Filing out upon arrival, we were registered with the BBC staffers who gave us each a red wristbands for access, and then herded into the square to do a camera rehearsal. The square had been decked out with Wild West themed paraphernalia
- cartoon-esque cacti, a large cow, even a bucking bronco... which brought a slight look of panic to our producer Conrad Lynch's face as we were all eyeing it rather eagerly! Frankly the last thing we need right now are broken bones, so there was an audible sigh of relief when Jo the floor manager said that they had their full quota of participants already.
After some re-spacing for camera purposes and a quick run through or two, we were broken until filming and headed off to the dressing rooms. Most of the company went to one building but as we had interviews to do, Jason Donovan, Norman Pace and myself descended into the bowels of the main building with Conrad and Ian to meet up with Matthew Christian, who is the PR for the production.
Over the next hour and half we did telephone interviews, photos and briefings, whilst also getting ready for the performance. Live TV is always a little nerve-wracking, particularly when the adrenalin is high, so anything you can do to prepare yourself is a bonus - especially when you've just signed a disclaimer saying that you won't swear! It's probably a very good job they didn't put me on the bucking bronco, given that fact alone!
As Norman and Jason were appearing on the sofa for a chat with the presenters, Matt Baker and Alex Jones, they needed to do a camera rehearsal. Meanwhile I finished off my make up and hair and changed into costume for the evening - our matching t-shirts and jeans now resplendently finished with bright blue neckerchiefs. Even our gaudy Vegas-worthy sparkly rehearsal stetsons had been replaced with subtler, more appropriate show ones. Before we knew it 7pm was looming and we were collected by Tasha, one of the runners, and taken up to the studio floor where I finally get to say a quick hello to Matt Baker.
The beautiful cowgirls!
Back row: Hannah Grace, Natalie Day, Lorna Want, Sarah Galbraith & Kara Lane
Front row: Flo Fields & Katie Marie-Carter
Matt and I both worked on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, with him recently playing the leading role of Caractacus Potts on the UK tour of the show. However, long before that, when I was playing Truly Scrumptious in the West End, Matt took part in the challenging 'Me Ole Bamboo' routine as a one off for Blue Peter, which he presented at the time. Despite a decade having passed, he looks absolutely no different and it was lovely to have a very quick catch up before heading out onto the piazza to join the rest of the cast for a top of the programme 'yee-hah'!
The countdown starts, the cameras roll and suddenly we are live on the BBC. The One Show is a pretty rapid fire programme with numerous guests, video trails and screen flashes of photographs, including some hitherto unseen ones from our photo-shoot the other day. We gather behind the cameras to support Jason and Norman as they chat on the sofa and provide background applause. There are also a couple of unexpected moments when we also appear on camera as they are swung around to watch us, watching them and even a ridiculously impromptu sing off! It's all very exciting and seems to pass in a heady blur of smiles and laughter. Soon we are racing back out onto the piazza to get ready for our performance.
Matt sets his time on the bucking bronco, Alex introduces us and then the track rolls. We are live on the BBC performing an excerpt from the show for the very first time in front of anyone outside of the company. It's utterly exhilarating, slightly terrifying and rather wonderful. The kick line kicks, the heads turn at the right moment and we truly feel like a Company. On the final note we toss our cowboy hats into the air with a grin and gather together for a final chat to camera. Matt runs over to ask me a few questions about gun work and stunt practice and I finally admit that I (and my understudies, I hasten to add here) are having trapeze lessons for the Act 1 finale. Matt seems rather surprised and possibly a touch impressed. As a former gymnast he probably understands all too well about what that entails - but more about that in another blog! As a last little closing question he asks about working with Jason and somehow gets me to admit to having a poster of Jason on my wall as a teenager. My cheeks are burning with embarrassment as Jason hugs me, blushingly, to his side and the cast laugh with camaraderie. All too soon the show is done, a group photo is taken and we wend our merry ways home for some sleep before another epic day of rehearsals, happy in the knowledge that we have the makings of something pretty spectacular on our hands.
The cast of Annie Get Your Gun with Alex Jones and Matt Baker
One final note though before I go... well, more of a confession really. My dearest Jason, forgive me but I have to admit that I didn't have a poster of you on my bedroom wall when I was younger.
It was on my door. x
The Annie Get Your Gun cast perform 'There's No Business Like ShowBusiness'
You can also watch the full programme of The One Show on the BBC iPlayer for
the next week, including interviews with the cast.
the next week, including interviews with the cast.