An Audience With… (ITV/Channel 4, 1980-present)
This is possibly the ultimate LWT light entertainment studio audience laughter turned up too loud show, being unashamedly showbiz, and this unsurprisingly ended up being very popular with viewers. An Audience With… is an occasional series, usually consisting of editions that are an hour long, that originally only featured comedians.
They would perform some of their most famous material to a specially invited audiences of friends and celebrities. There was also the opportunity for some of them to ask questions, although these exchanges were usually scripted in advance. This also results in there being too many shots of audience members, usually conveniently caught in hysterics.
There are some significant moments in this show’s history. In 1980, there was the first edition with Dame Edna Everage. And in 1988, Dame Edna became the first and to date only personality to have had three shows. In 1993, Les Dawson died shortly before he was due to feature. Curiously, about two decades later, this show actually went ahead as The An Audience With That Never Was.
Relatives and friends reflected on his career, and then they attended a show featuring archive footage of Dawson’s jokes. In 1994, Bob Monkhouse featured, and this gave his career something of a boost, as he reminded viewers of his skills as a comedian. In 1995, shows starring musicians featured for the first time. And in 1996, Carlton launched the almost identical An Evening With… which ran for just two editions.
As the years went by though, the celebrity audiences seemed to mostly consist of only Coronation Street and Emmerdale cast members, along with the contestants from the most recent series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, and An Audience With Coronation Street wasn’t a highpoint really, but this was where ITV happened to be at this time.
There have also been best-ofs and documentaries that looked back at some of the highlights, at least one edition has been shown live, and several have also been frequently repeated. There have now been over 50 editions of An Audience With… and although there has only been about one in the past decade, I’m fairly sure that this is still an active show, so there could be more chances to almost burst with laughter one day.
One thought on “More TV Memories – An Audience With…”
An Audience With… A series that was originally great with Dame Edna, Peter Ustinov, Ken Dodd, and Kenneth Williams as highlights but Billy Connolly:s legendary edition probably the greatest stand-up set ever broadcast on British television as the best. Only for the series to spiral into worthlessness as the quality of the stars dwindled and eventually pop performers were featured (biiiiiig mistake, most of them were glaring in their lack of personality). The deterioration of the level of star was equalled by that of the celebrity guest audience, from Robbie Coltrane, Parky, Tim Piggott-Smith, Bernard (“Gissa job”, Captain of the Titanic) Hill, Roy Kinnear, Ringo Starr (ah, miserable Ringo, it’s okay to laugh Richard – perhaps that’s why he liked the sauce?) et al to the dregs of the later years; I don’t want to imply that great swathes of the mainstream audience had become tasteless brainwashed idiots (or at least that those people became the target audience of the cynical)…but I will anyway. Wincy Willis is Dame Edna-style megastar compared to the absolute shower who have become celebrated over the past 25+ years; the veneration of soap opera “stars” very much included (Suranne Jones acclaimed as a great British actress: Bwa-Ha-Ha-Ha!). Well, er, rant ends!