Casting director: Jon Levene
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Excellent News Update: I have been taken on by the extraordinarily adept and energetic Agent L (for Lawrence) from Wintersons Talent Management (and, lordie-lord, my talent needs all the management it can get.)
Within hours – minutes, in fact – Agent L sends me to a first casting. Apparently, they want a long-faced moustachioed man (I currently have the face but not the tash) and so I nip into the toilets to append the hirsute upper lip decoration I carry with me at all times. It evidently works a treat (nobody spotted it was glued on) because now I’m off to Majorca with Amber Doyle and Nigel Boyle. (Thinking of changing my name to Timothy Moyle out of solidarity.)
I am to arse around in a slice of cardboard aeroplane, squeezing the excellent Nigel’s knee (or Nigel’s excellent knee, if you prefer) until the Irish clients are satisfied.
In a spare moment, whilst Nige lurks in a café watching his team lose, Amber and I take to hired bikes and wobble along the coast to the west of Palma. Nice work if you can get it.
Casting Directors: Crocodile Casting
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Off to Moscow with Graham Vick and Tim Berrington. Tim and I (who are, although not twins, reasonably alike in the dusk with the light behind us) play the Left and Right Twix factory managers. Graham plays the corrupt, two-timing Twix judge. He wears snazzy glass cufflinks made by Julie, my wife.
The director is Ben Whitehouse. It is he who eggs me on to do my teacup and Twix-biting shot in only nineteen nibbles. I am grateful to a smallish Russian gentleman for providing virgin Twix bars for each take.
Plus, while Tim and Graham were shooting the Left Twix version, I have a whole day mooching around downtown Moscow. An absolute treat. Bought the T-shirt.
Casting Directors: Crocodile Casting
Question: How long does it take to travel to just east of Amsterdam from Hawkhurst? (Before beginning your answer, please bear in mind that the itinerary includes three trains to Luton airport, a flight with Not-Particularly-EasyJet (who mislaid my plane in Belfast), the Schiphol Airport computer which sealed all its own terminal’s doors … and a desolate, Dutch railway station whose tall glass barriers declined to let me out.)
Answer: Nine and half hours. I could have paddled there in a bloody coracle in less time. (And I can.)
And then a day running about a deserted factory being run over, falling down stairs and plummeting from high balconies onto concrete. Actually the stunt man did all that whilst I did the talking. The good news is that a) I was attended and buffed up by a delightful and understanding crew and b) I could wear a green hard hat, bowtie and goggles. (My own bow-tie purchased in Tenterden, please note.)
Casting director: Jane Frisby
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One of my more unusual castings, reported in full in Chapter 3 of Lessons in Humiliation, during which Jane invites me to come in and have an orgasm at The Spotlight Casting Rooms. I said I would, of course, but declined the two bar stools offered because I’m an old-fashioned boy and like to perform horizontally.
Needless to say, my perfectly timed and auto-induced mock climax hit the spot and a week later I turn up at the crack of dawn in Newington Green knowing nothing except that there is breakfast laid on. The excellent Sylvie Francis from Toast TV leads me upstairs to costume and make-up where I rashly admit I’ve just done a student film in drag. Costume pops downstairs to director Gregg Masuak who commands that I do my scene for this Valentine’s Day AIDS commercial in drag – wig, corset and fishnets being readily procurable, even at this early hour.
Seventy-five minutes in make-up and then downstairs to the bedroom set. It transpires also that I am to be taken from behind by another woman, possibly my ‘wife’, played today by Helen Watson. This is a first for me. A quick run-through for sound and Gregg declares that we have certainly turned him on and ‘so we’ll go for a take’. After three minutes of heaving and ho-ing, slapping, tickling and squawking, we hear the instruction ‘OK, bring it up … a bit more … go for it! … and … CUT!’
Someone shouts that it’s lunch-time.
‘Don’t you want any close-ups?’ I enquire.
‘No need, mate,’ says Gregg, still perspiring. ‘We’ve got plenty. It’s comedy gold.’