At the coal face......

Posted by Stephen Fletcher on May 30, 2012 at 5:50 PM

Oh the glamour!

After a 5.30 start, I headed from one northern city to another. Not unsual. This time to audition for a northern soap opera. No names here- I'm a professional. It remains to be seen what I'm a professional of. But I'm a professional nontheless.

I'm still waiting on this one, so we shall see what happens.

I was given the breakdown of the character- "Jeff with a J, and a businessman, and there would be 'pages on the day'- (script to collect, to you and me!). Hardly Chekovian in it's depth, but good enough for me. I gots me some bills t'pay!

At least I didn't have to cram any lines before the audition. I just had to make sure I looked like a businessman called Jeff. Easy.

Now, anyone who follows my career as closely as, say, me and my Mum, will notice that I have already played a character called "Jeff with a J, who was a businessman", and (drumroll please) in one episode of the same northen-based soap opera as this one! Mistake? The same character? A spin off, perhaps? They've brought me back! Another cruel joke in this already difficult industry? OR something leading towards a proper storyline, a backstory, a future, a regular salary? This is a big one. Clear the mantel! I smell an award! etc etc blah blah blah.

Believe me, this is how actors think!

I arrive in this particular northern city, for this particular northern soap, very early for my 10.30 casting. A quick over-priced sarnie in Pret, and a stroll in the sun, to collect my 'pages' from the desk.

I got to the doors, seeing the familiar ITV logos a-go-go all over the place, the pictures of famous and employed 'hims' and 'hers' off the tele, and the space-age security gates, opened by a special lanyard around everyone's necks. It's swanky in TV, folks. Lanyards!

Other actors waited on the couches to the left, reading from the same script as each other, and twittering away to themselves in character. Most audition waiting rooms look like swanky insane asylums.

I had clocked the lads waiting to be seen, and managed to work out my chances against them in the space of a few seconds- "they look young (I look old); he's in shorts (unprofessional); he's like a model (I should leave)- etc. It's the same story each time.

I got to the security desk and gave the usual small talk to the usual unimpressed security guard- "Stephen Fletcher, here to meet so-and-so, for the part of Jeff with a J, 10.30".

He leafed through the pages of actors- I counted the faces on the page- "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 actors", I thought. Good chances.

"You're not on the list"-  he grunted.


"You're not on the list" Pause. Gulp. Blink.

By now my face is flushing, partly from the half hour walk from the station in the sun- with a blazer on!- and because these younger, more virile, less bitter, coiffed actors are listening in. Panic is etched across my face.

"I'll....just....make...a quick call"

Out in the sun, I called my agent.

"Leave it with me!"

Back and forth- eventually the answer. The wrong day. It was tomorrow. Great. My fault, agent fault, casting fault?

Whatever- It's the wrong day, I've been up since 5.30, I'm in suit, I'm called Jeff with a J, and all of them in there are talking about how they're glad they're not me.

I strolled in, pretending everything was ok- a little nod to the security man, and a sit down, thinking "I am not coming back tomorrow/I'm not waking up at 5.30"

The 12 year-olds who waited alongside me, talking to themselves, glanced up from their script, looking on, pitifully, relieved that they hadn't made the same mistake, and relieved also (I'd like to think) that the amazingly handsome/leading man in front of them, profusely sweating, isn't up for the same role as them.

They were probably wating for the part of Paul with a P, or Gary with a Z.

Anyway- once they had cast this role- I was seen- eventually- and had a nice chat with the casting director. "Thanks for coming in..." etc- and a lovely chat- (no baloney, she was great).

Back to the excitement- my future role as a regular. A regular! Sweet Lord- a regular! My key to fame and fortune- or a shoe-in to getting on Dancing On Ice, at the very least.

So you've been on (insert name her) before, haven't you Stephen? What was the role?"

"erm......well, funnily enough, I don't know if you know- but it was Jeff with a J- a businessman"

"really? ..........Oh."

"Is it...............(sparkling eyes), is it the same role?"


The ice skates were back in the box, the invite to appear on Celebrity Masterchef was ripped up, and a few noughts were crossed off the Panto paycheck.

"Oh right. I see"

"This is a completely different character."

"called Jeff? who is a businessman?"


"for more than one episode?"

"not...that...I can see. No."

So, on that bombshell, I gave my best version of a 'completely new Jeff with a J businessman for one episode acting ', which was remarkably like the Jeff from three years ago, and wandered back to the station.

Now the fun bit starts- the waiting.

Here we go. Fingers crossed.

More to come.






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