On Friday, I popped along to Pinewood Studios to watch an episode of the third series of The IT Crowd being filmed. I say ‘popped along’, even though that means a train journey to Slough and then a 10 minute taxi ride.
Join me after the jump for a few musings on the experience, some hints on what’s coming up in the series, and the revelation of which Doctor Who/No Heroics actor was the warm-up guy.
After the aforementioned trek to Pinewood (something to be factored in when considering a TV filming as a ‘free’ night out), a lot of standing in a relatively short queue outside and then some sitting in a covered refreshment-tent, we made it into the studios.
Usual thing of lots of sets all in a row and the one you’re sitting in front of isn’t the one they’re going to be doing all the filming on. Prowling the sets beforehand, along with the usual crew, were producer Ash Atalla and writer Graham Linehan, who was also directing this episode.
Normally, you can expect a warm-up guy to tell you jokes, etc. We got Ray Peacock, whom you might recognise as the video shop guy from the Doctor Who episode Blink or the leader of the fan group from the second episode of No Heroics. He chose to try to enlist everyone in a Facebook group dedicated to one of the audience members and then to get people to take part in possibly the nerdiest IT Crowd quiz possible (sample question: “In Denholm’s office, what is Denholm doing in the other picture – not the one directly behind him?”). The winner got a calendar. More on that later.
In fact, it was all about audience participation, with a huge chunk of the warm up involving two audience members singing the emergency services number from episode two to each other. When he strayed onto more traditional “where are you all from territory?”, it all went a bit pear-shaped, since he didn’t know where anywhere was (“Ohio? That’s in Canada isn’t it?” “Where’s Cheltenham?” “Gloucestershire? Where’s that?”).
As for the episode itself, which I will refer to as “the nude calendar episode” (the winner of the audience quiz getting a signed copy of said calendar), it seemed pretty funny. I say seemed because the nature of TV recordings is that every scene gets filmed at least two or three times and it’s hard to recall if something was really funny the first time when you’ve heard it for the third time. When it’s all edited together, though, it should be pretty good, I think. Certainly, Linehan reckons it contains his favourite ever IT Crowd moment, although he neglected to tell us at the end what that was.
There don’t appear to have been any big changes in between series. The cast is the same as before, with Matt Berry, whom I last saw on the cross-trainer in front of me at the gym, doing especially well on his exercise bike. It was quite a Moss-light episode, although Richard Ayoade did get a couple of lines, the bulk of the episode going to Roy (Chris O’Dowd) instead. Katherine Parkinson, who’s red-headed again this series, didn’t get much to do either, but was enjoyable nonetheless.
Surprisingly, there was either a good deal of improvisation going on or Graham Linehan actually writes extra lines while he’s directing – he might even hold back lines to get better laughs on the third or fourth take. Certainly, Richard Ayoade ended up with funnier lines by the end of each scene than he’d started with.
Filming started at 7.30, ended at 10pm. There’s no taxi rank at Pinewood, so don’t forget to take with you the taxi numbers SRO Audiences give you when you get the tickets. Also, speak clearly when you order your taxi since our taxi driver spent a good time looking for “Jesse” rather than me. Not the cheapest night out you’ll ever have nor the best, since it’s pretty much all about the production process and you’re just there to do a job. But interesting and amusing all the same.