How I Almost Became an Extra in a BBC Series

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How I Almost Became an Extra in a BBC Series

Heath Robinson War Movie

When I was teaching English in Athens, I read that the BBC was going to be filming an Olivia Manning novel set in Greece in the forties. They were looking for extras, and I was big fan of Kenneth Branagh so I thought this would be a cool opportunity to be in a film with him. I understood that there would be auditions held in one of the more modern hotels in downtown Athens.

On the day, I decked myself out in a skirt, blouse, stockings and wedgie sandals. Unfortunately the blouse did not have shoulder pads, but with my broad
shoulders, I could live without them. Presumably the BBC could provide period correct costumes for extras.

I caught a cab, which in Athens is always an adventure. I am not sure about the traffic regulations in Athens, but somehow the drivers seem to treat them as suggestions rather than laws. It was fairly hair-raising but in this instance there were no fender-benders. This might have upset the cabbie because many Greeks seem to enjoy street theatre in the form of shouting. cussing and gesticulating at each other. I arrived at the hotel with more gray hair than I had before.

Inside the hotel there was a table in front one of the larger rooms, which I presumed was where we were to register. There were no signs to indicate what the event was, so I stood in line and once I got there, they gave me a nametag with a minor misspelling of my last name. Oh well, this was Greece, so that was to be expected. I entered the room and saw that there was obviously going to be a luncheon shortly! Finally there was a sign: Greek-American Chamber of Commerce. My dreams of being an extra died, but I was offered an opportunity of a free lunch and another adventure of impersonating someone who was a captain of industry – or perhaps a mistress or a wife of one.

This was interesting but slightly alarming as the party with 'my' name might show up and not be able to get seated. Naturally I didn't talk to anyone there because my spoken Greek was minimal. Hopefully the registered participant had got tied up in traffic or had a business emergency. I hated to think that I had robbed him/her of a pretty decent lunch. The speeches were delivered in English. No one at my table talked to me at all, which was a relief to me.

After the meal, I left and had an uneventful cab ride home. Sad that I didn't get into a picture with Mr Branagh, but realizing that all the Athens News was good for was its amusing anecdotes of lovers being hidden in wardrobes when husbands returned, and no good at all at providing details of theatrical auditions.

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