They are the very touchstone of television.
In their hands is the power to convince those viewing at home whether a show is a hit, or a miss.
They are the live studio audience…
Thanks to my father’s skill as a reasonably priced prosthetic make up artist and nepotism, I secured two television roles before leaving primary school. Perhaps you remember me? November 1977 – Monty Modlyn’s look at the dangers of fireworks on Thames Television’s nightly news magazine “Today”. Yes, that was me with the badly scared face whose shot was cut short as the whirl of the close up ciné camera was giving me the giggles.And then in the following spring, ATVs networked ‘Nurse of the Year 1978’ hosted by the marvelous Leslie Crowther. Yes, that was me as the (what we now call) special needs child receiving music therapy. My nurse came home seventh, I still wonder whether my performance let her down.
But despite this exposure, the role I really craved for eluded me. I wanted to be A STUDIO AUDIENCE MEMBER. But, then as now, for most shows no one under the age of 18 would be admitted access to a studio. There was the odd exception, for example BBC One’s Friday night children’s variety spectacular “Crackerjack”. “CRACKERJACK!”
Now obviously the BBCtv Theatre on Shepherd’s Bush Green would be fully laden with kids for that show. But a glance at the audience would show you fully uniformed Cub Scouts and Brownies. Or schoolchildren with blazers with a badge with a Latin inscription & piping around the lapels. There was no place for the likes of me.
And so my dreams of being a member of one of televisions live studio audiences died.
For many years…
It was one of those boring lunchtimes at work when the dining room was full and it was too damp to sit in the park.The internet. http://www.bbc.co.uk. Virtually thumbing through the TV listings. Sub-menu. Tickets for our shows. A way back into my dreams.
So I think my first show was a celebrity edition of Weakest Link, a quiz at the time that was on top of its game. And the nine celebrities were the surrogate aunties and uncles of flagship venerable children’s magazine show Blue Peter. If you had your checklist, you could have ticked off nine of the thirty odd hosts at a single stroke (I’m up to fifteen now). The show was being taped at the world-famous Pinewood Studios: Star Wars/007/Carry On – that Pinewood. Now, although it’s in my home county of Berkshire, Pinewood is miles off the beaten track. Train, slow suburban bus ride, brisk walk to the edge of Iver Heath village. I was concerned – because the problem with TV tickets is that you aren’t guaranteed entry to the studio. So I got there a little earlier than suggested on my ticket. About an hour and a half early. Had to sit in the security mans hut until the production crew arrived to move me on site.
And a fine free afternoons entertainment I had. Sadly I was wasn’t seated near the podium of my pretend wife off the telly, but I did enjoy some off-air banter with some of my childhood heroes.
So I was now hooked on being a TV audience member, and I have had some great experiences. Some less that great, but in the main good days & nights out. Join me after the break to find out more!