Wednesday 1 June 2022

Socks on Britain's Got Talent - where were they?

 So, whatever became of the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre’s appearance on Britain’s Got Talent? A good question. Let me tell you all about it…

At the end of last year I got a call from researchers at BGT who wanted the Socks to appear on the show. We said yes, and were lined up to do an audition appearance, on the stage of the London Palladium, in January 2022. All very exciting, this sort of thing can really boost an act’s career, so we’re told.

I suggested lots of material we could do in our 3 minute slot, from our ‘Magic/ Sawing A Sock In Half’ routine, to our rendition of Star Wars. I’d definitely aim for the Socks to do, as they do on stage, some of their best short gags to engage the audience, and some of their most visual stuff to make the most of that short slot.

The team at Thames, though, had their heart set on a routine they’d found us doing online, the Post Codes routine. The clip they had found was us doing it on BBC3’s Comedy Shuffle way back in 2008. It’s not my favourite routine, and indeed we’ve not had it in the show for over 10 years, but they were dead set on it. So I figured, if we front-load the set with good gags and interaction, we can get into this routine which, in common comedy parlance you “wouldn’t open with”.

So we did an audition video, showing exactly, to the word, what we were going to perform. We opened with a bar of “I’m A Sock” as we’d done on Comedy Shuffle, cutting ourselves short after the word “cock”. Obviously this wasn’t going to work on a primetime family show (neither would the line “shit, he’s got a guitar”). They wouldn’t even allow us to stop a beat earlier with “you wear me on your foot, not on your-“ because even the suggestion of cock is unacceptable on ITV.

So we opened with two lines that weren’t as funny as the bits if they have the words in that make you laugh, then we were to go into the Postcodes routine, which opens with “I have to do this now, I have a disorder - Obsessive Compulsive Postal Order”). No. That had to go, you can’t allude to disorders on primetime ITV. So, instead we were to go straight into the routine, effectively opening with material you’d never open with. But this was what they wanted and I figured the Socks, who in all our recent shows have very much been on a roll, could carry it off. We usually get laughs as soon as our sock heads pop up on the screen, after all.

So we went to London for the big day in January, and during the day, at the hotel where all the other acts hang out, I sat behind my Socks set, the Socks popping out to do interviews, two-handers with other acts, and pieces to camera, every single one of which we nailed. I know I would say this, but everything we recorded in the daytime was comedy gold, we were on form. We were getting laughs from the crew, which is always a good sign. I was confident that, however our time on stage went, those bits would look good in the edit.

After many long hours, I was driven to the London Palladium and we set up ready to perform. The techs were really efficient, particularly the sound tech who had my music cue all ready, so that as soon as we started speaking, she knew the exact line we’d say and she’d play in our “I’m A Sock” music and off we’d go.

Then the Socks set was carried to the stage, the curtain lowered, and I get into position behind it ready to perform. Just before the curtain is lifted, a floor manager speaks to me and says “so, when the curtain goes up you’ll chat to the judges?” and I say that, no, we’ve haven’t prepared for that cos the sound tech is going to play my music in as soon as I speak, and suddenly we’re on.

The curtain rises and the Socks begin. And as we start I’m already kicking myself cos we should have spoken to the judges. Ad-libbing is what we do,  that would have been a good and funny thing. It’s what we’d been doing successfully to camera all day. But we’d realised too late that there was chance for that. So the Socks begin their routine, with the two lines that have had their funny words removed, and the song that doesn’t really serve any point, and into the routine which, coming into it cold, is a bit hard to understand what they're on about. But we start to get some laughs, not many, but a few.

Then a buzzer goes. So the Socks stop.

If you’re a viewer of Britain’s Got Talent, you’ll know that a buzzer sounding means that one judge has buzzed you off, but not necessarily the other three. If, however, you’re a comedian hidden behind a sock puppet set, who can’t see what lights have lit up, you could easily mistakenly assume that meant you’d just been buzzed off entirely. Which is what I thought. So the Socks stopped, and at this point the judges started discussing us. 

Their discussion was quite positive, Simon standing up for us, saying “I like them, they’re a very funny act” - which I was looking forward to putting on the posters. While David, who had buzzed us, played Devil’s Advocate and slagged us off. We got a little bit of backchat in, but really the spotlight wasn’t on us and we were eventually buzzed off by the others.

We then got the best laugh of our time on stage when I picked up the set to waddle off with it. I mistakenly waddled into a bit which wasn’t the exit, so had to waddle back on and off again. This went down very well and would, I figured, look good in the edit.

So we hadn’t got through to the semi finals - a fact that I was forbidden by my Non Disclosure Agreement from telling anyone - but we’d done such good stuff in the interviews and ad-lib stuff beforehand, that I knew we’d edit down into a good bit of telly.

I then got on with my life, which involved moving house which is a very good way of taking your mind off such things, until the TV listings magazines came out announcing Britain’s Got Talent was starting soon. And, to my delight, both the TV Times and another listings mag featured a photo of us and mentioned our name, something which they didn’t do for any other act. We looked like we were being promoted as the stars of the show, quite possibly in the first episode.

So we, and all our friends, braced ourselves for that first appearance. We recorded it, to fast-forward over the adverts, obviously . And, with 90 minutes blissfully shortened to about 15 minutes of fast-scrolling, no Socks were to be seen in the first episode.

After we didn’t appear in the second episode I gave up watching the show which, to be honest, is not something we’ve ever watched or would be in a hurry to watch again, settling for checking Twitter occasionally, while watching or doing something else, to see if we’d been mentioned.

This past weekend, the final round of auditions came and went, and no Scottish Falsetto Socks had appeared. I’d contacted Thames to ask when we’d be on, but it would seem that the various runners and producers I’d been dealing with had already moved on to other shows, and no one was able to answer me.

So, the Socks hit the cutting room floor, and someone somewhere has the video files of us being drop-dead hilarious in a whole load of interviews and pieces to camera, as well as an awkward couple of minutes on the stage of the London Palladium. But, unless we get very famous pretty soon, and someone sees the virtue of digging the footage out for It’ll Be Alright On The Night, or Before They Were Famous or some such, it’ll never be seen.

Apologies to all of my friends, family, and Socks fans who I forced to watch endless hours of Britain’s Got Talent waiting to see our big moment. I can only imagine your pain.

Hopefully we’ll see you all at Edinburgh in August or in the preview shows before then. And the good news is, there won’t be hundreds of Britain’s Got Talent viewers cluttering up the place, desperate to see the end of the Postcodes routine.

"What IS the postcode for Ormskirk?" they must still be wondering.

You can catch the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre's brand new hour-long musical comedy extravaganza The Eurovision Sock Contest live on stage in a series of previews, in the run up to their return to the Edinburgh Fringe in August.

See them now at:

June 18 7pm - Ludlow Fringe

June 23 - Grassington Festival

Sun July 3 6.15pm - Derby Bar One 

Fri July 15 7pm - Beverley Puppet Fest

Sun July 17 3.25pm - Sheffield New Barrack Tavern

Sat July 23 - Bedford Fringe 

August 3 - 13 - Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh Fringe, for 11 nights only, 4.30pm. Tickets on sale NOW!


Kas42 said...

It is the BGT and the nation's loss. We know how good you are. ;)

Anonymous said...

Looks like you were doomed by the producers etc. Then without some rude words etc and a routine you weren’t too keen on, I’m sure BGT will regret it seeing you all over Edinburgh etc. I too waited for mentions so I could go back and watch any showing.

Anonymous said...

I hope they pay you for your time.

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