Britain’s Got Talent Auditions 2013 – Cardiff

IMG_0886The first round of auditions for the 2013 edition of Britain’s Got Talent were held yesterday in Cardiff. The venue was the Millennium Centre in the Bay. Last year eventual winners Ashleigh & Pudsy had their first audition in the venue, and some of the people I queued with had seen them audition. There are four rounds of auditions over two days in Cardiff.

Did we see the eventual winner yesterday? who can tell, there were certainly some talented people on the stage.

The audience was made up of the general public and the friends & family of those taking part. The ticket was free from applausestore.com, have a look at the site as you can get tickets to be in the audience of lots of TV programmes, you just have to live near London to get maximum benefit.

On the ticket it stated that the doors would open at 13:00 but to get there early to make sure you got a seat, as these would be first come first served. The expected finish time was 17:45. That all sounded reasonable to me.

I got the venue at around 10:30 to find a small queue, and lots of crew working to get barriers erected to herd us into. I’m sure you’ve all seen the shots from this programme and the X-Factor, where Ant & Dec same something to camera then it lifts to show the crowd. A bit of TV magic accomplishes that; outside the main entrance are two sets of crowd control barriers with a red carpet separating them.

As people began to arrive the applause store staff filled up the right hand side as you look at the building, then just before Ant & Dec arrived, we were all shepherded into the left hand set of barriers. Anyone passing by would have seen a mass of about 1,000 people herded together in one set of barriers and the other side virtually empty save for about 20 people. That side did eventually fill up a bit more with people without tickets, who got a good view of the judges as they walked passed.

I was lucky enough to get a place by the barrier overlooking the red carpet but alas I was behind a BGT flag, so I don’t know if I’ll be on TV. The temperature in Cardiff was close to or just below freezing, and it wasn’t long before I couldn’t really feel my toes.

Whilst we were waiting, a chap with a megaphone ‘rehearsed’ our reactions to people arriving, as we all had to be waving and screaming etc as the ‘celebs’ arrived. We did this about 6 times, another bit of TV magic; they film all these rehearsals because they know when the judges arrive, we will all have our cameras out trying to get snaps, therefore completely forgetting to wave!! (See picture below for what I mean)

Despite being told the doors would open at 13:00, only Ant & Dec had arrived by that time, so we knew we were in for a wait.IMG_0892

Ant & Dec (arriving above) were very gracious, taking time to walk down and speak to people, have photos taken and sign autographs. There were ladies on either side of me who were trying to get autographs, the picture below is Dec signing for the one on my right, but he moved on before signing for the other lady. So as he walked off I shouted ‘DEC’ and he came back, said hello, and shook my hand before signing the other ladies bit of paper.IMG_0894

IMG_0895IMG_0896In this picture Ant is posing with their autobiography. A chap brought it along with him and attempted to get the ‘celebs’ to sign it, in the end only Ant & Dec and Alesha signed it (see photo below) but he was happy and didn’t even have a ticket for the event.

They came back a few minutes later to do some bits to the camera, where they introduce the show, and say ‘welcome back to Cardiff’. A little later some of the acts came out to be in the background which I’m assuming will be the opening shot of the programme. Earlier in the morning, a group of young girls who would be performing later, were filmed a few times getting off a coach, I cynically assumed that as they were getting attention, there audition was a formality; I was wrong, the judges would crush their dreams a few hours later.

So it’s very cold and I (along with the majority of everyone else) have been standing outside for just over 3 and a ½ hours, and now I need a pee, I’m desperate but the security staff aren’t letting anyone into the building. We’ve been told it may be another hour before all the judges arrive and there’s no way I can hold on, so I leave my bag with the ladies I’ve been stood with (we’ve all formed a bond in the cold!!) and hightail it over to the Red Dragon Centre. Once relieved (it was close) I work out how to get back to my spot but as I do, David Walliams arrives and the cameras are trained down the red carpet and would possibly pick me out climbing the barriers, so I stay put.

On tiptoes (I’m short) I can see he has stopped right where I was standing (doh!). He was also very good with the crowd, spending much more time than A&D as he made his way down. I was now standing about 4 back by the main door and as he is quite tall I was able to get a few shots of him.IMG_0898 IMG_0899

Once he was inside, I made my way back over the barrier and to my original position. Alesha Dixon arrived next, I’ve not really paid much attention to her before as her music isn’t what I listen to, she looks good in pictures but they really don’t do her justice, she’s a very beautiful woman. She spent a little time walking along but she wasn’t exactly dressed for the weather, so quickly went inside.IMG_0902

Amanda Holden arrived about 15 minutes later, I surprised (and horrified) myself as I remarked out loud ‘Oh I thought she’d be blonde’, for some reason she has gone with brown hair for this series/year/her life? Again not dressed for the weather and after a few snaps she was gone. That just left the uber Lord himself, Simon Cowell to arrive and as a much bigger diva than the rest, he made everyone wait.IMG_0903IMG_0904

He finally arrived at 14:45, remember that the doors were supposed to open at 13:00. He arrived wearing sunglasses, I don’t know why it was a bit gloomy, perhaps he’s been in LA a bit too long. He didn’t hang about either, a few snaps and waves and he was gone.IMG_0906 IMG_0907

With everyone arrived, it meant we could all finally get into the warm building after standing outside for nearly 5 hours. As I got to my seat, what struck me was how shiny the stage floor was, the backdrop is very colourful and it’s reflected by the floor. As we waited for the judges to take their seats, the buzzers were tested and they were so loud everyone jumped in shock.IMG_0908

There is a comedian who fills in the gaps whenever nothing is happening ‘on screen’, mostly in between the acts. He was quite funny and took the mick out of Simon Cowell a lot. He’s obviously on the staff and I think he also does the same for X-Factor.

Just before the start Ant & Dec came out onto the stage, you don’t get to see them much as they are busy doing the backstage before and after interviews. They said a few words and introduced the judges, who were filmed walking into the theatre.IMG_0909IMG_0911So onto the acts, I’ve remembered 15 of them and I think that was all of them. Once the show starts, phones and cameras have to be put away, so I had to keep track in my head.

The 15 acts broke down as follows: 1 Actor, 1 Comedy act, 5 Dancing, 8 Singing. Only the singers got through. I won’t go into too much detail, you’ll have to watch when it’s broadcast.

The actor was horrendous as he mangled a scene from Withnail & I. The Comedy act was equally appalling, perhaps hoping to appeal to David Walliams he appeared in a fat suit as Bubbles from Little Britain. I’m not sure if they will show it but his Mum came on to plead his case, at one point she took her teeth out, that’s how low it got.

The dancing groups were okay, I think only one deserved to go through; they were an all girl group of street dancers dressed in pilot jump suits. The judges didn’t like them as they were too similar to Diversity so they didn’t get through. It will be interesting to see if this stance is held through the remainder for the auditions. The other dancers included a solo dance to Footlose but he just stayed in one spot, a jazz dance group who had a few weak members who were very noticeable, a couple of roller-skaters and the group of small girls I’d seen earlier.

The singers were mostly decent. There was a girl with a harp, a couple who performed what looked like a comedy act but was possibly a straight act, the judges told them to smarten it up or sing straight. 6 male singers or perhaps shouters that Simon didn’t like and I agreed with him, a girl with a (too) powerful voice that she couldn’t control (the judges words) who was told to get singing lessons, a girl with a guitar who was a bit nasally but still good. A truck driver from Birmingham who did a song about food that was fairly good, ‘El Viva Lasagne’ may get into your brain if you watch the programme. The last act was a young lad of 18 with a guitar who sang a song about his daughter, a song he had written himself, as he told his story all the women in the audience melted, I shrugged and could imagine the ‘sob story’ music swelling up over his TV appearance! He was good though.

My favourite act were a couple of teenage boys, they may have been Irish, who sang a ‘Of Monsters and Men’ track before being stopped by Simon, they sang again this time ‘Ho Hey’ by ‘The Lumineers’. They were very good and should do well.

The judges were good, a lot of good decisions, some bad but you expect that. David Walliams, like the comedian, takes the mick out of Simon Cowell at every opportunity, he’s very funny as he reacts to the other judges, the contestants and the audience. I didn’t see the series last year but it seems he can do little wrong. As he started to pass judgement on the group of young girl dancers he started with ‘I’m probably going to get booed here’ but he didn’t, the audience took it, the other judges did get booed a little though.

So it was over, and only an hour later than expected. A good show and it was interesting to see behind the screen (rather than scenes).

The series starts in early April, and I’ll be watching not only to see how it looks on TV but also to see if I can see myself!!

Friends

Thanks to Comedy Central UK, I have now seen all 236 episodes of Friends.

I watched most of the original run but I never watched every episode. I even had the first two series on VHS.

For years I was always just about to buy them on DVD but never quite got around to doing it, so when Comedy Central announced they would be showing the series from the start and in glorious HD, I knew I had to watch.

That was back in September 2011, the final two episodes were broadcast on Wednesday. It being one of the best comedy television series ever, it started all over again on Thursday, and boy was I tempted to keep it in the planner! But I haven’t as I have other things to watch, although I can’t rule out checking the schedules in four or five months to see where the series is up to!

I’ve laughed a lot during the series, full on belly laughs at times – I only wish I’d made notes of those moments, so that I could scour YouTube and share those laughs.

I was in fact going to scour YouTube for clips to put up, and while there are lots on there, I’m going to post just one. It’s a Chandler zinger, of which there must have been thousands during the entire run.

Me on the Web

The other day I was trying to think how long I’ve been using the internet.  I’m sure there is evidence somewhere but I think it was around 1998.

As a home user, to get on the World Wide Web back then you had a noisy chirping modem and you also paid for what you used.  This was also the early days of online gaming, I remember playing a first person shooter, the name escapes me right now, but my first quarterly bill was nearly £250!  I soon changed the line to a rather quick (for the time) digital line, paid by the quarter and had no more sky high charges.

Back then chat rooms were the big thing, I spent many an hour chatting to randoms from all over the world, I distinctly remember two; FireRat2U who was an American in Texas, she worked as an EMT in her local Fire House; hence the name.  The other was a young Indian woman living in South Africa, we communicated by email for a few years after the demise of chat rooms but eventually the emails going back and forth got fewer and fewer.

Today my visible presence on the web is limited to a few websites.

Facebook – Just about anyone you know know will have a Facebook profile; I suspect you will have to be a ‘friend’ to see this page.

IMDB – One of my favorite websites; I visit it many times a day.  Since 2004 I’ve kept a spreadsheet with every (well 99.9%) film I’ve seen since January of that year.  Last year I started a list on IMDb.com which tracked the films I was watching as I saw them.  I’ve gone back and added 2009 and will eventually go back to 2004.  If you have a spare bored 5 minutes have a look at what I’ve been watching.  As I type this I’ve seen 201 films this year.

Last.FM – In 2003 I somehow stumbled on a University project which was trying to catalogue what songs people were listening to.  That project was called Audioscrobbler and it eventually merged with Last.FM.  I’ve been ‘Scrobbling’ since then, there has been the occasional gap so I’m sure my plays could/should be bigger.  A quick calculation tells me that I’ve listened to an average 14 tracks a day since I started in 2003.

I post now and again on AVForums, usually trying to wind up some pompous film snob and on a forum called OTF2.

Other sites that I like to visit are:

Burnham-on-Sea – This is where my Sister lives.  Brecon has a website but it’s rubbish, so I keep up to date with Burnham instead and laugh at the Grockle’s getting their cars stuck on the beach.

Spotirama – Quite possibly the best Spotify related blog ever?  This is a chap who puts together some of the best Spotify music playlists, if you use Spotify then you have to check it out.

SlashFilm – Film & TV blog that wins lots of awards

The Incredible Suit – Another film blog, the writer is a film reviewer, the blog contains his thoughts which are often quite funny.  He also runs a few competitions, one of which I won; mainly because only 3 people entered.  It did get my name into a YouTube video though.

Scouting NY – I’ve wanted to visit New York for a long time, while I was researching the city for a prospective visit, I came across this site.  It’s written by a location scout who documents the weird and wonderful places he comes across while doing his job.

This is only a flavour of the sites I visit, but I would say that my internet surfing seems to be limited to the same sites all the time, so if you have any recommendations then fire them at me through via the comments.