My First Time As A TV Extra

OK so this takes me back to 2018 when I had my very first chance to be a TV Extra.

Having applied online to add my name to a database for ‘Supporting Artistes,’ I was quickly offered several days of work which I politely turned down.

I wasn’t being rude. They were just so spread out. I remember having the chance to work on a huge movie but I had to be free on eight separate occasions spread over two months.

This particular TV Extra job cropped up in North London during the school holidays and it was perfect for me.

I was so excited to be able to visit the set of a big TV drama series, even though I knew nothing about what the series was.

On The Day

I drove all the way to London and stopped off at a petrol station for a wee. I was nervous after all and worried I may not have time to go to the toilet when I arrived.

Driving into the field where the crew mobiles were was daunting. I showed my ID and found a good spot, then made my way over to the reception area.

A helpful third assistant director (3AD) signed me in and reminded me that I would get very little help (so he was glad I was experienced). I immediately told him that I had never been an Extra before and he told me not to say anything.

GREAT! I was having to act right from the start. Pretending to know what I was doing was harder than I could have imagined.

So I made my way to the costume fitting mobile and was greeted by a very friendly dresser who introduced me to a white coat and some brand new Welly boots.

I was then taken over to the make up room where a very chatty lady began trimming my hair and trying to find the right shade of sideburns to stick on.

Before you know it I was bundled into a minibus and driven somewhere else. I had no idea that this wasn’t the actual filming location.

A Disused Hospital

The only thing I knew for sure was that I was filming a scene based in a morgue. I had been told I would be a mortuary assistant in the background of a scene where dead bodies were being looked at.

Arriving at the old hospital, I could see there were many more vans and several people wandering around with head sets on.

Soon I was taken to the room where the make up people looked at the screens to check that the characters looked right. I sat there for a while before eventually being called into the morgue.

Another woman sat next to me and introduced herself as the other Extra. Having another TV Extra to work with who had some experience was a bonus.

After a few minutes a woman came up to me and asked me to go outside with her to sort out my Wellies. She explained that they needed to look aged and she would spray stuff onto them and then scuff them up a bit.

As I stood there with a helpful person scraping away at my boots, a middle aged guy came and stood next to me and lit up a cigarette. He was talking to another man, who I didn’t recognise, that was dressed as a detective.

Drifting off, I suddenly awakened again as I heard him saying, ‘This is different to working on Game of Thrones.’

Game of Thrones was my favourite TV Show!!!

Instantly I found myself studying his mouth and knew that I recognise him but still couldn’t pluck his name out of the air.

‘Cersei…Cersei.’

Suddenly it hit me.

It was King Robert Baratheon himself. My fellow Extra asked him for a selfie and he obliged. I stood starstruck, while my boots were still being scuffed.

He stepped back onto set and I was called to do my first ever bit of background acting.

My hands were sweating but I knew I just had to get on with it. As I approached the incredibly detailed set, I was astonished at just how many people worked there. It was a hive of activity.

More to come in part two…

London’s Wizard Is Brilliant! Ozviously!

Anyone that knows me will tell you that I love going to the theatre. Over the years I have watched hundreds of shows in London, other European cities and New York. For me, nothing beats watching brilliant actors performing to a live audience, especially when they are joined by a love orchestra. London’s wizard had me excited!

The Palladium

Last week I popped along to the famous London Palladium to watch the latest celebrity version of ‘The Wizard of Oz.’ It was the first musical I had seen this year and I was intrigued because it included a well known comedian, Jason Manford as the lion and a UK TV legend, Gary Wilmot as the Wizard himself.

Stunning Performances

Dorothy was played by Georgina Onuorah who is fairly new to theatre, having recently graduated but having already impressed audiences in ‘Oklahoma.’ Her voice was stunning and her smile was infectious. Her charisma and skill made Dorothy relatable and helped to keep the narrative going smoothly. She was supported by Christina Bianco as Glinda. Christina had previously acted in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Raincoat. Her range was incredible and she came across brilliantly too.

Using a screen to show certain events, with videos and animation, was a great idea. It was a clever way to allow them to change sets whilst moving the story on.

When I went, Diversity’s Ashley Banjo was off so the Tin Man was played by an understudy. He was an excellent dancer and I would never have guessed he wasn’t part of the main cast (unless I had been expecting Ashley – which I was).

The lion was played by Louis Gaunt. He had been successful in the West End version of Mary Poppins as Bert. He was very funny and full of energy.

What an incredibly talented cast!

I especially liked how they altered some of the songs to include a little bit of rapping and some modern dance routines. A little more funky than before.

Final Thoughts

This was a lively production with some funny, modern spins that made it even more relevant. The singing was amazing and the dancing was first rate. I loved the backdrops, the pace, the orchestra and especially Glinda. I have since noticed she has a funny Youtube where she imitates famous singers. Check it out:

Thank you for taking the time to read my post about the current Palladium version of ‘The Wizard of Oz’ in London.

Have you ever been to see musical theatre? Do you have a soft spot for a certain musical? Would you go to see London’s Wizard?

For another of my recent reviews, have a look at The Barbie Movie Is Cleverer Than You Think – and perhaps drop a comment too.

Reading Is Not A Punishment

As a teacher and tutor for many years I came across a variety of students who had different attitudes to reading. I also came across parents with very differing approaches to getting their kids to read. One thing I realised early on was how powerful and important being able to enjoy books can be.

Don’t Push It

In my experience, if you force anyone to do anything, they will come to resent it. I was forced to play football at school, during lunchtimes and when I got home (as my neighbours always wanted to play it) and so I started to resent the sport.

Being forced to be a goalkeeper all the time made me dislike anything to do with football.

So being made to read and treating it like a punishment is generally off-putting. Also, having to suffer for not reading is a massive turn-off.

You have to teach reading using a tiptoe method. Step by step you shine a light on the reading experience and make it feel comfortable and fun.

Some Suggestions:

– Read yourself regularly and where your child can see you absorbed in that activity. They will be fascinated by what is holding your attention and hopefully making you smile.

– Share a book with them. Learning to read starts with phonics but the love of reading comes from a shared experience. If you read to your child every evening, with expression and interaction, your audience will start to become interested.

– Don’t force a ‘type’ or genre of books onto them. Find some topics they like. Yes they may appreciate Roald Dahl but they may also crave stories about skiing or travelling or even prefer factual books about insects. Whatever they are drawn to, go with it.

– Use the pictures to get them involved in the narrative.

“Can you spot a picture of someone running away from something? What do you think made them run?”

– Work with poems and rhymes early on so the student then begins to know the patterns and jump in with the endings of each line.

– Most of all, make learning to read fun. This will make a lasting impression on the young reader and may foster a love of books which will stay with them as they grow up.

Final Thoughts

I remember my Mum taking the time each night to read me a story and I was totally absorbed. I became curious about what was so exciting about books and soon became a keen reader.

If you don’t use books as punishments and try not to limit the types of books that a child reads then a love of books should develop naturally. When a child doesn’t want to read something, never force them. Instead, give them some space and ensure you are seen enjoying a book. Later on, try a different book with them or find a fun way to make the reading session more like a game.

For another of my posts about education, check out 5 Challenges Of Teaching.