Monday 30 December 2013

My Most Embarrassing Moment - The Wide Awake Club

When I was a child, my parents enouraged me and my sister musically. We took piano lessons and we both joined the choir. For a few years, we did quite a lot with this choir, including singing in the Royal Albert Halls as part of the Junior Proms and touring Germany (where one young member of the choir goosestepped into a hotel restaurant and declared that we won the war for some reason). But our highlight was the day we sang Christmas carols on the Wide Awake Club Christmas Special.

The Wide Awake Club, ITV's early-morning children's show. Except it was 1990, so it was instead branded "WAC 90" for a while, with a bright font, because it was the 90s.

Yes. 1990. As 1990 as it gets, in fact. The year of taste.
The show was fronted by Tommy Boyd (who later funded an attempted revival of British Pro Wrestling), Timmy Mallett (who, don't forget, had a No 1 Hit Record with 'Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini) and Michaela Strachan (owner of my 10 year old heart, along with Sophie Aldred).

Timmy Mallett. This was deemed acceptable television for children in 1990. Somehow.

We were taken in a coach to Granada Studios, which was exciting in itself. We had to get up at 5am in order to get there in time, which was the first time I'd ever had to do that. The studios were enormous and it was by far and away the most exciting thing I'd ever been part of. We even had a dressing room, where we found a discarded Coronation Street Script, which was also the first proper script I'd ever seen. I was, of course, in my element.

When we got to the studio, there were a lot of wires and cameras around and it was hotter than I thought it would be. We met Tommy Boyd who was busy, but polite, and we met Michaela Strachan, who was every bit as lovely as I had imagined, but was clearly too busy to spend the rest of the day with me. But it was all amazing, and I was, obviously, destined to be discovered and would become a major star. This was my chance to show everyone just how great I was. And, of course, impress Michaela.

My 10 year old heart has never recovered.

We were performing towards the end of the show - also on the show was Damian, who had briefly somehow become famous doing a cover of The Time Warp. But he wasn't singing that. He was singing Wig Wam Bam (which I can still remember all the words to). And then there was some comedy with some characters badly doing christmas carols - and then, to show them how it was done properly, we were on!

We were going to sing 'Winter Wonderland', and much to my chagrin, I was not front and centre. We were in a horseshoe formation around the choir leader, and while I was on the front row, I was right on the end of the row. How was I going to get the attention I so naturally deserved? All was lost...except I'd spotted something out of the corner of my eye, which would allow me to take the spotlight a little bit more than any of my choir colleagues.

You see, I realised that if I looked to the right, I could see what the people at home were seeing, and which choir members were seen. So if I kept an eye on this, I would be able to make sure I was singing extra hard, and looking that bit more professional, with a big, charming smile. An offer to co-host the show was surely a formality.

So, in my head, all I was doing was watching the monitor, then when the camera came my way, I would smile and sing. An angel. Perfect for television.

Unfortunately, I didn't realise that what I was seeing was, in fact, the footage that was being recorded by only one of the cameras. The close-up one.

As a result, the footage shows a choir all paying attention and singing perfectly... with the exception of one (obviously not very bright) child on the far right of the front row, who was stood at a ninety-degree angle to the rest of the choir, blatantly neither singing nor paying attention.

I looked too stupid to realise which way to look, because I was too busy paying attention to the monitor for my big chance.

But, every time the camera came my way, I made sure to look the right way and sing and smile. I had, however, overestimated my ability to multi-task. Keeping an eye on what was going on at the same time as keeping an eye on where we were on the song was evidently too taxing for me.

And so, when the camera came for my closeups, which it occasionally did, it showed me suddenly looking the right way, smiling my little heart out.

And clearly singing the wrong words.

Fame did not come-a-calling that day. Instead, I had everyone that watched it wondering why I was having so much difficulty paying even the slightest bit of attention to what we were there to be doing. And I was too embarrassed to explain my mistake, so I just mumbled, which probably didn't help matters.

And Michaela never called either.

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