The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...


Monday, October 19, 2009

The Glamorous Life of TV

John from the BBC phoned me a couple of weeks back with an idea for his documentary. A test of word knowledge between a scrabble player and Alan Yentob - only problem being it would have to be filmed in London, would I be up for it? Afternoon of Friday 16th - I checked Paul's diary. Peebles bridge congress but he said he wasn't going, so I said okay. It still had to be confirmed that Mr. Yentob would be willing and available.

I had an exchange of emails and phone calls last week to sort out my train tickets - I really didn't want to do the whole thing in one day and had semi-organised a weekend visiting MIL/FIL on the Friday after filming and then on to see Jackie (school friend) on the Saturday, coming home on the Sunday.

I had not received the tickets in Thursday's post so phoned up. Marisa wasn't around but the lady I spoke to said she was sorting it and she would get right on it and send me the booking reference for me to pick up the tickets from Berwick station. Email arrived shortly afterwards - booked on the 6.43! aaargh! But I had a flexible return ticket with a seat booked on the Sunday 1 p.m. train. I drove in to Berwick to collect the tickets just in case there was a problem - I wouldn't like to have to sort it out the next morning.

Up at 5.40 on Friday - just enough time for a coffee before Paul drove me to the station. I arrived at Kings Cross at 10.40 and it was a short trip on the tube to Borough. So I had an hour before I was due to arrive and decided to walk. I really should have printed out the map Paul had sent me but I had written down the instructions so got completely lost several times. Against popular opinion everyone I asked were extremely friendly and helpful so I eventually arrived with 10 minutes to spare.

Not the glamorous TV studio you might imagine but a rather rundown small terraced house. I buzzed and went in only to be greeted by a young man who asked me what I wanted. I said I was there for the scrabble doc and he told me they were actually filming it around the corner. So he escorted me to another equally unglamorous building.

I went in to a large white-washed room, that was empty other than for Lynn Murphy, who I thought was setting the test, and a few tables and chairs. She said she hadn't actually set the tests but had checked them over for suitability. We joked that they had selected the room to make us feel at home, reflecting the image of scrabble being played in church halls.

John phoned Lynn saying he expected to arrive in about 10-15 minutes time. I used the time to keep working on my cardbox. He duly arrived with an assistant who he sent off to get us some coffee, sandwiches and crisps for lunch. There was then a wait for the cameraman and soundman to arrive. The life of a TV assistant seems to involve getting lunches and standing on the corners of roads looking for cameramen :)

They arrived and started setting up. John outlined what he wanted. It was to be done as if we were sitting an exam. 50 words that we had to mark as true or false, and then a series of word definitions and a multiple choice of 4 words where we had to say which one matched the definition. Then an anagram quiz with Lynn holding up big boards with the letters on. Finally an interview between Alan, Lynn and myself.

It must have been nearly 1.30 p.m. when Mr Yentob actually arrived.

So we were given our instructions. Wait outside the door and action! We walk in and walk side by side down to the desks, shake hands and sit down. Lynn gives us our exam papers. You may turn over your papers and start...

And then they wanted to film it again in profile with Alan glancing over at me as if trying to look at my answers. And us giving each other dirty looks...

For the anagrams part it is decided that as soon as an answer is spotted hand up in air and call out answer(s)... And this is repeated several times with different camera angles.

At the start of the interview we are given our results. I won't spoil it but I could have done better. But I didn't make a complete eejit of myself (unlike in the anagram section where I probably look like an over zealous schoolgirl with my arm shooting up in the air - 'Me, Miss. Me, Miss...Oooh. I know the answer'). If I appear to be shaking in the interview it is not from nerves but by this time I am freezing cold and shivering. I am not allowed to put my jumper on for continuity :(


Anonymous said...

If this is the best locations that BBC can condure up it is becoming more obvious that the licence fee is being used to cotton wool those at the top plus the various over paid celebrities. I don't expect that you travelled first class and no doubt it cost more to engage Yentob than the cost of a BBC cup of tea. It is high time that the BBC stood on its own two feet and stopped its annual fleecing. J.H.

Anonymous said...

conjure!! J.H.

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