Casting Director: Sophie North
Directors: Los Pérez
Ten days in Manchester may not sound too glamorous, but the filming of a series of commercials for supermarket Asda has been a highlight – not least because my days were spent with both Los Pérez (“The clients want a little less, Tim, thanks.”) and my two newly-acquired “granddaughters”, Brooke Haynes and her stand-in, Betsy. (The things I now know about dolls!)
Constructed at Space Studios was Asda’s Christmassy factory (or Imaginarium) containing, amongst many other excitements for an old boy like me, a reindeer in a hamster-wheel (powering the machine to stir Christmas pudding mix, obvs.), a conveyor belt of toys (inspected by children), cakes being smashed by musclemen, a gin/chocolate room, a sleigh ride and a flume (down which I was obliged to slide, risking life and limb). We spent an afternoon in a frozen forest (actually one of the hottest places I have ever been) with snow shaken from a sieve overhead by the excellent and talented Dave from Quicksilver. There were relaxing opportunities to practise my waking-up-in-a-bed-being-towed-by-a-train acting, a glass lift that didn’t move, and much exploration down back alleys of north-west Manchester reminiscent of Coronation Street.
At night-time, more importantly, I roosted in the delightfully eccentric Gotham Hotel whose pink icing shortbread pigs, faux-bearskin rug and Intimacy Pack (mine for £14.95) have wrought havoc with my imagination and – potentially – my family life.