Last month, Angela and I went to the BBC Wood Lane studios to be members of an audience for a new C4 comedy quiz show, called the Mad Bad Ad Show. Hosted by Marc Dolan and featuring team captains Micky Flanagan & Mark Watson, the show aims to take a light-hearted look at the world of advertising, including classic commercials, ads from abroad and a weekly contest where the audience votes on adverts made by the two teams for fictitious products. This was the first time we had been in such an environment, and weren’t exactly sure what to expect. (I did however have a feeling we might be “clapping en cue”.)
After waiting for a couple of hours in line, (at least six different programs can be filmed on any given night, so there’s a queue that stretches right down the street) unfortunately due to the show caller forgetting about us we only just made it to the studio before they started filming. This was fine except that we were not able to sit next to each other & ended up seated either side of the stairs. In addition to this, it soon became apparent that at least 20 or so of the last people to be seated (including us) were not given voting devices, as the studio did not have enough to go round. This struck a little odd with me. Surely you would make sure that there was one available per seat, particularly as the pinnacle event of the show relies (supposedly) on the outcome of the vote of the people. This was emphasised when Dolan exclaimed that the “entire studio audience” would pick the victor… alas.
Before the show would begin, we were asked to clap, then clap loudly, then laugh into an applause, and then mash our keypads arbitrarily (or for the last 20 people just sit there looking daft)… whilst we were filmed. This was obviously for the editing team to splice us with sections of the show. It was also so that if any jokes fell flat or didn’t seemed to be as appreciated as much by the audience, they had the opportunity to dub us clapping over the top of it.
As the show got on its feet, you could see the panel guests trying to find their own, but everyone settled into a pace as it progressed. I did feel however there were a few moments where the show missed a great opportunity. One of the first rounds was a question about a “classic ad”. Its at this point I would like to point out that it’s 2011, and the show is clearly aiming for a mixed age audience. So what do they use? Smash Mashed Potato, and the Levis Lauderette ad. Great job guys. You’ve just gone over the heads of at least half your viewers! My main issue here is RELEVENCE… Classic does not have to mean “Fossilised”. How many decades of television have we had?
Another round was the Line-up round (mugged from Never Mind the Buzzcocks), where the guests had to put advert characters in the order of oldest-to-youngest advert. Much of the show was then taken up by the Marketing Gurus present on each team attempting to explain why certain ads worked and others fell on their face through the years. But again, I wondered how many younger people would have ever seen the examples they picked, such as the Cadbury’s Flake overflowing bath ad.
But of course the headline of the show was the design and production of a new advert by each team about a product they created. This week, Watson’s somewhat ingenious contreceptive confectionary called “Tot-Stoppers” was up against Flanagan’s bag-a-cheap-laugh Ghey Bar chocolate, (apparently from the Czech Republic). Watson’s idea was clearly the better of the two, and the advert was very well constructed, and to his credit won the vote of the audience. Even if some of the audience couldn’t vote. And even if the audience hadn’t been told which button to press for each team. And even if they couldn’t confirm their choice because the voting had closed… You can see how shows get accused of vote rigging.
Still, aside from all the hitches, glitches, misses and gaffes, it was a fun night, and the show was genuinely hilarious at all the right moments. I’m just eager to see the actual episode on air to find out just how different it’ll be, and see just how much gag material will be cut for being unsuitable. Also, I’ve got a good feeling Angela will be right in the foreground when the show starts…. sat on her own, with me on the other side of the stairs just out of shot. Sigh.
The show is due to air next February, & we were in the recording for the 2nd episode.