Monday, 19 October 2015

Three observations on what it's like filming a television programme.

I've just finished filming the second series of that David Hasselhoff sit com, Hoff The Record. Now, in an attempt not to slump into a winter of inactivity I'm inflicting this blog post on you.

I'm expecting readjusting to not regularly having a camera pointed at me to be difficult. Below are some observations on filming in general - a peek behind the curtain into the curtainless world of television. If you're not a TV actor you may find these observations interesting. If you are, you may chuckle in recognition. If you find these observations neither interesting nor amusing please write a long blog post of your own, assassinating my character.

FOOD
This is perhaps the most notable difference between life on a TV set and life in my house. On a TV set you are continually offered free, often delicious, rarely healthy, food. This leads me, a man of little to no will power, to eat Grand Slam tennis player level calories on a daily basis. The schedule goes like this...

Breakfast - every day you are faced with a catering truck happy to serve you a full fried English breakfast. Every day. There are fruits, cereals, yogurts and porridge on offer too. This doesn't mean that you don't tell yourself that a bacon and egg sandwich with a hash brown and baked beans is a fairly light option.

Morning snack - at about 10.30 some trays are brought to set. What these contain depends on the job. On this particular one they consisted of fruit, cakes and crumpets or croissants covered with cheese. What could that croissant do with to give it a bit more oomph do you think Vera? Just stick a slab of grilled chedder on it.

Lunch - This consists of three hot options and a table covered with salads and the like. The hot options are usually along the lines of a full fucking roast or a shepherd's pie.

Dessert - of course there's dessert. Two options. One of which is nearly always some kind of sponge with custard. On a normal day at home I do not have a lemon and ginger sponge with custard at 1.30pm. I did 36 days of filming on Hoff The Record series two. I had 36 desserts. In fact, so used to desserts have I become that I have had one on each of the three days since we finished. When something becomes the norm you fail to see how wrong it is. I'm like a Nazi and like so many of them I will, rightly, die at 45.

Afternoon snack - Just three hours after essentially eating Christmas dinner some more trays surface. This time they have sandwiches, fruit and more fucking cake.

Somehow, after seven weeks of Elvis circa 1977 intake, I haven't put on any weight. That, I suspect, is because of the following...

LONG HOURS
As a penalty for such a high calorie intake, everyone on a TV set has to work long hours. Longer hours than my non TV set life anyway. Not longer than a junior doctor perhaps... BUT FAR MORE IMPORTANT.

On an average day I would get up at about 5am and get home at about 8pm. This meant that I spent most of my life feeling like I had just been on a long haul flight. I realise any parents of young children reading this don't feel like I have a right to complain about those kind of hours. Well, I do. Because, as everyone knows deep down, parenting is piss easy.

Being an actor, the long hours are made a lot more bearable by the fact that you are driven to and from work in a nice car. Your ability to sleep on that car journey will depend on two key things - how loud your driver likes to have LBC on and how much they want to talk about what's being discussed on LBC.

The chauffer driven thing does make your life a lot easier than the crew though who have to make their own way and have to work those kind of hours forty/fifty weeks a year. But you don't give a shit about the crew because you are an actor and are therefore...

THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN THE WORLD
The TLC TV actors are given is absurd and I say that as someone who's CV consists mainly of children's television and under the radar comedies, the most recent of which is on Dave.

We're constantly fed, we're constantly asked if we want tea or coffee, we're driven to set and then if it's raining, an umbrella is held for us and we are walked to our own personal trailer. Then after a while, a conversation like this will occur...

RUNNER: Sorry Fergus, do you mind if we take you to set now, if you're ready?
FERGUS: Sure. Can I just go for a pee?
RUNNER: No worries. Take your time.

Fergus goes for a pee. Possibly a quick wank.

FERGUS: Ok. Ready.
RUNNER: Thank you Fergus. Sorry about that.

They literally thank you for urinating. I was never treated with that kind of respect when I did the night shift at Braintree Tesco in 2001. Imagine how well top TV actors must be treated. Imagine if you've been one for forty years, it must make you a bit of a dick. I mean, TREVOR EVE MUST BE A CUNT. I've never met Trevor Eve by the way and am in no way suggesting that I've heard consistantly for the last ten years or so from crews and actors alike that TREVOR EVE IS A CUNT and that one of the most common forms of bonding on British TV sets is in the form of people telling stories about TREVOR EVE BEING A CUNT. If you take one thing away from this blog post don't let it be that TREVOR EVE IS A CUNT.


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