Angelic Paranoia

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The Now Show

Last night I went to the recording of The Now Show. It’s a funny radio show about the news, so it will go out on Radio 4 tonight. I have listened to three episodes of it, which considering they have six per series and this is apparently their 36th series, I’m doing pretty badly. I keep meaning to listen to it but keep failing. So I thought that going to a recording would make me tape the series. Which I need to do before I leave for work this afternoon in case I’m not home in time…

But anyway, about the recording. I’m not going to give away specifics of tonight’s episode, you’ll have to listen to it yourselves. But having never been to a recording before (except for ISIHAC, which is done differently) it was all quite interesting.

To start with, as tickets are free they issue more than they have spaces for, because people might not turn up and they want to fill the audience. So you have to get there early. I wasn’t quite prepared for how early, though. The doors to the building opened at 6.45pm. We got there are 6.30pm to find a massive queue. We were 222nd and 223rd in it.

Once you get inside the building you get to stand around in the bar space, which has just enough space to fit all the audience in. We managed to find a corner to sit in and eat our lunch – and then the people in the chairs by us got up and we sat in them. The doors were supposed to open at 7.45pm and the recording start at 8pm, but the doors actually opened at 8pm and the recording started at 8.10pm. We were up in the gallery, which doesn’t have very well banked seats, so there was a lot of sitting up straight and looking round people. Fortunately, there’s not a lot to see. There were some people standing at the back, although they probably had a better view.

It started with the producer telling us about the fire exits, then High Dennis and Steve Punt did the warm-up. This consisted of them telling a story and the audience providing the sound effects. Which is pretty funny when you have 200+ people making the noise of terrified sheep.

After that they introduced the rest of the cast. Everyone had a seat at the back of the stage and when they had a bit to say they got up and went to a microphone at the front. Except for Punt & Dennis who were mostly at the microphones, except when they got to sit down when someone else was doing something for a bit. They all had a drink by their seats. Which was beer.

They all read from scripts, which they moved away from the microphones to turn pages. Sometimes they would start a line again because they’d gone wrong. There wouldn’t even be anything in between, they’d just start again and trust the editing. There wasn’t much of that from Punt & Dennis, but John Finnemore did it quite bit.

At the end of the programme they always read out audience’s answers to a question. They gave it out when we came into the bar and they collected it before we went in. The question was if Scotland became independent, what would we called the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. We spent some time while we ate thinking of a funny answer, knowing we wouldn’t be as funny as a lot of other people. But my answer (with addition from my sister) was read out! (by Steve Punt towards the end, if it doesn’t get edited out) Hugh Dennis’s favourite answer was by far the funniest.

Once they’d done the producer came on to talk to the relevant people about re-takes. Steve Punt continued reading out some of the answers and then he and Hugh Dennis got into an argument about whether it would need re-naming at all, ie was Great Britain a political or geographical entity. Steve Punt admitted that he had no idea what he was talking about, but they needed to do something to entertain us while we waited for the re-takes. Mitch Benn got involved, by shouting from his chair and then felt the need to go up to a microphone to get into the argument.

Pippa Evans needed to do a re-take because the audience was still laughing over the line before hers, so hers couldn’t be heard and eventually she said “Can I do my re-take now?”. Everyone had to shut up so she could say her line. Then Hugh Dennis had to do one and that was it. By this time it was 9.10pm, so it had taken an hour to record a half hour programme, plus the warm-up and retakes.

I’m looking to listening to it tonight – and for the next five weeks. Once I’ve set the video…