This week the force of nature that is my daughter announced she had (free) tickets for a recording of the new series Harry Hill’s Tea Time (as yet un-aired).
Harry defected from ITV to Sky and now he he has this new spoof cookery/interview with a celeb show with elements of TV Burp and references to You’ve Been Framed.
Girl applied for priority tickets to see it made and to her surprise got them. Excitedly we headed off to Osterley Park. Now, we live east of East London. This destination was west of West London. So to me it might as well have been Australia.
It only took a two and a half hour journey. I can confirm that the Piccadilly Line from Holborn onwards is very, very slow. Even when it misses out Turnham Green.
Anyway, we arrived by 6pm (somehow!), issued with wristbands, and were taken to a marquee where after airport style security we got a free and rather generous package of food. The staff at the Sky place are brilliant. Professional, humorous, I was impressed. The whole place is impressive if a tad huge and difficult to navigate.
I have only once seen a TV show filmed live before (Burt Bacharach interviewed by Michael Grade at the Royal Festival Hall last summer), but this was very different. It seems many of the other audience members were veterans of Sky/ITV . Many of them knew each other; some of them had been to very many live recordings indeed – one guy had been to six just that week and it was only Wednesday – including two visits to Loose Women. Even the warm-up man recognised him.
I call him a ‘warm-up man’ but he was more than that – he was a facilitator. He was constantly among and engaging with the audience – taking the merciless mickey out of a lot of them – I mean, humming the theme to The Addams Family as a group came in late and calling an elderly man Victor Meldrew to name but two of his insults. He was needed as this recording was a long process, which we were warned of from the start despite the email assuring us it would be done and dusted by 9:40pm.
So then we’re in the studio. There are screens everywhere and huge cameras and big lights. We have to pretend to laugh and clap for the edit before Harry Hill even emerges, and practice saying ‘Beget the Baguette’ (it made sense eventually… sort of).
Then the Talent arrives. There is an element of the audience who are only there because of guest Jason Donovan. One lady – Claire – had come from Middlesbrough – via Wales – yes, Wales (the Warm Up man had fun with her) just to see him. She wasn’t the only one. Lots of cries of “We LOVE you Jason!” and at one point we all sang Any Dream Will Do complete with aaaaah-aahs . To be honest the whole thing was surreal.
So then the real deal started – the actual recording.
What struck me from the start that with a character like ‘Harry Hill’ and he is a character – and all that comes along with what he does – is how absolutely technical it is. In fact at one point I heard him tell Jason Donovan ‘This is the most technical thing I have done’.
A BBQ blew up in his face. I mean …. literally. He put a fake kangaroo in a blender… yes I did say it was surreal and it was very clever .
Unfortunately it wasn’t particularly funny .
The best bits were the old clips from Neighbours to be honest. Paul Robinson’s jumper (which Jason referred to as Paul Daniel’s in conversation was one of the highlights).
The premise of the show as I said, is that it’s a parody cooking programme.
Raw fish Top Gear anyone? Main meal made with rocks? State School Shambles (like Eton Mess but no cabinet job at the end of it) made with charcoal briquettes painted red & wallpaper paste ? I suppose it was amusing but I won’t be falling over myself to see the series when it airs in the autumn.
There was clearly a lot of talent there, not least Harry himself who clearly put a lot into this. The technical people, the make up lady, the director, the guy who dressed as Humpty Dumpty just to stand there sort of dancing, the guy who may or may not have been Kevin Eldon as Trev.
But oh my goodness it went on. And on.Making a half hour TV show is apparently a long, long process. The 9:40pm promise was fading; at 10pm they were still re-doing snippets and hadn’t even set up for the finale let alone recorded, and re-recorded it.
People started leaving and it was like blinking Brexit, with about 17 million of the audience going and the warm up man now getting a little bit stressed and saying “No-one else goes!” as there were banks of empty seats.
I persuaded Girl that we should leave – she wasn’t happy ! But given that the Sky Osterley place (which by the way is state of the art! I’d work there!) is nowhere near the Tube and we had to search out a shuttle bus before we even started on the long journey and as I had a 6am start the next day I felt justified.
Then we were even followed by a drone.
At half past midnight we dragged ourselves home.
Was it worth it ? To be honest, no. Not for that long a journey and not really for that show, but you can all make your own minds up (if you have Sky) come September. But it was a new experience and that’s always cool.