Back in October 2014, while painting our daughter’s bedroom, we had a phonecall from the BBC! It turns out that they wanted some balloons for Saturday’s show and we had been recommended to them from one of the technicians who worked on ITV’s Keep It In The Family which had recently filmed. The brief was explained to us, they had very specific requirements and knew exactly what it was they wanted for the show. Now, Sara is a HUGE Strictly fan so there was no doubt who was going to travel to do this job!! The only downside was she would be travelling on the Thursday, doing the build and returning on the same day so sadly, no dancers would be there.
Thursday arrived, Sara was up at the crack of dawn with no problem! She caught the train to London Kings Cross, travelled across London to Elstree Studios.
At this point, Sara takes over the story. At the security gate, I gave my details and was directed towards the studio.
Now, the George Lucas sound stage is a fair walk away from the security gate but I thought I had missed it. I hadn’t. I asked for directions and was taken to the studio. It was a massive building which I can only describe as a ‘big tin shed’ like building!! I was greeted by security and shown into the building. It was immediately sparkly and as I walked through another door, I was straight onto the Strictly Dance Floor. It was very surreal. Inside I was screaming with excitement, but had to remain professional at all times. I was to inflate and build the clouds on the stage where the band are located!! I just had to get on with the job. The crew were playing around with lighting ideas for Saturday’s show while I was inflating and I found myself talking to myself about how pretty the lighting was and telling the crew what I thought too!. The crew were fab!! After an hour I had finished building. I showed the crew how to replace a balloon if one should pop and also put rigging points in ready for them to rig the balloons later that day. The creative director came to chat with me about the possibility of providing balloons for the Strictly Special in Blackpool and whether it would be possible to do something like the picture she showed me. Of course we can (again screaming with excitement inside!). That it was, I was done. However I couldn’t help myself from asking if I could take some pictures sat at the Judges desk. Now I said before that the crew were fab and they really were!! I said at Darcey’s place.
Sara in Darcey’s space
The finished clouds for Kevin and Frankie’s dance
I left with a very big smile on my face after a fab but very tiring day – headed home to celebrate my parents Diamond Wedding Anniversary.
On the Saturday night we watched nervously but the balloons looked fab!
A couple of weeks went by and that we got a phone call from them to say that they wanted us to do the special in Blackpool. Again they had very specific ideas of what they wanted and it involved very big balloons! This time we would both be going and it would be on the Friday of rehearsals!!
Set off early on the Friday to arrive at Blackpool Tower for just after 9.00a.m. Parked on the front of the Tower (with the help of some very friendly Traffic Wardens!) We set up and set about inflating. The first job was balloons for Anton and Judy’s dance. Very simple for very effective balloons. This time we actually got to go on set and help rig the balloons. It was quite nice because we knew some of the crew as they had worked on Keep It In The Family, so hugs all round!!
That job done so it was time for lunch. We were told we could help ourselves from the catering facilities. So we sat down for lunch in amongst all the stars. Now Sara’s favourite dancer is Brendan Cole who we hadn’t seen all day. Lunch finished, we were clearing away our plates, Sara put down her plate, turned around, and ran straight into him! She couldn’t say anything, just made a stupid noise and walked off!! Anton and Judy were doing interviews and they were doing them next to where we were working. They were both so lovely and friendly, as was everyone else.
Sara with Anton
So on to the next job, inflating the big bouquets of balloons. This took a while to do. They were massive bouquets.
Mike against some of the bouquets
They wanted to place a single bouquet on set to get an idea of how they would look and whether or not they would actually need more bouquets than they had anticipated. Now to carry a bouquet down to the studio, we had two flights of stairs to go do and in through a narrow doorway (just about made it through the door)! We showed the crew how to move them when it was time for the show. Job done we left very happy.
So Anton and Judy’s dance looked fab and the picture of them with our balloons was used in most of the national newspapers! This was the picture!
Anton du Beke and Judy Murray
The big balloon bouquets were used for the group dance on the Sunday. Sadly some of the balloons did not make it in one piece to the studio but they still looked fab!
Group Dance Blackpool
Group Dance Blackpool
We loved doing these balloons, especially Sara, it was like a dream come true for her!