seeing #TheCircleFinal live!

2018, career, lifestyle

Hello!

A rather exciting post today – I’ve not really spoken about it on social media (for some reason I felt like I wasn’t allowed to, though I’m not sure how true that is?) but I was invited to the live studio to watch The Circle Final and it was so incredibly surreal.

So grab a cuppa lads (it’s my new buzzword, apparently I can’t stop myself) because here’s a story all about how I got to watch the live studio show of the Circle Final.

So a little summary, for anyone who has no idea what The Circle is – it was a show on Channel 4 that, essentially, was all about popularity to win £50,000! It started with 8 contestants who were all in isolated flats, they made profiles (not all being completely honest) on a social media platform called the Circle and it was the only way they could communicate with each other. They then rate each other and the most popular players had the power to block other players and new players came in and there were lots of different ways that people were blocked and I thoroughly recommend watching it on All4 if you haven’t seen it already.

And I’m sure this is the question on everyone’s minds – how in god’s name did someone like me get invited to watch the live studio final of a Channel 4 show? WELL I love a bit of live tweeting and I got very into this show, so I was tweeting about it every single night. The Circle was sponsored by giffgaff and most nights they’d tweet me and we’d chat about the show. I don’t know why they noticed my tweets over anyone else’s but they did and just three days before the final (and before I filmed my favourite TV shows video – this Sophie had no idea what would happen to her) they offered me a ticket! I was cheeky and asked for a plus one so I could bring my boyfriend with me and somehow, is wasn’t a prank?

Then I had to do some sneaky cheeky planning – they gave me a rough idea of the area and where the event would be, as Channel 4 weren’t sending out the full details until the Monday) but having a quick look at trains, we wouldn’t have been able to get home until around 3am and that’s not my jam, y’know?

So the whole reason I started watching the show is because one of my best friends from uni and housemate for basically three years, Nick, is working on it as his first project in his new job and we wanted to support him. And then from episode 1 I was hooked. But Nick working on the show meant I could ask him what train station we would be going to, where the nearest hotels were and it was very convenient. I do feel like I was cheating a little bit but being spontaneous isn’t quite in me – I like planning and knowing what’s happening and being prepared so I needed to book trains and hotels so I asked Nick.

I can be spontaneous, but it depends what the spontaneity is and how much planning would usually go into it – I can manage an unplanned pub night and a live TV final three days in advance, but people who decide they’re going to go to Europe for the weekend on a Friday morning just makes my chest ache. It’s something I want to work on because I love the idea of being someone who goes to Europe for the weekend.

The journey itself wasn’t actually great – we had to get a bus to the train station because I live in the middle of nowhere and mum was at work and I thought getting on a bus at 2 and hanging round the shopping centre near the train station for a few hours would be fine because it would be better than getting a bus around school time but it just meant we were bored af for like nearly three hours and then we gave up and went to the train station early and we watched two trains go to Kings Cross on time and nice and early and then our train was delayed.

Sod’s law.

Then we got to London, got on the underground to Paddington, Paddington was confusing af and then our third train was delayed too and this is when I started getting really anxious. We weren’t going to have time to go to the hotel and check in or even to get food (which we hadn’t had any of since lunch) and I was worried about being late and there was a lot of nervous excitement.

It was fine – we got there in plenty of time, Nick came and found us in the queue and we got to catch up with him and everything was a-okay.

The building actually has a giant circle light on it, it’s insane.

So let’s get back to the fun bit!

We were told to be there for 8, even though the episode wouldn’t start on Channel 4 until 10 and we were doing in the meantime. We soon found out. Because that’s how time works.

At first, we were checked in – we had to sign a release form that basically said we didn’t mind being on camera and then we were given wristbands. I didn’t expect to get a gold VIP wristband but I definitely felt pretty swish. At this point we were offered free drinks and cloakroom facilities and then we sat in a lecture theatre for, like, over an hour, just waiting for something to happen. It was quite confusing. About 9.15pm we were taken over to the studio set and this is where the anxiety started to dissolve and it got really exciting.

From there, it was just standing – but the studio looked amazing, it was so exciting to be in a real TV studio having been around so many people at uni (three of which were working on the show) and to actually be part of a real life studio show was actually mental, I still can’t really believe it happened but getting into the studio was just the beginning.

More and more people filed in, then all the previously blocked players came in and sat down and presenters Alice Levine and Maya Jama started doing rehearsals and it was so surreal – I felt like I somewhat understood, the roles of the people in the studio, the presenters, the floor managers, all the mics and cameras and autocue’s and the countdowns, but so far from it because it was so professional and polished and way beyond anything I was capable of or had experienced before.

We started off stood by Alex’s girlfriend Millie and apparently you could see us in the background of the shot and then we were around Sian’s family and wow, Sian’s mum is actually the nicest human I’ve ever met. Then we were moved over to the other side of the room and for like 10 minutes we could actually see and then some other guys just moved in front of us but I think they were something to do with a Radio 1 DJ but still, bit rude.

The whole show was incredibly surreal – seeing the people that I’ve been watching on TV every day for three weeks, even though they’ve been in complete isolation from the outside world for the whole time and have no idea the impact the show has made and how much they mean to people. I was in awe and I felt like the most pathetic fangirl ever but it was just so exciting.

The end of the show was somewhat anticlimactic – the show ended and there wasn’t really a conclusion, we were just told to leave. I got some photos in front of the flats, then we collected our stuff from the cloakroom, wondered over towards our Premier Inn via the 24 hour Asda for the dinner we never had and checked in just before midnight, collapsing with incredibly painful knees from standing for so long, sleeping in my favourite kind of bed of all time and waking up to go for breakfast with Nick before a day at the Natural History museum.

Our mini Asda haul

To be honest, I’m surprised Alex won, I was rooting for Sian but not disappointed with the overall winner. Excited to see what they do with a potential second season!

And to think this was only the beginning of the week! It was amazing couple of days and I’m so grateful to giffgaff and Channel 4 for inviting me to the show.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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Wind in the Willows – Mayflower Theatre

2016, lifestyle, music

Hello!

img_3062The musical version of the popular children’s book Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame had it’s World Premiere at Mayflower Theatre and I was lucky enough to be invited to see to the press showing with @sotonbloggers.

Being back at the theatre was like coming home – I’ve not seen a musical or a show or any form of play in so long and I got surprisingly emotional at parts of the show I really did not expect to get emotional about! I nearly cried at the finale, I was a mess but, anyway!

The whole show was absolutely mind blowing – my mum messaged me before I left and said I should take a notebook so I could jot things down, as a trainee journalist, and I told her I wouldn’t need it because I had my phone. Oh how I was wrong! There were so many amazing bits in the first half alone that I don’t think I possibly could have remembered them all when it got to the interval and I could write them down.

david-birrel-as-badger-thomas-howes-as-ratty-and-fra-fee-as-mole-in-the-wind-in-the-willows-photo-by-marc-brenner-jamie-hendry-productionsThe vocals were flawless – the opening number, “Spring”, was an ensemble of incredible singers, wonderful actors and truly beautiful harmonies, it made me remember what I love about musical theatre. The dancing was so much fun (particularly the tap dancing horses and the Otter Ballerinas!), the sets were truly beautiful and intricately designed – the full size train carriage on the stage in the second half was so outstanding!

Costuming is a crucial part of a show like this that has such recognisable characters – there were nods to each of the animals that each character was playing, such as tails, ears and coats of spikes that the Hedgehogs wore, but the astonishing bit about the costumes was that the acting that went with each of the costumes is what really solidified each of the animals within the characters.
rufus-hound-as-mr-toad-in-the-wind-in-the-willows-photo-by-marc-brenner-jamie-hendry-productionsToad was eccentric and jumped and leapt around the stage, the rabbits walked on their toes with their bottoms sticking out and the weasels, stokes and foxes were all a little bit creepy and sneaky – it was the phenomenal talent of the cast that brought these beautiful costumes to life.

The music was truly astonishing – I felt a few Les Miserables vibes but the music was so fully orchestral. It was beautiful and all of the songs felt like they could be real classics. They’re definitely songs that I could hear people singing years down the line, particularly “Messing About in a Boat”, “We’re Taking Over the Hall” and “A Friend is Still a Friend”. I’m keeping my eyes out for the soundtrack because I can’t wait to listen to those beautiful vocals all day long!

I also loved the variety of speaking accents, there were some beautiful intonations.

neil-mcdermott-and-the-company-of-the-wind-in-the-willows-photo-by-marc-brenner-jamie-hendry-productions-3My favourite dance number was definitely the opening of the second act that accompanied “We’re Taking Over The Hall” because it was so much fun and it really grabbed everyone’s attention after the ice cream and drinks of the interval!

The whole show really reignited my love for theatre – I’ve not been to see a show in so long and when I got home, I went straight on the Mayflower website to have a look at what other shows are coming to Southampton (I’d love to go see the Beauty and the Beast ballet – last time I saw a ballet I was 8 and I fell asleep!).

fra-fee-as-mole-in-the-wind-in-the-willows-photo-by-marc-brenner-jamie-hendry-productionsIn terms of cast and characters, Fra Fee was a wonderful and endearing Mole, David Birrell played a wise and father-like Badger and all the dancers were very, very talented. Obviously, have to commend the wonderful Rufus Hound who portrayed the equally annoying and entertaining Toad.

I was expecting Wind in the Willows to be a childish, almost-pantomime like show aimed at the younger members of the audience that would make me roll my eyes even if it was technically good but that really isn’t what it was. Yeah, it was definitely a more child friendly show as opposed to more adult shows like The Book of Mormon or Rent but when the audience laughed, the entire audience laughed. It was an amazing piece of theatre and a very nostalgic tale, enough to make me well up at the curtain call!

And it was very exciting to have ‘press’ written on the ticket, the complimentary drinks at the interval were wonderful.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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This post wasn’t sponsored but the ticket was provided by Mayflower Theatre via @sotonbloggers. All photos belong to Mayflower theatre.

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