Ed Byrne and the Magical World of Television

I was up the Londons again last night, invited by David-from-last-weekend to see “top funster” Ed Byrne‘s live stage show at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith. David knows one of the guys that owns the Riverside TV production company, so it was free tickets and trebles all round for us and some of David’s other mates.

We arrived at about 7pm, got a drink and chatted until the show. Unlike the proles paying for their tickets, we got to dump our coats in a dressing room. Yes, light bulbs were around the mirror, thank you for asking.

Ed Byrne was fantastic, and overran his 85-minute set by over half an hour. This may partly have been due to members of the audience buying him drinks. There’s nothing as unfunny as someone retelling someone else’s jokes and getting them wrong, so I won’t try, but he told us several stories about how TV shows like Mock the Week and 8 Out of 10 Cats keep editing his funniest bits out. Even Blankety Blank made him change an answer once.

I guess technically he was infinite value for money.

Avaragado’s rating: a handful of field mushrooms

After the show our little group had a private tour of the studios from Duncan, who got us the tickets. Here, dear reader, I may geek out. (I’ve linked below to the three rubbish cameraphone pics I took.)

The Riverside has a long and distinguished history, most of which I didn’t know until yesterday. The BBC used it for shows such as Quatermass II, Hancock’s Half Hour, Dixon of Dock Green, Top of the Pops, Doctor Who and Play School. The Chris Evans high point TFI Friday was made here, and today the studio produces Channel 4’s yoof strand T4 and Popworld.

Duncan took us into Studio 1, where earlier that very day TV’s not-drunk June Sarpong and Steve Jones were filming links from the T4 sofa. We sat on it; it’s not very comfortable. The Popworld set was standing to one side.

Studio 1 was the home of CD:UK and where the bands played on TFI Friday. Viewers will remember the stairway up from the bands to the Chris Evans bar/desk area: we took those very steps, oh yes we did. And through the door we find… not the Chris Evans bar/desk area, as it’s all changed there. The window’s still there, next to where his desk was. That bit’s now the green room. The bar area is now two rooms: a brand-new sound console with a gazillion faders (a couple still labelled “June” and “Steve”, for their radio mics) and a production gallery full of TVs and Star Trek blinkenlights. No cameras in the studio, so we couldn’t do much, but we pressed some buttons anyway. I successfully faded something in and out, without spilling any of my beer. Casually discarded on the desk was a copy of that day’s T4 script.

With that we returned to the bar, feeling blessed.

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