‘Men About the House’ at the BBC Radio Theatre

Since our Radio Production Students’ Day Out in February, I’ve signed up to the BBC Audience mailing list, getting news of shows/performances at BBC venues across the UK – including the BBC Radio Theatre in London W1.

Broadcasting House at Night

It hasn’t taken me long to get my first opportunity to visit the Radio Theatre. I got 4 tickets to see the recording of a new pilot show for BBC Radio 4 – ‘Men About the House‘, written by Arthur Matthews. I’m told it will be broadcast in May…or June…or July.

Set in the female dominated House of Commons, the seat of power in the alternative world of a matriarchal society, Men About The House explores what it would be like if the roles of men and women in society were starkly reversed.

Would the world be a better place? Would we have nine foot Amazon ladies with lovely hair, sitting on horses? We won’t know for sure until the revolution, so for now we’re guessing that this is what Britain would be like if men were depicted semi-naked on page three of The Sun and women did very little of the tidying up.

WestminsterI decided that the only appropriate thing to do before watching a politcal comedy show would be to wander over to Westminster and take a look at Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament – I walked across Westminster Bridge too.

I then used the Underground – I took the Jubilee Line from Westminster to Bond Street to get up to Broadcasting House. I’ve only used the tube once before – at about 5 o’ clock in the morning a few years ago and it was rather quiet. During the evening it’s busier. It’s definitely true that no one talks to anyone else on the tube. Everyone sits in their seats in silence until their stop comes up.

My timing was perfect: I arrived at Broadcasting House, went through security, and was one of the first to get my ticket validated (ticket number 34) – guaranteeing my entry in to the show.

I then had a couple of hours free time… So I did a bit of celebrity spotting outside New Broadcasting House – watching Paul Lewis of Radio 4’s Money Box programme leave via “old” Broadcasing House; and less than 5 minutes later Radio 2’s Steve Wright walked past just minutes after finishing his show- He wasn’t more than an arm’s length from where I was standing! After a while, I headed over to Regents Park in NW1 and sat there with the paper for a bit.

Validated Ticket

Matt Baker Briefing Nigel HaversOn my return to Broadcasting House, before going back through security and in to the Bar & Media Café to wait to be called in to the Radio Theatre, I stood and watched preperations for that evening’s One Show. The area leading up to the main entrance of NBH is a public area, with bits fenced off when the One Show is on air. I stood within metres of Matt Baker as he briefed the evening’s guest – Nigel Havers. I was almost right next to the studio door as well! It was quite exciting standing outside the studio as the One Show theme tune played out over the speakers!

The advantage of having a low ticket number – is that you get in to the Radio Theatre first. I was in the third row with a great view of what was happening on stage. Watching a radio comedy like this being recorded is an interested experience; the Producer came up and said a few words at the start; he introduced the cast; and the green light came on, signalling the start of the first scene.

After the show I wandered over to The Real Greek’s Marylebone branch, just off Baker Street. I took me a while to find it, due to my inability to operate the sat nav on my phone correctly. I ended up going quite a way off-course (ending up back in NW1 – on the other side of Regents Park) and having to retrace my steps in order re-find Baker Street. I soon found where I went wrong: I took a wrong turn at one of the squares. The hunt for the restaurant was worth it though.

I then took the tube again from Oxford Circus to Victoria and walked to the bus station there (it’s like an airport at Victoria Bus Station – with boarding gates and tannoy announcements etc.) and took the last bus back to Cheltenham: leaving the bus station at 23:59, we arrived in Cheltenham just before 02:50 and I walked through my front door at 03:15.

I’ve concluded that my day trip to London was a success. It was quite cheap as well – Radio Theatre tickets are always free; the coach ticket was £15.50; the Tube was under £10; and my evening meal under £20. In total I spent less than £50.

Fred Hart

Stock Controller and Radio Presenter/Producer

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