diamond geezer

 Friday, November 27, 2015

After a night at the football, a night on Radio 4.

Keep an eye on the BBC's tickets page and you too could attend the recording of a show. Most are in London, but quite a few are around the regions and nations, which is how come my Dad's attended a recording of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue and I never have. Just a Minute is booking right now for just before Christmas, via a random draw, but that'll be vastly oversubscribed so don't get your hopes up.

I ducked the Radio 4 A-List and applied for a ticket one rung lower down, for John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme. You may not have heard of Mr Finnemore, he's not on TV much, although has had a minor role as one of Miranda's lowlier sidekicks. Instead he mostly writes, and performs, as you might expect from a former Cambridge Footlight. His most celebrated creation is Cabin Pressure, the 26-part sitcom set set in the world of chartered planes, tickets for whose final episode were oversubscribed by a factor of a hundred. For a taste of Finnemore, if you're curious, his sextet of Double Acts finished only last week, so several episodes are currently available on iPlayer. Meanwhile the legendary Souvenir Programme, a half hour pot pourri of comedy sketches, is now on its fifth series and will be returning to your radios in January.

The first essential thing you need to know about BBC tickets is that they're always free. The second essential thing is a consequence of the first, namely that the BBC always give out too many. It would be ghastly if people applied with no genuine intention of turning up and there were loads of empty seats, so a significant number of extra tickets are issued just in case. But this has a further consequence which helps to make the start of the evening rather less fun, namely that if you don't turn up early enough you don't get in. And sometimes this means very early.

For a blue ticket recording like the News Quiz the queues can start ridiculously early. Admission may begin at T Minus An Hour And Fifteen Minutes but people'll turn up well before that, lined up stoically to ensure a seat. To counter the tedium, the crew start validating tickets even earlier, slapping a numbered sticker on your printout to match your position in the queue. With this obtained you can bugger off and have a life in the surrounding area for well over an hour, only needing to return just before the doors open. Be warned that you have to be actually physically present to get a sticker - it's no use turning up with a sheaf of four and claiming the rest of your party will be along later. But no pain, no gain.

I arrived at the Shaw Theatre straight after work, a full two hours before the recording was due to begin, and there were already more than a hundred people in front of me. A fair number of these clearly hadn't come from work, but dozens of later recruits from a younger demographic clearly had. The Radio 4 audience remains distinctly mixed, although a very different kind of crowd to that I'd found myself in earlier this week at the Emirates. More females than males for a start, and more people wearing glasses, and slightly more hipster beards than proper stubble. If my Tuesday night had been with spent with the sport lovers, Thursday saw me in the company of those more likely to have been left on the touchlines.

I could have spent my spare hour in the pub, or having dinner, but instead I made the most of my location on the Euston Road. The Wellcome Foundation have recently opened a new exhibition entitled Tibet's Secret Temple which tells the story of the Lukhang, for three centuries the Dalai Lama's private place of contemplation.

The setting established, the main focus of the display is an exposition of Tantric Buddhism, yoga and the spiritual physiology of chakras. Rest assured it's more enlightening than preachy, and a fascinating insight into a very mindful way of life. If you're a reflective kind of person, I think you'll learn lots. Open until the end of February - late opening Thursdays.

The Shaw Theatre's lobby isn't ideally suited to corralling an entire auditorium full of attendees. Two pillars obstruct the foot of the stairs, and more importantly the bar, and it only takes a handful of static chatters to place the entire space in lockdown. The great majority of ticket holders are always in pairs or groups, either from the same family or like-minded friends, a comedy recording being a good and rather different social evening out. This at least made it easier for a singleton like me to squeeze through some gaps in the wall of people to some spare carpet on the far side, awaiting the ever-so-polite 'rush' when the doors finally opened.

At some BBC venues they let you in by sticker number, with double digiters ahead of triple, so the sooner you arrive the better the seat you get. At the Shaw, however, it was every licence fee payer for themselves. Again my lone status worked in my favour as I was able to fill in a single seat in the middle near the front, while other linked souls were forced to wander rather further back or to the side. There were even a few spare seats at the back by the time everyone was in... whereas last time I attended a JFSP recording here I arrived just late enough to nab the very last seat in the entire auditorium.

Almost bang on time the show's producer appeared from the wings to do the warm-up in an appropriately self-deprecating way. And then we were off, with a greeting from the star of the show and the introduction of his four actorly sidekicks perched with scripts in hand on a row of chairs behind. John's a very likeable man who beams a lot - your mum would be chuffed if you brought him home - but also linguistically very sharp and with an eye for whimsy. And hurrah, we were due an hour of fresh sketches, which is double what you get on the radio, plus all the unintentional comedy of stumbles and slips.

A very typical Finnemore set-up is to take something well known and mine the situation for absurdity. What exactly happened when Good King Wenceslas arrived to give alms to that poor peasant, and what if there was an actual heritage site named Bouncy Castle? I particularly enjoyed what will come to be known as the Hunter Gatherer sketch, a lengthy tour de force, and also a meeting between two management consultants and a nursery rhyme character which seemed a shallow excuse to force the cast to (attempt to) talk in tongue twisters.

One particularly heartfelt song with a restaurant theme was familiar to those of us who'd attended John's recent (paid-for) show at the very same theatre. Comparing the amount I'd forked out for that, and for not a great deal longer in my seat, I have to say the Radio 4 recording was more enjoyable. I may smile a lot but it takes a heck of a lot to make me laugh out loud, and there will be a moment in January when you can hear me do just that. That's assuming of course that this particular take survives the cutting room floor - a second run-through with exactly the same material was scheduled immediately after ours. And you could so have gone to that.

Update: one further recording of JFSP has been announced, at the BBC Radio Theatre on 5th January. Apply now!

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
ian visits
blue witch
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel
from the murky depths
exploring urban wastelands

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
The DG Tour of Britain

read the archive
Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards