This Is What It Is Like To Be In The Bar During "TFI Friday"
TL;DR the whole show is chaos.
1. The bar at TFI Friday is a real bar. Not a fake one. A real one. If you're dead bored in the middle of a show, you can literally ignore the celebrity interview going on in front of you and order a beer.
2. The problem is that you never get round to going to the bar. Why? Because you are pissed. And what do you want to do when you are pissed in the audience of a TV show? You want to be seen by everyone on television, pissed as a fart.
3. You also know that your mum won't be watching because she's watching Gardener's World on the other side. She doesn't watch shows on demand so she won't see you pissed as a fart. And you never want to upset your mother.
4. The only time you do end up going to the bar is the ad breaks. They aren't long enough, so you can barely get a beer. It has to be the only show where you wish the ad breaks were longer so you could get a round in.
5. Where is the TFI Friday studio? Well, back in the '90s, when we all had LANDLINES and when TFI was watched for its "WAHEY" vibe, the studio and the bar above used to be at Riverside Studios, near Hammersmith in west London.
6. Not any more. Riverside Studios was demolished in 2014. As a result, the current studio and bar are in the Cochrane Theatre in Holborn, central London, but they try to make the set look as much like the old one as possible.
7. The Cochrane Theatre itself closed in 2012. The afterparty for each episode is also in a nearly building that was abandoned in 2012. The whole place, and the whole vibe, feels as if it is about to get knocked down and replaced by luxury flats at any moment. It's a lovely, "this could all be knocked down any minute" vibe.
8. Even though the TFI Friday bar is a real bar, it is only for the people who are upstairs. The people who watch the live music downstairs don't have access to it.
9. Not that I think those people mind that much. They get to see Florence + the Machine and Mumford & Sons for free in an intimate studio, a scenario I don't think has actually happened much since Top of the Pops ended.
10. When you arrive at the bar 15 minutes before the show starts, it is chaos. Chris Evans is nowhere to be seen. There are cameras, wires and people everywhere.
11. There's also a paddling pool in the middle of the room. Why? Because Daniel Radcliffe is apparently going to attempt a stunt in it.
12. It's so chaotic I can only describe the scene as being something like five minutes before the end of a 60 Minute Makeover challenge, when they haven't put in any of the cupboards yet and have forgotten to paint any room downstairs. Every person who has some relation to the production has the facial expression of "fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck FUCK FUCK FUCK."
13. I mean, that's the vibe of TFI. It is supposed to be anarchic. But you never really expect it to be as anarchic, because of course it is now 2015 and in 2015 everything is as polished as fuck. Or a John Lewis.
14. It was so hectic that when the familiar TFI Friday theme music started to play, I immediately assumed that we hadn't hit 8pm yet and it was a rehearsal. It wasn't.
15. Chris Evans then appeared. As he was wearing a T-shirt that is apparently drinkproof, he started the show by asking people to throw drinks at his T-shirt.
16. I did, on camera, then regretted it as I really wanted that beer. I then checked my phone to make sure that Gardener's World was deffo on.
17. During the show there are several people in the production team who seem to have just two responsibilities: ensuring that the drunk people at the bar aren't going to walk into shot and that you shut up at the right moments.
18. You might be able to hear these people throughout the show. They are the ones who go "SSSSSHSHHHHSHHSHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH."
19. If you have watched TFI Friday at home, you have probably made a snarky remark to the person sitting next to you about how you can sometimes hear the "SHHHHHHHHHHHHH" from people in the background.
20. "You're going to get moved around a bit," they warned us. They weren't joking.
21. Seventy per cent of the time when you are at the bar during the show, it feels like you are in a washing machine. You are constantly moved, backwards and forwards, pushed to the side without warning to make way for something. Either for a camera or a guest.
22. At one point they moved us aside to make way for a hoover.
23. At another point they decided to rip up the carpet underneath us.
24. No explanation was given for either.
25. You never move when they ask you to. Sometimes you don't react at all. Why? Because it is live television. When you know that you are potentially going to be on camera at any moment, you are never going to move.
26. On to the Radcliffe stunt: The idea was for him to stand on a step ladder and drop a swimming cap full of water on a guy sitting in a paddling pool below. The swimming cap should flip and land perfectly on his head, as if he put the cap on himself.
27. It never worked. Not even once. What great television.
28. As the bar was so small, his step ladder was placed right next to me. Daniel climbed it to drop the swimming cap. When he got up to the top he decided to bend over, which meant that for about 20 seconds his full arse was a couple of centimetres from my face.
29. I don't mean a bit of arse. His full arse. I couldn't look anywhere else but his arse.
30. I don't fancy Daniel Radcliffe and I still don't after seeing his arse, but for some reason seeing an arse so close knowing that it is Daniel Radcliffe's means that I cannot forget it.
31. I've been thinking about his arse for about a week.
32. No I didn't take a picture of it.
33. If I did and I uploaded it to BuzzFeed I would be arrested.
34. The bar is also very small. So when Kylie Minogue performed "Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow" at the back, it looked as if she was giving John Inverdale, the BBC sports commentator, a private show.
35. I was also now really pissed. There was a moment when Lionel Richie arrived and played on a moving piano (accompanied by the shouts of the production team screaming "GET BACK, GET BACK" the entire time).
36. There was also a stunt in which someone tried to eat an entire corn on the cob in three seconds, by attaching it to an electric drill and spinning it next to their teeth.
37. In all, it just felt like I was trapped in the best lock-in of all time, or I was getting married and I'd spent a shitload of money on it. There were some moments where I genuinely forgot that there was a camera there.
38. The only problem was that I kept wondering, "Are the people at home enjoying this as much as I am? Does it translate? Do people get the same feeling from watching it as we do? Will they have enough time before Gogglebox?" It's funny how television can sometimes make what feels like amazing experience onscreen feel cold when you watch it from somewhere else.
39. But I can't really go into this philosophical issue that much with you right now, because when I watched the show for the first time onscreen the next day, I couldn't remember too much of what happened the previous night. It felt like watching the show as new.