I applied for and was allocated tickets to see the filming of the semi-finals of the TV show, The Voice UK. The broadcast was on 31st March 2018 and luckily was at Elstree Studios, just about a 25-minute drive away from where we live in North London. I went with Helen and my friend Adriaen.
Initially, I had couldn’t believe we were going to a live show because it looked so professional when I had joined Helen of the sofa to watch it live, usually after I got home from kirtan – chanting – with Nikki Slade at Triyoga Camden on a Saturday evening. I believed the show must be filmed, edited and the broadcast going out shortly afterwards. It looked too slick to be live.
I was so wrong!
When we got to the Elstree studios, I realised it was a live show, crafted together and planned amazingly. After we were seated, we had nearly two hours before the live broadcast started when we arrived and we got a sense of it all. There were eight semi-finalists and all performed, which meant nine scene and set changes for each singer whilst a short video ran, or there was a commercial break – that I found amazing. The ninth scene change was for a performance of the single of last year’s winner, Mo Jamil, who I had never heard of!
I usually love seeing things from a different perspective – it is one thing watching it while being on the sofa watching The Voice, another thing to be there live and see how it is done, how all the strands come together, and what goes in to making the finished programmes. As well as the months of rehearsals we didn’t see.
We were lucky (and Helen was assertive enough because of her experiences of live TV when she was on Top of the Tops as a dancer), to get second row seats, literally sitting behind the judges. We had a wonderful view of the backs of their chairs!
So much to bring together
There was simply so much to bring together in 90 minutes to make the show happen – not only 500 of us as audience, but set changes, judges, weeks of rehearsal, props, hair and make-up, the production staff on the day, costumes the performers for that show, the band and musicians, the pre-recorded videos for each show. And so much more.
When I watched it back the next day on TV, it seemed pretty flawless to me. It did all come together with no visible glitches at all.
Working with energy – unseen leadership
One of the stars of the show for me was someone who isn’t even seen on screen. He is probably what is known as a warm up act, telling jokes and explaining what was going on and why, but never appearing live and in front of the camera. His name is Stuart Holdham and is literally an unseen hero of the show. From the perspective of people watching at home, he simply didn’t even exist. All his work was unseen other than to us at the audiences, cast and crew. He was also a link man. Acts performed and went, presenters appeared and disappeared, and commercial breaks kept looming, but Stuart was always there. He kept the energy in the studio high – he made such a difference – the whole production was better because of him. It got me thinking about how much leadership is both energetic and unseen, and is sometimes uncredited and unrecognised.
I surrendered to it and quit judging how contrived it all was
Some of the show was very contrived – spontaneous applause had been well rehearsed, yelping and hollering practiced before going live, being told when to enthuse and when to hold back. But I was able to suspend my judgement and simply enjoy it all for what it was – entertainment and fun. I simply immersed myself in enjoyment – getting beyond judgement and I loved it!
The wonder of it all – The power of entertainment
Entertainment plays such an important part in the national life and psyche and of course entertainment can be joyous, opening us to to revel in human ingenuity and creativity, or it can shallow and insignificant and we can use it to distract ourselves from what is really important in our lives and in the world. At The Voice I just had a good time with friends, and allowed myself to revel in human creativity and brilliance!
I came away with an even greater respect for what human beings can achieve together.
Thank you to everybody at The Voice UK.