Tonight's the Night - Taping 3
Little later than usual but to be honest I was a bit exhausted last night - night buses are not a comfortable way to travel!
So onto show 3 and this was a very heavy VT show with little studio action. As a result it somehow seemed less "meaty" than previous recordings but of course won't when you see it on air all edited together with other pre-records.
John appeared at first in a light purple coloured suit with dark violet shirt. He was very excited about the ratings for Tonight's the Night the previous night and was very bubbly and excited.
First of the surprises for the week was the gentleman John mentioned in his appearance on the 5 O'Clock show - the sky diving grandfather who wanted to wing walk. What John hadn't mentioned was that the gentleman in question is an ex Para so I guess for a Para skydiving isn't really the terrifying concept that it might be to some of us! Still the fact that he is still hurling himself out of airplanes at the age of 79 and that he has to date raised £150,000+ for charity is enormously impressive.
I will be rather interested to see how this is ultimately pieced together when it airs as I will be very honest the VT we saw didn't really come together as a cohesive surprise all that well. It's the only one to date that hasn't really worked for me. The man being surprised already knew that he was there to meet John - he'd been told that he was going to meet John and have a photo with him for a news piece on his charity work. He and John went up in a London Eye style contraption while John pretended to be terrified of heights. Cue the ride "failing" while they're at the highest point and John being very entertaining pretending to completely freak out (stressed calls to his agent etc) while the somewhat unimpressed but good natured guy being surprised tried (not all that hard actually!) to calm him down. So you had John play freaking out and the guy being rather bemused by the whole thing and then it cuts to them being out of the wheel and John revealing that he's there to give him the chance to wing walk. Which is awesome but the link between John playing at being scared and the reveal was a bit disjointed because he already knew who John was so there wasn't much of a surprise really. No real "tah da" moment.
The video of him strapped to the top of the plane while the plane did a loop upside down made me feel a bit queasy and John clearly felt the same - he could barely watch it! It was impressive stuff - none of it bothered the gentleman in question one iota!
We then cut to the studio where the guy who had been surprised said how much he had enjoyed it and that next year on his 80th birthday he was planning to do 3 skydives in one day and that he was hoping to recruit people to skydive with him and that his aim is to push the amount he has raised fo charity to over £200,000. Unbelievably impressive. I love that as soon as the cameras were off the first thing he did was to try and recruit John to do the jump with him! John pointed out that his contracts don't let him do activities like that but he agreed to sponsor him.
That piece was a pre-record for a future show so John changed back into the week 3 red suit (the one he wears in the BBC TtN back stage video). Next up was pretty much the only piece other than John's songs which was filmed in the studio that week. I am hopeless at remembering the names of the people being surprised but I think the lad in the first piece was called Fraser. He loved performing, loved his amateur dramatics and had acquired a following of people who would come and see a show just because he was in it. He also suffered from high tone deafness and very sadly was suffering from a medical condition which meant that he was gradually losing his sight. His mother had nominated him to be surprised because she said he never let anything get him down and was a real inspiration to others. The TtN team had told him that he was being filmed for a piece on amateur dramatics and there was a new member in the cast that week -John in disguise, I think he was calling himself "Denny" and he looked a bit like when he played Claude in Hairspray. He has long straight brown hair down to his shoulders, a moustache and the false teeth. Fraser was singing Any Dream Will Do (with John backing him up with the oohing and aahing) until suddenly John decided he wanted to be centre stage and literally moved in front of him. Bless him he just took it with such good grace and sat quietly down while this mean guy hogged the spotlight (the entire studio audience was going "Awwww :(" at that point!) At which point John revealed who he was to a completely gobsmacked Fraser. The whole thing was quite the tearjerker actually.
TtN arranged for him to go to London to meet the female lead of The Lion King (his favourite show) and he got to go back stage and meet everyone before being bought up to Glasgow to the studio to sing Can You Feel the Love tonight with the female lead backed by a choir from a Scottish drama school. He sang it really really well although he had to do it twice as the camera operators weren't speedy enough the first time and missed the shot!
We got to see the VT again of the police woman who had sang with Lesley Garratt the previous week. The duet looked and sounded fabulous although I thought there had possibly been some subtle editing of the surprise section.
Next up was the Enrique themed surprise. I won't pretend that I wasn't a tad disappointed that this was all on VT and that the lovely Enrique wasn't in the studio to sing for us! That would have been completely awesome. I love the song Hero (although I actually prefer John's version of it!) I think John would have liked it too!!
The woman being surprised this time (I'm going to say Kerry?) was a single mother with her own business who loved Enrique and her family wanted her to have a lovely surprise. To be fair there are lots and lots of amazing single mothers out there but it was a really nice piece. She was outside having coffee with her friends when a truck thing with a video screen pulled up beside her and suddenly John's face is on there telling her she was going to meet Enrique. Her face was quite the picture! We then had a montage of her dashing to get to London with her friend to meet Enrique at his suite at the Langham Hotel. She came across wonderfully on camera. She was so warm and likeable and down to earth it was brilliant. There was this whole thing about her wearing her "comfy knickers' to see him - just hilarious.
She was endearingly down to earth when she met Enrique and when he asked her to come to his concert I love that she instantly asked if she could be the "Hero girl" (apparently he picks a girl out of the audience and sings Hero to her). An amused Enrique said she could hang with him for as long as she wanted that day instead which was much better!
Next up was the audience hit section which turned out to be a woman sitting across the row from us who was wearing shoes that I had been coveting since she sat down - baby pink high heels with little gold round studs on them. Awesome shoes! John had pointed them out earlier when he did a twirl on the stairs and nearly went flying - he said he'd been distracted by her shoes! He surprised her (Della?) by showing her a picture of her house (first words out of her mouth? "I love you!" ) and the fact that she had one of those slightly creepy I Love John Barrowman style pillows in her bedroom. John had had one made up with both their pictures on which he then gave her. She clearly thought that was all there was too it but John kept talking (she was shaking like a leaf at this stage) and asked her to come join him on stage. Turned out she was a cancer survivor who had used her experience to help others and was a key figure in the local cancer support network in her area. Everyone in the VT said how much strength she had and how much she had helped others. As she was such a huge John fan her friends wanted to surpise her by asking John to dedicate a song to her.
He then sang Uptown Girl backed by the J8's (I am rather partial to James and Jamie I must admit!) and her friends and family. I have to say that this section with John dedicating a song to someone deserving does run the risk of being the cheesiest cheese ever and yet manages to somehow be the most moving section each week. I'm always so impressed that he pulls these completely stunned people out of the audience sticks a mike in their face and they always manage to be so humble and express such genuine moving sentiments. It was another really lovely moment.
Della also really liked her Formula one and he had gotten one of the drivers to record a message for her. I'd be lying if I said I had a clue who it was but she was absolutely delighted so that was great!
Final surprise was a girl whose band had raised a lot of money for charity. She was preparing for a gig and John was being the roady - complete with stringy balding black hair, impressive belly and Northern accent. It was another very funny comic turn from him as he purposefully wound her right up by messing up her soundcheck while she tried not to get too exasperated. He then had her repeat a few phrases into the mike and by the time she was being asked to repeat that she was a very special person she was understandably a bit flummoxed! John surprised her and she was off to Legally Blonde to sing "Bend and Snap" with the full cast. Sadly this was all done on VT (think they have a Sunday matinee some weeks at Legally Blonde?) but she got to do the routine on stage at the Savoy with the main cast including the ever wonderful Sheridan Smith which was pretty awesome. She was very good too.
Time for John's last number which was The Real Thing's "You To Me Are Everything" - you could tell half way through the song that they were going to have to do it again as John went the wrong way at one point and started doing an "oops" face at the camera. Great song though with some lively choreography.
And that was it for the recording. It was the last week for their stand in MD as Matt is back next week and the first week for Taryn as floor manager. She's very different and much more in your face than the omni-present but very calm Roger . She was bossing John around something chronic!
It was a really nice show - John was in great spirits after the show had aired the previous night and he was talking about his twitter fest the previous night. He got his cousin (the one who had infamously skipped filming the other week to go to Silverstone) to sing a bizarre number and answered 2 or 3 audience questions. He also got a little old lady out the audience at the beginning for a kiss and a cuddle and boy was she a lively one! She was telling him all about going to Elvis' house and being his girlfriend! It was completely surreal and very very funny - he got more than he bargained for there I think!
He and the J8's also talked the lovely Kate (who was unimpressed at getting landed with the spotlight!) into singing a number. She sang Son of a Preacher Man and she was really good actually. I loved that when they had to move on when she was still singing she pretended not to get off stage and moved in front of John and carried on singing - brilliant!
And on next week's show Barry Manilow (think the chances of him being in the studio are nil), Adam Garcia and Jodie Prenger.