I was working in admin at the BBC. A nationwide postal strike had been going on for a while and programmes that needed pre-arranged public involvement were struggling. Unusual amounts of tickets for recordings became available to BBC staff, so desperate were the programme makers to fill their studio audiences.
Now, in those bygone days, there was a popular weekly programme called Top of the Pops. It usually involved stars with dodgy, expensive clothing and interesting hair who stood around gyrating and (often) miming to their chart-topping hits. A backdrop of young people with cheaper clothing but equally interesting hair were required to shuffle around (‘dance’, as we called it back then) in front of these artistes.
So there I was: a teenager with teenage friends. Clearly one of the first ports of call for the recruitment of extras on this ground-breaking musical extravaganza. I snapped up tickets for myself and two of my best friends. They know who they are. (*waves to Claire and Sarah*) One of them recently posted a YouTube clip on Facebook that featured our television appearance. It was followed by lots of people asking, “Where are you exactly? I can’t see you!” But Claire and I know. We can spot ourselves right away, even through all the dry ice and artistic camera-work. (I’m convinced there was also a sighting of the side of my nose during the closing credits, but there’s no lingering evidence of that one. )
I should admit that I’ve never exactly aspired to a career in front of the cameras, but being in the background of showbiz is a different matter. I’ve worked as a television subtitler, moved instruments for radio orchestras and sold t-shirts at Madonna concerts. (And yes, I’ve met Madonna, but that’s a whole other Girls Heart Books post. Someone remind me in the future!)
Have you ever wanted to be on television, or work behind the scenes? What would be your ideal television appearance? An X Factor winner who gets drenched with colourful gunge on CBBC? A clever contestant in a brainiac quiz show? An alien extra in Doctor Who (or the new Doctor herself, perhaps…?) Let me know in the comments!
P.S. If you want to see me ‘on screen’, head over to my site where you can view a very recent film of me made by Mr Abiks at Newton Abbot College, being interviewed by a student called Natalia, who is a total star.
I promise it features absolutely no ‘dancing’ at all. (But there is quite a clear shot of the side of my nose.)