Monday, 17 December 2018

BBC Recording 'With Great Pleasure'

So, a little while back I applied, on the BBC's website, for tickets to go to the recording of With Great Pleasure at Christmas, for Radio 4, recorded on Saturday,  to be broadcast on Christmas Day. Tickets are allocated by random draw, and just over 2 weeks before the recording, I got an email to say I'd been successful and got tickets. 

The recording was in the evening after I was due to see Antony and Cleopatra, so I arranged  to meet up for a meal with my friend A, and then to go to the recording. Which we did. (although we had an anxious wait as they send out more tickets than spaces, and we were among the last to arrive, so were holders of yellow 'wait' stickers instead of white 'definite seats' ones..) But all was well, we got in, and the evening was a lot of fun.

The format of the programme is to invite a guest presenter to share some of their favourite pieces of writing. 10 years ago I got to go to a recording of the Christmas episode, where the guest was Terry Pratchett. This time, the guest was Neil Gaiman..

B&W photo showing 5 people  Mitch Benn, John Finnemore, Neil Gaiman, Nina Sosanya and Peter Capaldi
Photo shamelessly nicked form Mr Gaiman's facebook page, of the performers 

Neil had picked various poems and extracts from books, which were read by (and in one case acted by) his friends - Mitch Benn, John Finnemore, Nina Sosanya, and the Angel Islington himself, Peter Capaldi .Oh, and 4 members of the ukulele orchestra of Great Britain!

The evening opened with some festive music from the ukulele orchestra, then we heard lots of readings. (skip this part if you want the programme to be a surprise...)

The readings included some horrifying children's stories (Lucy Clifford's 'The New Mother', and Charles Dickens' 'Captain Murderer)', extracts from Mary Poppins and 'Wind in the Willows', a Saki short story, several poems, including  Henry Treece's 'The Magic Wood' and Nicholas Moore's 'The Island and the Cattle', and Wendy Cope's 'Differences of Opinion (amid some chat and jokes, and Neil's demonstration of the 'I was wrong' dance he and Amanda have for diffusing any disagreements).

 Mitch Benn sang Alan Moore's ' Me and Dorothy Parker and the Ukulele orchestra performed their (Yorkshire) version of Kate Bush's 'Wuthering Heights'  

We heard an extract of the original BBC  radio HHGTTG recording, and a poem by Terry Pratchett, and Neil read and extract from his own Norse Gods. There was a bit of Brahms and Simons' 'No Bed for Bacon' (about paying writers)

It's difficult to pick, but I think my favourite part was perhaps the performance of A.A. Milne's 'The Fair Lady Dorothy', in which the stage directions / footnotes were read by John Finnemore, and Peter Capaldi played the dastardly (and somewhat obtuse) lover.

Neil introduced each of the pieces,   mostly with a brief explanation of why he chose it, or a joke or comment. And of course we got to see and hear the other performers, including Peter Capaldi's amazing, evil, grin! 

At the end of the recording, there were a few brief re-takes, and then it was all over. I think one of the things which made it special was that everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, performers as well as the audience!

Walking back to the tube station, there were slightly fewer people around on Oxford Street, so I was able to stop and enjoy the Christmas lights, which made a nice end to the evening! .

Angel on Oxford Street

The programme is to be broadcast on Radio 4 Christmas Day, at 7 a.m. and repeated (or just possibly, a slightly different variation of content) at 10 p.m.  Full details here, and for those overseas or unable to listen live, it will be available on BBC Sounds afterwards. Listen and enjoy!

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