I was invited to go behind the scenes at The One Show tonight.
Having seen me venture on to the Watchdog set (twice), Ciarán Ryan (content producer at The One Show) recently emailed me to suggest I might want to take a look behind the scenes and watch Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley in action. Like Watchdog, The One Show is broadcast live, but rather than weekly this goes out every week-day evening, 7:00 to 7:30 pm. Because of this daily schedule the show has its own studio on the first floor of White City.
Tonight guests were Ricky Gervais, Hardeep Singh Kohli and Hector the Dalmation.
Live television really is a very special thing. The tension and excitement are palpable because, at least for the studio portions of the show, there are no second chances. My heart rate jumped the moment I stepped into the room and heard “Phones off, everyone!”.
The atmosphere in the studio is helped by having a small crowd of people off-camera, enjoying the show; there’s a healthy collection of crew and staff gathered at the back of the set watching the action. A dozen or so people stand around behind the cameras, staying out of the way and cheerfully enjoying the on-screen proceedings. Aside from weird interlopers like myself, this crowd is made up of the researchers, writers and web team who between them all make the programme happen. For most of them, this daily half-hour is the slot in which the things they’ve been planning and working on crystalise into reality, are captured and broadcast live to the nation. Obviously the VT (video tape) segments of the show are prepared earlier, and (as with Watchdog) while those are being played the atmosphere transforms. It doesn’t relax, it just takes a deep breath and gets ready for the next live chunk. “Ten seconds, everyone!” and we’re back on air.
I had no trouble staying out of the way at the back while enjoying a great view of Ricky and Hardeep chatting with Adrian and Christine on the sofa. It might not surprise to you, but I was struck by how relaxed the hosts and guests seemed about everything. This is live television; aren’t you nervous? Perhaps it’s a gene, some quirk of personality which allows someone not to seize up as soon as a camera points at them, that sets ‘on-screen talent’ apart from the rest of us.
Even Hector the dog looked relaxed. He was supposed to sing along to the One Show theme tune at the end (this being his adorable trait, which reminds me of ‘That’s Life’ and the dog that could say(?) ‘sausages’). Sadly, Hector merely looked confused and issued only a short ‘woof’. Never mind. It’s hard for a Dalmatian to look anything but adorable, and apart from climbing on the sofa (I was mentally telling him off. Down. Bad boy) he was a star.
Meanwhile, Ciarán was very busy back-stage, grabbing pictures of the action his lovely Canon 5D and regularly dashing back to his desk to upload them. Most were candid behind-the-scenes photos for the One Show backstage blog.
He was kind enough to snap one of me backstage as a memory of my visit to share with you.
I really enjoyed the evening. What a privilege it is to be invited behind the scenes to see television being made. It gives me a totally different appreciation of the effort and attention to detail involved in making 30 minutes of televised output. Many thanks to Ciarán for inviting me, and to everyone else for putting up with me.
You can watch the episode I saw being made (if you’re in the UK, for the next seven days) here.
On the way out of the studio, I had a quick look at the remarkable edit suite, which boasts 20+ monitors showing each of the cameras, the taped segments, still images, and a live view of what else is being broadcast to the networks, wonderfully labeled ‘Rivals’. I’ve (somehow, wonderfully, excitingly) been invited back in a couple of weeks to watch another episode being made, but this time watching the edit rather than the studio. Geek heaven.
I think I’m hooked. I’m falling in love with television.