I went to MediaCorp last Friday (22 May) to watch the recording of a new Channel 8 variety show called Getai Challenge (歌台星力量). Joining me was my hubby who happened to be off that day, and a friend. As the programme organiser was giving out tickets for the recording, and prompted by the thought of visiting MediaCorp before it moves out of Caldecott Hill next year, I jumped at this opportunity.
The building where the reception and TV Theatre are. TV Theatre was the venue where the recording was carried out.
Most Singaporeans are familiar with Getai (歌台) – live outdoor stage performances (mostly singing) which are common in Singapore and Malaysia and generally held during the Ghost Festival (lunar 7th month) and other Chinese festivals or temple events. It is a unique culture in this part of Asia but I was not exposed much to it in my growing up years. Neither my parents, aunties nor my late grandma went to such performances. However, many years ago, I did go with my hubby to catch one or two Getai (that’s about all) in our neighbourhood. I would say the performances were entertaining, and the singers were not bad too although we were only there briefly. Many of the performers spoke in Hokkien dialect. This was not an issue even though I couldn’t understand some of it, but what I didn’t like were the dirty jokes they cracked. This was partly the reason why I didn’t go again subsequently.
Back to the indoor recording of Getai Challenge in MediaCorp. It was actually quite entertaining and interesting to see the flow of the programme etc. although the mood was completely different from that of a real Getai held outdoor. This is understandable. The programme is going to be broadcasted on our national TV, so it has to be recorded in Mandarin and of course, dirty jokes are not allowed too. (For the benefit of foreigners reading this posting, Chinese dialects such as Hokkien, Cantonese etc. are not allowed on Singapore’s national TV stations.)
The entire recording took about 3 hours but we know it will be edited to an one-hour programme (or rather, about 45 minutes after deducting the commercial breaks) when it is aired. So, it was kind of fun to watch the recording and then to see on TV later how it has been edited for broadcast.
The two hosts for Getai Challenge – Pornsak (newly crowned Best Variety Show Host at Star Awards 2015) and Wei Liang
Out of respect, I shall not share or reveal more details about the recording for now since this programme has not been aired yet.
However, the entertainment did not come without “pains” though. In fact, it was quite frustrating and unpleasant waiting to get into the theatre.
The recording was supposed to start at 12 noon and audience were to be seated 15 minutes before recording, according to the information printed at the back of the tickets. We arrived in a taxi past 11:30am, and not knowing where to alight, the taxi driver dropped us at TV Gate which turned out to be the entrance for staff only. Fortunately, it was not a long walk over to the TV Theatre, as the weather of very hot then. On arriving at the relatively small reception area (where the TV Theatre is located), it was already packed with people who were earlier than us. Many of them were middle-aged people or senior citizens. This was not unexpected. You would imagine only people who are not working to be able to make it in such an odd timing, unless they took a day off but how many would do that? Seats at the reception area were limited. I made an attempt to speak with one of the receptionists in trying to gather more information but in vain. She was friendly but all I found out was that the entrance into the TV Theatre is at the basement carpark.
Groups of people waiting at the basement carpark. I later found out (from speaking to one of them) that they were fans of the different participants (singers).
Names of Getai singers pasted on the wall of the carpark pillars but can you guess what they meant? I only found out later that they were meant for the different groups of fans to gather/queue but how do they expect a first-timer to know?
The basement carpark area was very warm. Can you imagine the entrance to the theatre of a National TV station is through a basement carpark without a proper queuing area and air-conditioned? There were many wall mounted fans but none was turned on until so much later when the staff were out past 12 noon to organise the various groups into the theatre. We also had to watch out for the incoming/outgoing vehicles.
So, we were totally at the mercy of MediaCorp, not knowing when we could get into the theatre even it was way past 12 noon. No one came to brief us or give any update. One aunty among the fans group was lamenting that two nights ago, in a different recording session for the same programme, the recording didn’t start until close to 9pm, despite the actual start time of 7pm. And the recording didn’t complete until past 12 midnight. That’s how MediaCorp take their supporters’ time for granted!
To cut the long story short, it was already close to 1pm by the time it was our turn (as non-fans) to get in. We were allowed into the theatre in groups, and priority was given to all the fans or special group such as students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, so we were the last.
At 1250pm, we were still waiting outside the theatre
There was more waiting after we were finally seated in the theatre at closed to 1pm!
It was almost 4:45pm by the time we stepped out of the theatre. My stomach was growling badly. What a day! Food was not allowed in the theatre. At the expected time to be seated in the theatre at 11:45am, we haven’t had our lunch and we naively thought that the recording would probably take about 2 hours since MediaCorp arranged the recording at such an odd timing, neither before nor after lunch. It was such a bad experience without sufficient information and proper instructions from MediaCorp in advance.
Hearing from others who had attended the previous recordings, it seems that such poorly organised programme is the norm. It is very disappointing that MediaCorp takes their audience for granted. Even the tickets are free, that doesn’t give them the rights to waste the time of the audiences and cause unnecessary suffering. I doubt I will ever be interested in another experience like this in future, not even in the new location. Once is enough.