We had "priority"tickets, which meant that we were guaranteed admittance provided we were there by 6:00pm. Even though the live broadcast doesn't begin until 9:00pm, they always try and overbook these shows, so we wanted to be sure we got in. So we got an early start and left home just before 3:00pm.
We had a big lunch before leaving, and packed a couple of sandwiches. And, we had decided to walk the 6 kms (3.7 miles) to the 3 Mills Studios where the show was taking place. We didn't want to be late, plus we figured we would see some sights along the way.
The Broadway Market in Hackney is kind of a fun place to wander around on a Saturday.
We didn't really see too much else along the way. We stuck to the main roads because London is by no means based on a street grid system and you had better know where you're going if you take the side roads!
Arrived at the studios with lots of time to spare and decided to take a quick walk north towards the new Olympic Park. There is a strange looking tower there. This tower was only recently built because they decided that London's 2012 Olympic Park needed something "extra".
The ArcelorMittal Orbit.
This is not just any old observation tower, it is actually considered a piece of art. Hmmm. At a cost of £19.1 million ($31 million) it is a very expensive piece of art! Yes, you can go up the tower, at a cost of £15 ($24.60). It will take a lot of visitors to pay for itself! We are not allowed into Olympic Park itself unless you are on a paid guided tour.
Sat and rested in the sun for a few minutes.
We went back and lined up with a few others at around 5:00pm. We were actually numbers 6 and 7 in line. Around 5:30pm, we found out (our fault for not asking) that there was a second line forming on the other side of the wall. That's where we were supposed to be because we had "priority" tickets. No worries because we ended up being numbers 5 and 6 in that line.
Lining up for the show.
Around 6:00pm they started handing out wristbands to everybody and said that we would be going in at 6:45pm when the doors open. Closer to 7:00pm, our line entered first and maybe 50 of us at a time were brought into a holding room where a girl explained a bit of what was going to happen. At this time, we realized that it pretty much didn't matter where in line you had been!
We were then brought into a huge empty room where they took all of your belongings. No cameras or cell phones after this point, so no pictures. You have to hand over everything and empty your pockets, including jackets, and it was pretty chilly in there. They gave you water and cookies. They tell you to go to the toilet because you won't be allowed to during the hour and a half long show. Then, we waited, sat doing nothing for over an hour. I was lucky because I kept my sweater on, but you could tell that most people were a bit chilled. It was a total waste of time. They don't actually take you into the studio until about 8:20pm for the 9:00pm show.
Then, they called for wrist band numbers one through forty five to go into the studio. We were numbers 5 and 6, but it didn't matter and it's totally pot luck as to where you end up standing for the show. Yes, standing. No worries because we knew that in advance, but after all the standing we had already done waiting in line, it was a bit much. Anyhow, the best standing areas were in the front row because you did get the best view, and you had a railing to lean on. We ended up in the second row, without a view of the main screen. It's a bit frustrating that they have no system to accommodate the people who show up first with the best places to view the show. Still, you really can see it from anywhere, just some places are better than others.
But then the fun began. And it was fun! We enjoyed being in the audience for the show and you felt so much a part of it when the contestants won or lost. One couple of twin brothers won £50,000 ($82,000) and you could just feel the excitement! The actual hour and a half show went by fairly quickly, and they did let you sit or stretch your legs during commercial breaks.
After the show, they were very efficient about giving your belongings back, and then we took one underground and one overground train and a ten minute walk later we were home.
So it was fun, and I'm glad we went. But they are so efficient at the process we wondered why they made everybody waste so much time. If we did it again, I would show up right at 6:00pm because it really doesn't matter where in line you are. But really, they could have the whole thing pushed forward by a full hour and not have any problems. And if you're going to take everybody's jackets and sweaters away at least make sure it's warm enough to do so!
Today, we're off to tour the Tower Bridge and the Fire Monument. Looks like there is some sunshine again today, so should be some good views from the top of the monument!