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Pranks On the Set of This Old House

Tom and Charlie Silva aren’t just house-building wizards. They’re equally inventive when it comes to their sideline: pranking the TOH production assistants. Here, a few of their “all in good fun” job site setups

Photo by Rick Olivier

Spinning her wheels

Filming ground to a halt as then production coordinator Sara Ferguson’s car was blocking the sand-and-gravel driveway at Billerica. Try as she might, she couldn’t budge it, so host Steve Thomas offered to help. Sara hopped out, he got in and hit the gas...that’s when she noticed her wheels were just spinning. The crew had dug a hole, jacked up the car frame just above grade, and set it on blocks, shoveling sand around the tires. As the guys yelled “Gotcha!” Sara flushed scarlet and shared in a good laugh.

Shown: Tom Silva conceals the jacked-up wheels.

Photo by Keller + Keller

Shown: Russ Morash, Tom, and Steve Thomas fess up to Sara Ferguson.

Something fishy

At the Concord Barn, Tom and Charlie Silva decided to prank the coffee-making PA. They rigged a 5-gallon water jug with 6 inches of water and bought “the ugliest fish of the right size” at a pet store. They dropped in the fish, taped the spout shut, and set the bottle in the dispenser. “The fish played its role perfectly and settled in at the bottom,” Tom says. When the PA went to fill her coffeepot and the water wouldn’t flow, “she shook the bottle and the fish jumped and flapped—you could hear her shriek from two blocks away.”

Scaffolding “accident” falls flat

At the Wayland House, Charlie dressed up a dummy in Silva Brothers work clothes and hauled it to the top of a three-story-high scaffold. Then, as the new production assistant was walking by, Charlie yelled as if he had fallen and hurled the dummy off the scaffold—and it landed with a thud at her feet. Everyone else was in on the joke and called out in concern, but she was so focused on what she was doing, she didn’t even look up. “No screaming or anything,” says Charlie. “It was really disappointing.”