Monday, 16 July 2007


Okay, so this is nearly what I wrote before the great sleep deprivation experiment a bit back. It isn't it, obviously, but it's a decent enough looky-likey, badly mimicking the real entry to Cat Deeley's most unCrowther-Kellyish pleasure in an assortment of strappy whore shoes...

My work here is done, I said, (cue statuory opening bars studio audience applause) where "work" equals "work on No Tomatoes "and "here" equals "Manchester and m'attic".

Now we enter precis land, where we hope the shockingly non-period backing dancers and the fact I'm dressed and coiffed quite like a reference photo of my previous entry will make up for the fact I'm not really much like it.

Basically, we did a day and a half frenetic recording in Studio 3 at the BBC in Manchester (where we did my play Made in Sheffield too) on Tuesday and Wednesday the 3rd and 4th of July. My stars were Paul Copley, who's just recorded one of those cameos in Coronation Street in which the actors, writers and producers don't quite know who the character is yet but do know they might be back and Helen Moon, who's currently in that thing on BBC 1 with Paul McGann and Dervla Kirwan (the well known bad hand at Scrabble) and all those sisters who you vaguely recall from something else.
They were both brilliant and lovely, and kind enough not to keep reminding me just how am-dram I am, or keep asking me where the funny bits were and both brought sections of the script to life in ways that surpassed my dreams.

I didn't sleep well in the hotel in between the two sessions to be honest and the second session was a bit of a blur for me, but I managed to get home with the recordings on a portable hard disc that evening, have my first drink in a week or so and fall deep into the arms of Morpheus, and worrying dreams about Dennis Norden.

The plan was that I'd deliver my edits and sound design on the six episodes for Monday morning when the people at Manchester would the do some tidy ups and master the things for broadcast.
The only problem was that on Thursday morning the portable hard disc wouldn't do anything with any of my PCs apart from generously try to reformat itself (I now know I need something called Mac Drive 6 to stop this hilarity). The only solution was having the DVD safety copy of the recording sessions couriered over, and that's what happened.
The DVD arrived about 2pm and, after cunningly providing the file extensions the Mac that wrote the disc felt it could do without, I was away.

Long story short- I worked quite hard for a few days after that, sleeping two hours on the Thurday night, three hours on the Friday, five on the Saturday and working through on the Sunday. Despite that I'd only managed to complete five episodes for the Monday morning sessions at the BBC.
Luckily, there were also sessions booked for the Thursday and Friday, so after a full night's sleep on the Monday I was able to complete the job with another all nighter on the Tuesday to deliver episode 6 for the second part of the session. It seems I'd done a lot more than had been expected... and much pleasure was expressed at how little needed doing and how good it all sounded, which was a relief.

Pleasingly, we had more material than the episode slots required, and as well as making minor cuts, I've chucked away five whole sketches, not very far away admittedly, just in case, and my only real regrets are a few ropey performances from me, a few vocal clicks and nasty edits all 'round that I didn't have time to sort and a couple of sketches where reverbs were applied live in the studio, which meant I had no clean takes of them and made editing at home much harder.
I've now also put together the FX and music list (a document the length of two whole scripts, absurdly) and knocked together some possible trailers for 7, and now it's time to start on the next jobs.

Bits of it still make me laugh even now, which amazes me, and there is a sketch in there that we all think might be the basis of a series... so pitchery may well ensue on that.

It goes without saying that the insomniac version of this entry was much better than this and had interesting insights into how you can function quite well (bar sudden blackouts into REM sleep if you sit still for too long) on prolonged wakefulness although you quickly become incapable of sociable conversation or lying (there is a subtle difference between the two).

Honest opinions just come pouring out unfiltered, even when they're about the suitability of work outfits, or indeed perceived arse size in them.

Manners and deceit are higher brain functions requiring rest I reckon, and I'm convinced if I'd stayed up another night I'd have been in that state of mind you see in 1960s spy thrillers where I'd have been involuntarily spilling out all my nuclear secrets to the Stasi, even those ones I hadn't previously known I had...

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