Thanks to the lovely people at BBC, I was invited to Salford's MediaCity to celebrate Simon Mayo and Mark Kermode's 10 year anniversary on radio by listening to the beautiful Philharmonic Orchestra perform several popular film scores live on 5Live. Now, obviously Salford is quite a distance from Brighton so I needed to figure out a way of getting there. Ben, from HeyUGuys, stepped up to the task of driving there and back in one day. Here's what happened, and why is it was truly special event to be a part of...
Getting on the train for 6am was quite a shock to the system considering I have been living the life of a student for the past year or so. But, as it's me I was beyond excited to be a part of this event, so that kept my energy levels up. When I reached Elstree and Borehamwood station, I was delighted to notice a big poster advertising Elstree studios - I hadn't put the 2 together and then it clicked. As Ben and I drove away from the station, posters were everywhere showing what films had been done there. This efficiently allowed us to geek out, and after we stocked up on considerably unhealthy snack food, our journey to the North really began.
If you were following me on Twitter, you would have been kept up to date with our journey and ridiculous conversation taking place. Ben discovered I am quite easily distracted when something looks exciting. To some it can be frustrating, but he found it highly amusing. We saw things like this:
A plane on the road?! Only when you spend a long distance on a motorway do you see things like this.
As we approached MediaCity, we discovered we were an hour earlier than expected because Ben hadn't changed the time on his SatNav. So, as we parked up and left the car, we found a Costa and had a lovely sit down and discovered what MediaCity was like - Very clean, new and odd. Odd because there was a man roaming around on a Segway just checking out the scenery. (We actually know he was a security guard, but how I described it is much more entertaining, in my opinion anyway)
We got to the BBC centre and had that little press panic of not being on the guest list, but alas we were. When we walked through the glass doors, we were reminded of why we were here:
The Philharmonics Orchestra are an amazing musical experience, and we were privileged enough to be invited to this event, not only to watch them, but to celebrate the much appreciated film critic Mark Kermode, and the as loved radio presenter Simon Mayo on their 10 year anniversary together.
Before we were allowed in, BBC asked us to fill in some questionnaires about the show and our personal choices when it came to film scores. They told us these would be used in the shows, and that they are encouraging audience participation. Us being us, when given the chance to film out a form, we tried to be as serious as possible.
Mine was this:
And Ben's was this:
Jokingly we laughed about what would happened if one of us were asked to go on 5Live radio to discuss our answers... But, rather than discuss further, we got taken into the broadcast room, with the greeting view being this:
A whole room full of musicians with the most intimate audience watching on. I think you'll agree it's quite an breathtaking sight. We listened as they started warming up, hearing what was going to be a fantastic sound for the show. Soon Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo entered the room. They greeted the audience, filling in the gaps before the live broadcast started. The cameras filming the show were gearing up, setting their places for the live streaming of it, and then suddenly show began.
To begin with, the orchestra played the famous music from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The excitement that filled the room was incredible. After this, each song was eagerly anticipated. We heard pieces from Taxi Driver, James Bond, The Mission, The Godfather and Blue Velvet. The score that seemed to get everybody bobbing their heads, including Kermode, was from Magnificent 7. The players seemed to really love what they were doing, and you could see how immersed in the music they became as their movements jolted with the sounds.
We were given a short break whilst the news and sport was announced. During this time, members of the audience were called up because of their responses on the questionnaires we had to fill out. Names were said, and when the final one was called, we heard "Ben Mortimer, we'd love you to come talk to us." It was such a great moment because for one, we both have a mutual disliking of being on camera, so the thought of Ben having to be filmed was quite entertaining for me. The second reason was because it was RADIO 5LIVE and Ben as going to be on it - How often does that happen?! He slowly made his way down, and the radio show began again.
Kermode and Mayo started their film review section and began 'interacting with the audience'. There were 4 people being asked questions, and when Ben got given a chance, he even managed to slip in a joke about being numb to the retrieval of bad news because of how good the orchestra were. They asked for his favourite film score to which he responded Ravenous. Now, I haven't seen this film but apparently the music is very hard to describe, and when they asked him to remind them of it, all of me wanted him to sing a little - But surprisingly he didn't.
As the orchestra began again, I reminded myself of how amazing it was to be sat in such a (relatively) small room with so many talented musicians playing music from some of the most brilliantly made films. What was extra special was that Kermode had been practising all week for his harmonica solo in the score from Midnight Cowboy. Needless to say he nailed it, surprising everyone at his efforts with a harmonica. After this, music from There Will Be Blood was heard. And also, we were given quite a mystery piece as it had rarely been heard before, but apparently Paloma Faith insisted it was played. It came from Wong Kar Wai's 2046 and immensely filled the room.
To end this fantastically entertaining show, it was the score from the one and only Raiders of the Lost Ark. As this piece came to an end, the audience were cheering with the full orchestra on their feet bowing. Mayo seemed especially grateful for their contribution to their show, as we watched in awe of them for most of the broadcast.
When we left the room, Ben and I realised how exceptional this show was. Going to red carpet events and screenings are exciting, but this was something completely new for the both of us. To sit and listen to your favourite film music for two hours, whilst being a part of one of the country's biggest radio film shows is an experience you can never quite take for granted or forget.
On our way out, we did spot this little guy:
It's not everyday you're in the company of an ACTUAL Dalek, so clearly we had to get a picture.
We made our way back to the car, both agreeing this event was brilliant and we drove home... Which took a very, very long time. But, as we did, we listened to the Radio 3 broadcast of more film scores being played. Ben said "It's weird to think we were in a room with them 2 hours ago." and then we reminisced. It just goes to show even if we do get to go to all these glamourous events, we're never unappreciative.
If you want to listen to this show, head over to BBC 5Live's website. You can hear it from beginning to end, and try and experience what we experience first hand - A magnificently entertaining musical performance and radio show.