LJ 2008-06-04 00:04:00
So tonight I went to see a taping of The Graham Norton Show. A very good time was had, and I am now giving up valuable sleep time so as to write things down before I forget..
We were some of the last people to get in, and there was concern that there wouldn’t be seats, but as it happened there was a bank of four just waiting for us, so all good.. The warm up guy who came on in advance was actually rather funny, certainly enough so that he could make at least a modest living out of it if he wanted, I’m sure.. Though that said, he probably gets to re-use material, since a lot of the people there (at least those who really needed warming up) will have been new to it..
Anyway, then Graham Norton came on, cue cheering, he then explains that we can all stop, this bit isn’t being filmed.. He further explains what’s going to happen, etc., he came across really quite well, friendly, funny, etc.. More swearing than he usually puts in the show, but that’s probably partly because he sends it to BBC America, and I can imagine that they might be a little more strict in terms of F words etc..
So he goes back off, then the titles roll, and he comes on. What I didn’t entirely grasp before now is how straight-out-of-the-box everything is – there were monitors on which we could see what was actually being recorded – they played the titles, then straight to the intro, which involves overlaying some images onto the screen. All this had been arranged prior to the filming rather than being done in post-production – effectively what we saw on the screens could have gone out live, if they so wanted. Which is kind of cool really…
Anyway, the guests were Susan Sarandon and Jon Culshaw. SS was actually really nice – there’s something about seeing a big Hollywood actress in person, talking about her kids and how great they are, that just makes them seem that much more human and down to earth.. Which isn’t to say that she’s ever seemed aloof in the past, but still – she definitely came across as a person who is first a mother, then an actress (and then a political activist). So she talked about her kids, and about Tim Robbins, and about politics.. I don’t want to go into detail about what was said by whom, because that would take the fun out of watching it. However, topics covered include whose Oscar is taller – hers or Tim Robbins’, and also where in the house they keep them (clue: you pee there).
The other guest was Jon Culshaw, who I suspect was there possibly more for his contributions to the little “bits” that they do, and less for an in-depth interview (though there were still questions and stuff). He seems to have two different modes – there’s the Stock Footage mode where he just falls into characters that he does all the time, by way of a demonstration of his trade. That involves impersonating Tony Blair, George Bush, and basically a whole load of people who are so distinctive in their manner that they’re hardly worth impersonating. Everybody knows what GWB sounds like, so having somebody sit there and basically play for laughs based on his own impression of that is a bit tired. That said, his other mode is the Ad Lib mode, where he just responds to something somebody else has said with the appropriate remark in the appropriate voice. In this respect, he’s actually a very funny and talented man, and I was quite impressed :o)
There were a few “bits” that they did.. Ough I call them segments? Anyway, there was one about The Most Boring Audience Member, which had a great buildup, very funny, but sort of fell flat on the final delivery.. The other one worth mentioning was a prank call (using Jon Culshaw to impersonate people), and this is where you will see me on the TV, if you watch. Not that I had anything to do with it as such, but rather because the person from the audience who did have something to do with it was sitting just behind me. So in the bit where they do the prank call, watch out for my head at the bottom of your TV screen. If I make any other unexpected appearances, no doubt I shall spot them myself when the show goes out, and point them out if people really want. Suffice it to say, I was sitting one seat in from the aisle, on the left (as one looks out from the stage to the audience) hand side of it (though the right hand side of the studio since this aisle was way off to the right). Blue-ish shirt.
Then Jodie, the winner of I’d Do Anything, came out for a quick chat. Bless her, she was so star-struck when she met Susan Sarandon, it was quite funny… But she seemed really lovely, genuine, down to earth, all the usual things that you’d expect from a northern lass who’s suddenly had fame thrust upon her but hasn’t had time to learn to deal with it yet. There was a TMI moment where she revealed just how excited she was when she won, but I won’t spoil that.. And she talked about how she felt knowing that (arguably the more important) half of the panel thought that Jessie would have been better for the role..
And then finally The Feeling played out the end, with a decent enough performance, the sound quality was excellent, the song wasn’t bad, though I don’t have that much to say because it felt like typically bland 21st century pop-rock.. Still, as that music goes, it was on the good side :o)
After they’d finished, Graham had to film a few trails for the show for both the domestic and foreign audience.. So he had to record the standard “Join me on the Graham Norton show where I’ll be interviewing Susan Sarandon and Jon Culshaw”, then the various “That’s the Graham Norton show, after Heroes”, “The Graham Norton show, tonight at..” and so on.. You get the idea.. Then he had to do the BBC America version, and then what felt like half a dozen UKTV New Zealand trails.. The Kiwis apparently like lots and lots and lots of options when it comes to how they deliver their traielrs..
And that was about it.. It was great fun, very funny, and the whole thing was just so seemless.. The whole thing must have gone on for at least an hour and a half, and just worked as it stood – however the 45 minute run time (less adverts) means they must cut an awful lot out. I can’t immediately see what would get the chop, since the entire thing just worked as it was.
Anyway, the show goes out at 9:45pm on Thursday 5th June on BBC2, or there’s a repeat/uncut version (not sure which) on at 11pm on Sunday 8th (also BBC2). I can’t recommend it highly enough :o)