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One of the earliest television game shows in Britain, People Are Funny exploited human frailty so much that when the ITA asked for it to be toned down the production company took it off the air instead.
The show was based on the US programme of the same name, which was hosted by Art Linkletter. The contestants were ordinary folk taken unawares by practical jokes. In one case a woman was given a hammer and told to smash china wrapped in a cloth. She then found it was from her own home.
In one of the first programmes, a pleasant couple were persuaded to go on stage in front of the cameras, lured there by the promise of lavish gifts including pressure cookers, refrigerators, washing machines and kitchen equipment.
Derek Roy (pictured at left), who hosted the show, asked the woman whom she loved most in the world. “My husband,” she said. “We’ll soon see how much you love him,” said Mr Roy . . .
The husband was then shut in a cupboard with a hole in the top. A man stood above with a bucket of icy water. “If I give you five shillings,” said Mr Roy, “may we pour the water over him?” – “No!” – “Seven and six? ten shillings?” (the equivalent of 50p today); “No! No! No!” – “Well, what about a dozen pairs of fully fashioned nylons?” – “Oh, that’s different!”
The water poured, followed by a howl from inside the cupboard. The process was repeated using quick-drying cement and other mixtures which involved even more enticing bribes to the woman who by this time was almost in tears but overwhelmed by her prizes.
When the cupboard was opened it was revealed it had a false ceiling which had caught all the muck and mess, but there was nothing false about the camera, the television’s eye which had caught the poor woman’s cupidity for all to see.
As an invasion of privacy, it was too blatant for the public taste.