Tuesday, 24 February 2015

I'm on the telly, Ma!

37. Be part of a live audience for a TV show
Last week I wrote a bucket list. It wasn't long before I could make my first tick.

A friend was going to be part of a live audience for a show called The Last Leg. I googled said show and learnt that it is hosted by Australia's own Adam Hills, with co-hosts Alex Brooker and Josh Widdicombe.

“Adam Hills is really funny,” I said, “that’ll be heaps of fun!”

The following day, I received a message telling me where to meet as someone has pulled out and I can have the ticket. I’d started getting sick again and so I wasn’t sure if I should go but in the end figured, #yolo.

Can’t believe I just wrote that. And I didn’t actually think yolo.
Well, maybe.

The Last Leg began as a talk show to recap the events of the day during the 2012 London Paralympics to bring further awareness to the games and treat the athletes with the same level of respect as the able-bodied ones. It was so successful it spawned a further 4 series after the conclusion of the games and recaps the weekly news. It is filmed live, which means it goes to air immediately on Channel 4 in London (so no editing!), and then screened in Australia on Wednesdays at 9.30pm.

I met the troupe early and, over a couple of beverages and some food, got to know those I hadn’t met before. I was very excited and before long we joined the cue “by the black gate”. We had arrived early enough to get ourselves a blue wrist band and to be allowed in the first wave. Mini fist pump! See, they over allocate tickets to make sure the audience is definitely full, so you still have to arrive early to ensure a seat. To give you a bit of an indication, the show wasn’t to begin filming until 10pm, with doors opening a little after 9pm, and we were well and truly in the line at roughly 7.30.

Once inside (after a number of nervous toilet stops because once the filming starts - that’s it!) we were ushered to our seats. Our group of 6 were seated behind Adam Hills which gave us an obstructed view of him, but could see the other two presenters and the special guest with ease. Tonight’s special guest was…Russell Crowe. Big, big star, funny, but ultimately a bit of a bully. But we all knew that anyway. We made sure that all phones were well away so that he couldn’t throw one at us...

While we were seated, a comedian warmed up the audience. I wish I could remember his name, but it has escaped me. Edit: @TheLastLeg read my blog and informed me his name is Mark Olver - thank you! He identified which country we were all from (lots of Australians, as to be expected), discovered the worst place in all of England to live and played cupid for a single 26 year good looking man, who was looking for a younger lady, brunette, who liked cheese.

It was time for the show to start. We practised our whooping and cheering and clapping. The presenters had come onto the set to say hello, and so they could walk off...and on...again. My face was already sore from smiling and the show hadn’t even begun yet!

The theme song played. The presenters walked in through a smokey mist to our hollering and applauding. Then the presenters walked off again, to enter once more - this time without the theme music because Australia’s ABC couldn’t afford the rights to the song...

And then the show got under way. As it was broadcast live-to-air, the filming took an hour, with ad breaks every little while where we could stand up and stretch our legs. The comedian would return and keep us lively and entertained, before we were whooping and cheering the return after the ad break.

The presenters covered such topics as Russia’s military aircraft sightseeing over the UK, obese people collecting benefits and included a Gladiator sketch between Alex and Russell in which Russell, as I could see the original script on the teleprompter, took many creative liberties.

It was finally time to wrap up the show and by now my throat was hoarse and my voice long gone. The night ended with the crew filming the adverts for Australian TV, in which Adam repeated the same line and changed the day depending on when the ad would be shown - Wednesday, tomorrow or tonight. Unfortunately the teleprompter displayed Friday instead of Wednesday, and so we had to film them all again (as Adam joked, he did a Ron Burgundy. In fact, at this moment the person in charge of the teleprompter then wrote, “G’day, my name is Ian Beale...”, and Adam read it out, before dissolving into a fit of laughter at what he had just done.)

And thus, with one last round of whooping, cheering and furious clapping, the night was done. We formed an orderly queue and shuffled our way out of the set.

Watch the episode here.