This morning took me to Salford, and Media City. I was at the BBC. Toby from West Side Story was recording a radio play and wanted to use my voice. I was part of a spooky haunting and essentially had to try not to die and then die anyway. There were lots of us. It was a hilarious morning, and a pleasant way to start the day. Also I was thrilled to be back at the beeb. “Work breeds work” is the old actor’s saying and it bloody well does too. I hope to be there again before long.
My first audition after training was at the BBC. I was still at Guildhall and the beeb were still at White City. The casting director rang me direct through graduate Spotlight. “Can you do a Birmingham accent?” “Shit. Did I put that on my Spotlight?” “No no you didn’t. But you look just like this armed robber. It’s a Crimewatch reconstruction.”
Armed with my Brummie tones I marched into the casting room and immediately enthusiastically attempted to shake hands with the director. He only had his left arm so that was an awkward start. Then I sat down in front of him and the Casting Director. She was smiling. She handed me the script – it hadn’t been emailed ahead. “Take your time to read it,” she enthused. I did.
There I am, little Al, still at drama school, reading for the BBC. Oh, the glamour, I was thinking as I turned my gaze to the page and saw: “The armed robber is hideously ugly, with a stretched face and buck teeth.” My surprise must have registered with the Casting Director: “Oh don’t worry,” she reassured me; “we can stick the teeth in…” And there was a distant pop as another dream exploded.
Needless to say they went with someone else. Perhaps because I wasn’t ugly enough. Perhaps because my attempt at “We’re from The Burger Bar Boys” sounded closer to a constipated Welshman. Perhaps because I nervously tried to shake the director by the hand for a second time as I left, winning double the awkward points. But that will always be my first TV casting. So yeah, it was nice to go back to the beeb, even just so I could go into “The Dead Room” and shout “Run!” and “No!” into a condenser mic on a sunny morning in Salford.
Navigating was a curious thing on the bike. I hit on the solution of shoving my mobile up into the side of my helmet with the screen still on. I had to stop occasionally because it was so cold I was weeping onto the screen and the water was making the touchscreen go mental. It’s a trick I learnt from Nathan when he had his little Vespa and lived with me, so it’s only right that after the recording session I biked over to Chorlton to see him and his dog.
Such a bright sunshiny day, and yet so unbelievably cold. I am glad to be in bed.