You may remember that Christine and I visited London in May, and, while we were there, we went to a TV recording at the Hackney Empire. I’m on the mailing lists of a few companies that offer free audience tickets for TV and radio recordings (such as SRO Audiences and Applause Store), and as this one coincided with us being in London anyway, I applied for tickets.
The show was Jo Brand’s Big Splash, presented, as you may have guessed, by comedian Jo Brand, which starts at 9pm on Dave, the digital TV channel which is on most platforms bar Freesat (boo….). Although the show will mostly see her in and out of water, there are also some segments where she will be doing stand-up which ties into the rest of the show, and we were there for the recording of her stand-up bits.
The tickets are free (most TV and radio audience tickets are free), and we were lucky to get ‘priority’ tickets which meant we were sat on the third row from the front. We still had to queue outside for the best part of an hour though, but this is normal for events like these; this being the second time we’ve been in an audience recently as we were also at a recording for an unbroadcasted pilot of 10 O’clock Live in December last year. For that we made a special trip to London; whilst we had a good time, logistically it was rather awkward and the travel and accommodation cost us the best part of £200, even though the event itself was free.
Anyway, once we were inside and sat down, there was quite a bit of waiting before finally the warm-up comedian came on for around 20 minutes, followed by Jo Brand herself who explained how the recording was to be done. Then, finally, she did her routine (albeit with the aid of an autocue). Once she’d been through it, she then had to re-record the bits she’d missed out, stumbled on or had otherwise not recorded well. Then, we were free to go, after being there for around a couple of hours.
Whilst it’s certainly more faffy than going to a ‘normal’ stand-up comedy gig, considering the tickets were free it’s hard to complain. Also, Jo Brand is genuinely a very nice person and she seemed really pleased with how things went.
As I said, we’ve been in audiences a couple of times now (plus I’ve also done BBC Radio 4’s The News Quiz and TF1’s Les Guignols d’Info in the past) and they’re a really good way of seeing big names very cheaply. The caveats are that most events are in London, although occasionally some are in Manchester or Birmingham – on this occasion we were lucky that we were in London anyway at the time. I’d suggest signing up to receive emails from a few companies as that way you’ll get the most offers. Some won’t interest you – I’ve been invited to pretty much every Big Brother eviction of late – but once in a while a decent one will come up. You’ll need to apply quickly though as some of the more well-known shows will be in high demand.
Finally, remember to watch Jo Brand’s Big Splash, which starts at 9pm this Thursday on Dave, and continues each week for the next few weeks. And see if you can spot me and Christine.