George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, got resoundly booed by 80,000 people last week. He looked embarrassed.. a few hours earlier I had also been embarrassed as I found myself in the front row of the audience for the new series of ITVs live transmission of Loose Women. I was wildly clapping and cheering the panelists.
So how had I managed to end up on daytime telly apparently in paroxysms of excitement over 4 mid aged women? ..Are they famous? celebrities?
Well we were walking down the South Bank, on our way to the Paralympics. (the scenic route) when we were approached by a stranger who I assumed was going to sell me English lessons, cut price dining out or convert me. But instead it transpired that he was a member of the production crew for ITVs Loose Women, which was transmitting in 15 minutes and they had lost a coach load of audience. Could we help? When I looked dubious he offered us a bribe of audience tickets for Jonathan Ross. This was obviously a big deal for him, but I still looked unsure. But he was obviously desperate and we had an hour to kill, so we agreed to take part.
After we were rushed in, the audience were soon whipped up to a frenzy of excitement. Though the audience manipulator ..warm up guy.. grumbled that he had only 10 minutes and not his normal 20 minutes to work on us. “Let’s give them the X Factor reception” he enthused.
But despite my embarrassment at acting like an incontinent teenager at a “who-ever is the latest celebrity” concert, I duly followed his ever more frantic exhortation and clapped till my hands were sore and cheered till my throat was sore.
Having been on the the production team for similar TV shows, it was fascinating being on the receiving end. I had, as a TV floor manager, had to warm up audiences years ago. I wasn’t very good. My British reserve, wet Sunday afternoons and trying to inspire coach loads of pensioners from Eastbourne made it hard work.
So as I sat in the audience, trying to keep my cool detachment, to prove I’m not really a daytime telly person, whilst cheering, whooping and Aaah.. ing on cue. …and despite my reservations the panelists were actually quite amusing quite good. I suppose the wildly enthusiastic audience helps persuade the TV audience at home that they are watching something exceptional. Unlike non audience laughter shows like “The Thick of It” where you have to listen and pay attention to figure out what is funny.
So after leaving the TV Studio, we went onto the Paralympics to a packed 80,000 full stadium. It was a delight to be part of the audience that had a mind of its own. They cheered the winners (especially the Brits) and even more enthusiastically cheered the last two in the 1500 metres, who had been lapped twice and came in many minutes after the winner.
But when it came to the announcement that George Osborne was going to give out medals and the audience decided to resoundly boo him, ( shouldn’t have cut disability payments, George), he looked even more embarrassed than I did in the Loose Women show.
I bet he wished he’s had an audience manipulator.