The Dr. Phil show has been on their air for almost 20 years since its debut in 2002 - and it’s not hard to see why. Dr. Phil, who’s trained as a clinical and forensic psychologist, has covered a wide range of topics on his show. Everything from rebellious teenagers, unhappy couples, learning disabilities and eating problems to crimes has been covered on the show.
Dr. Phil often features guests who he interviews on the episode’s subject, whether they’re a professional or someone seeking help. He’s had a variety of notable guests, including rebellious 13-year old Danielle Bregoli, whose infamous “cash me outside” line to Dr. Phil earned her a music career. He’s also interviewed a man who said he wrote one of Taylor Swift’s songs, as well as a woman who pretended to be sick in order to get money, just to name a few memorable guests.
But what about the audience? Dr. Phil has always featured a live audience and the show regularly advertises that tickets are free - but we caution potential audience members to consider what they might be getting themselves into. Dr. Phil makes his audience abide by quite a long list of rules and regulations. Keep reading to see what fans need to do if they want to watch a live taping of his show.
20 People Have To Pay Their Own Airfare
Given that the tickets to see Dr. Phil are free, one might think it’s pretty easy to catch a taping - but it might be pricier than you think.
Although some of the guests who are being interviewed on the show have their accommodation and transportation arranged by the show’s staff, audience members are left to make their own plans. So, if you live outside of the state of California (or outside of the country, for that matter) you better be prepared to drop a bit of money on a plane ticket.
19 People Aren't Allowed To Use The Bathroom
Considering that the show is always focused on getting the audience’s reaction, the last thing the camera crew wants is an audience member to get up from their seat right as their face is on TV. We guess that’s why the studio has a no-bathroom policy for the audience once they’re already sitting down.
We guess the only thing you can do is not drink too much? “Don’t drink much before you go! You can’t get up to use the restroom unless it’s an emergency,” one former audience member wrote on Trip Advisor. “The crew were so nice! Get there when they tell you to...makes the process easier. Want to go again!”
18 The Studio Doesn't Accommodate Disabilities
If you have any sort of mobility disability, then you’ll likely find it difficult to be in the audience or a guest on the Dr. Phil show. The show’s website even warns fans that the main entrance to the studio in which they film is not accessible to those with physical limitations, which is honestly pretty unacceptable. Rather, they ask disabled guests to use an alternative entrance.
In an article for Ragged Edge Magazine, Angela Gaggero recounted her experience of going to the show with a friend who uses canes to walk. “Prior to the gates opening, [an employee] comes out and basically forces [my friend] to go to a separate waiting facility. We feel uneasy being separated; we're also a bit embarrassed [by] all the fuss,” she said.
17 And Disabled Guests Get The Worst Seats
During her article, Angela went on to reveal that disabled guests are often seated off to the side where they can’t get a good view of the stage.
“The seating in the studio is a half circle of stadium seats; we are taken to the absolute worst seats in the place,” Angela wrote. “We are all the way on the right, behind a big huge camera. Dr. Phil will be facing away from us the entire show; all we will see is his back!”
She continued, “We explain to the attendant that we can't see from these seats. We point out that we made the effort to arrive hours early in order to get good seats. 'Sorry, but all disabled people must sit in this section,' she insists. 'No exceptions.'”
16 People Might Be Required To Dance
In order to hype up the audience before Dr. Phil himself comes out, some former audience members have said they were encouraged to get up and dance by the show’s staff. Not only that, but some audience members were even dragged onto the stage - so you better wear your dancing shoes!
“There was some music, we all danced a bit and some [people] were called to dance on stage for a Dr. Phil coffee mug,” one audience member said on Trip Advisor. “After that it was time for the show to begin and Dr. Phil himself came to the stage, as the first of the two shows to be taped that day started.”
15 Don’t Bring A Copy Of Dr. Phil’s Books Inside
We guess a lot of audience members have tried to get Dr. Phil to sign a copy of his book because the show’s website had to stipulate you are not allowed to bring a copy of any of his books into the studio. They add that audience members shouldn’t even try to get a photo or autograph of Dr. Phil since there won’t be any time.
“Unfortunately, we do not have time to sign autographs. Please do not bring Dr. Phil’s books with you for signature,” the site writes online. We have a feeling security might step in if you don’t heed their warning.
14 People Need To Follow The Dress Code
The audience always looks causal on the Dr. Phil show, but their website does stipulate that there is a dress code for people who want to sit in on a taping. Not only does it restrict the colours you can wear, but it also stipulates what articles of clothing are okay and which ones should be avoided.
“At some point or another during the taping, everyone may be seen on camera,” the show’s website writes. “Therefore, we ask that you arrive 'camera ready.' Please dress in dark solid color business attire. We ask that you avoid busy patterns as well as white or beige clothing because it does not show up well on camera. Please do not wear jeans or hats.”
13 Warm Clothing Is A Must
Evidently, they keep the air conditioning on full blast in the studio because the website warns potential audience members to dress warmly. “Please note that the Studio is very cold and you should dress warmly!” the website says when laying out the dress code.
Former audience members have complained about this very problem. “Heed the advice of the other reviewers and dress warmly. I shivered for 6 hours with a sweater on over a top. It was not enough,” a previous audience member wrote on Trip Advisor.
If you’re sitting through multiple tapings, it’s bound to get uncomfortable if you don’t dress the part.
12 Be Prepared To Stand Outside For A Long Time
Although audience members must reserve their tickets ahead of time, seating is basically on a first-come-first-served basis. So, if you arrive earlier at the studio, expect to get seated in a good location, and vice versa if you’re late.
The Dr. Phil website says that audience members should expect to wait outside for some time before the studio opens to the public. “Upon arrival, you will be admitted to a waiting area outside the Studio until the Studio is clear for admittance. There are benches to sit on and vending machines available in or near the waiting area,” the site writes.
Better bring some headphones or a good book with you because that sounds like it could be a long wait!
11 People Need To Go Through Security
While this rule isn’t surprising, it is strictly followed. If you’re going to be a guest or audience member on Dr. Phil, you’ll need to go through a security check before getting seated.
“No weapons of any kind are permitted on the Paramount Lot or on any Paramount premises (including any remote parking lots or structures),” the show’s website warns. “Please be advised that you will be going through a security check and metal detector. All bags and purses are subject to screening and search. Please limit all bags and purses and their contents to facilitate the security process.”
Better safe than sorry, right?
10 People Have To Sit Through Multiple Tapings
According to Dr. Phil’s website, audience members are expected to sit through multiple tapings.
What this means is that Dr. Phil films for multiple episodes in one day. That way, since the show airs five times a week, he doesn’t actually have to be in the studio for the full five days. But this also means that audience members have to sit through back-to-back tapings, which could be a good thing depending on how much you like the show.
“Dr. Phil generally tapes two shows a day on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday,” the show’s website explained. “Arrival times are between 8:00-8:15 a.m. Audience members will enjoy back-to-back shows and be out at approximately 1:00 p.m.”
9 People Have To Wait Longer If Dr. Phil Messes Up
Not only do audience members have to sit through multiple tapings, but your day will be longer if Dr. Phil needs to film some extra segments in the event that he accidentally messes up his lines or the crew don’t get enough footage.
One former audience member said she spent over six hours in the studio, which might be too much Dr. Phil for anyone.
“At the end, Dr. Phil added a few extra takes that he messed up on other shows where we just had to stay and clap,” the reviewer wrote, adding that it’s common for the audience to get teary eyed during emotional segments.
8 Some Audience Members Are Paid To Be There
It’s actually common practice in the entertainment industry to hire background actors to fill out an audience if it’s looking a bit sparse. While we can’t imagine the Dr. Phil show ever being low on willing audience members, it turns out they have had to pay people to be there.
“On the bus ride home, I chatted with two girls who were on the show with me. Turns out they were from a company that paid them to sit in the audience when there aren’t enough people to fill it. The more you know!” one former audience member wrote on Trip Advisor. How can we start getting paid for this?!
7 Some Audience Members Might Need Parental Permission
We guess that Dr. Phil can sometimes deal with heavy subjects, so the show’s topics aren’t always appropriate for younger viewers. The show only allows people 16 and older into the show. They also require anyone under the age of 18 (so, 16 and 17-year olds) to have parental consent before they can sit in on the taping.
“You must be at least 18 years old to attend a taping,” the show’s website explains. “If the topic permits, you can be 16 or 17 years old, provided you attend the taping with your parent or legal guardian. If this is the case, minors must have valid photo identification and a birth certificate in order to be admitted. Children under 16 will not be allowed into the Studio.”
6 Security Will Take Away Cellphones
It’s common practice for there to be no cell phones or other potential recording devices allowed inside a studio when a taping is taking place. But there’s usually a place to store them until the taping is over. However, that doesn’t sound like the case on the set of Dr. Phil.
One anonymous reviewer wrote on Trip Advisor that security actually took away his cell phone because there was no place to put it. “The taping overall was fun to watch. However the website said absolutely no cellphones and the studio will not provide a place to store them,” they wrote. “When we went through security they [did], in fact[,] secure [our] cellphone[s]. Wish we had known. We thought, ['How are we going to get back to our hotel?']”
They made a good point, adding, “[There are] no pay phones and you can’t hail a cab. Doesn’t take into consideration guests who don’t drive to the studio and have no way of calling for help.”
5 One's Clothes Determine How Good Their Seats Are
Given that the dress code stipulates it’s important to wear dark clothing that doesn’t demand too much attention, we guess it’s not surprising that clothing choices influence where an audience member gets seated.
“I do think that what you wear does influence the seat you get, so dress in solid bold colors, no patterns,” one audience member wrote on Trip Advisor. “I wore black and hot pink and was seated towards the front for one taping and near Robin [Dr. Phil's wife] for the second taping. Dr. Phil was wonderful and addressed the audience at two different times and Robin was angelic. They both strike me as quite genuine.”
4 VIP Status Doesn’t Get People Much
If you go to enough Dr. Phil tapings, you can become a VIP at the studio. One might think this would allow you to skip the security lines or be seated first, but a former audience member once revealed it doesn’t give you too many privileges.
“It's an early morning taping. Check-in is before 8:30 AM. Love the show but they herd the audience around like cattle,” she explained on Trip Advisory. “Had attained VIP status from multiple visits...and there was no perk except arriving 30 minutes later. They taped two shows, and we didn't get out of studio till after 1 PM. He's charming in person.”
3 They’ll Offer Members A Small Lunch
Interestingly, it turns out that audience members get fed while waiting on set (probably because it takes so long to get through multiple tapings!). However, don’t expect the portions to be huge. One former audience member says the so-called lunch was little more than a snack, so eat something hearty before heading to the studio.
“The staff offer a ‘lunch’ for everyone, but it's really just a snack that consists of crackers and water,” they wrote on Trip Advisor. “Eat a big breakfast if you get hungry very fast. There are vending machines with an assortment of food and drinks that you can get during the lunch break.”
2 People Might Get Free Products (If They're Lucky)
It’s common for studios to have a “warm-up guy” to get an audience excited before taping a live show. Dr. Phil has someone hired to do exactly that. Not only does this person get the audience laughing and shouting, but he evidently also hypes them up with free products and gifts. Not too shabby, huh?
“There is a warm-up guy that gets the audience hyped by giving out Robin's lip gloss, mugs, and signed books to people that act excited or come up on stage to dance,” a former audience member wrote on Travel Advisory. Lip gloss and seeing Robin dance are good reasons to go to a taping.
1 People Might Be Offered A Chance To Leave
Back-to-back tapings along with retakes seem like a lot for one day, especially for audience members who travelled to California on vacation and want to do other tourist activities.
Though there’s no mention of it on the Dr. Phil website, some former audience members have said the staff will give the audience a chance to leave in-between tapings.
“The subject matter was so intense that it ran for three shows, however, they gave you every opportunity to leave if you had to,” one reviewer wrote on Trip Advisor. “Also, they had plenty of coffee and snacks and it was all in all a great experience. Have been on other shows, Ellen for instance, and the waiting around was intense.”
Sources: Ragged Edge Magazine, Dr. Phil.com, Trip Advisor