Gunge as it is known in the British Isles, or slime as it is known in America and most English-speaking areas of the world, is a thick, gooey, yet runny substance with a consistency somewhere between paint and custard. It has been a feature on many children's programmes for many years around the world and has made appearances in game shows as well as other programming. While gunge mostly appears on television, it can also be used as a fundraising tool for charities, youth and religious groups. Gunge tanks have appeared at nightclubs and Fun Days. The British charities Comic Relief and Children in Need, supported by the BBC, have used gunge for fundraising in the past. In America, slime is almost always associated with Nickelodeon, even having several game shows revolving around it, such as Slime Time Live. In most countries, being gunged is seen as a forfeit with the aim to cause embarrassment. In contrast, being slimed in America can be a good thing as well as a bad thing. Overall the main point of being gunged or slimed is to cause mess.
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The gunge that is widely used on television is an industrial powder thickener called Natrosol, mainly used in production of the sauce for apple pies. Alternatively, other items can be used for "gunge", for example eggs, sauces, as well as other messy items, but Natrosol as seen on the gunge used on TV shows is regarded as the authentic gunge. In most cases, the gunging occurs in a gunge tank, a transparent booth with a means for storing and releasing the gunge. Today gunge or slime features on many television shows around the world; however, since the 2000s the focus has changed from mainstream shows to children's and teenager's television programmes like Nickelodeon's Figure It Out. In addition to its use on television and as a fundraiser, gunge in tanks sometimes features in nightclubs. Youth groups such as church groups and scouting movements also make use of gunge to "gunge the leaders" as well as the children. Due to Natrasol having industrial uses as a food thickener used in soups and stews, this makes gunge safe to eat, provided the colouring is also non-toxic. Oobleck, a mixture of cornstarch and water, is also a non-Newtonian fluid like Natrosol.
History of gunge on television
In Britain the popular BBC show Not Only... But Also featured a closing sketch called "Poet's Corner" in which that week's guest would be challenged to an improvisational poetry contest against Peter Cook, with Dudley Moore acting as referee. Each contestant would sit at the corner of a square tank of "BBC Gunge" on a rigged seat that could be triggered so as to catapult the occupant into the tank. The referee would sit at one of the other corners in a similar chair. Any use of repetition, hesitation or deviation from the challenge theme would precipitate the offender into the tank. The sketch always ended with all three personalities in the tank, chest deep in slime and reciting poetry.
The UK Saturday morning children's show Tiswas used the concept of gunge in abundance. Having already established messy slapstick humour through custard pies and buckets of water being thrown over presenters and guests, Tiswas had taken to locking up adult volunteers into a cage. Once inside the cage, the inhabitants would normally be soaked with buckets of water at random points in the show. Where gunge became involved, was thanks to the tin bath perched on top the Cage. Through a handle, this tub could be tilted, dropping its messy contents onto the people below, While famous for its custard pie humour, it would not be unusual for Tiswas to have buckets of food and imitation mud/horse manure poured over people. Custard and baked beans were popular choices.
In North America, You Can't Do That on Television, a Canadian children's show popular on Nickelodeon, routinely subjected its characters to slime when they said, "I don't know.", or any other phrase related to slime, the colour, or pies. It became a staple of the show where other actors would try to encourage their peers to say a phrase to get them slimed. This aspect of the cult show later became iconized in Nickelodeon's slime logo, and live events where kids would be offered the chance to get slimed or publicly humiliated. A sliming scene from a 1982 episode of You Can't Do That on Television was also used in the opening of the 1987 film Fatal Attraction.
In Britain and Europe, in the early 1980s, children's gunge-based game shows were the norm. Particularly shows like How Dare You! on ITV and Crackerjack on the BBC ensured that the gunging element featured on shows for the decade to come. On How Dare You!, one of the main games was 'Teach Them a Lesson', where children got the opportunity to drench their teacher or representative from their school in gunge while sitting above a knee deep filled gunge tank. After this game the teachers were sometimes knocked off their perch by one of show's presenters and into the gunge tank. On Crackerjack, the two weekly celebrities would compete against host Stu Francis in a gunge based gamed called "Take A Chance" to try to win points for their child contestant. Usually the ladies (not always) got away with it but the male contestants were always gunged along with Francis who would cop it at least once per show.
Later in the 1980s, the BBC launched Double Dare, based on the US style format, but much sloppier than its U.S. counterpart. Also, gunge started to appear on mainstream shows such as Game for a Laugh on ITV and Noel Edmond's Saturday Roadshow on the BBC. Other countries in Europe also started to have gunge elements on mainstream shows. Un Dos Tres on TVE in Spain often had contestants throwing buckets of gunge at each other. Also, Donnerlippchen, a television show in Germany, had many messy games; the climax of the show was dunking the team's suited boss in a dunk tank and pouring custard down inside every team members pair of boxer shorts.
New Zealand children's show What Now has used gunge over the years since its launch in 1981. As of 2010 the show is still broadcasting on channel TV2. Various segments of the show using gunge include, tank of terror, gunge on the run, flushed away, frog in the bog and brain freeze.
In Noel's House Party, the public often voted to determine which celebrities on the television show would be gunged in the Gunge Tank. In later years, the Gunge Tank became the Gunge Train, and celebrities were forced to take a ride on the train and were covered in gunge throughout their journey. Celebrities usually returned with their suits ruined and faces unrecognizable. Sometimes audience members were gunged on the show for reasons of revenge by family members or friends.
The entertainment factor attached to the process of gunging was realised by the producers of the charity event Comic Relief, who held an event, in cooperation with the Guinness World Records at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham where an attempt to set a record for the Most People Gunged Simultaneously took place on March 12, 1999. 184 gallons of gunge was splattered over 731 people. All across Europe television producers were ordering more gunge segments to be fitted into mainstream television shows due to its popularity with viewers. In Germany, on Sat.1, Halli galli, Glücksritter (RTL), Glücksspirale, plus the German version of NHP - Gottschalk's Haus-Party, all involved a high dose of gunge. Halli Galli had audience members plucked out of their seats and sent down a messy gunge slide and into a pool. Likewise, Glücksspirale on SAT1, Glücksritter RTL and Rache ist Suss Sat1, had contestants plucked out of the audience and gunged in the most spectacular ways. Towards the end of the 1990s, with the demise of Noel's House Party and the dwindling audience figures for other European shows, the gunge segment in many mainstream shows started to fade.
Throughout the 1990s, gunge became a focal feature in many children's television shows. Teenagers and celebrity guests are often seen competing in quizzes on Live & Kicking, and are gunged if they lose. Celebrities Lee Ryan, Ben Adams, Katy Hill, Lesley Waters, Katherine Merry, Heather Suttie and Victoria Hawkins were gunged on this show. Many other shows used gunge throughout - Fun House, Get Your Own Back, Run the Risk and Double Dare.
From 1996 to 2001, The Dutch television show Droomshow featured gunge.
From 1997 to 2003, a Canadian show called Uh Oh! (game show), that ran on YTV, featured a punishment system that had the participant go inside a closet sized room and have green gunged dropped on them if their partner wasn't able to answer the question correctly.
In mainstream television programmes during the naughts, gunge started to be featured less frequently. The Paul O'Grady Show sometimes featured a gunge tank on his Channel 4 shows. The ITV reality television series I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! which ran throughout much of this decade regularly contained gungey elements in its "Bushtucker Trials". The Graham Norton Show featured Sploshing when the show was on BBC Two. Gunge featured on other shows on an irregular basis, but despite the loss of mainstream appeal gunge continued to feature on children's Television.
In 2000 a BBC children's game show called Insides Out featured gunge throughout the programme, most notably pulling items out of a gunge filled nose and a tug of war involving intestine-like ropes over a pit of gunge. The final game, which consisted of an inflatable assault course representing the digestive system, during which gunge would drop at unexpected points while the contestants were going back and forth to pick up body pieces. The most regularly watched show containing a gunging was the Saturday Show, in which a child and an adult, normally Simon Grant, would compete. If the grownup lost they got gunged and they would remain in the gunge tank the following week, while the child took home prizes, however if the child lost they got gunged instead and took home with them a certificate stating "I Got GUNGED On The Saturday Show".
Other kids' programmes such as Xchange, Best of Friends and Diggin it also featured gunge or messy activities from time to time. Dick and Dom in the Bungalow and Holly & Stephen's Saturday Showdown (previously Ministry of Mayhem) featured messy segments throughout the programmes, and a while ago Toonattik featured a gunge quiz known as "make em squirm". In 2006, S4C introduced a kids' show called Waaa!!! where kids are sat on a chair that moved along rails over tanks of gunge and foam and failing to answer a question correctly resulted in then being dropped into the gunge or foam. In 2007 there was a programme on CITV called Scratch and Sniffs den of doom featuring gunge, where children fall into a vat of gunge similar to the Gunk Dunk on Get Your Own Back. Gunged has also appeared on Prank Patrol and Globo Loco. Throughout the second season of the CBBC show Hider in the House, in order to claim prizes, the adult who had been tricked in that episode must have gunge dumped on them. This was known as Push the Pedal.
New Zealand children's show 'What Now has retained a gunging element over the years. Modern day games involving gunge involves "Flushed Away" and "brain freeze" where two children sit under a giant gunged filled brain and every time a child gets a question wrong they are gunged. Recently there has been "Frog In The Bog" where a child wearing a wetsuit and flippers enters a pool of gunge with a frog spewing out gunge into the pool. while in the pool the child has to collect items in the pool while being timed and deposit them into a nearby bucket. The idea is to collect as many items as possible before the time is up. "Brain Freeze" succeeded "Frog in the Bog" where two children sit under a giant brain and are paired up with a caller answering questions - for each wrong answer a child under the brain is gunged. The Tank of Terror was a big cylindrical tank, see through, and like a bath, it was quite big, and it would fill up with gunge, to about the chest of the person, who was seated.
The 2008 remake of Swap Shop (Basil's Swap Shop) features gungey games. "Question Line", a game where children ask the celebrity guest questions and if the celebrity chooses to answer it the child does not get gunged. If however, the celebrity chooses not to answer the question the child asking the question slides into the gunge tank (a pool of gunge similar to the one on Waaa!!!). The children move as they are sitting in or lying across a rubber ring on a ramp with their legs hanging out on the "gungeulator" a red and white travelator. If the child does slide into the gunge tank then they have to move over and sit in the gunge tank until the game is over. Another game called Dunk Beds, is where there are 3 teams of 2 children, 1 is on a bed attached to a platform and the other child is off the bed. The child off the bed pushes the bed off along the platform, where along the platform are scoring zones. Up to a point, the points are negative then past a certain point, the points become positive until finally off the scale. If the bed goes off the scale the child on the end of the bed slides into a tank of green coloured water. 0 points are awarded if the child gets dunked. Each child from each team is on the bed once during the duration of the game. In the final Game, the final two children, left over from the previous game, play on a moving platform called the gungeulator collecting objects, avoiding obstacles, to get them back to the start of the "gungeulator". If a child falls then he or she is automatically gunged and the child that is left continues the game. However, if the child left wins then prizes are awarded to both the children but if both children are gunged the game is over and no prized are awarded. These gungey games meant the return of gunge to Saturday morning children's television in the UK. In the second series, broadcast early 2009, The "question line" and "gungeulator" segments no longer featured. The "Gunge Gallery" along with a tweaked "dunk beds" featured instead. The "Gunge Gallery" is five gunge tanks in a row in which children (members of a karate club, football team, etc.) sit in and after a swap has been completed a child is gunged. The gunge used was either very watered-down gunge or custard.
The end of August 2009 saw a new gungey gameshow on CBBC on BBC One. Wait for it..! sees four children trying to avoid being dropped into the goo portal, a large orange pool of gunge. The idea is similar to ITV's Scratch and Sniffs Den of Doom. The twist is that the longer the children take to answer the questions, the more points are awarded. The person with the least number of points in the first round, "wait" is dropped from a "drop zone" into the goo portal. The second round, "watch and wait" sees the children the player is given a category and the player has to estimate many seconds of clue is needed to be said to be able to answer. Again, the more time, the more points will be won. If the player loses, another player can win the points if they can work out the answer with more of the clue being said. Another player falls into the goo portal via their drop zone if they have the least points. The third round, "wait and see" a head to head round and the player has to guess when the oppolment will come in with their answer. The player has a selection of times to choose from and a point is rewarded is the oppolment answers within the predicted time. Again the player with the least points enters the goo portal via their drop zone. The final round, "wait a minute" sees the remaining contestant try to win prizes on offer by trying to cross the goo portal in less than a minute. The player is asked questions which are descriptions of an object and for each correct answer the player is able to step across smaller drop zones. If the player makes it to the end within the 60 seconds, he/she wins the prizes (a star prize is awarded if the player crosses within 40 seconds) — if not the player falls into the goo portal when the platform which the player is standing on collapses.
During Autumn 2009, three new CBBC shows called Planet Ajay, Keep Your Enemies Close and School of Silence launched with gungey segments. Playet Ajay has two gungey segments. The first being called "Under Pressure", where three kids sit under a gunge tank and they are "curried" in order to relieve the planet's pressure winning prizes in the order in which they were gunged. The second game called "Beat Badjay" is where a child goes head to head with Badjay over a dunk tank of gunge, answering general knowledge questions, If the child has the lowest score he/she is dunked in the gunge, or if Badjay has the lowest score he is gunged. In Keep Your Enemies close, the final round sees two groups of two children in mining carts playing along a track. Here questions are asked — a letter on the giant board and a category and the child must give two answers beginning with the letter for the question. The team the furthest along the track before it merges into a single track is the losers and the winning team pulls a lever sending the losing teams cart through the "clag barrier". There is an overhead machine with three pipes filled with gunge or "clag", as the teams cart moves along the track the clag is released from each of the pipes as the cart passes under them. Finally, School of Silence features messy games some involving gunge. There was no gunge tank, instead challenges such as gunge boot, where a child had to stick his/her foot into a Wellington boot of gunge.
Gunge continues to feature in 2010 on children's TV in the UK and continuing the trend of the latter half of the 2000s, not as much as it once did. 101 Ways to Leave a Gameshow has used it in its Bonus Round. The host picks a random name and the first person to get the question he asks wrong gets lowered down a pipe and gets gunged. Wait For It and Keep Your Enemies Close. Basil's Swap Shop returned minus the gunge gallery but introducing a new game with a western theme called Gold Rush. In this game, the two winning teams from the previous game (dunk beds) take part in the game set in a mine shaft where the aim is to fill up tubes with liquid sludge by tipping buckets with the slop into the tubes which are hidden (so the children do not know who is winning). At the end the four kids take cover in the now shuddering mine shaft. The winning team then receives gold (yellow gunge) while the losing team were initially covered in brown sludge however later episodes they remain dry. In New Zealand kids television, What Now introduced a new gungey game the big breakfast and Splat Cave. Fe Fi Fo Yum has a challenge which sees two children go barefoot into a bowl of gunge to collect objects for their team mates such as letters/numbers or other items. The final game also makes use of the gunge bowl, where the last part involves wading in the pool and up a ramp in order to release their captive team mates. In 2014, a few new games such as Use Ya Head, Target Ya Teacher and Small Balls were added to What Now. In addition, the spin-off from Horrible Histories, Horrible Histories: Gory Games involved a physical challenge involving gunge. The three children in the quiz running barefoot across an inflatable collecting "poo" and depositing it in their tanks at the other end. Above the inflatable are three containers - one for each lane of the inflatable, storing gunge which is released at points in the game. A variation of this challenge sees the three contestants, in an all play game, throw pies into mouths attached to a bungee cord, in the second series, this has the added difficulty of "Garum sauce" falling onto the inflatable at a random point in the game causing the children to slip and slide thus increasing the difficulty of the challenge. The British and Australian versions of Nickelodeon's Camp Orange also features challenges which involve getting gunged. Splatalot (in Dutch Spetterslot), a medieval themed game show, similar to Total Wipeout features gunge/slime is fired at the attackers by the defenders at random points in the challenges as a means to slow down the attackers.
In terms of prime time television, in the UK at least, gunge has made appearances in the ITV1 game show The Whole 19 Yards where two transparent spheres contained either pink or yellow gunge. In one of the many physical challenges, a contestant had to unscrew the bottom of the sphere of their colour resulting in the gunge falling onto them and the floor below in order to retrieve an key in the sphere which allowed them to complete the challenge. The Channel 5 version of Big Brother (both celebrity and normal version) features gunge in various tasks and as a way to nominate housemates.
At the 2014 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Sports Awards, they gave away the Legend Award to soccer player David Beckham. They slimed him, for the first time ever, with gold slime.
- Natrosol Hydroxyethylcellulose (HEC) is a non-ionic water-soluble cellulose ether, formed by reaction of cellulose with ethylene oxide.
- Bob McCabe - The Authorised Biography of Ronnie Barker 2004 "Barker - sat suspended over a tank of gunge, and attempted to speak in rhyming couplets.
- Roger Wilmut - From fringe to flying circus 1980 "Cook: 'We were poised on these chairs, and the first person not to rhyme fell into this terrible pool of gunge.."
- Quentin Falk, Ben Falk Television's Strangest Moments p116 - 2005 "In fact, gunge and water being thrown on people became the thrust of the show. And the Phantom was the king, kersplatting everyone from ..."
- Dominic Strinati, Stephen Wagg -Come on Down?: Popular Media Culture in Post-War Britain p167 1992 "..the 1970s ATV developed Tiswas, a children's magazine programme based on pop, irony and self-conscious mayhem. ... ran competitions wherein the losers (or even the winners) were variously slid into tanks of brightly coloured gunge"
- "Halli Galli | TV-Serie". wunschliste.de. 2007-12-20. Retrieved 2013-08-01.
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