Following on from my post about being in the audience for Mock The Week on Tuesday night, I was also lucky enough to have a ticket for Channel 4’s The Last Leg on Friday night as well. Out of both the shows this week, this was the one I was looking forward to the most. So, as with Mock The Week, I wanted to tell you a bit about my experience there, without giving away too many TV secrets.
I’ve been a fan of The Last Leg ever since it started during the 2012 Paralympics, and have previously praised them for their Rio coverage in 2016. They do a fantastic job covering the news every week, with lots of great comedy while also dealing with the more serious events extremely sensitively. I also have stand-up DVDs by Adam Hills and Josh Widdicombe, as they’re both great stand-up comedians, and Alex Brooker is brilliant as well (he was also part of Scope’s End The Awkward campaign). The three of them are a brilliant team, it’s a great way to finish the week by watching this show.
Of course, this latest series wasn’t originally intended to be on now. They had already completed a series earlier in the year, but when Theresa May suddenly called a snap election, they were brought back in to do another series very quickly. I think we all thought it was just going to be a few election specials, but they’ve been doing a few episodes beyond that to make it a full-length series, which is awesome. So I jumped at the chance to try and get a ticket, my first ever time applying, and I wanted to tell you a little a bit about my experience, just like I did for Mock The Week.
As with Mock The Week, this was again filmed at the ITV Studios on the South Bank in London, and again the tickets were acquired through SRO Audiences. And, again, they were great at giving me assistance, and gave me a front row seat so I had the best possible view because of my visual impairment. I was in the first seat in the front, directly facing the monitor that they have in the centre of the stage. There were other people further to the left on the rows behind me, but the gap to the left of me was used for production staff and guests as they entered and exited the studio.
I had made sure I got there early too. For Mock The Week I’d turned up an hour before – but knowing how popular The Last Leg is, I went earlier still to be safe, getting there 90 minutes before the stated time for the security checks to start. Already the queue was quite long even then, snaking its way down the alleyway next to the studio towards the South Bank, and quickly grew after I joined it. So it seemed to have been worthwhile. Before too long, the staff moved a whole bunch of us forward, taking us through the security checks and having us queue right by the studio entrance, thus freeing up the alley for others waiting. There were a lot of people there, and it’s not surprising really – don’t forget you have the bulk of the audience filling one side of the studio, but also a lot of people who sit behind the stage area (and are thus visible on screen a lot of the time).
We did of course have a warm-up comedian entertaining us before the show – Mark Olver, who is quite well-known in the business. I’ve seen brief clips of him on TV before, but have never seen him properly do his stuff. And he was great, very funny and engaging, and really helped to get the audience ready for the show. I’m not going to spoil what went on, but he did play a game with all of us that was a lot of fun, and got all of us cheering for a couple of people in the audience in particular by the end. If you’ve been to a Mark Olver warm-up before, you’ll know what it is I suspect, I gather he plays it a lot. But for anyone who doesn’t know, I won’t spoil it. It’s fun though!
One other thing that was referenced during the broadcast of the programme, however, came during a discussion into a South Korean study about car horns. This study claims that duck quacks are apparently the ideal noise for car horns, because they’re more stressful. Mock The Week had also dealt with this, but the team at the The Last Leg decided to test out a few noises on us to see how we would react. We weren’t told about this, of course, because it was meant to be a surprise.
So, while we were waiting for the warm-up to begin, the music being played over the speakers stopped, and in the silence that followed we heard a sudden noise, very loud, before the music faded back up again. This happened a few times, using a variety of different noises, at random intervals. But they didn’t get the leaps of shock that the crew had expected. We basically just flinched or jumped slightly, but then looked bemused and chuckled as the music came back on. As far as we were concerned as an audience, they were just messing around with us for fun by playing random sounds, to make us laugh. Mark Olver then jokingly scolded us for not reacting in the way they’d wanted, but even then he didn’t say why they were doing it. We still thought it was just for a laugh. It was only when Adam mentioned it during the show that we realised – and you can hear the noises of recognition with the laughter at that point. It all fell into place for us then!
Adam, Josh and Alex came out and got themselves ready before the show, of course, with Adam in particular saying hello to us all. They had to do a few things before the show went live, including the trailer that went out in the final part of The Crystal Maze just before it (which isn’t as good as the original version of the game show, sure, but Richard Ayoade is still doing a good job with it to be fair, it’s nice to see it back). Again, there are TV secrets here that I won’t spoil, but we learnt a few interesting things.
Then the show went live – and it is fully live, there’s no delay. Apparently a few people claim there is, but there really isn’t, and if you’ve watched the show regularly that’s blindingly obvious given the language that one or two guests have come out with! During the ad breaks Mark Olver comes out and keeps us all entertained while the guys on set get ready for the next part, and that included getting us ready for the rave-type sequence that came at the end of this week’s show, the people behind the stage getting glowsticks, while those of us on my side, facing the stage, just had to dance (and you never saw us doing that, thankfully!). There was also a little bit of extra filming that took place after the show as well – trailers for next week’s show and a bit of online-only material for their Correspondents segment. Then we were allowed to go at about 11:15pm.
So it was a really great show, with the magnificent film star Andy Serkis as their guest. I loved being there for it, and the atmosphere in the studio is electric. Everybody’s there to have a great night, so all the whooping and cheering comes naturally. I did appear on screen a couple of times too, and the massive grin on my face proves the point really. And some of my friends spotted me too! I’ve seen a few tweets from viewers at home saying the audience were a bit flat, but that doesn’t reflect my experience of actually being there. We were loving it, I clearly was!
I did watch the show again after I got home, which helped me to see things I couldn’t at the time, including the photos and video footage, and general close-ups of what was happening on stage. But even though I can’t see everything perfectly in person, it didn’t diminish the experience of being there. I didn’t need to see it all, there was more than enough to keep me happily entertained. And getting to watch it again at home just allows me to relive the memories of a great night from another perspective.
So with that and Mock The Week, it’s been a very lucky and enjoyable week, and I’ll definitely be applying for more audience tickets in the future – for those and other shows. And thank you again to SRO Audiences and the studio staff for their assistance too!
So if you’re a fan of shows like that, it’s well worth applying for tickets, even if it takes multiple attempts, and even if you have to queue for a long time to get in. It’s a unique experience that’s well worth the effort! 🙂
I’ll leave you with an amazing outtake clip from The Last Leg, which never fails to crease me up every single time I watch it. The way Johnny Vegas messes with the guys while Adam tries to film the trailer is just hilarious! Adult humour and strong language ahead – it’s puerile but brilliant.