Sunday

Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway // My Experience

We've already established that I bloody love Ant & Dec. Saturday Night Takeaway has been one of my favourite TV shows for years. I don't care if that's unrefined. In fact, I'm pretty certain I cried tears of joy when it returned in 2013. For the past three years, every week that it's been on, I've applied for tickets. I even put it in my 101 in 1001 goals, but my attempts were fruitless. Well today I'm here to tell you that dreams do come true. Finally- FINALLY- I found myself to be seated in the Saturday Night Takeaway audience.
Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway Studio
*Long post ahead. I have a lot of feelings so don't expect me to be concise*
On Monday, I got the email telling me that my ticket request had been successful. Like Britain's Got Talent, our tickets weren't guaranteed so I was really worried that we wouldn't get in. Unfortunately, the ticketing system works differently here to BGT. Rather than being given a ticket when you arrive and sent off until later, you need to join the queue and wait there until the show starts. Keen to secure a seat, Rich suggested we should turn up at 12:30. I thought that was a little bit overcautious but figured we could turn up to check there's no queue, then get some lunch and return in half-hourly intervals.
ITV Studios audience queue
We ended up arriving at ITV Studios at 1pm and, to my amazement, there was already a short queue. Rather than risk more people turning up while we ate, we made the decision to just join the line and stake out the FIVE AND A HALF HOURS until the doors opened. Prepared with snacks and books, we made ourselves comfy on the low wall and began our long wait, safe in the knowledge that we only had 12 people in front of us.

About half an hour into the experience, we realised that it was way colder than we first thought. It's amazing how sitting on a wall for 30 minutes can lower your body temperature. As the queue is positioned down an alley running alongside the studios, connecting the Thames and Southbank with the road, it pretty much felt like being in a wind tunnel. My toes were cold, my hands were cold, my nose was cold. Everything was cold. To relieve the discomfort a little, Rich and I took it in shifts to spend half an hour in the warmth of the pub two minutes away until, around 4pm, the ticketing people came out to check our tickets and IDs. 
Cold Becky
At this point, to our horror, the girl informed us that our seats still weren't guaranteed, even though we were so close to the front of the queue. Those with priority tickets had a safe seat and our fate depended on how many of them turned up. Once all the priority people had been seated, she'd be able to allocate seats to the rest of us. I was really anxious by this point but Rich assured me that they'd have way more than 14 seats available after priority.

Half an hour later, they moved us from the alleyway into the grounds of the studios with the grim warning "We're just moving you along so don't get your hopes up". At this point, security searched our bags and I was worried that we would have our snacks confiscated, but the guard didn't say anything. Once inside the gates, we were thrilled to find out that we were standing next to heaters. Along the walls were ITV's own version of the Chinese Theatre handprints. We were next to Eamonn Holmes' hands, which delighted me no end as we have an injoke about him being Rich's best friend. Only 40 or so were shuffled into this inner sanctum (presumably the rest were told to go home) so things were looking up! 
Ant and Dec hand prints ITV Studios
In this area, there are big TV screens on the wall broadcasting ITV, so we entertained ourselves watching the rugby until the priority queue started entering the building. There didn't seem to be many people here- I counted around 80- so I was hopeful but there was a definite tension in the atmosphere. After an uncomfortably long time, one of the ticketing girls came back out, headed halfway down the line and told all the people at the back that they weren't going to be in. At this point, the rest of us were delightedly breathing a big of sigh of relief, until she said "You're still not guaranteed yet".

This was worrying because there were only six people left behind us. Our hopes were definitely dwindling. Another long wait followed, before the girl returned and started letting us in. Until she reached the couple in front of us, where she stopped the line and ducked back inside. Now there were only 10 of us left, standing outside in a freezing cold yard, with no idea whether the past five hours had actually been for nothing.

Finally, after what felt like forever, she returned and gathered the couple in front of us... and then us. We were ushered inside, where a man said "You understand that because you're the last to be seated, these are single seats so you won't be sitting together". By this point, I was so relieved to actually be in the building, that I wouldn't have cared if I was sitting next to Donald Trump. We had got the final two seats!
Saturday Night Takeaway Studio
The man led us upstairs and along the top of the seats, where you first see Ant and Dec at the beginning of the show. We hovered there for a few minutes, right next to Little Ant and Dec, while everyone ran around manically, until someone told the man to take us out while they located the seats. The first couple were seated, and we had an awkward moment of hanging around in the corridor, wondering whether they'd made a mistake. 

Thankfully, a frenzied woman turned up and shouted at the man for the two guests, before legging it along the back of the seats. "Follow her!", he said and we ran along behind her, halfway down the stairs to our seats. Although we were in single seats, I was glad that we were still near each other. Rich was two rows in front and a couple seats to the left of me, so we could still communicate with each other, and the woman next to me was really friendly. Although he was closer to the aisle- only three seats away- I was right behind the Best Seat in the House so figured my chance of actually being on TV was pretty good.
Saturday Night Takeaway audience Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway audience
Shortly after we sat down, the audience-warmer-upper-man (what is these guys' official title?) explained that we were going to film the pre-titles sketch in advance. They went through it once, repeated it a second time because Peter Crouch accidentally smacked Little Dec in th face and then guest announcer Hugh Jackman recorded his introduction for the End of the Show Show (only this announcement is pre-recorded, presumably because the guest needs to be waiting backstage to join the show).
Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway Best Seats in the House
With that, it was time for the show to begin. It was pretty much exactly as you see on TV (funnily enough) and, aside from those two pre-recorded sections, is 100% live. During the ad breaks, Ant and Dec would normally pop off stage but in one they stayed to "chat" to the audience, and in another we filmed the advert for next week's show. During the other adverts, we were kept occupied by the audience-warmer-upper-man teaching us funky dances and playing karaoke (including my favourite- Livin' on a Prayer).
Saturday Night Takeaway Sailor Hats
Saturday Night Takeaway Audience Close Up
One thing that did surprise me was that the laughter in Who Shot Simon Cowell? is all canned. I guess they can't guarantee that the audience will react the way they want. Oh and also, if you want to Win the Ads, you need to apply for that separately so you can have your photo taken on the way in and be seated in that middle section of the audience. Luckily, I didn't particularly want to be chosen, so I was relieved about this! 
Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway End of the Show Show
The whole experience was just as fun as you'd imagine, although I was a little disappointed that I managed to get tickets for the one show where there was no embarrassing of audience members, no handing out Cabin on the Cruise tickets willy-nilly and no Singalong Live. Definitely didn't dampen the evening at all though. 
Becky Captain Hat
When filming was over, I sneaked a couple of photos and tried- unsuccessfully- to convince Rich to smuggle his sailor hat and Stephen Mulhern mask into his backpack after we'd been told explicitly to leave them on the floor. (He was worried they'd search bags on the way out. They don't. For future reference...)
ITV Studios
I had such a fantastic time and Rich did too, which took him by surprise. I'll definitely be trying my luck with tickets again. Even if I do need to get there at 10am...

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16 comments :

  1. Loved reading this! Ant and Dec are my fave I'm so jealous you got the chance to go on their show. Its interesting reading what they do in the breaks - I've always wonder what happens. The seating was a shame though but least you both were quite close!

    Beth | Polishedcouture xxx

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  2. Omg I'm so jealous! I absolutely LOVE Ant + Dec. Sounds like you had an amazing time after all that stress! xx

    Jessie | allthingsbeautiful-x

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  3. This sounds so much fun! I can't believe you have to get there so early to get a seat, though. Where did the other hundreds of people come from?

    I'm glad you didn't wait out in the cold for nothing!

    Lisa | farawaylisamae.com

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    1. The big chunk of people in the middle were the Win the Ads applicants and I think they went in earlier than us so we didn't see them. Then I guess priority and guestlist people filled out the top and sides.

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    2. I was curious about this so I worked it out. There are approximately 300 audience members and 160-200 of them are Win the Ads contestants. So add on the 80-ish priority guests and you've only got room for 20 general admission tickets. And apparently there were fewer priority guests than they expected!

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  4. This looks amazing! Would love to go and see it, they're so bloody funny xx
    Love Vicki | victoriajanex

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  5. Aah, that's so amazing you got to see the show live! Shame about the que! Did you get the tickets through Applause? I've used them a couple of times and always had to que! I would love to see this show live! xo

    http://rachelnicole.co.uk/

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  6. So happy you got seats Becky! I honestly laughed throughout this post at your neat little circling of you and Rich :')

    hellomissjordan.com xx

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  7. As if it was a whole day experience of waiting outside - bless you! It sounds incredible however, glad you had a great time! I love watching the show on a Saturday Night, Ant & Dec are fantastic!

    Megan xo
    Thumbelina Lillie | UK Beauty & Fashion Blog

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  8. This sounds like the most epic day ever, even despite all the queuing!

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  9. I'd love to watch it live! But the whole seating process sounds so unorganised :( glad you had a fab time though! x

    hannatalks

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  10. The way the tickets work for this sounds ridiculous. I'd be furious if I got there, waited for hours, kept being ushered through to different places and then was told 'sorry you're not getting in'. But apart from that it sounds like a lot of fun x

    Becky @ The Little Blog of Beauty

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  11. Wow this looks great! Well, not the waiting in a queue for hours and still not being sure you'd get in. But after that. Sounds like it was worth the wait... x www.aimeeraindropwrites.co.uk x

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  12. I've always wanted to go to a show like this and see it live or be recorded! Interesting to see your views... It sounds so stressful haha! Glad you enjoyed it though!

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  13. Cannot believe you were in the same ROOM as Ant and Dec! I'm so jealous.

    Dannie x

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  14. Ha I have a few friends who work in TV and one of them has been on the 'Win the Ads' team all series. I didn't even know the last show in the series was a ship in Spain until he posted a picture of the ship on Facebook!

    Glad you finally got in, not impressed with this ticketing system and how long you had to wait - deffo not on.

    Mel ♥ everyword.meljwills.com

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