I was lucky enough to be invited along with some friends and colleagues to the filming of this BBC TV series at Blackpool's stunning Grand Theatre and boy were we in for a treat.
There were plenty of people queuing up outside the theatre when we arrived but luckily as we had already been allocated our seats we made our way through the throng of people and up to our seats in one of the wonderful Boxes which gave us an incredible view of the stage at very close quarters, but thankfully not too close! It was a great vantage point to watch the VIP's and celebrities troop into the stalls to take up their seats and we had fun spotted people such as Jodie Prenger, Emile Hesky, Kenny Baker (R2-D2 in Star Wars), Robson Green and Roxanne Pallet amongst others. Special mention has to go out to the great Ian 'Ollie' Holloway and some of the recently promoted Blackpool FC squad (anyone reading this may have picked up on a rumour that the Seasiders are now in the Premier League!!) who were name checked regularly throughout the show, in fact Michael McIntyre's pretty accurate impression of Ollie had us rolling off our seats.
Once everyone was settled in comfortably, and may I say, the team running the event did a great job of packing the theatre to the brim, it was on with the show. Michael McIntyre came to rapturous applause and the ball got well and truly rolling. First on the guest act spot was the wonderful Justin Moorhouse whose typically 'Northern' sense of humour was a winner with the audience right from the off, and if you don't recognise the name you may know him better as 'Young Kenny' from Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights, although you would be more used to seeing him with a face painted like a Tiger. Other guest acts followed including Terry Alderton - with his multitude of impressions and his insight on the youth of today, along with his 'twin character demons' which culminated in the weirdest monster you would ever wish to meet. Posh character comic Miles Jupp formerly starred in Balamory, although his stand-up act his certain a mile away from that TV persona and his take on society definitely raised a chortle or two and the final support act Holly Walsh gave an insight into her life and muggings in Peck ham.
The headline guest artist was the outstanding John Bishop who has perfected his act on the circuit for many years and in my humble opinion is one of the best and funniest comedians around (with the exception of Mr McIntyre of course), in fact his live act far surpasses his work on TV and you tell its his preferred choice. The four of us were crying with laughter as I'm sure many more in the house were by the time he had finished with us all, although there will probably be plenty of his performance which gets left on the cutting room floor.
The glue holding all this mayhem together was the floppy haired Michael McIntyre whose quick wit dealt with the odd audience member who felt the need to become a little too involved and his involvement of some of the celebrities in the audience kept the evening flowing, although full credit to Emile Heskey for taking a ribbing (on more than one occasion) about England's World Cup performance.
All in all it was one of the funniest and most entertaining evenings I've ever had the pleasure of attending.