Sitting in my car at a service station on my way to a gig that pays the same money as it did 20 years ago I was feeling somewhat disconsolate.
In show business there are jobs that we refer to as gravy gigs – namely, well paid for little effort. Voice overs are a great example of such. Head in to Soho – say a line or two and for the famous voice, in return for as much money as the average Briton earns in a year.
Nice work if one can get it.
Appearing in adverts is even more lucrative and almost as easy. The onerous and demanding part being securing the gig in the first place. Advert castings are always humiliating and those ‘players’ who finally make it on to screen have usually had to make compromises somewhere along the line.
In my time, I have appeared in two adverts and voiced a few albeit never for such lofty figures. These were organised for me by a commercial agent who I like and it occurred to me that I hadn’t spoken to for too long. Technically I was still on his books and so I decided to give him a call. I scrolled down my phone and hit the green button.
The lady who answered the phone paused when I mentioned his name. My antennae alerted, it didn’t sound good. What is it? Has he left?
She explained that he was dead.
Immediately I floundered. Dead? Â OMG. My timing is awful. The poor man. When is the funeral? I should send flowers. Maybe I should even go.
When she explained that he had died over two years ago, our conversation was over.
TWO YEARS AGO.
The strain on the phone was now unbearable. My agent had died two years ago and I didn’t even know about it. What sort of client does this make me? A very small one indeed – as his major (important) clients would have known about this newsÂ Â – if only on a practical level of finding someone else to handle their burgeoning workload.
And so as well as being sad for this poor man – but I was equally concerned for myself and the state of my standing in the commercials sector of the entertainment industry.
And herein is a unique insight in to the world of the performer. Everything always reverts to self – as I joke throughout my book Eclipsed.
‘So, no messages for me then?’ I could have asked. I didn’t of course but you see my point.
My sincere thoughts and condolences to him (albeit belatedly) and just to conclude, if there are any Â commercial agents reading this with space on their lists for an odd looking characterful face of a man who is happy to endorse any products whatsoever including arms, tobacco, baby milkâ€¦