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Wowcher Does TV Presenting @ The TV Training Academy

logoWe sent Hannah to The TV Training Academy to see if she had what it took to step in front of the camera…

Not being an overly confident public speaker, I accepted the challenge of attending a TV presenter taster course at 3 Mills Studios, Bromley-by-Bow, with the vague hope I might discover an unknown talent of being in front of a camera and become the next Holly Willoughby. Sure enough, it wasn’t to be, but what I got from this experience was something altogether different. I left feeling inspired, comfortable in my skin and empowered having enjoyed a full day with some incredible people in one of the most supportive and friendly environments I’ve ever come across. This is how it happened…

The Beginning
Upon arrival at 3 Mills Studios, I was warmly greeted by Helen Sheppard, our host for the day, who gathered together the flock and whisked us off to our workspace. After an introduction to her fantastic career as a children’s TV Director working on well-known programmes such as Playdays and the Tweenies, I relaxed a little knowing that I couldn’t be in better hands. We began by introducing ourselves and why we were there, which gave me a great insight into the breadth and depth of people a course such as this could help. The group comprised musicians and business owners wanting to improve their TV interview skills for appearances, writers wishing to take the leap into the world of video blogging, public speakers looking to create inspirational videos, individuals preparing for a new course and a small few who actually wanted to pursue a career in TV presenting. Basically, whatever you’re after from this course, it’s for you, and the opportunity to network is an added bonus.

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Now, down to the good stuff. We entered into a brief and informal discussion about what makes a good TV presenter, gathering lots of tips and advice from Helen ready for our first shoot. We learned the five golden rules of presenting (ooh!) and that the most important part is not the words themselves but their expression, which is perfect because if you mess up, and all of us pretty much did, it’s fine as long as you recover – phew! Next we readied ourselves for the first shot, and in 5 4 3 2 1… we spoke a little about ourselves remembering all we had learned, maintaining eye contact with the camera and staying well anchored. We then watched these played back on the screen and, yes, we all squirmed a little as we thought ‘do I really sound like that?’ but input from Helen and the rest of the team was vital for improvement.

Quick tip: The most successful people in this section didn’t list everything about themselves from their education to their favourite food, but spoke about a subject that interested them such as their business or their recent travels. Their passion came through and produced great results!

The Middle
After lunch, we got back to work and when entering back into the room the equipment had been moved and the teleprompter (aka Autocue) had been set up. Each of us glanced over the words on the sample guide we had been given, making mental notes of bits to look out for, as our host explained the exercise and how it all would work. Written as a mock TV show competition, we took turns to take the seat and after a practice run filmed our second performance. This exercise for me was easier, as I didn’t have to think about what I was saying, I was able to perform better. This task was great for those who might write a script such as a video blogger or motivational speaker, as it helped them to work on looking natural and thoughtful even when reading or speaking something premeditated. It was an excellent contrast to the morning’s activities, and gave an insight into the diversity of a TV presenter’s skill set.

logoQuick tip: When you glance over the sample on the back of your hand-out think about how these competitions might be done on TV, for example they might say ‘triple two, triple three’ instead of each number individually. Also, be sure to memorise words or phrases that might trip you up.

The end:
Our final task was co-presenting, which I had been dreading the most but was in fact my favourite of the day. We were told to split off into groups of two or three, decide what kind of show we wanted to be and then create an introduction feature which might advertise the show and make people want to tune in. I split off with a couple of other girls in the group and we decided that our show would be a beauty show with different features including ‘dirt cheap product of the week’, a ‘high-end to high street’ comparison of products and a food section talking about great foods for healthy skin. I think our sections were clearly defined, and the most successful ones did have a clear purpose for the different parts of the show such as an interview or cooking section. Again this part of the day was a lot of fun and everyone was noticeably at their best having taken on board constructive criticisms and encouragement throughout the day. Everyone was comfortable, happier to be the focus of attention and individual personalities really shone through. The improvement from the first exercise was very visible and it was great to see how each session enhanced individual performances. The format of the day really worked!

Quick tip: You might want to begin by introducing yourselves with a ‘Hello and welcome to… My name is…’ opening, then follow on with ‘Coming up on today’s show…’ and a list all of the features. Finally, finish off with something like ‘And that’s all coming up on channel X at 9’. This is how this kind of section tends to go so it’s a useful template to follow.

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Cut:
So, the day was over and we all left with smiles on our faces having had a great day! For those looking to purchase a showreel of their pieces, the first exercise was rerecorded to allow the opportunity to use your new found knowledge and experience to improve on your first attempt.

I left feeling that I could happily tackle a presentation or pitch. I even flashed back to my teaching module at university and thought I could tackle a lesson much more assertively now, which just goes to show that everyone can take something valuable from the day. In fact, those who were most out of their comfort zone got the most out of the day. At first it may have been hard but the day definitely helped them grow – some people arrived with virtually no confidence in themselves and left with a new-found quality to their personality that I don’t think anyone ever thought would be achievable in a short space of time. Definitely one to recommend… and that’s a wrap!

Fancy checking out the TV Training Academy Course yourself? Click here for the fantastic Wowcher deal valid at six nationwide locations. Please note – deals featured may not be live.

Wowcher Does a Cocktail Making Class @ Dice Bar

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We sent Emily to Dice Bar for a marvellous cocktail making class, where she learnt how to mix, shake and stir like a master…

Though I thoroughly (and I mean thoroughly) enjoy drinking them, the klutz in me has ensured I steer clear of actually making cocktails at all costs. Tragically, I lack the coordination and flair needed to successfully create such tasty, beautiful beverages – or so I thought!

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Off I trotted to Dice Bar in central Croydon to try my hand at cocktail making. I was impressed the moment I stepped inside the modern and stylish bar, but things were only going to get better. Within seconds of sitting down, I was given a shot of Apple Sourz and presented with a dish of curly fries, nachos, deep fried chicken balls and more. This was my sort of evening. I was then handed the drinks menu to peruse so I could pick which two cocktails I wanted to make. Porn Star Martini? Long Island Iced Tea? Bahama Mama? Piña Colada? The choice was almost enough to send someone as indecisive as me over the edge, but I eventually plumped for the Mojito and Strawberry Daiquiri, whilst my guest for the evening opted for the Mai Tai and Amaretto Sour. After a chat with the friendly mixologist it was time to get down to business, so I tentatively ventured around the other side of the bar and hoped for the best.

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I needn’t have worried as the mixologist had the patience of a saint, taking me through the process step by step. So with a little lime juice, a lot of rum, some soda water, sprigs of mint and a hell of a lot of shaking, my Mojito was ready! I became further acquainted with the cocktail shaker when making my Strawberry Daiquiri (topped off with an orange lolly pop), and then it was time to sit back and enjoy my creations as I watched my companion attempt an Amaretto Sour. Whilst slurping down our cocktails (which were delicious, if I do say so myself), we played a game of ‘guess the vodka flavour’ with our mixologist. The flavours ranged from honey and jalapeño to chocolate raspberry and coconut. Delish! After we ensured there wasn’t a drop left in our glasses, it was sadly time to head home. I’d learned two things that evening at Dice Bar. Firstly, it’s a fantastic bar with even better drinks and staff, and secondly, I am, as it turns out, a cocktail-making extraordinaire.

To try a cocktail making class for yourself at a great price, keep an eye on Wowcher.co.uk!

Please note – all deals featured may not be live

Wowcher Does Hot Yoga @ Fitness on Fire

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Imagine you’re stretched out on a scorching beach, basking in 30°C heat and surrounded by supple, sweaty bodies. Now replace the beach with four walls, your towel with a mat and the beams of sunlight with infrared heaters, and you’ve got yourself a hot yoga studio. Doesn’t sound so scary now, does it? First founded by yoga guru Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s, hot yoga has earned itself a toned troupe of practitioners that include Gwyneth Paltrow and Lady Gaga. Tentatively, I brave the humidity to see what’s behind all the hot yoga hype at the Fitness on Fire studios in London.

Prepare to Sweat
As I enter the studio (just moments from Old Street station) and leave the bitter wind outside, my chilly limbs are embraced by hot air and wafts of incense. It’s like stepping into an airless conservatory on a summer’s day. In Bangkok. Already a devoted yogi – but used to the comfort of air-conditioned classes – I choose a space at the back of the room, strategically close to the door should I need to swoon out sideways to escape the heat (which typically wavers between 30°C and 40°C, with a high degree of humidity).

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Ten minutes into the hour-long session, a beady moustache of sweat has slyly formed on my upper lip before dribbling mischievously down my chin to form a beard. My usual yoga classes would never cause even a small stream of perspiration, let alone a fully-formed channel of facial hair. During the course of the hour, as we move through a sequence of postures, the room becomes a sauna. Perhaps it’s the relief of savasana (the resting ‘corpse pose’ held at the end of each session) or the rush of cool air that greets me at the door, but when I leave the studio, still pink and glistening like a leaf drenched with morning dew, I’m feeling strangely satisfied and drawn to return.

Body Benefits
Advocates claim that hot yoga enables us to sweat out toxins, while improving balance, strength, flexibility and coordination. The higher temperature helps yogis stretch out further than usual, lengthening limbs and engaging a wider range of muscles. After a few sessions, my body soon adjusts to the heat and the initial burn that I felt during the first class slowly lessens (as does the fear of losing balance and causing a domino effect of tumbling down dogs). My clothes may still become saturated while my hair is glued to my scalp like a stringy leech, but with each class, the poses become easier to follow and practice becomes a relaxing but rewarding workout. It’s safe to say I’m hooked.

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Tips for First-Timers

  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after practice to avoid dehydration
  • Take a towel to soak up the buckets of sweat that may pool around you
  • Inform the instructor of any injuries you have
  • Light-headed? Get on your knees and lay your head on the ground in front of you with your arms stretched out behind (don’t worry, this is a genuine resting posture called balasana, or ‘child’s pose’)
  • Don’t push yourself too hard – you probably won’t master the splits in your first session
  • Try to maintain regular breath
  • Try not to eat heavy meals two hours before a session
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously – wobbling and slipping is all part of practice!

Want to try hot yoga for yourself? Feel the heat at Fitness on Fire’s hot yoga classes in either Old Street or Westminster, with Wowcher.co.uk. Choosing from Vinyasa, Power, Hatha, Ashtanga and Dynamic Flow classes, held Monday to Sunday from 7am-10pm, you’ve no excuse not to get sweaty!

Please note – all deals featured may not be live.

Wowcher Does On The List!


Fancy hitting the hottest show in town without having to worry about whether or not your name’s on the list? We know we do. So, we decided to check out OTL (On the List, darling) and have a peek at their exclusive online subscription – the service where for the price of an annual fee you can help yourself to tickets to some of London’s biggest and brightest events at the best locations. Theatre, comedy clubs, gigs, you name it baby! Having donned our shades, put our purses away and perfected our best ‘I’m on the list’ drawl, we decided to give the celeb lifestyle a go…

Comedy
Fan of funny? Course you are. Well, except when you’re stood outside a Soho club without a ticket and are forced to a) accept defeat and trudge home dejected or b) accept defeat and check out the dodgy pub round the corner. Well, that’s where OTL had us covered. We headed down, grabbed ourselves a couple of tickets with no fuss and plonked our bums down for a night of laugh out loud entertainment!

Theatre
The fanciest of all things to do in London town, we figured we’d have to up our game if we were going to blend in with our next fancy crowd of culture vultures. So, with our best tea-drinking pinkies flexed and our tiny posh binocular things hand-bagged we decided to go West with a board-treading thespian extravaganza. In amongst the dancing, prancing and stunning mise-en-scène in the third act, we felt we felt a profound cultural awakening wash over us, imbuing our very souls with an insatiable and mystical wonder for the arts. Shame they didn’t sell popcorn, though.

Gigs
Perhaps a sweat-drenched, raucous gig is more our cup of tea (three sugars, love), so we figured why not? Thanks to OTL, we rocked up in the rider (or took the tube, whatever), resisted the temptation to nonchalantly purr ‘we’re with the band’ and strolled in. It was an experience euphoric enough to stop us from wondering: ‘is that warm beer that’s just been chucked at the back of my head or something else?’ To put it simply, it was great. You know how Kate Moss probably feels when she strides casually into a music venue like the biggest superstar this end of the catwalk? Well, we’d have to say it was the closest to that feeling we could get. Except better – we didn’t have to go in on Pete Doherty’s pasty, unwashed arm, for one.

Where and what were these exclusive events you ask? Well if you knew that, you’d be as big an A-lister as we are. You’ll just have to check out OTL’s exclusive membership for yourself…

Please note – deals featured may not be live.

Wowcher Does Shezan, Knightsbridge


Tucked away from the main hustle and bustle of Knightsbridge, Shezan is easy to miss with its unassuming exterior – but miss at your peril. Because inside I discovered a lavishly decorated restaurant where tasty food, friendly service and a warm ambience were all on the menu.

Traditional arches, Mughal artwork and a colour scheme that wouldn’t look out of place in a palace transform this Indian restaurant into something special (whilst making me even more desperate to devour the contents of the menu!) So with a glass of wine in hand and a desire to try something new, I pour over the extensive menu which features traditional Pakistani and Indian dishes with a twist. Read more

Wowcher Does a Vintage Photoshoot @ Belgravia Studios, Victoria

In search of a quirky new look, my friend and I ditched our usual work attire in favour of 1950s glamour and a whole load of scarlet lippie! On arrival at Belgravia Studios in Victoria, we weren’t entirely sure what to expect – would we suit our retro makeover? How would we take to life in front of the camera? Luckily we had no reason to worry, as we were greeted with a glass of bubbly on arrival (the best way to be greeted, in our opinion!) and introduced to our hair and makeup stylist for the day. We were given the opportunity to request a specific look or style, but we decided to let our stylists take creative control – a short while (and lashings of eyeliner) later, we were rocking a look Marilyn Monroe herself would have been proud of! With glossy red lips, smoky black eyes, victory rolls and curly locks, we were feeling fabulous and beginning to wish we’d been born fifty years before our time! Read more

Wowcher Dines A La Française @ Café des Amis, Covent Garden


Vin. Soup du jour. Jus d’orange. Essentially we’re just listing liquids in French, but if you’re already salivating as you swill an imaginary glass, eyes closed, then you’re as captivated by a throaty continental accent as I am. How a language can make a humble glass of OJ sound like the drink of a king, I’ll never know, but I decided to try some classic French cuisine for myself at Café des Amis in Covent Garden… Read more

Wowcher Does Old Macdonald’s Farm

An on that farm he had a...HORSE
The summer holidays may be coming to a close, but there’s always time for a fun family day out! Like the children’s nursery rhyme, which no doubt is going round and round in your head as you read this, Old MacDonald sure does have a farm. It’s based in Brentwood (yes, home of TOWIE), just off the M25, so, with one excited 5-year-old, a car full of snacks and our wowchers in hand, we headed over there to see what all the fuss is about.

Unlike the nursery rhyme, however, this award-winning farm not only has cows, pigs and sheep, but a whole host of unusual animals, such as alpacas, a wallaby and even some reindeer! Much to the amusement of our little boy, the farm has a “traffic light” system, whereby a red label means you can’t touch or feed the animals, amber means you can touch with caution, and green means you can touch and feed them. Off he went, shouting out the colours excitedly as we explored the pens, pointing out the animals he recognised such as guinea pigs, rabbits and even an owl or two.

Old MacDonald had a farm E-I-E-I-O

Old MacDonald had a farm E-I-E-I-O

As soon as we turned the corner and saw the giant inflatable bouncy slides, trampolines, and tractor ride, his eyes widened even further and he was off again. A particular favourite was the helter-skelter, where the kids form an “orderly queue”, collect a sack and then climb the stairs to face the swirly slide at the top. Plus, he also loved the Wacky Worm Roller Coaster and the Happy Horses Pony Adventure Ride! And don’t fret – even if the weather is grey and miserable, your kids won’t be when they see the indoor Battle Barn, with a colourful soft play area full of slides, ropes and bridges, plus brilliant ball games to keep them entertained for hours. It’s right next to the restaurant, so mums and dads will be happy too.

And on that farm he had some...RIDES.

And on that farm he had some…RIDES.

Open until November, and then again for the Christmas holidays, Old MacDonald’s Farm is enjoyable for little kids, big kids (and even kids of the goat variety) and you can rest assured that the activities are well-maintained and manned where necessary for ultimate safety too.

The only way is Old MacDonald’s Farm! So look out for tickets here!

Wowcher Does Celebrity Planet’s Jack The Ripper Tour

East London hasn’t always been flooded with fixie bikes, craft ale-dipped ironic beards and vegan cafes, you know. It was once a much more sinister place…

Once upon a time the East End was in fact full of what historians now officially term ‘dodgy geezers’. Now we’re not just referring to loveable rogues in the mould of Del Boy, the Kray Twins or even Harry Redknapp. No, east London in fact has a rich and particularly fiendish history of full blown naughty goings on. None more infamous than Jack the Ripper. Undeterred by the thought of being caught by the ghoulies, we decided to check out the Celebrity Planet’s Ripper Walk to get closer to the capital’s most gory mystery… Read more

Wowcher Does Coattails and Cocktails @ Good Godfrey’s, The Waldorf Hilton


Nestled on a tree-lined thoroughfare in the heart of London’s theatre district, Good Godfrey’s at The Waldorf Hilton is the perfect place to take shelter from an unexpected mid-August downpour – a fitting scene for an evening of divinely indulgent cocktails and delightful nibbles. Despite the name conjuring up images of Basil Fawlty desperately trying to decipher the ingredients of a salad, The Waldorf Hilton is not a place for flustered or frantic minds. The chirpy man wearing coattails and a bowler hat will happily take your worries off you at the door, never to be seen again.

The 1920s-inspired bar awash with marble table tops and prohibition-style furnishings is full of historic splendour, something prevalent in every fine detail, even in the delicate descriptions dotted throughout the cocktail menu.

With classic concoctions dating back as far as 1862 and names such as ‘Corpse Reviver #2’, deciding which cocktail to have may be the trickiest decision I’ve had to make since switching my broadband provider. Luckily there are snacks to keep my partner entertained. Whilst she knocks back the sundried tomatoes and nibbles on an artichoke, I stumble across Godfrey’s Cobbler…one of the most famous cocktails of the 1880s and the first cocktail served with a straw. Served with a trio of berries and a triangle of chocolate, this Byhrr wine-based aperitif mixed with Mozart Dry chocolate liqueur was nothing short of exstrawdinary. Touches of vanilla and fresh lemon made it extremely tricky not to guzzle this tasty tail down in one.

Cocktail number two was Corpse Reviver #2 – presumably Corpse Reviver #1 was not hugely successful. Created by Harry Craddock at the American Bar, he used to say “four of these taken in swift succession will revive the corpse again”. The blend of gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, fresh lemon juice and Absinthe did just that. You know what they say, ‘absinthe makes the heart grow fonder’ and my post-work corpse greatly appreciated the expertly-crafted concoction.
Other cocktails tried and tested:
Tango Essence (Martin Millers Gin, Mandarin Napoleon liqueur, home-made forest tea, fresh lemon juice, vanilla sugar and a dash of rose water)
Green Aldwych (Calvados apple brandy, vanilla and green tea syrup, fresh lemon juice and a touch of apple juice, finished with Champagne)
Red Samba – A Good Godfrey’s Special (we can’t remember what was in it but it was delicious!)

Needless to say, when we bid adieu to our bowler-hatted friend, our worries were nowhere to be seen. Perhaps they were under a pile of coats, lost down a prohibition sofa or dispatched along with the fourth cocktail. We weren’t fussed. The rain had stopped and the 1920s were drawing to a close. Thankfully the doors to the Golden Age reopen at 8am!

For your chance to experience the roaring twenties and enjoy a tipple (or two), keep your eyes peeled for deals on WowcherPlease note – all deals featured may not be live.