Tonight saw the second episode from the firth series of Lee Mack & Tim Vine's comedy sitcom Not Going Out air on BBC One.
On the 25th of November 2011, I was lucky enough to get a ticket to watch this episode, Dads being filmed live at BBC Television Centre in London. For anyone who is not familiar with the show five series in, the show centres around it's four main characters, Lee (Lee Mack), Tim (Tim Vine), Lucy (Sally Bretton) and Daisy (Katy Wix).
The basic plot is that Tim & Lee are best friends, Lee shares a flat with Tim's sister Lucy and Daisy is Tim's dippy girlfriend who was originally with Lee after a speed-dating session that ended in her being better suited to Tim.
Being a massive fan of the show, walking into the studio and seeing the set was a bit surreal yet mesmerising at the same time. What struck me most was the amount of detail that had gone into the set and to begin with I couldn't quite believe I was there. And before you ask... no it didn't ruin the allusion.
The studio itself was fairly small and only held about 200 people with every inch of the studio used up. On the far left of the set was the bar which Tim & Lee are often seen in, followed by the flat taking up the most space and then a small part of the studio is given over to the hallway which is only really seen when the flat door is open.
I have seen some entertainment/talk shows being filmed in the past, but the whole process of watching a live studio sitcom was new to me and one I was very keen to witness. The whole process starts off with the warm up guy, and in the case of Not Going Out it was Ray Peacock, a short guy with long hair who you may have spotted in last week's episode after his cameo where he called Tim and his band onto the stage.
What I really liked was that at the start of the recording, Ray Peacock introduced each of the cast out one by one. First up was Lee Mack (see image left) who did a couple jokes, got the audience laughing and introduced Tim Vine to the stage who gave us a few of his famous one-liners.
Sally Bretton and the brilliant Katy Wix soon followed and then the shows special guests were announced; as a big Miranda fan I was holding out for it to be her after she played hapless cleaner Barbara in Series 2 and 3. But alas it wasn't to be, but I was just as happy to see Bobby Ball who plays Lee's father Frank and Geoffrey Whitehead who plays Geoffrey Adams, Tim & Lucy's father walk onto the stage.
My favourite character, aside from Lee who's one liners get me every time is Daisy, played by the very underrated Katy Wix (Outnumbered, Miranda, Anna & Katy) (see image right). Some of the things she comes out with never fail to make me laugh! Her and her adorably dippy ways.
As warm up guy's go, Ray Peacock was a pretty funny guy considering his notoriously tough gig. He had a great rapport with Lee Mack which made the warm up gig a lot less uncomfortable, whereby he would keep a tally of the amount of time Lee messed up his lines as well as the rest of the cast. Peacock also had a running joke with Bobby Ball where by he'd read out excerpts from an old Cannon and Ball annual in a bid to humiliate him much to the audience's amusement.
Before arriving at the recording I was unclear as to how they would film it. I assumed it would be an entire episode but I was unsure as to whether or not it would be shot in sequence as very often TV shows are not. However I was pleasantly surprised when the lights went down and on the two TV screens above the audience came the opening credits to Not Going Out.
And from then on everything was shot in sequence, and what impressed me most was that any external scenes were also shown on the screens, so we got to experience the entire episode with every part of the episode explained. Of course, things didn't run exactly the same as the episode that went out. The filming took about 3 hours give or take, with most scenes being filmed two or three times after several slip-ups mostly from Bobby Ball and Lee Mack.
The episode sees Lee's father Frank (Bobby Ball, Cannon & Ball, Mount Pleasant) turn up at the flat after an accident that has left him in a wheelchair. Not wanting anything to do with his father, Lee does all he can to avoid letting Frank get what he wants, which is to stay with Lee in the flat for the weekend.
After much deliberation Lee plays right into Frank's hands and hilarity ensues when Frank needs some medication but nobody was jumping at the chance to give it to him... not where it's supposed to go anyway!
So all in all in was a great experience and I wouldn't think twice about going to see it again. I standby my previous claim on this blog that I class Not Going Out as one of my favourite comedies and more importantly one of the best sitcoms of recent times. What I particularly like is the writing, unlike most comedies this series really is a laugh a minute with some brilliant one-liners and great character relationships.