This Is The Life

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Yesterday I experienced one of the perks of being a journalism student. One of my course leaders always sends e-mails to both print and broadcast students and a couple of weeks ago one particularly caught my eye. Journalism students from Nottingham Trent were being offered the opportunity to go and watch the Parkinson: Masterclass live shows. There were around 5/6 dates we could choose from but it was on a strict first come first serve basis. My organisation skills did me proud as I swiftly checked if my friend Abby on my course wanted to go and we e-mailed back in time to secure 2 of the 6 places available for the Dynamo date. We weren't given much information about it so we hopped on the mini-bus provided at 2pm yesterday and had a sunny 2 and a half hour drive to the Sky Arts Studio in West London. When we got there we spent about 20 minutes trying to work out which entrance we were meant to use... that's how big it was! Once we made sense of it all we were taken past all these sour people who were queueing with Applause Store tickets (in which you have to wait for agesssssss, I've done it before) to a waiting room where we waited and chatted. A lovely lady gave us VIP wristbands and informed us that we would get the best seats and would be allowed into the green room to meet Michael Parkinson and Dynamo after the show. Wow. I'm not used to this sort of treatment at all and it was a kind of 'this journalism business has some pretty good perks' moment, which I am more than happy to embrace.

At around 7pm we got taken through to the studio and were sat in the front row. There was a small section at the front which consisted of friends and family, but in the main audience seats we were at the front. I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty embarrassing when we could see see ourselves on the monitor because we were so close, but that ladies and gentlemen, is why I don't do broadcast. We practiced the generic 'oohs', 'aahs' and claps, but in general it was a pretty laid back set up. At a live show I'd previously been to, the process felt slightly rigid and more of a performance from the audience, whereas with this, the audience reacted naturally which worked well. Before the show started there was this guy who was warming the audience up, if you like, and talking us through the running order of the show. I'm surprised he wasn't a comedian because he had me laughing and gasping in disbelief at the same time. He was one of those people who made fun out of people (as harsh as that sounds), and also threw in a couple of jokes you'd expect your grandad to tell. Whenever one of the crew pointed at a camera for example, he said 'oh he's the head of pointing' and similarly when this guy was laying a long camera lead along the floor he said 'he's the head of leads, very important job'. I know it sounds seriously lame and not funny at all, but those who were there will agree with me on this. Plus, it's one of those things where you probably needed to be there.

Michael Parkinson came and introduced himself on stage and took questions from the audience before the show got started which was nice. Shortly after, Dynamo was introduced and the show began. I'd seen Dynamo on TV before and of course knew who he was and what he did, but what I found really interesting was his background. He got bullied as a child, didn't have the most pleasant upbringing, was diagnosed with Chron's disease at 15 and has somehow used everything that put him at a disadvantage, to his advantage and has made an incredible name for himself. It was almost refreshing to see somebody who had not been handed everything on a plate, and had not fallen into fame and money by chance, but had built on their ambition and embraced their passion in order to achieve their goals. I'd always been a bit sceptical towards magicians/ilusionists but then again I'm a very factual person. This aside, I was literally amazed by the things he did. My favourite trick was one he did with a lady from the audience and a pack of cards. He got her to choose a card, write her name on it, fold it in half and bite down on it while holding it in her mouth, and he did the same with a separate card. When both of them had their cards in their mouth, still biting down, he held her arms, looked her in the eyes and moved closer to her (it literally looked like he was going to kiss her). Without the two cards even touching and without his arms moving off her arms, they both took the cards out of their mouths. To the whole audience's disbelief, he took the card with her name on it out of his mouth, and she took the card with his name on it out of her mouth. The two cards had swapped over. How. On. Earth. When it's on TV you question camera tricks and camera cuts, but when it happens before your very eyes, it's amazing.

After the show we were taken up to the green room where we had access to alcohol and food, all free of charge. Of course, I did help myself to a couple of glasses of rose and a few canap├ęs. I felt super important as there were people walking round offering me food and to be honest, I very much enjoyed it. I felt a little bit intrusive because the green room was pretty much full of Parkinson's friends and family so we didn't want to barge in all guns blazing. Instead, we politely hovered and mingled and I think he realised we wanted a chat so came over, shook all of our hands and chatted away. He's the chancellor for Nottingham Trent and opened our CBJ (centre for broadcasting and journalism) building so he's very fond of the journalism students there. Being the chancellor means he'll hand us our degree's at graduation so I'm definitely going be on nickname terms with him by then - I'll make sure of it. We didn't really get to speak to Dynamo but we briefly introduced ourselves and got a picture but we let him enjoy the peace after him telling us he'd been up since 6am. Michael on the other hand who we spoke to for longer was so kind. He's such a charming and graceful man and I think it's lovely that he's grown with his career and has become such a prominent TV figure. Once it hit 10pm we reluctantly left the green room and made our way back to the minibus. The journey home consisted of chatting about the evening and saying how grateful we were that we got to experience it. It was a hell of a long day after being up at 9am for uni and not getting back until about half past midnight, but it was so worth it. There was something special about it as I am not used to luxury in the slightest, so it seemed like a whole different world and I felt like I experienced a taster of how the other half live. I understand that no journalism job will consist of that 24/7 but if my future career in journalism involves a little bit of glam then I certainly won't complain. Who knows.

The one and only Sir Michael Parkinson

Excuse how awful I look in this... but Dynamo!

From left to right: Bobbie, Me, Abby, Dynamo, Ciran, Cameron, Adam

Sorry about the long post, but this was worth talking about!

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