I had done a commercial for Tonka Turbo Tricksters with the production company Fireside Productions. I had gotten that job because the casting folks were the same ones who had hired me for Murder Story. I had been cast as a motorcycle cop even though I had shown up late on the day of the Amsterdam auditions. The train was late, something unheard of in Holland, which in turn made me late, an unforgivable sin in the entertainment industry. I know, it cost me a job years ago when, despite running at the speed of sound, I was late by two whole seconds for an interview in an office building just off Sunset Blvd. But regardless of that obvious faux pas, I was the fair haired boy and I was given another audition in Rotterdam the next day.
My champion at the casting company was Patricia. Patricia called me to let me know of work on another Van der Valk. I rang and talked to Ian, the chap who I had dealt with on the other audition. The pay wasn’t very good, but I did not have to perform for anyone this time. It involved about a half days work so I said yes.
When I arrived I met the other two chaps I would be working with. The first was Ian Gelder another jobbing actor who I have seen in many other shows. He was friendly and welcoming, not mention good fun to work with. The second was Frank Vincent Ogilvy a Scottish actor working mainly in Holland. We would also be working with Melanie Thaw, the adopted daughter of that great actor John Thaw, and Richard Huw, who was making a name for himself in the UK.Ms Thaw was lovely. A stunning blonde with a willowy figure and full of grace and charm. She came up and introduced herself to the three of us. “Oh, you must be the actors I’ll be working with today. Pleased to meet you, I’m sure we’ll have a good time today.” Frank and I were stunned as she shook our hands and then wandered off to find the director Jim Goddard. The reason we were so surprised by her actions is that in this particular episode we were literally part of the furniture. Ian was a gangster type and we were to be seated with him in a disco. That was it. Now Richard Huw’s attitude towards us was more in character. He ignored us completely. If he did spare us a look, it was one of utter disdain. Not so nice.
It was on this shoot I discovered the joys of continuity. I had been given an option of smoking in this scene. There was already a huge cloud of smoke from the dry ice machine. This was a dance floor in a bar in the 90’s. Smoking socially had not yet been banned. I thought, hello! No waiting for set-ups, filming, or anything else to have a smoke. How wonderful, I thought.
I was wrong.
Due to the number of re-takes required because young Richard kept fluffing his lines, every time they started filming again, the continuity lady stopped everything. The reason was my cigarette, or rather the length of it. When she checked the monitor, she found that it was at the wrong length. Either too long or too short. This turned out to be real pain, until someone found a pair of scissors so I could cut the cigarettes into varying lengths.
Despite this setback, the day was great fun. The director had a vocabulary that would make a sailor blush and made Melanie fall about laughing every time he gave a “blue” direction. Because the location was in a real bar and it was Franks birthday, we got given real single malt Scotch whiskey in our glasses instead of the usual apple juice. Ian was paranoid in case the director found out. But as far as I know he did not.
By the end of the day, I was barely able to breathe, my back was killing me from the awkward position I had sat in for the scene and I was slightly tipsy. Just as well I had taken the train down. I also had two new contacts and their phone numbers for future work opportunities. Jim Goddard had graciously given me his and I had gotten the assistant directors number as well.