I've really enjoyed the last couple of days filming the panel show bits for Annually Retentive. It's a really friendly team and there's a very jolly attitude to the filming because, while we try to make the panel show as you would any other panel show, everyone knows that it's the backstage elements that really make up the show and so it takes a bit of the pressure out of the situation.
During the first series we filmed two episodes a night and there was never one which couldn't have been put together as a watchable (but creatively bankrupt) panel show. Given the nature of the series there's no need to actually make whole episodes as there's no way they can actually show it all when the backstage, behind-the-scenes stuff is what it's really about. So this year we recorded three episodes a night and cut the number of rounds down in each episode. There was still more than enough to filter through each episode and demonstrate the nature of the show but I think some of the guests were surprised by how short the recording for their episode was.
If you're used to appearing on a panel show and you know that the 30 minutes of zingy banter that you see on screen is actually the result of a three hour recording you can't help but get used to a certain kind of pace and attitude. Instead each episode was rattled off in what felt like 20 minutes but was probably closer to 40 and while the guests left, those of us who were returning would duck out and change our clothes and get ready for the next one.
It probably makes for a more interesting night for the studio audience as well as there's much more variety across the evening with a parade of guests. The studio audience is very well warmed up by Chris Corcoran so the mood doesn't flag and the turnaround time between episodes is really quick so all in all I think they get a very good night out for their free ticket.
There was a story this week about Preston (him off of Celebrity Big Brother/him out of The Ordinary Boys/him who's wed Chantelle) storming out of a recording of Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Oddly, at yesterday's recording we had a similar situation. Nobody stormed out but we did have a guest not turn up. A car was sent to their house but they either weren't there or just didn't answer the door and the end result was that we ended up being a guest down. It's probably best that I don't say who it was right now... after all, you never know the reason why they weren't there and I wouldn't want to cast aspersions. It was fine and a stand-in of sorts was found in the shape of the one-person-in-the-building-who-looked-least-like-her ... which turned out to be very funny in its own strange way.
But annoyingly, because of the nature of the show, I think a large part of the audience won't believe that the situation was actually real. The show is about the making of a panel show in which all the ideas are lifted from other shows and nobody is really trying to make anything particularly challenging or good. If we end up covering for a no-show guest and there's a genuine example of a real panel show covering for a stormed-out guest in the ether it will inevitably feel like the producers of our show thought it was a good and convincing story to go with and that we are all pretending that the guest in question didn't show. We weren't. She really didn't turn up. Heigh ho.
Oh, I'm a guest on Big Brother's Little Brother tomorrow afternoon.