It’s been a bit of a long time coming – but, tonight I’m going to be on Channel 4, at 20.30 on The Gadget Man which is presented by Richard Ayoade. Now, the thing is – I’ve NO idea how much of what we shot will be shown, judging by the other episodes I’ve seen – probably not all that much, but this is the first time I’ve EVER properly been on the telly, and I’ve not been allowed to tell you much about it – until now! So this is the story of how it happened.
I got an email on the Friday 12th July from a Producer at North One Television saying they were looking for Dads to film the following Tuesday with their children in London for a show for Channel 4. Actually, when the email came through I was doing this..
Getting smashed at the Chelmsford Beer Festival – I was very keen to take part (I just want to be on the telly!) so I sent the producer an email back basically saying ‘Yes, would love to, I’m out at a beer festival right now, so can’t really chat, he’s my number, call me soon!’. I spoke to the Producer on the Sunday and she asked a few questions about me, and about J and then not long after I had a Skype chat with another one of the Producers. I was petrified of doing the Skype chat as it was essentially a screen test that was being recorded to be shown to the senior production to judge my suitability, I was told I’d get a yes or no the next day. It was a nervous wait, I *really* wanted to do this.
The next came, and an email pinged in saying I was successful and they wanted me and J at The House at Clissold Park,Stoke Newington for 9.45am the next day. It was about an hour and a half to two hours door to door, it was going to be a LONG day, especially as they wanted to film 10am – 12.15pm. This was right over J’s nap time, I had images of a thermonuclear child, all caught on camera, with Moss from the IT Crowd looking on in disgust. I didn’t fancy that alone, so Loz came along for moral and parenting support. The show turned out to be The Gadget Man.
The journey wasn’t too bad and we arrived ‘on set’ just about on time. There were lots of papers to sign, and the production team gave me a brief run down of what would be happening. There were three parents, myself, Lotte, and (argh.. your name escapes me.. SORRY!), and we were given a Buggy / Travel System with a ‘gadgety’ twist. These were the 4Moms Origami Stroller (£929!) , The Joi Lite Trax (£170) and the Seed Pli MG. I had the Seed (I wanted the Origami – it folded by itself!!)
After all the ‘Admin’ had been done, it was time to get a microphone on. The nice sound guy threaded a tiny little mic under my shirt so it wasn’t visible on camera. It was time to go! We made our way down to meet Richard and film the first bit. All three of us were lined up and interviewed by Richard about what we look for in a buggy, the filming was stopped several times because of planes flying over, vehicles driving past – we had to do several takes, I was trying hard to remember exactly what I’d said in previous takes so it could be chopped together easier. This actually turned out to be one of the hottest days of the year, so in between takes we’d all have production staff covering us with umbrellas and passing around water. It was brilliant!
We then were ‘Introduced’ to our Buggies on Camera and then filming had to stop as children were involved I think they can only do 30 minutes ‘work’ at a time, before having to take 30 minutes break. We retreated to the Cafe while the crew prepared the next ‘scene’. This turned out to be us having to ‘assemble’ our buggy for the first time on Camera. As my ‘Seed’ could be used as a pram or a stroller, it was a bit complex, I was told to give it a go, and if I got stuck, they’d help. I got stuck several times, with the crew shouting hints. Eventually I got it set up, and it was actually a nice buggy! By the time we’d all shot our ‘assembly’ another 30 minutes had passed and we had to stop again!
The break was actually helpful as we all got chance to actually play with the buggies and see which we preferred. I really liked ours, and the one Lotte had was pretty good too. The Origami looked great, but seemed lacking in adjustments.
In no time at all it was time to resume filming, and this time they wanted to film us walking one behind the other up to the Cafe – we had to do this several times, as we were walking too quickly, too slowly, etc. Once we got up to the Cafe, the next shot was us getting the buggies up the stairs and into the Cafe one after the other. That was the morning done – we were then took an hour or so for lunch! The production were wonderful and were happy to get whatever we needed, drinks, food etc, nothing was too much trouble!
After lunch we moved to the edge of the Park, into a more shaded area (much to the relief of Richard Ayoade – he was in a full suit the WHOLE time!) We then filmed a ‘conclusion’ on what we thought of the buggies we had. Again the filming was stopped several times due to planes, cars, people walking past etc, or slight changes to the script – again, I was trying my best to remember what I’d said in a previous take.
The kids were all getting grumbly and fidgety at this point – thankfully a quick thinking crew member had some fruit on hand to keep them quiet, I was amazed J was still happy, despite missing his nap!
The last thing that was filmed was a scene with the Origami and the Lite Trax being loaded into the back of a car, they didn’t need me for this bit, so I took the opportunity to have a quick chat with Richard and get a photo of me with him..
He was a lovely guy and so professional despite having to wear a crazy amount of clothing! Not long after the filming stopped, and we were done! We all said our goodbyes and wandered off home.. although I had to run back a few minutes later after realising that I was still wearing my mic! I’d forgotten it was there!
We made our way back to Chelmsford, just a few minutes after leaving the park, J was out for the count – this is the boy that NEVER sleep in a buggy – he must have been tired!
So yeah – that’s what happened – nearly 5 hours of knocking around Clissold Park, and I’ve honestly no idea how much footage will be shown – I’m guessing a couple of minutes – if that! It was great fun to do and I’d love to do something similar again! The staff at North One were AMAZING and so kind and helpful, despite being under a filming schedule on such a hot day. It was a fascinating insight into how so much work can go into just a few minutes of TV!
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