What I learnt from being in The Graham Norton Show’s Virtual Audience

I’ve never been in the physical audience of a show taping, and I’ve often thought I’d like to be, especially for something like The Graham Norton Show, which I always watch on TV on a Friday night. However, it’s in London, I’m not. When they started doing a virtual audience I looked into getting a ticket, but it’s recorded on a Thursday evening and I’m usually busy then. However, with a change in my schedule for one week, I went online and applied for tickets, putting my one available date in all the boxes. 

You too can apply here: https://www.sroaudiences.com/application.asp?show_id=4373 

Why did I want to go?

I didn’t know who the guests would be when I applied, so I wasn’t desperate for tickets as a huge fan of a specific guest. I just liked the idea of an interesting evening and wanted to see how it was done under these circumstances and with the online system they’re using to have a virtual audience providing natural sounds and feedback. 

What did I know beforehand?

I’m familiar with how shows are filmed. I knew they film more than we get to see aired, with it edited the next day ready for broadcast on Friday night, over 24 hours later. A little is cut for the sake of fluidity, and they can pop in an extra reaction shot or two. There are also moments trimmed out because someone refers to brands that couldn’t be talked about on the show as they’re not allowed to advertise on the BBC.

What did I learn?

Though all camera feeds will be getting recorded, the show was vision mixed live by someone very good at their job, it was almost ready for broadcast. I essentially forgot I was watching a live stream of the studio and it felt almost identical to the final show on Friday night (I’m feeling extreme deja vu with it on live in the background as I write this) except for a couple of moments where something needed adjusting or pausing. The issue with that was I almost forgot why I was there, the virtual audience is meant to be providing natural audio, but you laugh less when you’re on your own, and I rarely clap at things on a screen. So it was just me laughing a little and applauding at the obvious applause moments when I remembered that was what I was supposed to do. 

What will I appreciate more now when I watch the show?

Graham is a great host, which has always been apparent in the edited show, but in full it was clear to see he kept the conversation flowing even when beset by delays to the remote guest and the musical performance. There was a little chatting we weren’t privy to for a couple of minutes, it looked very relaxed and friendly. I also will appreciate when they go back to one sofa post-COVID, it brings the guests together both for Graham’s ease of address, while encouraging a lot more banter and conversation that’s always been the hallmark of this show and why it’s so enjoyable.

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