The unrecognized assistants on those do-it-yourself shows


Some people from my knitting group have been among those assisting in the preparation of today's episode of the knitting show Knitty Gritty on The Do It Yourself Network.

Stop reading if you don't want the television illusion shattered, or at least cracked a bit.

Each volunteer was assigned a section of a sweater to knit. The show's host will take those pieces and do some short demonstration with it, perhaps sewing pieces together or illustrating one of the trickier parts.

After each volunteer made their assigned part, they also had to start working on the same sweater again, but not to finish it. They will be in the background knitting while the host does the feature demonstration.

What's more, each volunteer has already been told what problem they will be having with the sweater, so that the host can help extricate them from whatever mess they got themselves into. Nevermind that they already made the sweater that the host was using in the demonstration just a few minutes ago. Clearly, they know what they're doing; they did all the knitting!

If you thought the hosts of these shows actually did the cooking/sewing/knitting/whatever, well now you know better.

Comments (28)
  1. Anonymous says:

    When I found out that Norm Abram (New Yankee Workshop — http://www.newyankee.com/ ) has a small army of carpenters working for him, cutting, planing, etc., setting things up for shots, I was a bit let down.

    At least Roy Underhill (Woodwright’s Shop – http://www.pbs.org/wws/) does his show in one take. :)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Huh, there’s no such thing as "movie magic" — it’s all hard work!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Ah no! Not Norm too!!

    First CBS, now Norm Abram? Is nothing sacred?

    Oh well, all those Trading Places type shows have bajillions of helpers who come in and do the work between the scenes as well.

  4. Anonymous says:

    They have a tv show about knitting? Learn something new every day.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Why weren’t you one of those people? ;)

  6. Anonymous says:

    **Some people from my knitting group… **

    I had always assumed that the intersection of the set of programmers and set of knitters was an empty set. Foolish me. That’s neat. What other hobbies do you have?

  7. Anonymous says:

    Surely you didn’t think that Julia Child cooked all those roasts herself, did you? Nothing on TV is real anyway, even the news.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I hope nobody spoils my illusion of Alton Brown.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Bob Ross too. That’s someone else’s right hand painting those happy trees.

  10. Anonymous says:

    At least, Tim Taylor and Al Borland do everything on their own with their Binford 6100 power tools.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’ve had my suspicions about planted questions on Knitty Gritty. On more than one occasion it’s seemed like the questions were forced (one had even been knitting all through the show and then suddenly wanted to know how to properly hold her needles!) I realize TV isn’t what it seems, but Knitty Gritty sort of makes that glaringly apparent. Maybe it’ll get a bit smoother in a second season.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I bet you think that bloggers like Raymond here write all of the entries and respond to the comments themselves. Ha! If you only knew the truth. Again, the knitting group does most of the work… most of them being highly skilled programmers.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Wow! Could you imagine? An entire army of Raymond Chens, all blogging away, answering questions on websites… I should start the Raymond Chen TV show!

  14. Anonymous says:

    I had always assumed that the intersection of the set of

    > programmers and set of knitters was an empty set.

    See http://web.mit.edu/cfox/www/knitting/b.html

    "Cellular Automata Tea Cozy"

  15. Anonymous says:

    "Cellular Automata Tea Cozy"

    … and of course Clifford Stoll’s Klein bottle hats and Moebius scarves: http://www.kleinbottle.com/klein_bottle_hats.htm. (Though he admits to not doing the knitting himself.)

  16. Anonymous says:

    I am dying to see behind the camera on American Chopper, while Paul&Paul are yelling at eachother. So far, it appears Vinnie does most of the work.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Next thing you’ll be telling us that when John Noakes said "Here’s one I prepared earlier", he didn’t. I’m glad the elephant did what she did to him.

  18. Anonymous says:

    You mean that I’m just a figment of Raymond’s imagination? Oh, the horror!

  19. Anonymous says:

    I think it’s mostly all the other employees of OCC that do all the work, the ones you don’t see on the show, except few shots where they had been in the background. Vinnie and Pauls seem only to work on the high profile bikes, but those do not pay the bills.

  20. Anonymous says:

    You could make an argument that Vinnie and Paul are playing the Master role in a traditional guild style craft. The other employees are Journeymen or lower, so they are given tasks suited to their skill. I bet Vinnie and Paul supervise the other work, or are at least available as resources.

  21. Anonymous says:

    For me, the illusion was shattered when I learned that Tom and Ray Magliozzi weren’t solving people’s car problems live. Oh Click and Clack, how could you betray me so? ::sniffle::

  22. Anonymous says:

    One of my former coworker’s ex-wife (sounds compilated, eh?) is on a "reality" dating show. I was in for a surprise when he told me all those "bachelors" she went out with were actually her buddies and the whole thing was a big cheesy setup. :(

  23. Anonymous says:

    I never could figure out if all these reality dating shows etc, are scripted or not. Can someone enlighten me here ? It is probably my dumbness w.r.t American TV programming showing up here.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Of course they’re scripted, it’s TV. Maybe not scripted in the traditional sense, into every little detail, but they’re scripted.

    Btw it surprised me that my friends (all of them from Europe) thought that Jerry Springer, Dr. Phil and similar shows actually use real people, that actually have those issues.

  25. Anonymous says:

    It surprises me how a programmer like you Knitt .. Interesting hobby.

  26. Anonymous says:

    "Btw it surprised me that my friends (all of them from Europe) thought that Jerry Springer, Dr. Phil and similar shows actually use real people, that actually have those issues."

    I had always been suspicious about the genuiness of the stories of Jerry Springer’s guests until this happened about two years ago:

    "Police have arrested a man accused of beating his ex-wife to death shortly after they appeared together on the Jerry Springer Show.

    The trio filmed the episode of the Jerry Springer Show, entitled Secret Mistresses, back in May."

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/855853.stm

    Perhaps real guests are watered down with actors and limelighters?

  27. Anonymous says:

    tv? faked? never! especially not the likes of springer!

    http://www.thestranger.com/1999-05-20/feature.html

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