Today was the first day of the Exhibition that is my actual reason for being in London. So a busy, long and uncomfortable day in Earls Court Olympia that certainly felt like hard work and I still have to try to write up the bits that I did find relevant.
After that, a very quick stop off at the hotel and then heading off into town. I did a quick stop off at the Apple Store on Regent Street to pick up an ipad but they didn’t have any. Then on up the road to BBC Broadcasting House for a recording of Newsjack in the Radio Theatre. Once again, for me, this is a little bit of modern history because it is one of those places that you see so often on TV and know what has happened there that it is strange to actually visit.
Security was not trivial and it took a considerable time and an army of very well organised and efficient people with radios and black ‘audience team’ jackets to get everyone in to this full-house recording of a very good, fairly new, BBC7 show.
Radio Theatre – what has happened here – on looking around and seeing all the mics hanging over the audience reminded me that I was not simply there to be entertained but to play my part in this recording – by laughing and applauding at all the right parts.
I immediately grew concerned about whether my laugh was up to the job, in fact now that I was ‘on the spot’ I couldn’t think what my laugh was like! Some people have very loud and distinctive laughs – I am not aware of being one of those but what if I am but no one has ever pointed it out to me. I wanted to practice, to try out one or two alternate laughs in case mine stood out too much or didn’t fit, but it was too late – the lights went down, the audience quietened down and the produced was on stage explaining what was about to happen.
I’ve always wondered with radio shows and I suppose comedy in general how a recording works. Things are bound to go wrong and the audience can’t be expected to laugh at a repeated punch line like they (hopefully) did the first time. Also is it like film where they keep recording the same bit till it is OK then move onto the next. Well, to answer my own questions – it was very informal (they don’t all wear evening dress at the BBC anymore). The cast ran through virtually uninterrupted, from start to finish apart from the odd ‘corpsing’ or line-trip, where they simply picked it up again straight away. Then at the end the producer came back on stage from the recording booth at the back with some notes of parts to pick up and some new material that had been written during the recording (this is a news based show after all). The cast, did interact with the audience a bit but that was mainly when things went wrong or if they themselves found something very funny.
So, even though I couldn’t get tickets to one of my favourite Radio 4 comedies I have heard Newsjack before and it was fun to see it recorded. Again, if you are planning to travel to London (and this does need some booking ahead) check out what BBC shows are being recorded. They are free to attend and not only do you get a good show, but see how it is made.
In the way back I passed this fence but didn’t hang around