What are your rights in attending a TV show?

I once attended a recording of The Voice that stretched for over 8 hours.

It was arduously long, with empty spaces in between the showbiz and music.

I shamelessly stuck around because I knew I was getting to meet one Ms. Kylie Minogue (I know, I know!).

But I felt bad for the punters, with no such carrot, and for the tireless warm-up guy, struggling to keep a vibe in the room and stop patrons from leaving. So what are your rights when you attend a TV show recording?

Seasoned warm-up man Michael Pope, who works on Mad As Hell, Hot Seat & The Footy Show, tells TV Tonight being part of a Live audience is an important role in creating atmosphere. You effectively enter into a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ when you attend a show, but it is also a two-way street.

Where a show runs longer than you were advised, it isn’t reasonable for a show to prevent you from leaving, if you so choose.

“I think that is when the handshake breaks from the producer’s side back to the audience member. If you are called from 7 to 11 and it’s now heading to 12 I think you have every right to leave,” he says.

“It comes down to producers accurately estimating how long they need an audience for. Occasionally, not often, they under-estimate it so the audience are there for longer than planned and the angst kicks in.”

“More sugar lollies, more bottles of water, pleading, begging!”

But make no mistake, the warm-up man will coerce and cajole you with every trick in the book in the hope you will stay.

“More sugar lollies, more bottles of water, pleading, begging and pulling at heart-strings! You use terms like ‘Continuity’ that they may not understand! You tell them ‘It will cost more in post-production to drop in other shots!'” he reveals.

“It doesn’t happen often and it’s really uncomfortable when it does. Although I’ve also been on shows where it goes longer than planned and the audience is having a ball.”

The warm-up man befriends the audience to keep them entertained during down-times, but producers also liaise through them to get to elicit the best reactions for the show. Sometimes the physical layout of arena shows can exacerbate his challenge of staying in touch with the crowd.

“It’s difficult to maintain a rapport when it is 1 vs 1000,” Pope continues.

“The warm-up needs to jump between them, but they are kind of on their own when you’re not with them. For a long shoot going until 2am, I would suggest refreshing the audience at 11. Call in the night-owls who think it’s a party.”

One of his longest recordings was a short-lived 1994 game show, Strike It Lucky, hosted by Ronnie Burns.

“It was a 1am finish and we thought we’d be done by 9:30. We started with 50 people and got down to about 8 people. Obviously they had to audio-sweeten it a lot!

“If they are really not happy to stay it doesn’t work in anybody’s favour. They’re not going to clap or laugh or take shots of them, so you might as well get rid of them.”

Whilst some shows may tell patrons they are not allowed to leave -even for safety reasons- the bottom line is audience members are under no obligation to stay and it’s up to production to facilitate a timely and safe exit.

“In my experience people don’t leak.”

Another concern for audience members surrounds Confidentiality.

Most shows will require patrons to sign a release form, or include confidentiality as part of the ticketing arrangements.

Before social media, recalls Pope, there was the odd risk somebody might leak details of a show to radio’s Rumour File. On the whole he says most people comply with Confidentiality requests.

“In my experience people don’t leak. They respect the fact they have come along and maybe they play games with their friends, but they don’t go public with it.

“If they are giving us their time, they are probably fans of the show. So they want to support it,” he explains.

“Now with social media we ask people not to do it. But over time shows have recorded 2 or 3 endings just so the result doesn’t leak.

“So I really understand why they have embargoes and multiple endings. It’s the network’s bread and butter getting eyeballs to a grand final.”

“Hang on, that’s one possible ending”

“I remember the first time we did it on The Biggest Loser.

“People started to get up to go and I said ‘Hang on, that’s one possible ending. Now we’re going to do it again and someone else will win.’

“And I think in that case even the contestants hadn’t been told there would be 2 alternate endings.”

Pope now runs a tvshowaudiences.com.au and a Facebook page for tickets and show info.

Amongst his tips for audience members, bring a small snack, no photos during the show and don’t try and arrive too early for the best seats.

“You get put in a holding area and everybody gets mixed up, then you go to the studio and everyone gets mixed up. So the idea of getting front row if you arrive early is not the case.”


  1. battlestargalactica

    I’ve been in the audience twice – once for The Big Gig and the other for Club Buggery.

    I think the all-time longest taping record may have gone to ep 1 of Everybody Dance Now. That episode has well and truly gone down in TV folklore – at least for those who were involved.

  2. carolemorrissey

    I would have loved to have been in the audience for Hey Hey it’s Saturday but never got around to it. I did go to one of the live evictions of Big Brother in the early years.

  3. we used to have Primary School excursions to the old ch10 studios at Nunawading to attend tapings of Double Dare. those were the days!

  4. I often wonder with the audience of Q and A if they’re ever told that they may be featured as an audience reaction shot in an ‘extreme close up’. Just eyes, nose and mouth – it’s bad enough having to view it at home! Just a bit too much ‘in your face’ so to speak.

  5. I was lucky enough to attend a taping of “The Late Show” back in 1998. It was before they restricted entry to pre-obtained tickets only & they had a decent number of standby tickets available, so you could line up & hope for the best. It was a Thursday, which doubled your chances of getting in, because they taped two shows in the same afternoon (one to be aired on Friday night). They hadn’t built the mezzanine floor in the Ed Sullivan Theatre back then, though, so the audiences were smaller than they are these days. I missed out on getting into the Thursday taping but was given a “low” number to come back & try for the Friday show a few hours later. They only let 20 people in & I had #9. It was fascinating! The show was filmed in “real time”, so they included all the ad breaks & there was no stopping or retakes. The guests were Sandra Bernhardt & Ben Stiller. A great…

  6. I’ve been to a few tapings and one time at the voice it ran over past midnight and my friend and I wanted to leave so we waited till a right time and got up to go and a worker asked us why we were leaving we were like well it’s past mignight now and we were starving as you gave us no food and are tired. We did leave but like really no need to ask us why.

  7. timmydownawell

    I went to The Glass House (Wil Anderson, Corinne Grant and Dave Hughes) at ABC Ultimo a couple of times, and The Living Room at Ten Pyrmont. ABC gave us colour coded tickets when we arrived, which (as indicated in the article) decided who would get to enter and choose seats first. Got to Ten so late (traffic is at a standstill around there at peak hour) that we were last to arrive and go in. Big gaggle of middle aged women swarming to meet Dr Chris afterwards lol.

    Quite interesting to see how a show is made, including promos, fluffs, retakes etc. Plus a chance to spot yourself in the sweeping audience shots when it (eventually) goes to air.

  8. I was the audience in a TV1 show called Cliptomaniacs many years ago… that’s not a typo… I was the only one who turned up. I think they were a bit surprised anyone turned up.

    As a result I got to eat with the crew in the canteen (at the old Channel 10 studios in Sydney) and I was invited on to the set to act as a contestant in the rehearsals.

    A very fun day out!

  9. I used to go to the Spicks & Specks tapings all the time, It was brilliant, so much content was edited out though, so I’m glad I got to see all the extras.

  10. I’ve done The Project a few times, that’s a much smaller scale and easier to get on, you just email. The shows were all good, but the ‘holding area’ (which was like in the board room) was cringe-worthy with the warm-up guy cracking crude, lame jokes.

  11. I had a child on a kids’ competition show. The audience was only the parents who had come with the child. They filmed four shows consecutively, which was a bit weird, so with six kids per show there were about 20 of us in the audience and we had to make as loud a noise as we could. We had to stay for the whole four shows, which amounted to about three hours. We didn’t give away the result, not because of any agreement, but because our pair won and they wanted to surprise their friends.

  12. I’ve been to a few tapings and would strongly recommend attending a live show where possible. It’s much faster paced, more exciting and entertaining and you know exactly when it will finish. Dancing with the stars was excellent.
    On the other hand Hot Seat films 5 episodes per taping and you are stuck there for 4+ hours. The first few eps are exciting but by episode 4 it’s excruciating- you just want to get out of there. No amount of Michael Pope telling jokes is going to change that.

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