Daytime TV – A parallel universe

A Saturday isn’t complete without reading Susie Boyt’s column in the FT. Ostensibly about shopping, it isn’t really, it’s about anything Boyt cares to write about that week. This week’s column is about her appearance on Irish daytime TV promoting her new book ‘My Judy Garland Life’.

I was asked to do live Sunday morning TV a few months ago and, oh my word, it was a hoot! The daytime TV studio is like a parallel universe. You arrive at the studio (which in my case was a freezing cold warehouse-like building in Leeds) and from the moment of arrival you are chaperoned by an assistant who sees to your every need. After the tea/coffee has been fetched you are placed in a ‘green room’ type area – actually a modular sofa arrangement in a corner of the vast ground floor. You are given some sort of release form to sign which inevitable says you are signing away the right to any dignity and they can reuse the footage in any way they see fit. Obviously you don’t read any of it, you just sign it to make it go away.

You are taken to make-up where you don’t really have any say in what they do to you so naturally it’s caked on nice and thick. Then back to the ‘green room’ and as the minutes tick by, a few more guests trickle in and with each arrival some small talk of the ‘what are you in for?’ variety ensues. Everyone is very polite and friendly and unnaturally jovial considering it’s about 8am and we are all virtual strangers. The funniest bit for me was when one guest came in and it turned out that we would be arguing against each other. Sofa rivals! Yikes. It transpired that this lady really was a proper expert in her field and had written a book and everything. Me? I was a former fashion editor so my expertise was based on opinion and experience but I certainly couldn’t tap statistics off my fingers like she could. Whatever, it didn’t faze me, I was confident enough with my knowledge, especially after we had a brief run-through with the producer and established that we could have differing opinions without descending into a bitch-slapping slanging match.

As our alloted time slot came nearer, we were escorted upstairs where we were instructed to keep our voices down. We watched on a monitor behind a curtain as the presenters wound up their slot on Fathers’ Day, then were ushered over to The Sofa quick smart to get miked up and introduced to Colin and Louise while the news headlines were being read. And then we were live! It was so weird! You get all geared up for this big event, the moment of truth, are you going to fuck up or will it all be a breeze and then, finito in about three minutes flat!

As soon as your bit is over, the mike is whipped off and you’re shooed unceremoniously out of the studio. We were thanked and taken back to the ‘green room’ where a brief post-mortem took place and then, really bizarrely, all the guests (except me) swapped business cards and – get this – even copies of their various books! You see, the daytime TV circuit is very much a promotional tool as Ms Boyt will tell you, and while you’re there mainly to talk to the viewers, it clearly doesn’t hurt to do a bit of pre- and post-appearance networking with the other guests. After all, who knows when you might need to contact a rock-climber or a ‘freemale’ in the future? After another short stay in the ‘green room’, my car arrived and I was back in the real world and ferried to the station. Next time, I’m aiming for the big time – Lorraine Kelly, I await your call.