of this show, and neither this or Dizzy Heights has had a DVD release which is a disappointment. I wonder where they are now.