Day 37 of 80 — TV

Around London in 80 days

In these uncertain times, I need a lifeline and a horizon so I have — somewhat arbitrarily I’ll admit — set a date. April 1st will be my horizon ; my lifeline will be the 80 days separating me from it.

And as I cannot go around the world right now, I give you A Mad Belgian’s “Around London in 80 Days” : eighty impressions of London, eighty stories, places, thoughts from my experience of this wonderfully mad and maddening city.

Day 37: TV

4.30 pm in Hammersmith. I join my friend in the long queue of people already standing in the cold. In a moment, the doors will open. We all have tickets, but we might not all make it to the show. The tickets are free, you see, and always overbooked. They work on a first-come, first-served basis: for a BBC recording, you have to come early.

As I stand in line politely in this very British queue, I think about the evening ahead. I’ve never been to a TV recording before and I’m really looking forward to this particular one: the 30th anniversary of Have I Got News For You! Thirty years already. Unbelievable. This show, which I only discovered in the last couple of years, is one of the most absurd combination of knowledge, satire and utter silliness. A uniquely British mix —I honestly don’t think you would find anything of the sort on French or Belgian TV.

The doors open and the queuing continues indoors. There, that’s more comfortable. It looks like we might make it after all. Outside, people are still arriving, latecomers or optimists who still hope to get in. I wonder who the host will be tonight (they change hosts every week); someone famous, no doubt, for the 30th anniversary. My friend and I try to guess who the panellists might be based on the names we know as regulars of the show. At least, we’re sure to see Ian Hislop & Paul Merton (whom I once saw as the Dame in a pantomime…but that’s another story).

I wonder how many hours they film to get the 30 minutes I usually watch on TV.

The queue moves forward again… YES! We’re in! We step into the auditorium. The HIGNFY set, for real —this is it!

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