My friend Alison and I went to watch The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice filmed on Wednesday. So I can tick that off of my Twenty Things list. Putting that on the list was a bit of a cheat because although I’d been thinking of the list for a few weeks by the time I wrote it on Monday I already knew that we would hopefully be going to the filming. The gave out more tickets than they had spots for so we had to go and queue. And although we thought we might not get in we did and it seemed pretty easy.
I quite enjoyed it but more seeing what they were doing and everything that was going on than the actual filming. I’d already seen the final as they showed it first but I had to watch it again when it was on TV and I wasn’t being distracted by all the people wandering about and things happening around me. During the screening I felt like I kept missing bits but when it was on TV it didn’t actually seem like I had.
When An Extra Slice was screen all or part of me was visible on the screen several times as due to my need for a wheelchair space I ended up sitting at one of the tables in the front where they feature the people. I’d assumed there was a high chance that would be a wheelchair space so it didn’t surprise me.
But what did annoy me was multiple members of staff asking if I needed to stay in my chair. Getting tickets is a lottery and I put in the “any other info” part of that that I’d need a wheelchair space. I emailed them when I got my tickets and said I’d need a wheelchair space amd when it got to the day before and they’d not replied I called them and told them (they eventually replied to my email at 2 am the day of the filming. I didn’t see it til I got home after said filmng) and a note was supposed to have been made. And they wouldn’t allow Alison to sit with me due to space in the section that was “for people with bakes”. They had no other wheelchair spaces I very much felt as though they weren’t prepared for a wheelchair user.
It’s particularly annoying because those who brought bakes and were featured (not everyone was) were allowed to have one friend sit with them even if the friend hadn’t helped with the baking. We were originally told they would see if they could move Alison but this didn’t happen. I should have pushed them once the rest of the audience was in. Well, really I should have just said no when they said they were separating us rather than “it’s disappointing.” Luckily the people next to me were friendly because we had to have our drinks on the floor and I had to ask them to reach it for me a few times.
In general the physical access wasn’t amazing but it was doable. If I’d had my powerchair it would have been niggles but with the manual it was a long distance, a rough ish path and a ouple of crazy cambers. I had to be helped to bunny hop over a few ramps that ended in lips. They had a golf buggy to get people there who couldn’t walk the distances from the waiting marquee to the studio (they said it was 400 metres) and I was told I’d be taken on that. The person in charge of the golf buggy was thrown by my asking if it was wheelchair accessible, could I stay in my wheelchair on it (on some you can). So needless to say I didn’t use the golf buggy. A staff member pushed me at least half of the walk and then Alison pushed me the rest. And again when my section went for a mid way through wee break they got me a pusher (but I think that was more I had to go to a different part of the building for the disabled one so had my own escort anyway). At one point my pusher had to stop to grab a door and was all “how do I get you through it and keep it open?” he hadn’t considered that I could wheel myself through it.
I would have described it as other than the wheelchair space issue very doable because they were so helpful. But there was no help available to get back to the car park so Alison had to push me the entire way (so much for independence) – luckily the gates etc I’d used that others hadn’t were unlocked. Those who used the golf buggy got there help back. It’s great to provide assistance to those whose mobility issues make distance a problem. But it needs to be accessible assistance and for me it wasn’t.
I did enjoy it. Jo Brand was funny, some of the bits that got cut out were hilarious too (and I was really surprised by one bit that got kept in) and the warm up comedian was amusing. Some of the audience bakes that weren’t featured were amazing. Mary and Paul in a hot tub was one of them. The warm up comedian took it and showed them in a break. Paul’s comment was he didn’t have a hairy chest as was depicted on the cake.
I think I would go again if it was to a show I really loved. I like An Extra Slice but I’m not a massive fan of it – I’d been putting my name down for tickets for various things and this was the one that came up. I’d also be a lot more proactive about access (I thought I’d been proactive enough in advance but obviously not) – insist on sitting with whoever I went with and if I go in the manual either a pusher both ways or being able to park much closer.
I’m blogging about this one but letting it go in terms of feedback to the companies involved as I don’t think I’d get a useful for me outcome from any follow up I did.