On Saturday 13th August, 2005 we travelled down to London to see a recording of one of my favourite programmes at BBC Television Centre. A few months ago I had been lucky enough to get tickets to be in the audience of…. Little Britain Series 3! The tickets were so hot that they had all gone in just over an hour of becoming available.
In fact, the 'Little Britain' day started early as I listened to Matt Lucas and David Walliams being interviewed on Jonathan Ross' Radio 2 show in the morning! We left for London (Shepherds Bush to be precise) at about 1pm. The car park was about 10 minutes away, so we had to walk through the pouring rain to Wood Lane! As we approached the Beeb, I could see a queue of people along the pavement. At this point I started to worry a bit - How big was the queue? In short, the BBC over-subscribes the tickets in case people don't turn up - So as long as you get there fairly early, you should be okay. Luckily, the queue wasn't too long and there were only about 30 in front of us. 2 ½ hours later, the queue was stretching down the street! The time was now 6pm and at last the doors opened and we were allowed inside. As we began to move, I suddenly spotted a couple that had just arrived. It was David's parents! I remembered seeing them in a photo with David at a premiere. It took me by surprise and I think I was even a little bit 'star-struck' seeing them!:-)
After checking in, we were all taken to the hospitality area (I must just say that on the pavement were lots of 'plaques' remembering actors and comedians who have worked at the BBC. I think I saw one for Wilfred Brambell) where we could get refreshments, visit the BBC shop and more importantly - sit down! It was a really nice place with coloured spotlights circling around. Showing on a large screen and on monitors around the room was the new Rock Profile DVD. One of the episodes they showed was the one with Bez and Shaun Ryder. I couldn't visit the BBC shop without buying a souvenir, so I got a snazzy BBC pen! After a short while, we were taken over to the studios. Firstly, the VIPs and guests (including Mr and Mrs Walliams!), then the rest of us. We queued up in the famous circular courtyard and waited to go in.
By now it was getting quite exciting - Especially when you think of all the classic shows that have been filmed there. As we walked inside, in front of us were rows of seats looking down onto the floor where the stage was set for filming! The stage area was divided into three sections - On the far left was the pub (the setting for Daffyd sketches), a travel agency set in the middle and Ray's shop on the right. We were seated towards the back on the far right-hand side. Suspended above the first row of seats were three screens on which we could watch close-ups of the filming and the recorded sketches. On the floor, the crew were all busy making sure everything was ready to start recording. We even spotted Matt, dressed as Ray from the Mr. Man sketches helping them! Once everything was finalised, it was showtime!
Geoff Posner, the Producer, welcomed everyone and gave a little talk about the night's proceedings. He then introduced Matt Lucas and David Walliams! To an enormous cheer, Matt walked on still dressed as Ray and David as Carol from the "Computer says no" sketches, sporting a huge grin - It was strange seeing Carol smiling as it's so out of character! They then spoke to the audience and started pointing out the people they knew - Including David's parents and a comedian whose name I can't remember! They then passed the microphone over to the "warm-up" guy for the evening, Stephen Grant. While David prepared for the first sketch, Stephen announced that as part of the audience participation, there will be a Little Britain impressions competition and the winner will win a signed DVD.
The lights then dimmed and the new opening titles of 'Little Britain-Series 3' appeared on the screens in front of us. I won't spoil it by writing about the sketches, but I will say that many of the old favourites are back, along with lots of new characters - Including Ting Tong and Dudley, whose photos have been printed in the papers. After a short while it was time for the first live recording of the night. All the action was taking place in the 'Travel Agents' set. I was thrilled that I was there to see them doing a couple of 'Carol' sketches - One of which included a man I recognised from 'One Foot In The Grave' - He was Victor's 'friend', Ronnie. His name is Gordon Peters and Dad also knew him from the recording of 'Name That Tune' back in the '80's! There were a few re-takes and fluffs, but David was spot on - And in fact he didn't make one mistake all night! It was funny watching Matt in between takes as he'd got his camera and was taking photos of he and David with the guest stars and of themselves in costume. I was also really pleased that directly in front of me was the Mr Man and Roy set, so I had a perfect view when they recorded this sketch - This, like 'Carol', is one of my favourites. They had to do this one a few times though due to Matt coughing halfway through and also getting the giggles! And it wasn't until the second take that I spotted David was crouching down behind the counter at the beginning of the sketch! As usual, it was absolutely brilliant and very funny - Especially at the end when Mr Man had left the shop with his purchase!
There were lots more recorded sketches to watch, some of which included Rob Brydon as a regular character's ex-husband. He put on a great cockney accent, which reminded me of Paul Nicholas in 'Just Good Friends'! Throughout the evening, Stephen, the 'warm-up' man, continued to chat with members of the audience - Including me! When he asked if there was anyone from the Birmingham area, I put my hand up! The Hanmade Website even got a little plug! There were also more Little Britain impersonations. I was tempted to do my "carrot cake, have ye any nuts?" impression, but resisted! Mainly because there was one clear winner in the running! After some more recorded VT, it was time for the last live sketches of the night. These were in the Llanddewi Brefi local pub. Myfanwy, played by Ruth Jones, was behind the bar. Matt strolled on set wearing even more outrageous outfits as Daffyd! David even played a policeman in one sketch.
Matt and "Myfanwy" fluffed a few times, which made them crack up laughing - Especially while quoting a line from YMCA! After a few takes it was all in the can. While Matt and David returned backstage to get changed and the crew finished off on the floor, Stephen Grant rounded the night off with the final handful of impressions. And as expected, the winner was a man who did 'Ting Tong' talking to "Mr. Dudley". As Stephen announced the winner, Matt and David walked back on holding the prize. Stephen invited the guy down to the front to do his impression again and to collect his DVD (lucky wotsit!:-)). As before, he did it brilliantly. I think Matt and David were probably quite surprised as he had the dialogue spot on and it's a new character!
Sadly, it was then time to go home. Matt and David thanked everyone for coming before leaving to an enthusiastic and appreciative applause from the audience. I'm now going to have to wait until winter to see Little Britain - Series 3 in full. However, I feel really lucky to have been at the recording and seeing all that goes on - Even though the queuing and the waiting was a bit of a drag, it was definitely worth it! A really enjoyable day and it had even stopped raining by the time we left the BBC.