Update: The procedure has changed since the below was written. Click on the link for the latest details of how to request tickets to see Have I Got News for You being recorded

Regular readers will know that I am a bit of a fan (to put it mildly) of HIGNFY, and usually manage to get to watch at least one episode being recorded for each season. Some have asked how I do this, and today is an ideal time to explain that mystery, as details of the next batch of tickets have just been posted.

haveigotnewsforyouBasically, tickets are made available via the Hattrick website on a specific date and time – and they typically “sell out” within 10-15 minutes.

What happens is that at the nominated time, you can go to the website, select an available date (always a Thursday evening) and request up to 4 tickets by filling in a booking form with your personal details. Once you do that, you’ll get an email shortly confirming that you have applied for the tickets.

However, at this point you have not been guaranteed them!

At some point later, which varies but seems to be about a month before the recording is due, you’ll get another email confirming that you did (or did not) get tickets – and that they will be posted to you.

On the day of the recording, check you have the tickets and covering letter. They don’t usually check the letter, but I have been there on some evenings when they do check you are who you say you are.

The recording occurs at the TV studios on the South Bank, and the doors open about 6:45pm, but you really do need to be there a lot earlier. Like any event which is free, a fair number of people decide on the day that they just can’t be bothered to turn up – so the TV studio always overbooks – and if you turn up after about 6:15pm, there is a risk that you wont get in.

Also, the earlier you arrive, the better the seats you get offered.

If you do turn up late, the seats might not have a direct view of the main stage – but fret not, for they set up TV screens so you can still see what is going on, and effectively get a 2-hour version of the show.

OK, the doors open and you are let inside in batches and as you go into the studio, staff will guide to you suitable seats. One tip, if desperate for the loo, go to the studio and get seats first – then go back down the corridor to the toilet – that way you don’t lose your place in the queue and risk getting pushed to the poorer seating. Another tip, if in the queue outside and also desperate for the loo, go to the head of the queue and the security guards will let you inside to use the toilets.

OK, you are settled down and waiting – and the floor manager will come out to explain a few basics and then will hand over to a “warm up act”, who basically gets you into a good mood and explains some of the conventions of how TV recordings work.

The guests, host and regulars, Ian Hislop and Paul Merton are brought on – a bit of fiddling with microphones and the like occurs, and then the recording starts.

The show is generally recorded in one continuous take and edited later. At the end of the recording, they do a few reruns of comments where the editors think they need to change how a sentence ends (or starts) as they have already decided what to cut or keep. Weirdly, that last bit is some times the funniest bit of the evening as the presenters relax a bit, and it is a bit surreal to hear the jokes a second time round.

Then that’s it – off you go while the staff start dismantling the set.

How to get tickets.

OK – here’s the important bit.

Tickets are made available twice a year, typically in March and September and the date is announced on the Hattrick website a few weeks before the launch date. On the nominated day, the tickets page goes live usually somewhere between 11am and midday – so you need to refresh the page regularly to keep an eye on when the tickets page goes live. Remember, they normally run out of tickets within 10-15 minutes!

The next batch of tickets will be made available on 30th March 2009 around September time – so put a note in your diary (although I’ll be flagging it on the blog as well).

The web page to visit is: http://www.hattrick.co.uk/tickets/index_tickets.php

Once you have got your first tickets to the show, you will usually also be put on their mailing list which can sometimes get you offers of last-minute tickets, or the highly coveted “red dot” tickets which allow you to jump to the front of the queue.

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