The closer we got to the studios, the nerves were starting to kick in, but before I knew it I saw the sign. We had arrived at Elstree Studios. The driver stopped at the security booth, and they directed him to studio nine where Virtually Famous was being filmed. Once the driver stopped outside the studio, we were immediately welcomed by one of the very friendly assistant producers who ushered us to our dressing room. En route we walked past the very funny Romesh Ranganathan, both Rich and I did that telepathic ‘Did you see who that was?’ look to each other. Got to play it cool and all that. Hang on wait a second, rewind a bit, our own dressing room? Did you say our own dressing room? You know I’m just a mere girl from Yorkshire who boobed tanned her baby right? I don’t deserve my own dressing room, I just thought I’d be sat straight in the seats to watch the show. But if you insist, we shall happily oblige.
Not only that, we got fed! One way to win me over is with food, especially if it involves duck and dauphinoise potatoes. If Carlsberg did nights out. Food devoured, I took a little trip to the ladies (but more for a quick nosy around). In the room next to us was the comedian Russell Kane, and when he said ‘Alright?’ all I could manage to utter was a quick ‘Hi’. The only way I could describe my awkwardness, is in comparison to Perry of Kevin and Perry fame, well, apart from the Kangol hat and ape like arm swinging. I was starting to realise I wasn’t as good at ‘playing it cool’ as I’d always said would be if I met a celeb. As nervous as a pig in a bacon factory, yes, cool as a cucumber, nope.
A bit later one of the assistant producers came to take us for a look round the studio to give us an idea of where we’d be sitting and what would be happening. Cue inevitable photos of me posing in the studio. My first experience of a TV studio, and I was going to be a part of it. Oh balls, now it really was real.
Back to the dressing room and a bit more time to kill pre showtime. Bugger it, I’m having a Mars bar. One Mars bar, a bottle of water and another nervous wee later, it was time to be seated. We got escorted into the studio, and the previously unoccupied seats were now full. Holy shiitake mushroom! I was then mic’d up (whilst people watched wondering ‘who’s she?’, ‘why she being mic’d up’, etc). The main thoughts running through my head at this point; ‘Aw bab is it too late to pull out?’, ‘Can they hear me speaking?’, ‘Will people think I’m a cockwomble?’, ‘What will I say?’, ‘Do I have any duck and dauphinoise in my teeth?’
Mic’d up and seated, the warm up guy got the audience really going (I guess that’s why he’s there), and everyone was enjoying themselves. It didn’t take long before I started to forget the real reason why I was there. The panellists and guests were all introduced and it was time to role. Lights, camera, action.
I’ll try not go into too much detail because you can see it for yourself, but as part of the show Mark from MIC was asked to identify a few objects. One of which was a Pot Noodle, to which he remarked something along the lines of ‘It’s some type of wartime rationing food’. So another one of the panellists said ‘That was my staple diet at uni’, so Mark responded with ‘Ew which University, Leeds?’. As a girl from Leeds/Wakefield I thought I could mention it somehow as a bit of a joke. The entire time I was having an inner monologue argument with myself which sounded something like this, ‘Yeah I’ll say something funny about it just for a laugh, no actually I won’t, well I suppose I could, it might make people laugh, no no I won’t I don’t want to look like a tool’. Argument resolved, I’m not going to. Then before I knew it Kevin McHale questioned ‘Where’s Gemma Colley?’, the cameras all panned my way, and everyone’s eyes were suddenly on me. Aw crap! Cue a bumbling rabbit in headlights. ‘So Gemma, can you explain why you’re here?’. Just to clarify I can’t really remember a great deal of what happened or what was said. It was all a bit of a whirlwind. But this I think is something along the lines of what I said, ‘Hi, yes well I got a spray tan for a wedding, went home and went about my daily duties, had a Pot Noodle because I’m from Leeds, and that’s what we do.’ Oh god, I said it! I thought we had this discussion, and we agreed we weren’t going to say it you absolute dimwit! To make matters worse I’m pretty sure I saw some tumbleweed pass through the studio. Well done Gemma, you do look like a cockwomble afterall. I could almost feel my husband want to melt into his seat and I wouldn’t blame him. He wasn’t the only one. I spent the remainder of the show hoping they were going to say ‘Gemma that was crap, let’s do it again’. They didn’t. All I can say is I hope their editing team are good and have plenty of canned laughter at their disposal. I’d also like to thank my hubby for making a very valid point, what if they totally edit out the Pot Noodle bit with Mark, then as a result I’m just going to sound like a complete knob jockey randomly declaring to the world I eat Pot Noodles because I’m from Leeds. I can officially say this isn’t the case. Don’t get me wrong I have enjoyed the odd one in my life, but it’s not a regular thing. So if you happen to watch the show whenever it gets aired, I hope this may explain my odd remarks and douchebag appearance, that’s if they don’t completely edit out. I shall be watching through my fingers accompanied with a huge glass of wine.
After the show we were lucky enough to attend a bit of the wrap party and enjoy a few well needed drinks. We even had a chat with the very lovely Russell Kane, this time managing to string a few sentences together, and not a Perry in sight. It must’ve been the Dutch courage. A couple of G&T’s later, and in the mindset that I probably won’t get another opportunity like it, I did the thing I always said I wouldn’t do if I met someone famous, and here is the evidence; Yup, I did the ‘Can I have a picture?’ thing. They were all troopers, and more than happy to oblige.
With photos taken, our car had arrived to take us back to the hotel, it was time to leave the professionals to it. What a great night we’d had, but it was time to get back to the hotel, and to reality. We decided a drink in the hotel bar would nicely round off the evening, but £12 for one cocktail? You’d get three cocktails for that where I live. So the tight Yorkshire lass in me opted for a Baileys and milk. Back in the room the inevitable happened…..kettle on, PJ’s on, brew made, and rugby league on the TV. You can take the girl out of Yorkshire, but you can’t take the Yorkshire out of the girl. The next day (after an epic lie in until 9am, and a lovely full English breakfast) we did the tourist thing and went for a quick look round Westminster, at the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, and had a shufty round the impressive Tate Art Gallery. I remembered seeing a Barbara Hepworth display and saying proudly ‘She’s from Shakey Wakey our lad’. A little bit of home in the big city. Tourist mode up and time to go, we enjoyed our last chauffeur driven trip to Kings Cross to catch our train.
We had a great time in London, so I want to say a massive thank you to Talkback for such a great and well organised experience. Thank you for having us, hopefully I didn’t balls up your programme too much. All will be revealed when it’s aired.
A few hours later we were home, and most importantly, back to our beautiful boys. I know it was only a night, but by Jove we missed those little buggers, even if we knew the next morning we’d be up at 6am listening to ‘Mummy, Daddy, get up, it’s morning time. Let’s go downstairs’. Bye to lie ins and private loo visits, hello to umpteen nappy changes, and constant questioning, ‘Why mummy? Why? But why though?’. Mummy mode fully activated.
As much fun as we had in London, I wouldn’t trade my fart, poop, bogey filled life with the boys for anything else. Don’t get me wrong though the odd child free romantic weekend away would be just delightful (Hint hint Richard if you happen to be reading this).
So, there you have it, that’s what went down in London Town. One thing I do know is I’ll never look at a Pot Noodle in the same way.
*UPDATE* By the way you can see Virtually Famous on a Tuesday night at 10pm on e4 or on Friday night at 11pm on channel 4. I think my probably embarrassing performance is the last episode.