karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Default)
After something like two years on the waiting list, I was finally lucky and got into the stage in which I could apply for tickets and I got some for the recording of episode 6 of the J series!
Figuring that demand would be high (they are giving out more tickets than seats), I took half the afternoon off and arranged to meet Blaze at Waterloo tube at 5. After some positional confusion (I waited at the South Bank tube exit, she was in Waterloo train station), we found each other and wandered over to London Studios where there was a huge queue already. Two queues in fact, one for QI and one for Alan Carr (it was slightly chaotic but we had joined the correct one after all). While we were waiting, the weather turned and it started to rain but thankfully didn't last long.
The queue finally started to move at around 6:40 (10 minutes later than scheduled) and we got in. They were in an obvious hurry, they just grabbed the ticket off me without checking how many we were or even if the printout I gave him was an actual, unique ticket and there was no airport style security check as in the BBC buildings, not even a bag check so up the stairs and into the studio we went. The auditorium is quite large and we were about halfway up and had a reasonable view. There were also loads of monitors that currently showed bits of trivia and during the recording the picture of the active camera (which was useful as sometimes the dolly arm was in the way).

The QI set
This is what the set looks like in ambient light

(This will be the spoiler free version. I'll be typing up a lot more but only publish that after the episode has aired.)
Proceedings started just after 7:30 with the floor manager giving a pep talk about when and when not to applaud etc. and then Stephen Fry came on, talked a bit, recorded the audience participation audioboo (can you guess what we were saying? I didn't even know the word but it begins with J), and introduced the presenter of the Swedish version which will be aired in September. He then introduced the panelists: the ubiquitous Alan Davies, Sue Perkins, Ross Noble and an Australian nobody knew (Julia something, Spanish sounding last name). There was some banter between them and then the recording proper started with the QI theme being played in and Stephen Fry starting his Goooooooooooooooooooooooooood evening thing, introducing the panelists and buzzer sounds, just as you see it on TV. The whole actual QI bit ran in one go without interruptions but for almost 90 minutes so a lot of it will end up on the cutting room floor. As I said there were no breaks but obviously bits where some of the panelists (especially Ross Noble and Alan Davies) would go off on a tangent or throw in some other remark that was highly entertaining but obviously not really suitable for the end product. They might even take out one or more of the questions entirely.
The whole thing went smoothly and there were no pickups at the end, either. It was really enjoyable and very funny, especially Ross Noble was on high form. The chemistry experiment was fun, too and nobody died. Details after the episode has aired. :o)

I'm very glad I made the journey (ticket was free, anyway), had a brilliant time and another little insight into how one of my favourite TV programmes is made.
Even more lucky, I managed to catch the 22:15 train and the last bus home so was home well before midnight.
karohemd: by sogoth.livejournal.com (Music)
was fantastic. After years of applying, I finally "won" a ticket for this week's show.

I managed to get out of work early, caught the 4:45 to KingsX, the tube to Wood Lane and when I came out of the station I already saw where I was supposed to be going: where the queue was on the opposite side of the road.

Turned out there were two queues, one for Later... and one for Buzzcocks. Having found the right one, the first bit of waiting started. At about 7:10, things started moving, we got given wristbands and had to put our stuff through an X-ray machine like at the airport before we were allowed into the "audience foyer", basically a big cafeteria type space with cloakroom and a food/drinks counter. Oh, and a gold Dalek. ;o) After more waiting, we filed through the back door towards the studio complex, and after more waiting outside the studio we were finally let into Studio 1 being sent between set dressing and wall to our corner.
The studio's quite big, a rectangular space, with a stage on each side, with the audience in the corners, smallish speakers (like monitors) hang from the ceiling pointing into the corners. I was in the corner between Steve Miller and Janelle Monáe.

There was a funny grey-haired and -bearded bloke explaining what was going to happen (they do the recorded show first and then do the live bit that goes out on Tuesday evenings) and what to watch out for ("mind those cables, they can trip you up and kill you"), when to applaud (and when not to), that sort of thing.

They started a bit earlier than advertised as they recorded the alternative (NSFW) version of Cee-Lo Green's F U for the website first. He's a funny man, a really cool guy in an awesome pink suit and has an all female band.
Then the recording for the Friday show started(, with a recording of the audience applauding, just in case we all died before the show ended). They repeated the jam in the beginning (Duane Eddy's Peter Gunn) because it didn't quite work but the second take did and there was a bit of a pause in between when it turned out that Janelle Monáe had lost her voice and couldn't do her second planned track and schedules had to be moved around a bit. CW Stoneking filled the spot and did a second track instead. Otherwise, everything worked and it's really all recorded live and in one go. The sound quality was good and what really surprised me was the lights. They are a lot less strong than I expected, modern TV cameras must have a good sensitivity/noise ratio. Speaking of cameras, there are a lot for a reasonably small space: two large ones, one boom camera and two handhelds roving around.

The music:
- Janelle Monáe: A lot of fun, didn't sound like the stuff on her myspace at all. Rather classic, with elements of Soul, Rythm'n'Blues, Jazz and Swing. Her band is a lot of fun, too, and always danced and clapped along when the other bands were playing.
- Cee-Lo Green, the big man in the even bigger pink suit: Again, classic Soul, great voice, huge smile, cheeky bugger, fun! Was mostly goofing around when other bands were on.
- Steve MillibandMiller Band: Don't really need an introduction. He first played two tracks from his new album, Bingo, classic Blues Rock, really well done and Abakadabra to finish as well as The Joker at the end of the live bit.
- CW Stoneking: Fantastic, old-time music, somewhere between old Jazz, Cabaret/Vaudeville and mountain music, with a bit of Tom Waits thrown in. Dobro/Banjo, upright bass, trumpet, trombone and bass drum. Quite melancholic but fun.
- Jim Jones Revue: were a bit crap, to be honest. Screechy Rockabilly made by twats. Sounded OK but I wasn't too fond of the band's personality (is spitting on stage cool again?).
- Cheikh Lo: low key, guitar, bass and sax, with lots of African influences (duh). Very enjoyable, shame he only got one track.

So yeah, good fun and an excellent glimpse behind the scenes of one of my favourite TV programmes, all for the price of a travelcard.

The live bit from last night is on iplayer and if you know where and when to look and the shape of my head, you can see me in the background in two shots but you'll have to pause or it's gone too quickly. ;o)

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