Noel’s bum deal
Perhaps if Noel Edmunds had honed and channeled his positive thinking mantras in 1994, things could have been oh so different. However there is very little to be positive about from a debacle that cost Morecambe council over £2million.
It’s hard to imagine now but back in 1993 Noel Edmonds reigned as the king of Saturday night TV. His ‘house party’ held in his manor in the fictional town of Crinkly Bottom (they were different times) was watched by millions and what started out as a joke on his ‘gotcha’ segment where he would prank celebrities became an overnight sensation. I am talking about the pink, soft, abomination that is of course “Mr Blobby”. Edmunds had been quick to hold the licensing agreement for this character and looked to cash in on the craze by licensing a shed load of products and even having a no 1 hit single.
Noel Edmonds and Mr Blobby visited Morecambe to turn on the illuminations., following in the illustrious footsteps of hometown lad Eric Morecambe, Eddie the eagle and Jimmy Saville (might be worth glossing over that one) and Crowds swelled into Morecambe in droves, eager to see the stars of their Saturday nights.
Seeing the excitement Blobby brought the council entered in negotiations with Edmunds who had mentioned that he was looking for partners to franchise a string of Crinkly bottom theme parks and attractions. The Council met to discuss the possibility of a Mr Blobby theme park in Morecambe. With an overwhelming majority vote of 39–1, it was decided in 1994 that Lancaster City Council would enter an agreement with Noel Edmonds’ company Unique Group, and on July 30, 1994, it opened its doors to the public.
Despite backing from several multinational companies including Fuji, Mars and free advertising from British rail. The park was a huge disappointment. Indeed British rail had even renamed one of its stations, the conveniently guffaw inducing Bare station became the Bare crinkly bottom station to raise awareness it was to no avail. Not only were visitor figures low, but the park itself was dreadful, very few attractions, huge waiting times occurred between Mr Blobby’s appearances, and visitors were left twiddling their thumbs, reluctant to spend money in the mediocre cafe, and unable to buy anything as the shop had not yet been built. Locals railed against the inflated price of entry considering the absence of attractions and thirteen weeks later the site unceremoniously closed down.
The council began legal proceedings against Edmonds, however although Edmunds Theme park aspirations were decidedly sub par, his legal game was very much on point, and thus we had the the ‘Blobbygate scandal’. Unfortunately for the council, by 1995 the High Court had thrown out all but two of their claims against Unique (one of which being that Mr Blobby had a sub-par suit). By 1997 the case was lost and the council’s doomed venture had cost the taxpayer £2m.
District Auditor Clive Porter reported at the end of his five-year investigation into the failings of the attraction that “wave of optimism and enthusiasm for the Crinkley Bottom project severely clouded the judgement of members and officers (of the council)” despite Edmunds dreams of being the next Walt Disney all his blobby themed ventures went the same way, indeed if you are a fan of abandoned theme parks there are some great YouTube videos of the abandoned Blobby lands.
Edmunds himself has only commented once after the ruling against the council “We wanted people investigated because they cheated the people of Morecambe out of something very significant. I thought Morecambe was famous for shrimps, now it's notorious for fudge."
Edmunds has gone on to host deal or no deal, had a spell on I’m a celebrity and used his spiritual positivity to help cats feel good about themselves, Blobby disappeared as quickly as he arrived and has since remained nowhere to be seen.
The land the park was on has now resorted back to being Happy Mount park once more, the illuminations lasted another two years before being abandoned, Reg Holdsworth from Coronation Street taking over the switch on duties for the final time. In 2016 Nick Hewer revisited ‘blobbygate’ for a segment on the one show. Edmunds no longer talks about his theme parks, Blobby was unavailable for comment at the time of writing this blog but I imagine he would have said something like blobby blobby blob.