Calling extra time on Midsomer…


Do you remember I've mentioned my friend Kerena, she of Kipling fandom, who has this thing where every month, she likes to do something she's never ever done before in her whole life? Well…

One of the things I did when I was away from QVC for nine years was to do Extra work. A pal of mine, Chris Stacey, used to do lots of it and was always saying to me I should do some! So I did – only a couple of days over a couple of years – they don't like to see the same faces again and again obviously! And I hadn't done it for ages.

Anyway, this month, the lovely Andrea from AndreaCasting, my Facebook buddy, wanted lots of people to play guests at a garden party for the immensely popular show Midsomer Murders. Did I know anyone else who could do it, she said? So I thought of Kerena, and my sister Linda, who I thought might quite like to tag along for the ride!

It was a short ride, in fact, from Dorking, to Losely House (of the ice cream fame) in Guildford. The party was set in the very picturesque gardens out the back, where they'd mocked up a marquee with signs everywhere celebrating a special event for some local 'superstar boxer' – one of Midsomer's finest apparently!

It was such a long day, really, but you'll never guess who was also there! Katherine the model! And her mum, ex-model Jane! Remember them? Plus a lovely lady called Christina who used to guest epilators and knows Julian – small world eh? Well we all got togged up in our finest, had our makeup checked (they check it, they don't do it!) – 'more lippy but nothing sparkly' said one of their regular makeup girls, and we were fit to go -after a full 'English' in the 'crowd van' that was! 

We got to know several new people, had many hours standing, some hours sitting, and a few minutes reading. I'd had high hopes and taken two novels – I'm supposed to be swotting up on the Mills and Boon imprint I'm doing a submission for! But no joy – we were on our feet in the background of most of the scenes, nearly all the day!

Linda and I were put together in various shots, plus or minus a couple of other 'guests' who 'knew us and would say hi as they walked by' – according to Lulu, the very lovely and capable floor manager. She impressed us all by remembering nearly everyone's name! Not a mean feat when there were over 60 extras, or 'background artistes' as they're also called!  Kerena was whisked off to spend most of the day inside the marquee – sitting. Jammy wotsit!! Lol!

Have you ever wondered what the actors are talking about when you see them talking to peripheral characters, but you can't hear what they're saying? Well in one shot, a guy called Matt who was playing one of the main parts, had to walk right through the gardens, saying hi to people. Me and Linda were standing glass in hand pretending we'd just had some of the buffet and were now loitering around chatting - as you do, and he ended up talking to us.

'Action'! They said, and Linda and I continued talking to each other until about 15 seconds later, up walked Matt. Four times we filmed it, and four times his opening line was the same. 'Did you get your drinks ok?'

Well considering we were holding them we were tempted to say 'duh' in reply, but didn't think that'd go down very well so thought better of it! On the fifth take, in response, I said 'We were wondering if you should kiss us on the cheek when you walk up". That threw him. "Oh, er…"

"You know, like maybe the character would, if he was coming over to greet people he knew at a garden party" (that took up another take). "Haha" he laughed, deciding that no, it'd be best if his character didn't kiss our characters in this opening shot, and good-humouredly requested that we just don't make him laugh, whatever things we decided to come out with to fill the 'blah blah' time.

Over the next three takes we discovered that he's going off to do a play in Leeds or somewhere after, and he loves the fact that Midsomer is sold to 230 countries around the world cos of the repeat fees! Well that chat passed time nicely and sure as hell beat making make-believe 'small talk' that no one would hear anyway! Unless they could read lips of course…

Katherine was asked to chat briefly to one of the main actors at the beginning of one scene, and then walk off. Kerena may be seen inside the marquee in the background of another scene where I think two of the main characters were having a heated debate. And I know one of the actors reveals a secret his father didn't know. But I don't know when it'll be on and I won't be holding my breath! 

I'm sure it'll be another case of blink and you'll miss us, but you don't do extra work for the fame, as you'll know if you ever watched much of Ricky Gervais' series. His shows made it seem a lot more fun, the reality is more drawn out and boring, but if you're not doing much else, it's as good as any other way of notching up another 'first' in our monthly 'Pioneer List'! It'll be one of the most unusual ones Kerena ever adds to her list that's for sure!

What have you done that's unusual? Something you've never done before, but have finally managed to do, recently? Do let me know – or anything else that might inspire us for the next one!



  1. Patrick May 8, 2010 at 11:37 pm -  Reply

    Loved the blog this week Debbie. I can totally relate to your experience as an extra. I once spent a day and a half on the set of an episode of “Midsomer Murders” for one crowd scene, only for it to be cut in editing 🙁
    Still, as a bit of consolation, I got to meet John Nettles. I was a little starstruck – I’m a big fan of the programme – but he was really down-to-earth, and gave me his autograph. Alls well that ends (sort of) well, eh?
    By the way, you look great tonight (Saturday) on QVC. Love the cuffed shirt and belted dress combination. Very sexy!
    Let me know if you fancy having a sexy young toyboy – I’d be only too happy to oblige LOL
    All the best, and keep blogging

  2. jeannette brown May 9, 2010 at 5:41 pm -  Reply

    Hi Debbie, I would always be up for it if your friend needs any more extras- honest 🙂

  3. debs May 11, 2010 at 12:01 am -  Reply

    Patrick – thanks very much but I had enough of toy boys having had a boyfriend 11 years younger than me – this one was a nightmare!!! 🙂 Hahah! Also my son is 23 so I prefer guys who remember Marine Boy, Yoggits and putting 2p in phone boxes!! hehe!
    Jeanette! Go onto Facebook and find me, then you’ll see ‘andreacasting’ as one of my friends – contact her and say I recommended you and she’ll tell you what to do to register!
    It was fun – but one of those things you’ll do every so often – when there’s been enough time in between to forget how boring it is!!:-)

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