My First Day as a BBC Extra


So I said last week I would post about my day as an extra, so here goes!

I have to get a train and a taxi to Arley Hall in Northwich for a 9am call time, so I wake at 6 and head off on my travels. Nothing exciting happens on the train, but I have a lovely taxi driver from Glasgow whose daughter wants to be a vet but she missed one grade on her A Levels and is having to go about it a really awkward way, and he’s very interested in salt mines and mills and so forth…it was a lovely and unusual conversation to be having at 8.30am!

We arrive at Arley Hall and the first thing I see is a massive circus tent set up in the middle of a field. I get the taxi driver to stop where all the trailers are (it seemed appropriate) and I see a girl looking pretty lost. I was feeling quite lost so I decided it’d be a good idea for us to team up.

“Hi, I’m an extra – am I in the right place?”

She tells me her name is Charlie and that yes I am in the right place. An important looking woman then comes and tells us to wait on the ‘dining bus’.  This really is what it says – a bus, filled with dining tables and chairs! Pretty nifty, I reckon.

Soon a couple of other extras arrive and we are sent off to wardrobe. I try on this gorgeous salmon coloured skirt but it’s slightly too tight so I have to swap it for a boring brown one with an elasticated waist…not my happiest moment! Soon I’m all costumed up, hat and all and feeling rather like someone from the 1930s.

Then I head to makeup, and they give me a BOB! They don’t cut my hair or anything, they just have magical skills which allow them to flip my boob-length hair all up and over itself until it looks like it doesn’t exist; I was impressed. Unfortunately it did fall down a lot, but to be fair to the girls they were constantly fixing it and making it look as good as new — important for continuity!

So now I’m all ready to rock and roll (metaphorically) but nothing much happens…for ages. And ages. Eventually we’re all told to get on a minibus which drives us 30 seconds (literally) down the road to the giant circus tent. We are promptly directed to a seating area where we wait for an hour in the freezing cold with only thin clothing to keep us warm. Then lunch is called.

We weren’t too impressed at this point because we’d been taken to the set and done absolutely nothing; Charlie in particular was unhappy because she only had a thin cotton dress and a cardigan, and I think it must have been about 2 degrees C.

Lunch was delicious, however. I was really surprised because it came out of a trailer, but I had this amazing moroccan lamb with cous cous and I also had chips on the side because I wanted them :]

After lunch, we waited on the dining bus for about 4 hours, and at 5.30 we were taken back to set. This time there was absolutely no waiting around — we did WALKING!

We walked back and forth to the entrance of the tent. I was paired with a lovely older gentleman (whether we were supposed to be father and daughter or husband and wife I was never quite sure) and he was the most camera-hungry man I’d ever seen.

“If we just walk a little slower here, we’ll definitely be in shot!”

“I don’t think we were in that take at all! What a joke!”

I think he’s the sort of guy who would be better in a principle role — being a supporting artist is not the sort of job you can get fame-hungry during!

After lots of walking around and staring at a camel (yes, there was a camel) we were finally sent back to hair and makeup/wardrobe to return to our 2014 selves.

All in all, it was actually a really really good day!

I met some absolutely lovely people and we had some really good, long conversations about absolutely everything. I’d highly recommend it as a job for anybody who wants to meet new people, have a laugh, and maybe tell the grandkids they were on TV once :]

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