So… You want to be on TV?
BGCP’s website exploded with our article on Film Extras and how to get involved. You can still be involved and read about it here. Our oldest reviewer, Michael, has been on a few TV shows over the years and we trapped him in a corner and forced him to spill his guts on how he did it.
15 Minutes of Fame
In the 1960s Warhol prophesied that in the future we would all be famous for 15 minutes. Well, the future is now baby and Drella was right if you really want to be on TV here’s our handy guide. First of all, it’s a lot easier than getting on as a movie extra as most TV channels have open casting calls and below are some of the most popular:
ITV has a casting call from shows such as Love Island, Dickenson’s Real Deal (ahem), The Chase, Millionaire and Million Pound Pawn.
BBC Auntie is a bit more stuffy and boring and its call for shows include Eat Well for Less, Blankety Blank, Eating With My Ex, DNA Secrets and The One Show (show this list to your mum she’ll be excited)
C4 the cool channel always has a good selection of wacky shows such as Countdown (whooo!), Keep Your Hair On!, Come Dine With Me or Calling all Kinky Singles
Channel 5 is much harder to get on and only has YEARS YOUNGER IN 10 DAYS at the moment
Other channels like Dave, Sky or Comedy Central use production companies for their recruitment and you can do a quick check on sites such as Applause, Lost in TV or StarNow which have lots of changing offers each day so keep an eye out.
So now that you’ve found a way to get on TV what is it actually like to be on TV?
Quiz shows are the mainstay of afternoon and weekend TV they are cheap to film, draw in a reasonable audience and show that you could win something. But from being on a few game shows I can tell you that getting on the show itself is the prize. Travel, meals and hotel are covered (at least one night more likely two) plus you spend a day watching TV getting made before the fun stuff of answering a few questions.
This is the bit you should not fixate on, you are there to entertain and winning is just a bonus. The production team always want a mix of characters, accents, genders and ages to appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Would you watch a show that never has anyone from your area or age group?
Be yourself but also relax and enjoy the experience, don’t be afraid to give wrong answers (they can just as entertaining) and if you really mess it up you might get another take as the team need to show to look right for broadcast.
As Buggles said, Reality Killed the TV show or similar, and the growth of Reality TV is not surprising from Gogglebox, Love Island, X-Factor, Come Dine with Me or Naked Attraction. These shows want to peel the curtain back and show reality, but as most reality is boring, they have to spice things up. How else to do get three cameras in the best spot at exactly the right moment? They are much harder to get one and over the years now use rising influencers or big characters to drive social media to the shows. Shows’ like Married At First Sight have admitted that less than half of their volunteers come through auditions and most are DM’d on Instagram. As such if this is not you don’t expect to get on these.
From dead bodies, pub drinkers, market shoppers or background walkers every drama show needs extras. As with our article on Film Extras, there is no age, gender, colour or shape barrier to being an extra. To get regular work you need to be flexible and willing to go where the work is. From Soaps, Crime Dramas to Comedies or Period shows the need is growing and it’s a great way into the business. Extras work for casting agencies and you should do your homework before applying.
The main reputable casting agencies include The Casting Collective and Phoenix Casting. Their websites and registration processes are open and regarded highly within the industry. Be careful of adverts on Facebook or websites that ask you for a fee upfront or charge for photos or promotions. If someone is guaranteeing you work on TV, they are lying. You could wait two years for a half-day work as a dead extra on Outlander or work every day as a background actor shopping in Coronation Street.
The absolute easiest way on TV is to be part of the audience. COVID measures are dropping all over the country and we’ll start to see big crowds cheering on shows over the next few months. It’s high volume and can be very entertaining. But, you should be aware of a few things such as how long it takes to film a show and what the job of an audience is. A half an hour show could take 3-4 hours of filming to boil down to 30 great minutes. There’s a lot of sitting about and also you need to follow directions such as cheer and clap when needed. The best place to find out about shows is Standing Room Only.
So now you know how to get on TV, get out there and enjoy it.
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