student life

The things students will do for twenty quid.

One of the advantages to living in London is the ease of access to recordings of television shows.

One of the advantages to living in London is the ease of access to recordings of television shows. Having been to see a recording of The Cube back in January I was most surprised to be offered tickets again so soon. Even more surprised to find that not only was I offered tickets – but I was being paid to watch it! There had to be some sort of a catch. 

There was. My daughter explained… it is for German TV. Ah. That made sense. Only it wasn’t going to make any sense at all. Not to me. I’m not a whiz with foreign languages and managed to get out of my French ‘O’ Level by pretending I couldn’t understand the mock exam.  Pretending didn’t come into it. I really thought there had been a car accident caused by a fox at the traffic lights… but I digress. To put it bluntly I don’t know any German except ‘nein’… as in ‘Do you know any German words?’ ‘Nein’.  

But The Cube, for those of you who have never seen it, is a program where people compete in physical and electronic challenges; they have 9 lives, (Nein? Yes, 9) one simplify and a trial run, so surely this wouldn’t be too hard to follow. Oh and did I mention it is all to win thousands of pounds… or in this case Euros.

Therefore on a sunny afternoon we found ourselves heading to Wembley Park to sit and cheer on the Germans. With all due respect you don’t hear many English football fans saying that! We joined a queue where we were given a piece of paper each to sign saying that we would, on completion of the recording, be given £20 in travel expenses. Now that bit I did understand.  The queue had a variety of nationalities in it – none of which sounded German. I had to smile at the girls in front who thought it strange that the contestants weren’t going to understand anything if it was all in German. The idea that the contestants were German too had obviously not occurred to them.

As soon as we were shown to our seats, none of which had beach towels thrown over them, it became clear that most of the audience in our half of the studio were British. The studio looks so much smaller than it does on television. It is divided into two with the entrance for the contestants splitting both sides of the crowd, who are on raised seating. The front of this is covered by a midnight blue cloth full of twinkling tiny stars. The stage is in the round on which are the Cube and a podium for the presenter to stand on. After we had indulged in our free bag of sweets and bottle of water it was soon time for the warm up person to introduce themselves to the crowd. A man resembling a chubby Boris Becker wandered around the crowd seeking out German speaking members of the audience. He eventually found them on the opposite side from us. The television company seemed to have separated the audience as if there had once been a history between the two nations…  He stayed on their side during set- ups where he chatted happily to them.  He signalled when we were to clap and whoop, becoming very animated in his delivery.  Yet there certainly wasn’t the jokey tone present that the guy who had warmed up the audience for the British version had shown.  But I guess he had a harder job to do …

Eventually when we had practised our clapping and cheering, a German Cheryl Cole body double came into view and recorded her pieces to camera. Several times. She seemed very professional so I guess the cameraman could not have been concentrating – or maybe he just wanted to keep filming her in her gorgeous red dress and sexy high heels. It probably made a pleasant change from Philip Schofield. After she had successfully said ‘Hello and welcome to the Cube. Will you beat the Cube?’ (or whatever it was she was saying), the first contestant appeared. Oh how we all whooped!  However, it was beginning to look as if the production team had only got look-a-likes to appear on the show.  If you have ever wondered where Janis Battersby from Coronation Street ended up when she took off to travel Europe with her bin man boyfriend, you may well find it was Germany.

Of course I cannot tell you what happened as that may spoil the show if you happen to be in Germany when it is shown. I can tell you that we saw two contestants try and win thousands of Euros. In a way watching the German version of The Cube was just as nerve wracking – if not more so. I hadn’t a clue as to whether it was their trial game or how many lives they had left.  I did rather waste some energy and nearly squeeze the life out of my daughter’s arm watching a contestant try to move a metal ring across a pole without setting off the alarm and losing thousands and thousands of Euros…Only to discover it was a trial game and would it have mattered if he had set of the alarm? Nein.

Three and a half hours later as we shuffled out of the studio and collected our little brown envelopes in exchange for our forms, we were asked if we would like to stay and join the queue outside for the evening recording of the show. We declined. 

It was an experience to have taken part in though – and without giving too much away, I went away with more money than one of the contestants did.