Christabel was dreading some of the embarrassing stories we shared that first day but the magic of TV meant out of the 16 hours of filming, you only see half an hour of airtime shared with the 6 other couples. Melissa was most worried about seeing herself on TV. We filmed the show back in September 2014 and since then she's been on a mission to become fitter and healthier. She knew it would be difficult to look back at herself before she had attempted to make any change, but after seeing the show she accepts how she was and just has more motivation to reach her goals.
We can tell you this experience has caused quite a lot of excitement amongst our friends and family; it's not every day you see someone you know on TV. We'd already made the announcements on social media that we were going to be starring in the next 12 episodes and as we slowly started to watch our adventure unfold, our phones began ringing and going crazy with notifications.
Less than ten minutes into the show Coachtrip was already trending at #6 in the UK twitter charts. The feedback we were getting was largely positive although they were some comments about the coach needing to be reinforced because there were several ladies of an - ahem - larger stature.
Our debut interview sees us speculating about people's first impression of us. Melissa pointed out that a lot of the time we look really moody – but anyone from London knows exactly what that walk-on-the-left-stand-on-the-right-this-is-the-underground-not-a-gallery-goddamnit look is about.
The narrator called us the, “fun sponge” couple. This label is something that came from our audition. Christabel is the more responsible one and this led to our interviewer asking Melissa whether or not Christabel was a fun sponge. Her reaction was a resounding yes (although Christabel totally disagrees with this!). So it was interesting to hear us introduced as the fun sponge couple of the coach. We wonder if the edit will make us seem grumpy the whole way through when really we had fun each day. With resting bitch-faces like ours, it wouldn't be difficult.
Brendan made a comment on how much luggage we had brought but before we went on the show we had very vague instructions on what to pack. They told us to prepare for any likely weather condition; from the blazing sun to knee-deep snow. So we did what a lot of lesbians have down to a fine art: we packed. Everything we owned. Turns out that we aren't so good at it.
Once we met our travel companions, we had to introduce ourselves, where we were from and our relationship to each other. When it got to us we didn't get to say we were in a relationship, so we were wondering what people assumed about us – whether we were friends or a couple. So our initial fears of whether or not we would be accepted in a group as diverse as this was still hanging over us for some time. Even to the viewers right now it's not clear. Funnily enough there was a lot of speculation in the Twitterverse about the amount of gay people on the coach. Are we so obviously on the LBQ spectrum? Or are they referring to a couple of the boys on the coach? We think it's probably the latter.
Pretty much after the wheels started to roll in the Czech Republic, we were told we would be travelling to Prague. The first activity on the list would be puppeteering. When we arrived at the workshop Marionetty, we were led into two tiny rooms where our first experience of working with a large TV crew began.
We were split into our couples and told to make up a short story. Let's say picking our puppets was an interesting experience especially as most were creepy or very inappropriate. Finally with our puppets chosen (a monk and an old hag with her knockers out, in case you were wondering), we decided to portray two people meeting for a date after they had 'met' online. This was a little nod to how we met! Unfortunately they left the rest of our story on the cutting room floor.
Needless to say we won the challenge (#winners). The owner Pavel gave us a handmade puppet playing a banjo, inspired by his new hobby! We named the little fella Pavel too. When asked how challenging we thought the activity was, Melissa's responded with a very cheeky, “Well, I'm pretty good with my hands.” Although this was a hit on Twitter, I think my eyeroll response said it all.
One of the things we couldn't have prepared for that first day was the amount of time we spent waiting for scenes to be set up. The crew was large and there seemed to be someone with a camera everywhere we turned. After that first day we were both wondering if we would every get used to it. It felt pretty invasive. We were even filmed during our meals which we weren't expecting. Nobody wants to shovel schnitzel into their mouths with a camera in their face!
After a lunch of deep-fried breaded meat (which we ate so much of during our trip that it practically became a food-group) we ventured into a brewery. Unfortunately this wasn't to drink. The challenge was to bottle as much of their home brew into a bottle and cork it as fast and effectively as we could. Too bad ol' Melissa-good-hands wasn't as dexterous during that task. She caught her thumb under the lever and injured herself pretty badly!
We had an interview following the beer bottling. One of about five that day. This was something that initially made us feel uncomfortable. A lot of the questions we were being asked were leading us to slate the other couples. It started to hit home that this is how TV is made. We were really conscious after that first day to not fall into the trap of saying what we thought the producers wanted to hear. We weren't prepared to say bad things about other people on camera just for entertainment. There's a time and place for that and that is the vote.
Watching the vote on television never does it justice. We always wondered why people get so upset about voting and how after only knowing someone a short time, could they get so attached. Well we found out those answers for ourselves. It may have been the hours upon hours of filming or the unique situation we found ourselves in, but one day felt like a week with our travelling buddies.
So it wasn't an easy choice but we voted for Michael and Maureen. Day one was a nerve-wracking day for everyone. So when you have a couple and an individual comes across as more dominant, these things are picked up on by the group. No surprise then that Dan and Nicki were voted for the very same reason.
Michael and Maureen got the first yellow card. What happens next? You'll have to watch Tuesday's episode to find out.
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