Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Friday Night Project

I was invited to a taping of "The Friday Night Project," today. The production team wanted me to ask a question of the guest host, Rupert Everett. They wanted me to turn up early, at 5:30PM, so I could be briefed, before the taping, as to what I was to do. How to get to central London quickly, without a car? I found that if I left work fifteens minutes early, I could take the free shuttle bus to Farnborough train station, then catch a fast train to London Waterloo. The pub where I was to meet the production staff is within walking distance of Waterloo Station. I offered to work fifteen minutes out of my lunch break, in exchange for leaving fifteen minutes early, and the Manager of the restaurant accepted.
Once on the train, I changed my shirt in the on-board toilet. The fast service was great! The train only made one stop after Farnborough, at Clapham Junction, then it went straight to Waterloo. I was able to get from work to Central London in one hour and five minutes. That's even faster than driving at that time of day, as the train bypasses the traffic. Things went so well, I arrived at the pub a half hour early. I bought myself a drink and sat at a table to wait. While keeping an eye out for the production staff member, I read the newspaper. Eventually, a guy with a clipboard, as had been described to me, turned up. As I approached him, I observed several other people doing likewise. I wasn't the only one invited down to ask a question. We were given release forms to sign and told to carry on waiting. When it was time to go to the studio, we were escorted past a big crowd of people waiting to be in the audience. We didn't have to wait in the queue, but were given VIP entrance.
In the studio, there were special, reserved seats for us. Because each invitee had been permitted to bring a couple of guests, there were thirty of us, but only nine questions to be asked. So, the guy in charge asked that those who really wanted to ask questions put their hands up. Surprisingly, not that many people did. My arm shot up. I'll grab any chance to be in front of a camera, especially for TV. This was the big time, terrestrial TV, on one of the main channels in the UK. I was the fourth person he selected. I was given my question on a little piece of paper and told to memorize it. Then I was seated in the center, slightly left and towards the front. A good seat for the show.
I had never actually watched "The Friday Night Project" before. It always seemed as if something else was on, or Nando wanted to watch something. I knew that gay comedian, Alan Carr was one of the hosts, but that's about all I knew. His co-host, Justin Lee Collins, was very funny. He used to perform stand up comedy, as well. The guest house band was the Manic Street Preachers. I watched the taping, applauding enthusiastically and laughing appropriately, trying to be a good, animated audience member. All the while, I was waiting for the question time, so I could do my bit. Finally, we got to the questions. Justin was selecting people from the audience. First, he'd call out the name of one of us VIPs. Then he'd take someone raising his hand. This alternated , back and forth. I was supposed to be the fourth of the VIPs. The third name was called out and I was ready to be next. I sat on the edge of my seat, tingling with anticipation. My face, voice, and name would go out into millions of homes, across the UK. I sat their, like a blushing bride on her wedding day, eagerly anticipating taking her vow. Suddenly, the next name was read out. It wasn't mine. They'd skipped me! Instead, they read out the name of some guy in drag. Maybe he was the bride? Maybe they had changed the order. I waited, but then Justin announced that they were selecting the last questioner. I thrust my hand up, hoping to be picked, so I could still do my line. They picked someone else. Such is my life...always a bride's maid, never a bride.
I should still be seen in the audience. A woman to my right was selected to ask a question when her hand was up. I must have been picked up on camera at the same time. I'll be watching Friday night, when it airs. That's 10:30PM, UK time, on Channel 4, Friday, 20 July.

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