London like many other major cities throughout the UK is home to various TV studios that members of the public can request tickets (up to a certain amount) to watch them being filmed for… Free!
Not all shows will be filming, as some only films on certain days or times in the year but if you know you are coming to London in advance, you might just find something that takes your fancy. Though, if you are not fussed which show you want to see being recorded, even better!
On my previous visit to London, this is exactly what I did. Finding a website and checking out various shows to see if they were filming when I was in the city (nor clashing with other pre-arranged plans), I managed to get a ticket to see a recording of the popular quiz show ‘The Chase’ and even better, it was a celebrity special!
Louis Walsh (X Factor), Kara Tointon (Actress), Bradley Walsh (‘The Chase’ Presenter), Beth Tweddle MBE (GB Gymnast) and Tony Audenshaw (Actor)
Now, these tickets might be free but they do not have a seat number on them, so you will have to get there early to be close to the action. For the show, the doors opened at 7pm and I arrived around 6pm, expecting a short queue. Not really, there was already at least 50 people waiting ahead of me, hoping the weather would hold off for another hour (it did). If you end up at ITV Studios in London for a recording, be aware upon arrival that there will be two queues. Those with tickets (like me) and those without, this latter queue of people waiting there to see that if any remaining seats in the audience remain after those with tickets are seated. So, make sure you are in the right one!
A couple of plaques outside the studio
For obvious reasons, you are not allowed to take any photos when you enter the building though nothing surprised me about the interiors. Stars of shows past and present adorned the walls as you were ushered from the entrance to the studio, with various instructions throughout. Upon entering the studio, I was very surprised to observe that it is much smaller than it appears on TV and how large the audience section actually is.
Seated in the 7th row from the action, a view looking straight over all the action (rather than on side to the action), I was very happy. Before the contestants, presenter and The Chaser arrive, the crew are hard to work with cameras, audio etc before bringing in the contestants to do some recording to camera, touch-up of make-up etc before the presenter arrives. Then the recording begins, but most important to discover as the filming went on, whom was The Chaser? They are not introduced straight away, until the contestant meets them the first time… no one knows whom it will be, not even the presenter until they are summoned.
And ‘The Chaser’ is…
Sean Wallace. In the show (at the time), there are four chasers, one randomly selected for each programme to take on the four contestants. Each have their own nicknames, Sean’s are: “The Dark Destroyer”, “The Barrister” and “The Legal Eagle”.
Everyone has their favourite! Yes, yes, I watch the show at home, I’ll admit it 😀
Throughout the recording, whenever there was a gap between takes, an MC was on hand to talk to the audience, sharing information about The Chase as well as opportunities to win prizes. I thought this was great initiative, keeping the audience entertained and not wondering in hushed whispers what was going on.
The presenter (Bradley Walsh) also an actor and an entertainer, was professional throughout allowing his sense of humour to come out to make everyone feel comfortable, less nervous and it is this ability and warmth that attracts people continuously to the show, as well as The Chasers themselves.
All in all, it was a wonderful learning experience witnessing how a TV show is made beyond what you see on the TV and also what gets edited out to fit the programme into its allotted time. Makes me more aware of the process and hard work everyone behind the camera puts in to make a show a success.