Sunday, 4 November 2012

Free Yoghurt

My commercials agent sent me an email and text message on Friday evening with an appointment for a Tesco commercial casting on Saturday lunchtime - place and time specified. The part? A grandfather. Well, I'm not the grandfatherly type, but the fact that someone had seen my mugshot and specifically asked for me was surely a good start. And when I turned up in Soho and discovered the casting was in the Giles Foreman studios, I told my rational self that this was fate not coincidence.

Well, not really. I found myself in another cattle call - a corridor full of people of various ages. The young woman handing out forms told me that we were being seen first come first served, which meant that it was an hour after my "appointment" that I finally walked in to the makeshift studio. (I wasn't the only potential actor / model / whatever duped in this way - around me were several other Victor Meldrews unimpressed by the system. I just sat and read the Aldous Huxley, Those Barren Leaves, that I had brought with me.) 

There were two youngsters. One had started shaving. The other - the director - looked as if he was still excited by the fact that his parents had let him come into town on his own. First impressions aside, they were friendly and helpful and if the fates are kind, they should, on those grounds alone, go far.

My task was simple - to come into shot, scoot an imaginary dog off an armchair, sit down, sprawl and eat a Christmas pudding while watching television. As an old man? I asked, prepared to dodder. No, said the Boy Director, they were casting for all kinds of family members. Fine. I prepared to play the role of dodgy uncle and looked forward to finding a silver threepenny piece in my piece of pud. But since this was a rehearsal and the pudding had better things to do, a yoghurt played the role of understudy. Similarly, in place of Her Madge on the screen was some kill-em game set in the usual anonymous urban wasteland, lit up every second or so by an exploding gunshot, bomb or pulverised body. I imagined myself watching an old Morecambe and Wise and reacted to the screen and pudding as I was told for about 90 seconds or more and that was that. 

Hands shaken, exit made. As I walked out, I told myself that the fact they had wanted me to stay for so long was a Good Sign, but who(m) was I kidding? By the time I hit the street again I was so hungry for my real lunch that I almost forgot where I had been. 

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