Daily Archives: 10/17/2011

A guy walks into City Hall, Part 2

Sheffield City Hall - where legends live...

You may recall my post from Thursday last week, written immediately before I set off for my night out at Radio Four’s live recording of “The News Quiz”.

Well, fortune smiled on me and I managed to get inside for the show – apparently, the tradition for the BBC is to issue more tickets to would-be attendees than may actually be able to attend tapings.  It’s a funny old thing – I got there an hour before doors were scheduled to open and had to go to the back of a queue which stretched from the right hand side of the picture above all the way down the side of the building and around the rear of the building.

Sandi Toksvig and Jeremy Hardy have more than a few fans in Sheffield, let me tell you.

When I was able to go inside, the scene was pretty much like this:

As we might say in Sheffield - "Reet nice architecture, tha knows".

When I say ‘pretty much’, what I mean to say is ‘exactly like this, only with about 100 or so people squashed together, no queue system, no personal space and a growing sense that things could have been organised a bit better’.  I’m not great with confined spaces and this quite elegant space, when filled with lots of people, was really beginning to make me uncomfortable.

A gaggle of middle-aged nerd folk who were standing in front of me were even more aggrieved, broadcasting to anybody who wanted to listen (and a lot of people, like me, who really weren’t interested) that they could have organised things better and that situations like this were really beneath Radio Four and didn’t they know that they didn’t pay their License Fee to put up with things like this.

To which the obvious answer might be, “As you didn’t actually pay for your tickets to the free recording…”

Slight niggles aside, how was the show?  Hilarious and fascinating in equal measure.

The show’s recording ran for around ninety minutes, of which twenty-eight minutes were excerpted for Friday night’s edition.  This means that the entirely slick and pacey show which you end up listening to is the end result of some judicious pruning, reconstruction and libellous remarks hitting the cutting room floor.  Suffice is to say that the first 10 or 15 minutes focussed on the week’s main political story in the UK – former Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox and his friendship with businessman Adam Werrity, a curious tale which last week saw Fox resign from his position in the government.

You can, I’m sure, imagine just how much of a gift this was to the panel last week, comedians Jeremy Hardy, Sarah Millican, Tom Wrigglesworth  and Paul Sinha.  Suggestions were made.  Opinions expressed. It was all very funny but as I enjoy not living in a box, I’ll not tempt anybody’s libel lawyers by recounting what might have been said about Fox and Werrity’s singular friendship.  Ahem.

The end show really is a master class in editing and those concerned with creating the show’s final form should be congratulated on how they manage to edit out frequent cursing, epic digressions and the aforementioned potentially libellous assertions and make something which flows so well.

My favourite things from the show – Sandi Toksvig’s introduction, in which she explained the lay of the land to a gaggle of giddy South Yorkshire comedy fans, Sarah Millican’s glorious PE excuse notes, Tom Wrigglesworth’s epic meandering introductions when answering a question, Jeremy Hardy’s pint of cider (a bit visual – you had to be there) and alternative usage for the Olympic Stadium (think ‘toddler’s ball pool’) and Paul Sinha eloquently explaining why the proposed dismantling of the NHS may be a bad thing.

If you get the chance to attend one of these recordings – I suspect the BBC will be wanting to do more or them now that content on the BBC isn’t supposed to emanate just from London and the South East – I highly recommend that you take the chance.  It’s a really fun peek behind the curtain.

Now to get Mayo and Kermode up to Sheffield…


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