What happens on the other side of the television screen? (plus Swedish meatballs)

A couple of weeks ago I received an unexpected call from a friend asking me if I could make it to a certain place by 4pm. She had a couple of spare tickets to watch the live show ‘The Voice’. [As an aside/ for the uninitiated, 'The Voice' is a televised singing competition where contestants are picked by a coach who mentors them. Each week contestants are booted off, either by the coaches or the public, and the one left standing becomes 'The Voice'.] As an avid viewer (I love singing competitions, perhaps even more than cooking competitions), I eagerly agreed to meet her, not realising that I was about to embark on a true test of patience…

The show airs at 8 pm and screens for one hour. So, if you do the math, the entire endeavour takes 5-6 hours. In many ways I should not complain as I did not have to go through this arduous queuing process to get these tickets (my friend had previously queued up until 1 am – yes, after midnight – which entitled her to this priority seats). When I arrived at the studio I saw the line that snaked its way around the tents of eager fans hoping to get in (many would not) or get tickets similar to ours for the next show. My appreciation for not having to join the end of that line was short-lived, however, as once past the ticketing bench we waited for two-and-a-half hours before being let into the studio, where there was more waiting (at least we had seats) until the live show aired. To further add to the frustration, no access to food or drink (they handed out a bottle of water and a Cherry Ripe (a type of candy bar)). It was a long and hungry/ thirsty wait.

Now that the whinging is done, lets talk about the behind-the-scenes experience.

What is fascinating about watching a show being filmed is the discordance between what we see on the television screen and the actual production behind it – things really aren’t as streamlined or spontaneous as they appear… Some time ago I attended the filming of ‘The Gruen Transfer’ (a fascinating television show that looks at how advertisements work). The first thing that I did not realise (just to confirm my naiveté to those who didn’t already know) is that a one hour pre-recorded show actually takes a couple of hours to film. Why? Well, if things do not go as expected, for example the joke just wasn’t that funny, then they ‘take 2′. The roaring cheers, belly laughs, and thunderous applause from the audience that you hear from your television speakers are actually somewhat contrived as there is a person who stands there telling the audience when and how loud to cheer. ‘The Voice’ was no different.

The whole show is very ‘produced’. For example, the performance by ‘The Wanted’ was filmed – twice (I presume to make sure there were no mistakes) – prior to airing, and was inserted into the ‘live’ show. Another slight of hand is when you see the coaches appear on your screens and affectionately greet each other as if they haven’t seen each other in ages… well sorry to break it to you, but they actually saw each other and did exactly the same thing 30 mins earlier… I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy the filming, far from it, I found it fascinating… And to be fair, the performances by the contestants was live and people were working very hard to ensure that everything went smoothly so for the home-viewer everything appears natural and seamless.

This makes me wonder what happens behind the scenes of a reality TV show that follows the lives of people… I mean, how much of it is scripted and directed?

What was also very interesting was that in every ad break, the coaches had their makeup touched up – not just Delta Goodrem (the only female coach), but all four of them. The take home message: to achieve superstar beautiful I need a make-up artist touching up my look every couple of minutes. Also in the breaks, the coaches spent a lot of time on their phones  (much like everyone in the audience, I certainly was facebooking about it).

I did feel some sympathy for the coaches, as it was Ricky Martin’s name on everyone’s lips and who received the loudest applause (it must be a blow to the self-esteem). On the other hand, it must also be very annoying to constantly have people calling out your name  - you could develop whiplash from turning to the voices… Hmm, lets give it a go – altogether now: ‘Michelle, Michelle, Michelle…’

Aside form being a very good looking man, Ricky was very sweet. There was a woman in the audience who had brought him flowers, for which he gave her a hug. He also spoke to fans who were closest to him. Joel Madden was also fairly engaging, signing autographs and talking with some of the viewers who sat behind him. Seal sort-of ignored everyone (he really should rethink that strategy) and Delta engaged a little but I can understand that in her heels perhaps if was impractical to do more… Delta is was surprisingly tall, Joel is surprisingly short, Ricky is gorgeous and Seal is aloof…

Today’s recipe has been inspired by another singing competition – Eurovision.  This year Sweden hosted and thus we have Swedish meatballs. I will not vouch for the authenticity of these as it is a culmination of a number of different recipes that I Googled but bottom line is that these taste good. I served these with lettuce leaves in a sort of sang Choy Bau sort of fare – I do, after all, have Asian roots…

swedish meatbaslls

Swedish meatballs

500g turkey mince
1 egg
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon onion flakes
2 tbs chicken stock powder

Mix together, roll into meatballs (you can choose the size). Spray a frypan with oil an place on a medium heat. Add meatballs to the pan and cook. Turn the meatballs over once browned on one side. Once cooked through they are ready to serve.

Mustard Sauce

2tbsp mayonnaise
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustards, horseradish, sour cream, and salt in a small bowl. Serve with the meatballs.

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4 Responses to What happens on the other side of the television screen? (plus Swedish meatballs)

  1. How cool that you got to see behind the scenes of The Voice! I loved reading about what the judges are like. These meatballs look to be something i need to have in my life…just like The Voice.

  2. Michelle says:

    It certainly gives you a different perspective about these people that appear so glamorous all the time! I know what you mean about the Voice being compulsory viewing ;)

  3. milkteaxx says:

    been to a “live” show once, more than enough for me. the meatballs look delicious tho, id happily queue for these!

  4. Another good one Michelle…..turkey mince is something different to the norm of using beef mince in everything. Ive never been to watch a tv show being filmed (aside from cricket/rugby in Sydney hehe) I think it would be interesting. Nothing like what you see on TV i bet.

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