Thursday 25 February 2021

What happens as a virtual TV audience member?

This week I was invited to be a member of the audience for a recording of QI. Not giving anything away that could spoil your enjoyment of the show when it is screened later this year, just sharing my experience.

From the right 2 across and 7 down

I've made many a guest appearance on a TV show, usually Match of the Day as a spectator in the crowd and more recently I've been involved behind the scenes as a mic holder on the European Tour, doing my best to avoid the TV cameras, picking up sound and alerting the studio to the action on the course so they can 'go live' (on a delay) camera and commentary.

Studio audiences are a thing, I'm assuming it's similar to sitting in a theatre, a warm up act, an introduction where you're asked to cheer louder, but then in a live show, what happens, happens. Where as in a show being recorded there will be stops, retakes, make up/hair adjustments, 2nd, 3rd, 4th takes.

Never having been to a studio recording I cannot be sure that a virtual audience is the same as a studio audience, but I'm assuming it is.

So how does a virtual audience work?

I had a website to click though and a password to sign on with. There was a dress code, no all white or bright coloured clothing and to ensure I was visible from the waist up, that I wore headphones, had good lighting, no logos or advertising on display in the background and that I agreed to stay signed in for the full duration of the show, as well as not disclosing anything from the recording.

From 6.30pm to 7.15pm I took part in quizzes online, which given information and reminded of the above.

Next, information about when to clap was given and throughout the show there were signs for 'applause' there were no instructions on when to laugh and everyone was informed that they may be replaced on the screen if they weren't t clapping or paying attention.

The show started around 7.40pm and continued till 9.30pm. It just ran straight through with a couple of pauses to fix the stage, costumes and sound issues. I could hear the studio fully but not the other members of the virtual audience and the contestants mentioned they couldn't hear the audience at one point and that our video stream disappeared off their screen at one point, although the audience were muted in parts some of the contestants commented that they could hear conversations taking place on peoples sofas.

At the end of the filming there were a few retakes of the introductions and the endings, but not with any of the contents and answers to the questions.

I've no idea when the show will be aired, it'll be really interesting to see what answers made the cut to get the programme down to its 45 minutes screen time.

On the whole I really enjoyed it and hope I get the opportunity to take part in future episodes and with other programmes.

I'm not sure the cat and dog enjoyed the experience as much, they were a little confused by me clapping randomly.


  1. How interesting to read about it. Covid has changed so many things and this being one of them.
    It sounds like great fun and something very different to do. x

    1. it was a lot of fun being in the audience and great to break the routine and do something different for sure

  2. So interesting! Love your last comment about the cat and dog. I am sure they were a little bit confused!

  3. Fascinating! I had no idea how this worked. Bob's reaction says it all!

  4. Thanks so much for sharing this experience!

  5. How interesting! I love being in a studio audience, but never thought how a virtual audience would work!

    1. it'll be weird watching the programme in October when hopefully this lockdown will seem like a distance memory