Making The Matt Lucas Awards
Ashley Blaker, series producer, co-creator & co-writer of The Matt Lucas Awards stopped by Comedy Towers to talk to us about making the final episode of series one.
Everyone was very excited about making this episode of The Matt Lucas Awards and there was a fun end-of-term feel around the studio. For starters it was the final recording of an incredibly intense period that should have carried a government health warning. We were also really looking forward to having Ruth Jones, David Baddiel and Griff Rhys Jones on since not only are they three really funny people, but they are also seldom seen on other comedy chat shows so we were thrilled they'd agreed to do this.
A few days before filming, the final Lucas was going to be Most Baffling Song and of course everyone would have to perform their nomination. However, locked in my office at Television Centre at around 2:30am - high on chocolate and processed food - Matt and I agreed we'd already had people singing and wanted to do something a bit different. So we changed the award to 'Most Baffling Campfire Song' and decided we'd like to build an actual campfire in the studio and get everyone to sit around it chatting and singing with the lights turned down. I'm sure the Health and Safety people were tearing their hair out, but credit to our amazing art department and in particular Production Designer Dennis De Groot who made it all happen.
A reason for personal excitement was also the fact that we managed to track down our former swimming teacher Mr Keith Talbot. The first award is the Lucas for School Subject Most Likely To Induce Severe Depression and David Baddiel - who went to the same school as both Matt and myself - nominated swimming. So it seemed only fair that the man who depressed David all those years ago should have the right to reply!
We asked fans of the show to send in their questions about The Matt Lucas Awards for Ashley to answer:
Who was Ashley's favourite guest/anecdote?
Favourite guest is a tough one. We really were blessed with having great guests who got into the spirit of the show and were happy to sing, perform magic tricks, eat cakes, perform gangster raps, wear silly wigs and anything else we asked them to do. So forgive me if I don't annoy 17 guests by picking one favourite.
One of my favourite anecdotes was one we didn't have time to hear in the end. In the recording of episode four we had a Lucas for Most Embarrassing Item of Clothing Ever Seen In A Guest's Wardrobe and Johnny Vegas told a story about how he wasted his first ever student grant cheque on a poncho in Camden Market. We brought out models wearing all the nominations but in Johnny's case it was a very large woman and when she appeared it was a very funny moment. Sadly there just wasn't time to have it in the final show.
What are the possible pitfalls of transferring a comedy from radio to TV? How have you avoided them?
That's a good question. On the one hand you run the risk of pointing a camera at the exact same show and having people criticise you for just making a radio show on TV. On the other hand, if you change too much you run the risk of ruining the show and losing what was good about it in the first place.
I'm sure there will be people who say they preferred the show on radio just as I know others who have told me they prefer the TV version. I think one needs to view them as quite distinct entities because there are things that we can do in one medium that we can't do in the other.
Where do you get all the sofas from?
Why? Do you want to buy one? Our Art Department did a great job on the set and in the weeks before filming they would constantly show us photos of sofas they had seen to find out if we liked them. They seem to be able to find anything although I genuinely have no idea where they get all this stuff. If we ask them for twenty 1970s annuals for a shelf they seem to magically appear.
Would you ever consider making it more spontaneous where for example the audience could shout out categories and the panel would then have to come up with things on the spot?
Absolutely, why not? Hang on, if we do that now you're going to say it was your idea!
Make sure you tune into the final episode of series one of The Matt Lucas Awards on Tuesday 15th May at 10.35pm on BBC One. There will also be a compilation episode on Tuesday 22nd May.
Check out Ashley's post on the TV Blog: Making the Matt Lucas Awards with my childhood friend Matt