Insert Name Here: Watching a TV Studio Recording

Video camera lensI don’t really know much about the world of working in telly, beyond what goes on at New Broadcasting House, the home of BBC News.

For Christmas last month I was given a book – ‘1000 things to do in London for under £10’ and I have made it my aim to do a large number of those things in London over the course of 2016.

The first of my list has been done: I have now been in the audience for a TV programme. Through the SRO Audiences website I applied for a free ticket to see the recording of Insert Name Here, which is a new comedy/panel programme airing on BBC 2 at the moment.

The venue was the Pinewood Studios complex, located near Iver in Buckinghamshire – its just outside the M25, near where London’s orbital motorway is met by the M40.

So it’s not actually in London at all – but since the studios are just a few minutes away from the Greater London area and from Uxbridge tube station, I’ll count this as something I’ve done in ‘London’ this year.

Driving in to the heart of the London commuter belt at rush hour is not something I advise; I chose to make the journey earlier in the day and had a long, late lunch at a nearby pub just a couple of miles from the studios. This meant I was clear of the M4 and Slough/Langley before traffic had a chance to build up.

On arrival at the studios I was directed to a marquee beside the car park where I was given my wristband and my name ticked off on the list. Before long we were called through to the studio to take our seats. In the cold weather it was a long walk to the studio doors!

Once the audience is seated someone comes on stage to ‘warm the audience up’; I guess it may have been a member of the production team in some capacity but I wouldn’t know.

He spent quite a bit of time mocking some audience members, playing “guess the name of the book the lady at the back is reading” and getting members of the audience to make suggestions as to what the name of someone sitting at the front was.

Then the actual event starts: host Sue Perkins arrives and takes her seat; she then introduces the panelists – among them this week was Paul Hollywood (was that his Aston Martin Vantage parked outside? I walked to within touching distance of it!) – and then before the recording itself starts the’s time for the final touches to the stars’ make up. Then Sue has to introduce all the panelists all over again, just for the TV viewers.

You would probably be aware that these sorts of TV shows – all the panel shows like Mock the Week, HIGNFY etc. all take a long time to record. The 30 minutes you see on TV are only the very best material.

In this particular case, Round 1 took 90 minutes to record; then after a short 5 minute break (more make up for the stars) rounds 2 and 3 combined took around 45 minutes. So there’s a lot which doesn’t make the final cut.

Even when the recording is finished, the night is not over. The Producers in the gallery take a few minutes to review footage (I assume); while all this is going on the stars on stage will be talking amongst themselves, making jokes; then the director will talk in to Sue’s ear to tell her what retakes need to be done.

The retakes will be parts where Sue fluffed her lines (her parts are scripted); or getting the panelists to say a certain line again, or word it slightly differently, or use a different tone of voice to what they originally did. Sue’s the only one with an earpiece so its her job to tell Josh, or Richard, etc. what they’ve got to do.

Once that’s out the way a couple of final tasks: record the trail. That preview you get saying “tune in tomorrow at 10” doesn’t make itself you know – and there’s a couple of different versions to record. This is all done in front of the audience.

As the photographer moves in to take the photo to be used on the website and on iPlayer, the all clear is given meaning the cameras are safely stowed and the audience is free to leave.

Nearly 4 hours after arriving, I headed back to the car, de-iced and made my journey back home to Gloucestershire.

It was a late night, as I did not get back home until after midnight; but great fun.

I absolutely must watch the final episode in the series!

Good night,

FH.

Fred Hart

Stock Controller and Radio Presenter/Producer

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