Actors are already feeling festive thanks to the adverts on TV

Michael Neilson
Michael Neilson

As I write this column (in September), the sun is shining, it’s 24 degrees and it feels like summer, the longest summer ever.

This time of year is when it really kicks off in the world of TV commercial casting.

Everyone’s had a nice long break and now it’s time to think about...Christmas.

Yes, it’s already the time when actors get called in to audition for the ads you see on your TV at Christmas.

It may still be warm outside, but in a studio in Soho or possibly a deserted Croydon shopping mall at 3am, actors are pretending to be anything from Christmas shoppers trying to buy a turkey for the table, to the turkey itself!

It’s the same for theatres as they announce their productions and casts for the new season. It’s all very exciting, but if you haven’t got something in the bag now, you could be looking at a long stint with no work, which is the opposite of exciting, unless you like being skint of course.

However, performers of all kinds are very adept at changes in circumstance.

There cannot be many professions where the majority of practitioners can adjust from earning good money one week to nothing the next, with no knowledge of where or when the job will be. Most people couldn’t cope with that amount of uncertainty and it’s one of the things that makes performers different or mad depending on how you look at it.

But we are certainly resilient. When actors see a headline stating that in some parts of the country there are 40 applicants for every job, we think those are pretty good odds. Usually we are up against 200 other actors for the same job, each of whom would probably do it for less than is offered, or worse, nothing!

One small change has happened recently though. Several theatre companies, including the National, have decided to let actors know if they haven’t got the job.

Previously, the first time the actors knew they hadn’t landed the role was when they saw the cast announced in the press. That would be after a week or two of wondering.

A small change, but it does make an actor’s life a little more normal, so to speak.

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