Thursday, 11 February 2010

Extras - Ricky Gervais Style

I have Another Tale to regale you with.
Draw up, fasten your seat belts, and make sure you have a nice cup of tea with you. You may be some time.
Actually, let's go back to Friday.
Was seated here at my computer.
Actually, no. Let's go back to sometime before Christmas.
Was seated here at my computer.
Actually, no. Let's go back to the Eighties. Just for a mo.
Was seated here at my computer.
NO! I wasn't! Wasn't here. Didn't possess a computer. Or mobile phone. Just a huge bright red phone in the kitchen which rang so loudly that we'd all drop what we were holding. Boyfriend at the time had huge grey carthorse of a computer with mouse. Mouse! I thought that was funny. And rather eccentric. Would never catch on. Another fad.
Back in the Eighties I always wanted to be a Film or Television Extra. Thought it might be Rather Fun. Pointless. But fun. Fancy meeting all those famous actors! Fancy being on a film set! Fancy!
Before Christmas, just a mere twenty five years later, decided that NOW was the time to be an Extra.
So scanned the Internet for likely solutions to this yen of mine.
And found solution.
Kindly internet site said I could be an Extra!
Just had to jot down a few details, and Tra-la! I was an Extra!
Trouble was, I hadn't a film or TV series to go and be an Extra in. Which was a bit of a drawback.
Right. Now we can fast forward to Friday.
Still here? Really? Marvellous!
Well. Was sitting here at my computer. Checking emails. When,
LO! There was an email inviting me to get my arse up to London for 7.30 am on Saturday morning. To be part of a shoot for a Pilot for new comedy series for Channel 4.
Up I went on Saturday morning. Up at 4.30 am. On the train at 5.30. Exhausted looking people asleep with their mouths open. Drunks who hadn't yet been to bed.
Was seated in Reception Area of offices somewhere in the armpits of Kentish Town at 7.29am.
With 6 other extras.
Slightly Stunned at Why the Hell I was There in the first place.
Bit Worried about what I would be asked to do.
And bloody Starving Hungry.
The 6 other Extras turned out to be Nice.
One had obviously 'Donalotta-Extra-Work'. The rest evidently hadn't. We had to listen to Mr Donalot for an Awfully Long Time as he regaled us with tales of Extra Funny Stories. He found them tremendously amusing and laughed loud and long. With piercing eye contact with one of us, who would be forced to laugh long and loud too.
We began to avoid his face altogether. The alternative was too exhausting.
Every time the rest of us had a talk about something else, he brought the subject back to himself with such skill that I began to enjoy taking the conversation somewhere Far Away to see how he would bring it back. Magic.
After Some Time of waiting, Ricky Gervais style, cups of filthy tea and hard chairs, we were led into the Shoot.
Lights, cameras and rather dishevelled people littered the place.
Watched the dishevelled people walking around doing things like moving chairs and reading clip boards. Watched them really hard. Realised that some of them had Bugger All to do so were pretending to do things.
Finally we were given instructions.
Mine was to Walk Up The Room.
So I did.
Many, many times. Up, back. Up, back. Up, back.
The Action seemed to be going on at the near end of the room.
I was to be at the Very Far End of the room.
Righty Ho.
And, when I managed a look at the TV monitors showing what we were doing, I couldn't help noticing that I would Possibly be seen for about 0.36 of a second. Just my bottom. Nothing else. Clothed, of course. Nothing Untoward.
Not a great deal to show for such a colossal effort at being in bloody London SO CHUFFING EARLY ON A SATURDAY MORNING.
It was very funny stuff. Apparently. So damned funny that the actors kept corpsing and having to start all over again.
At first this was Mighty Amusing and we all had a bit of a giggle.
Nonchalant sort of giggles. (It is Very Important in the Playground of Acting that you look Nonchalant)
But after a while (several hours of 'While') it got to be Rather Irritating.
And it was with some relief when we were all Released from the torture and allowed to go home.
No one said Thank you! in bright and grateful tones for us slogging in miles.
No one offered us large fat cheques.
No one even said goodbye.
And so I left, lugging my suitcase with Alternative Costumes (not used) heading home under a grey and unfriendly sky.
Arrived home for lunch. Bright blue skies. Children thrilled to see me. Husband laden under a pile of washing he was putting on the line. Waving cheerily through my pants and bra.
Lunch cooking.
Cats asleep in the sun.
How glad I was to be home.
Shrugged off my Costume (smart casual) and put on my home clothes (old, tattered) and went to pour some drinks for us all. Massive gin and tonics for me and Husband. Lemonade for the children.
And sat with my family, minus Eldest, clinking our glasses together and telling them all about Being An Extra.
And decided that there is Very Little Point being an Extra in pretend life, when real life at home requires such a Starring Role.


Anonymous said...

Great story well told. Can't believe I'm writing a message to such a famous person - *swoon* ;)

Sir Bruin said...

I feel that I should ask for your autograph. Am humbled to be known slightly by such a renowned thespian. Is there a name for this pilot programme so that I can name drop shamelessly?

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Do let us know the name of the programme LWM so that we can all tune in and try to catch a glimpse of your bottom. That will bring the ratings up and they will have to make a whole series and then .. who knows! Great post, had me giggling too. A x

Ladybird World Mother said...

CL - oh, you are so kind!! No need to bow so low... ;)
Sir B - Of COURSE you can have my autograph...hold on while I get a pen...
The programme is called The Warm Up Guy... god only knows how it will do, but looked reasonably funny, the bit we saw... one hundred times. x
Anne -bless your heart! I am sure my bottom has never had such praise... The Warm Up Guy is the title of the series... but that might just be a working title... not that catchy, eh?! xx

Anonymous said...

My wife did this for a good few years as she tried to break into film and television. You make it sound as glamourous as she managed.

I never thought I'd say this, but maybe going into an office for a living isn't so bad after all....

Tatersmama said...

Let us know when it might be on!! I've never seen the bottom of someone I know who's actually walking across the stage! (set? Do you peole in show business call it a set or a stage?) Well, walking in front of a camera, anyway!
Good for you, girl, and may this be the start of bigger and better things... like an arm or boob... or even your face!

Tattie Weasle said...

Just loved this! But after such a hectic day performing in my own show far too tired to think of all the witty and charming things I should say so: "Mwa darlink you were wonderful!"

Troy said...

If only I'd known then what I know now, I would have taken more observant view of said bottom when we met last summer, with objective of recognising and further appreciating your TV appearance. However as your husband was also present, prudence sadly dictated otherwise.

However, will the credits at end of the programme read "0.36 second bottom : LWM" anyway?

And, good for you for being up for the role - its a bum job but someone has to do it!

Anonymous said...

"My Life as a Famous Bottom" - i can see the autobiography now.

I have an ex who used to be an extra sometimes. There are still a couple of films I can't watch for fear of spotting him as Train Passenger or Preppie Student.

He's gone downhill since then of course.

Catharine Withenay said...

You mean, I know a star?! Wow! When do we see you on the screen?

I was once on telly. I was sat by a hospital bed whilst Ainsley talked to the man in the bed next door (for City Hospital, or some similar programme). Husband, who was supposed to be in the hospital bed, had disappeared as didn't want to be seen! My two seconds starring role, reading a magazine, as the cameras whisked by ... oh! those were the days!!

cheshire wife said...

I would have expected to have been paid mega bucks to be up in London for that time on a Saturday morning!

trasha said...

You got paid something though, right?

Perhaps you could use this trek out into the wider/wilder world to renegotiate starring role contract?

Iota said...

And did it ever reach the airwaves? Or were you so swept up in your own starring role that you never watched?

Iota said...

And you now have the claim to fame that you are an extra bottom.

Pam said...

Good on you! Husband has been an extra. One morning at 5a.m. he left for a shoot,longish hair, beard, came back home at 8 p.m. short red(!) hair and no beard."Keep your head down", another seasoned extra told him."If they see your face too often, you'll be sent off in no time".He was a variety of faceless people all day it seems, and at one stage, the only evidence of his presence was clumps of shovelled dirt thrown in the air where he was digging in the trenches!"Good work mate" said seasoned extra,"they'll use you even more!"Sounds like you had a good time..and no digging involved!s!

Working Mum said...

Well, you learned something. I know someone who does extra work (mosly on Coronation St), but I would hate it. Have done some telly with the choir, but I found it soooooo boring. All that hanging about doing nothing. Give me a live concert or radio broadcast any day.

geraldgee said...

I did it once many years back dancing to Tommy Steele.Started at 6AM finished at 6PM all for a measly £5
Its on YouTube,(Rebel Rock)

The Dotterel said...

I once had a chance - student summer job-style - to be an extra in a film but I passed the opportunity up when I discovered that the mobile canteen on set paid more. Mercenary as ever...

Millennium Housewife said...

Surely you're offering signed photos by now? Really enjoyed that read - cheers!

Ladybird World Mother said...

Oh, bless your hearts for the lovely encouraging comments... and the 'I've been an Extra or I know someone who has...' stories, which have had me giggling into my rather luxurious coffee...decided to splash out on some decent stuff, and I must say, its rather nice. Anyway... sorry for one comment for all. Such a cheat, but its half term and I have about a minute before the next demand.
Might get my post out about husband scratching his bottom. Bet you just Cant Wait, eh? xxxxx

Debbie said...

What a great story, masterfully told. I am glad you got to fulfill your dream and find out your real life is the best!