I was reminded last week of the time when I wanted to become an actor. Like so many others at the time, I thought the best way into the industry was by trying to get some work as a film extra. I had already looked into getting into drama school or joining a repertory company, but both were pretty prohibitive. Both the drama school and repertory company options presented financial hiccups. Neither I nor my parents had the finance to make it happen. And as my parents considered it the kind of career that was precarious to say the least, where you would spend more time out of work than in, I suppose the repertory company seemed the most ideal out of the two. But in the 1960s, local repertory companies would take young hopefuls on as stage hands, and if you were very lucky, you may end up with a walk-on part, but it was an almost impossible way to live unless you had some savings or came from a wealthy family. I think the going rate at that time was £5 salary per week and out of that you had to find your own digs, in the same town where the rep company was based, so it was pretty much of a no-no.
Many years later I joined an amateur drama group. I was cast in about nine plays in all. The rehearsals were about three months for each play, two or three nights per week, and then the run of the production was usually nine days long, opening on a Friday night and running through to the Saturday of the following week. It was hard work, and I don't think until then, I realised how gruelling it was to be an actor, but it was always good fun though and was a great taster for anyone who was thinking of becoming an actor. But by the time I joined the drama group I wasn't looking at it as a profession, just purely a hobby. When I was thinking of it as a career, I wasn't really interested in stage acting, I just wanted to act in films or television and that was one of the reasons I went off to MGM Studios in Borehamwood. That and thinking I may get onto see some the stages where films like Where Eagles Dare and Ice Station Zebra had been filmed, but I didn't. I got nowhere near the actual studios where they were filming. I got as far as the admin offices and that was it!