Sunday 9th November 2003
I've tried one last shot at contributing to the
Wimbledon film: I've written a little letter
telling them about a wonderful song which I think
would be perfect for the film. Yes, all right,
it's by Sam
Brown, so maybe I'm a little biased, but it's a
top tune, honest. And one of my Mum's favourites
too. Hopefully with six to nine months before the
film is released, they haven't finalised their
I was looking at the P45 again: The leaving date
was 29th July 2003. The only date really.
There can't be many P45s with just £60 total pay on
them: I'm with the sort of person who resigns on
their first day in a new job at McDonalds.
Friday 7th November 2003
A P45 from the Wimbledon film people arrived in the
post detailing the £60 they paid me. Feels like a
sure sign of finality. At least I was still
technically on their books ready to be called at a
moments notice... I suppose that means it's
definitely all over.
Hang on, not quite, their address is on the P45 and
that gives me an idea for something that's occured
to me a few times over the last few months.
Saturday 18th October 2003
Another exciting moment of media exposure yesterday:
Radcliff read out my email at lunchtime on Radio 1!
I sent him a quick email yesterday morning about
Peel playing a song called Icicle Tricycle
clearly inspired by Mark and Lard's special guest
David Blame's similarly-titled mesmerising feat
recreated earlier this week on their show. I joked
that unfortunately we didn't get to hear much of it
because John's wife had forgotten to wind up the
gramophone player... (Trust me, this all makes sense
if you've been listening to Mark and Lard the last
couple of weeks.) My anticipation heightened when
Mark's opening link was about David Blame and David
at ten past one my name was suddenly broadcast
across the nation as he read the email out.
A couple of hours later an old friend who'd been
listening dropped me an email after tracking me down
at this website. Which was nice.
Wednesday 15th October 2003
Last week's Concert For George London Premiere was
wonderful. Everyone was there: Paul
McCartney (and pregnant Heather Mills), Eric Clapton,
Ringo Starr, Dave Gilmour, Joe Brown, Jools Holland,
Bill Wyman, Robbie Coltrane, Damon Hill, Alan
Rickman, Rowan Atkinson, Terry Jones and of course
Sam Brown. One of the guys I was with sneaked in
amongst the paparazzi with his digital camera as the
stars arrived and took several great photos, my
this one of
Paul McCartney and Heather Mills.
As we arrived at the cinema the railings were up and
a vibrant crowd waited for the celebs to arrive.
There was no red carpet. The couple in front
of us stopped to have their picture taken as they
came through the door, but not us. We passed the
stream of paparazzi pointedly ignoring us and were
then ushered down to the cinema. Our swish tickets
were evidently not swish enough - the real celebs
were ushered up into the bar. One guy gamely asked
if he could get a drink and the steward politely
explained that there was a private function in the
The cinema was huge with the best seats reserved for
the VIPs. Everyone got a free small bag of popcorn
and a bottle of water. It was odd (in the nicest
possible way) to watch a great film with most of the
on-screen performers in the audience! Still, I guess
this is just something I'm going to have to get used
After the film finished we hung about in the foyer
as the pop stars chatted and gradually left. One
friend got Dave Gilmour's autograph and
must still be recovering from brushing past Alan
Rickman as she's been unable to write any more of
BBC report if you're interested.
Tuesday 7th October 2003
Where did the time go? All sorts of things have
been keeping me busy, none of them to do with the
Wimbledon film. I hope they don't call this week
- I've got no spare days.
Something rather exciting came up. The guys
For George film got in touch with me through the
Sam Brown Fan
Club with ten pairs of tickets to give away to
the West End Premiere tomorrow! So I've been
running a prize draw just like you hear on the radio
and the rather swish tickets arrived on Saturday!
I'm very excited and am expecting most of the big
names to be there; Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton,
Ringo Starr, etc! Wow! Not only should it be a
thrilling night, but it'll be good practice for the
Wimbledon film premiere next summer.
Saturday 27th September 2003
I didn't go yesterday. The nice person who'd
invited me first emailed to say I was in and bring
and umbrella, then later emailed to say it had been
cancelled. Or perhaps postponed - they'd let me
know if and when it's been rescheduled. I shouldn't
have expected anything else! They
hadn't specified any t-shirt colour, so I was going
to go for mustard yellow again. Perhaps they're
waiting for a rainy day, hence the umbrella;
yesterday's forecast gradually got better and better
throughout the week. Typical, you film for three
months in the English summer and it never rains.
An old friend stumbled upon this site and dropped me
an email detailing his own brush with fame. His
wife was a contestant on Bargain Hunt four months
ago while he was in the audience. He sent me a
photo of David Dickinson looking decidedly uneasy
being close to my friend.
Wednesday 24th September 2003
Somebody emailed me today to say that it's the last
week of filming crowd scenes at Shepperton studios
and they need some more extras for Friday - did I
want to join them? Okay, I've been here before, but
what the hell, why not give it a go. Hmmm, and I'm
going to be out late on Thursday night seeing
perform in London, but I can manage it provided I
don't need to get there at 6am.
I'm waiting to hear back from them. Can I trust them?
For all I know they could be trying to lure me into an
Eastern European gambling syndicate as a slave
croupier. It's my shuffling skills they'll be after.
Friday 19th September 2003
This morning on BBC1's Breakfast show they talked to
a film food artist who makes on-screen meals such as
Bridget Jones's blue soup.
She showed us some economy-class airline food she'd
made for an aeroplane scene in the Wimbledon film
being shot yesterday. It was realistically
unappetising. There must be a very good reason why
they didn't just nip down to Heathrow and buy some
real airline food.
An item on animatronic extras appeared but didn't
feature the Wimbledon dummies. Instead there was an
impressively agile man romping around in a convincing
gorilla suit. Today's phone-in quiz prize was to
become an extra on the new Bridget Jones film.
I couldn't stop myself calling in.
Tuesday 16th September 2003
BBC1's Breakfast show had an extended report this
morning from the set of the Wimbledon film at
Shepperton studios where they've recreated half of
Centre Court on an outside set. They're there all
week and are recording some of it on
their webpage including a nice interview with
Paul Bettany and Kirsten Dunst yesterday.
The groundsman has grown an authentic grass court in
a matter of weeks with expert advice from Wimbledon's
groundskeeper. They've also apparently got the real
scoreboard and umpire's chair. Prior to that they'd
recreated a red clay court after filming in Monte
Carlo for a few days. Remember all those cables
stretched across Centre Court's roof? We learnt that
they supported a retractable white silk sky so they
could control the ever-shifting shadows on the court
to avoid continuity problems.
We met Richard Loncraine the director who seemed
relaxed and enthusiastic, saying they've had great
co-operation from Wimbledon after two years of
preparation. He showed us a bank of 59 cameras all
in a line to take one of those Matrix-style sweeping
action shots as Paul Bettany performs an acrobatic
dive on the court. A day's shooting for two and a
half seconds of film!
They also interviewed a small cluster of extras
sitting in the stands, who seemed to be doing their
first filming this week. "Do you mix with the
stars?" "Well we watch them all day..." During the
odd wide shot of the set, my trained eye caught sight
of hundreds of dummies in the stands, but sadly there
were no close-ups nor any mention of them.
You can see the set in the interview with Martine
McCutcheon (which is about Richard Curtis's upcoming
film Love Actually) on the
BBC1 Breakfast webpage - look out for the dummies
in the high, wide shot and the Matrix-style bank of
cameras which look a bit like a dinosaur spine behind
Nicki Chapman. You can even see a few dummies
blurrily creeping into shot behind Martine at the
start of the interview.
Friday 12th September 2003
A Brighton newspaper published
an article last week from the location of the
Wimbledon film in Brighton. It said "Movie fans were
craning to catch a glimpse of one of Hollywood's
hottest properties on Brighton seafront yesterday."
Oh you're too kind. But no, it wasn't me, it was
Kirsten Dunst. They'd hardly be looking for me; I
They said there were more than 140 cast and crew
there all week and small crowds of onlookers gathered
to watch the action unfurl past a mass of technicians,
crew and sun deflectors. They were filming in several
locations including a seafront cafe, a flat and a
barber shop they've turned into a betting shop. They
also saw Sam Neill's wife Noriko applying Kirsten's
make-up while they waited to film.
A couple of Brighton residents who live on the seafront
a message on the IMDB Wimbledon film message board
saying that they'd watched them filming some scenes,
including an old deserted tennis court near the beach
at night with lots of lights. Bit confusing. They
also saw Paul Bettany's character driving Kirsten
around in a grey vintage Porsche and the crew spraying
water on the road and path despite it being a lovely
sunny day - they speculated that maybe it was supposed
to have just rained.
Local professional photographer Scott Ramsey not only
went to have a look, he took some pictures and put
fifteen on his website, most of which can be found on
celebrities page 2 and a couple more on
celebrities page 1. It's mostly Kirsten in her
cycling shorts, plus Paul Bettany, Sam Neil and even
one of Noriko sitting with Kirsten. Notice the wet
ground on the sunny day in the jogging shots.
Thursday 11th September 2003
Today is 11th September. A day of reflection for
millions of people. On this day thirty years ago
General Pinochet launched a violent coup d'etat
against the democratically elected Chilean
government, killing the socialist President Salvador
Allende. Pinochet set up a brutal military
dictatorship with tacit support from the United
States, killing more than 3,000 innocent people.
Here's a good
BBC summary of these events.
George Bush talks about hunting down the forces of
terror and making them pay for their crimes,
spending unimaginable billions in pursuit of these
objectives. General Pinochet has not been
prosecuted and lives a free man in Chile.
Wimbleblog will return tomorrow.
Wednesday 10th September 2003
That fine fellow actor
who inspired me to go on BrainTeaser will be on
Weakest Link on Monday at 5.15pm on BBC2. Yes,
this Monday the 15th of September. Go for it Phil!
Actually words of encouragement are entirely
pointless because he filmed it a month ago.
Nevertheless; You can do it my boy! Bring it on!
A quick BrainTeaserBlog
postscript: I got a couple of emails about my
performance that really tickled me. Hope you
(and they!) don't mind me sharing them with you.
- One friend commented:
- It's not often I find myself shouting PARKINSON
at the telly in the afternoon (later in the day
- And another friend suggested:
- Re-arrange these letters into a word:
Tuesday 9th September 2003
I lost my sunglasses last week. I've had them for
three years and was quite fond of them, but more
importantly they're the shades I'm
wearing in the Wimbledon film. I wore them all day
during filming until I got split up from my friends
mid-afternoon, whereupon in a inspired change for
continuity (or should that be discontinuity?) I
decided to take them off. That was the last ninety
minutes of filming including the umbrella scenes.
They were brown plastic-framed wraparound style
sunglasses and were admittedly just starting to look
a little bit last century dahhling, so an
opportunity for something a little more current.
However the department store I originally bought
them from has cleared out all the mid-price
sunglasses in favour of pairs costing £100.
Yes, some of them look great, but I wasn't tempted
by fashion's law of diminishing returns where the
design is 10% more stylish for 200% more money.
Instead I tried my luck at the end-of-summer sale
at a high street clothes shop and found a decent
trendy pair: rectangular, frameless, metallic
reflective blue and proper UV protection for £12
reduced to £7, which then rang up rather happily for
a fiver on the till. Gave me a little lift for the
rest of the day.
update: Wimbleblog has climbed thirty places in
Google's wimbledon movie rankings this week
to number 47 out of 57,800.
Sunday 7th September 2003
The splendid Nicky at
Bone kindly mentioned Wimbleblog in her recent
entry. She's one of those extraordinary people
who writes some of her most intimate feelings in her
diary and then publishes them on the internet for
everyone and anyone to read.
This may hold a clue to explain why she hasn't
fashioned the international film career that I'm
enjoying; Perhaps her talents lie in fearlessly
expressing her own emotions rather than hiding
behind the emotions of a public performance.
And I'm not just saying this because her boyfriend
is a film critic...
This weekend I have received further public
exposure, this time in the printed media: The local
newspaper has published my letter. I'm afraid it's
just a friendly but pedantic reply to a previous
letter which cast factually incorrect aspersions on
the benefits of pensions.
I'm happy to report that there isn't a phalanx of
paparazzi camped outside my front door.
Tuesday 2nd September 2003
They're filming in Brighton this week. According to
a local Brighton and Hove newspaper, hundreds of
people turned up to the open auditions a few weeks
ago, of which they'll have chosen about a hundred.
Apparently they were looking for joggers, clubbers,
dog-walkers, cyclists, skateboarders and even a
They also mentioned that Bernard Hill plays Paul
Bettany's dad in the film. [Sorry, can't resist it...]
Gizza job! I can do that!
Wimbleblog has just entered
wimbledon movie rankings at number 77 out
Friday 29th August 2003
Hello, welcome back to Wimbleblog. Hope you didn't
mind that little interruption by BrainTeaserBlog.
Now here's a thing. If you go to
search for wimbledon film then this little
Wimbleblog is top of the 161,000 results. Top.
Number One. Blimey. In fact about
five people a day stumble upon this Wimbleblog just
by searching for wimbledon film or something
similar in Google.
I'd better keep it up. Perhaps
it'll evolve into an unofficial commentary on the
progress of my, sorry, their film all through
production and into release.
Mind you, if you go to
search for wimbledon movie then Wimbleblog
doesn't feature at all. This isn't entirely
unexpected because I'm British and haven't used the
American word movie, let alone the phrase
Wimbledon movie in Wimbleblog. Or at least I
hadn't until those last couple of sentences. Ah.
Now we can have a little bit of fun with Google and
see where we enter its wimbledon movie
Just give it a few days...
[BrainTeaserBlog] Tuesday 26th August 2003
A thoroughly enjoyable day.
Oxford is a fabulous city with many fine and
handsome buildings but the BrainTeaser office isn't
one of them; it's more of a reinforced scout hut.
Inside were a relaxed, friendly and informal team,
keen to put us at ease. The actual TV studio
itself is tiny - there's no room at all for any
audience and anybody significantly over six
foot should mind their head. We had a little
quiz practice with the researcher and I could see
I'd struggle to make it past the first round.
was utterly charming and spent about half an hour
with us beforehand going through our interests,
gemming up for the odd ten-second chat during the
show. She picked up on
fan club and was very keen on my starring role
in the Wimbledon film. She mentioned both of them
during the show, drawing attention to my mustard
yellow t-shirt in the film's quarter final crowds
and suggesting that fame, fortune and Hollywood
beckoned. Clearly she recognises genuine talent
when she sees it. And my what big eyes she's got.
During the advert breaks there's a lot of cheeky
banter amongst the crew; they asked me about Sam
Brown and each had their own attempt at singing Stop!
If you haven't seen it then you probably want to know
whether I won. Well, in one sense we were all
winners. But in another, more accurate sense, a guy
called Matt was the winner and he left with £1,500.
I got a consolation mug, pen, squishy toy phone and
postcard of Alex which I didn't think to get signed.
[BrainTeaserBlog] Monday 25th August 2003
I'm live on telly tomorrow. Blimey. My host
should be the delightful
Lovell which is a pleasant bonus. We go live
on air at 1:30pm and they want us there (Oxford)
at 11am to get briefed and generally get ready.
[BrainTeaserBlog] Saturday 23rd August 2003
That shock of pink denotes the temporary
commandeering of this page by the BrainTeaserBlog.
Just for a few days, mind.
The phone rang yesterday afternoon and the guy from
BrainTeaser said a cheery hello. "Oh no, not again"
said a familiar sinking feeling in the pit of my
stomach... But he was just checking that I was
still okay for Tuesday and ran through some of the
things on my application form, you know: job,
hobbies, sports, starring roles in major
international feature films, that kind of thing. He
stumped me with an unexpected question - what goals
did I have? Er, um, oh. My mind was blank. Do
people set themselves life goals? And if so, do
they tell a stranger on the phone so that it might
be broadcast live on telly? I said I didn't really
set myself goals, I just see what comes along.
Which is true. I mean I suppose I want to find a
decent job, but that's just survival. And I suppose
I'd love to work on the likely
Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy film but that's
almost, but not quite, infinitely improbable.
An hour later a thought popped into my head. A
proper goal. Yeah, that's a good one. He'd like
that. Perhaps I should call him back? After all my
earlier answer was less than impressive and this
really fits the bill. But that'd be a
bit odd, calling up some stranger to impart a
little snippet of my inner thoughts. He only asked
because it's on his list - I expect he's got more
important things to be getting on with.
I called him. He didn't seem too troubled. I said
I'd like to see the total eclipse of the sun in 2006
that runs up north Africa into Turkey and Russia.
He liked it. I added that I went to France for
the 1999 total eclipse that clipped Cornwall. He
really liked it.
Friday 22nd August 2003
Late on Wednesday night I got an email from the
nice guy who emailed me last weekend. He'd heard
from a friend of a friend working at Wimbledon that
word went round late afternoon that they were short
on numbers for Thursday. He urged me to turn up at
Wimbledon on Thursday morning despite their phone
Unfortuntely I was feeling jaded and disenchanted.
Frankly, I wasn't of a mind to go again when they'd
actually called several hours earlier and explicitly
told me not to come. I mean, they could've called
me back later. But I didn't give up completely.
Instead I got up earlyish yesterday morning
and phoned a couple of their numbers several times
between 6:30am and 8am, ready to say that I could
be there in an hour and a half. They just rang and
rang and rang. Fair enough, they had their chance.
The nice guy emailed me again last night and said he
got a late morning call from the friend of a
friend saying that they were short of people even
after all the reserves had been signed in and they'd
appealed to all the extras present to call friends
and family who might be interested. Just what I
wanted to hear.
I'm not one for self-pity, but it's a bit
disheartening to know that they don't want you even
when they're desperate! Some might say this was a
damning indictment on my acting ability, but I'd
like to think there are three more likely
You know, I kinda like the third one best.
- They're incompetent
- They've seen this Wimbleblog and think I might
give too much away
- They got a great close-up of me last time
which they plan to feature prominently in the
film and therefore don't want me appearing in
any further scenes.
Wednesday 20th August 2003
My mobile rang and I knew it was them - anyone else
would've used the house phone. Imagine their phone
bill. I answered with a boisterous "Hello" and she
said she was calling from the Wimbledon film. "I'm
afraid we won't be needing you tomorrow, we're
oversubscribed. Sorry." Oh, that's a shame.
"Okay then, bye." And she was gone.
That was quite possibly the last I'll hear from them.
I consoled myself by re-reading through the
BrainTeaser notes which arrived this morning.
I really am going to be live on telly on Tuesday
lunchtime! I should make use of tomorrow's
unexpected spare time with some serious reading and
trying a few anagrams...
Perhaps this diary should become a mini
BrainTeaserBlog for the next week?
Tuesday 19th August 2003
Well, the Science Museum was fascinating...
Yes, I decided to go: Up at five and at Wimbledon at
seven, whereupon I added my name to the reserve list
and settled down with a book, looking up every
time they called out, mostly asking for Royal Box
people who were generally a little older and suitably
attired. Shortly before half eight there were about
110 reserves patiently waiting (I reckoned I'd signed
in about halfway) when they called out thirty names
and said thankyou but sorry to the rest of us.
Deflated. Apparently some people had started
queueing at six!
But all was not lost - they need plenty more extras
for Thursday when they're filming a big scene on
Centre Court and asked us to put our names and
numbers down. Expecting a call tomorrow afternoon!
Also heard that they've arranged all the extras for
the filming in Brighton the first week of September.
After that they'll be filming in and around London
for a month or so when they'll mostly only need a
few extras here and there.
Dummy Update: The open air courts have been emptied
of dummies save for a thin strip of maybe 150 at the
far end of Court Two's stand. They'd also gone from
the members enclosure balcony. Perhaps they've all
been shifted to Centre Court?
Sunday 17th August 2003
A very nice guy sent me an email this weekend after
stumbling upon Wimbleblog. He's been extraing (hey,
a new verb!) for a couple of weeks and they're just
about to start their final week
of filming at Wimbledon. He's unable to work, but
thinks that they'll be looking for reserve extras
all week because they've used people just turning up
speculatively every day he's been working. He
encouraged me to get there early tomorrow morning
and I could be working all week. I pointed out that
I accidentally did this four weeks ago when they told
me to go home, although admittedly they had
explicitly told me not to turn up!
I suggested giving them an early morning call to
offer my services (and get an extra hour's kip), but
he reckons they'll probably be discouraging on the
phone, whereas once you're there they might as well
make the most of you.
So I've been mulling it over all day. And I think I
might just possibly, er, umm, not sure... What's the
worst that can happen? They tell me to sod off and I
spend a day at the Science Museum? Is that worth
losing a couple of hours sleep over?
Friday 15th August 2003
They haven't called. Boo hoo. But their loss may
be somebody else's gain...
A couple of weeks ago I sent off an application to
be a contestant on Channel 5's lunchtime quiz show
BrainTeaser and today they called me, checked
my general knowledge and asked me to appear on the
show! On Tuesday 26th August! Live!
Who are you calling a screen tart? I know this
isn't strictly Wimbleblog-related, but I thought
you'd like to know. It's shameless copycatting of
who was on it in April and made it through to the
Monday 11th August 2003
Alright then: The dummies. They were the first
thing I saw as I approached the Wimbledon site and
were curiously fascinating. Not that they were
themselves remarkable; they
were just normal shop dummies, you know, mannequins,
torsos and heads, no arms or legs. But
there were so many of them, all sitting silently
in the stands, each one dressed differently, many of
them with (different) plastic face masks, most of
them with (different) wigs, some of them wearing
hats, some of them wearing sunglasses and even one
or two with their sunglasses balanced on their hats,
like you do.
Several hundred filled most of Court Three's west
stand, several hundred more filled most of Court Two's
(bigger) west stand and then there were the thousand
on Centre Court. What a huge job just to kit
them all out! And work out where to put them! During
our filming on Court Three a couple of guys were almost
continually rearranging them in the stand behind us,
picking up four or five at a time and chucking them
into their new seats. Not to mention the several dozen
full-bodied, fully-dressed dummies on the third floor
balcony of the fancy new members enclosure.
But the thing is, they were only convincing for a
brief glance from a reasonable distance. So what was
Perhaps they were there to fill out the background
during a reasonably fast panning shot or zoom shot,
whereupon they'll be very blurred. But very still.
Perhaps they're going to be replaced with some
fancy computer-generated people like in Gladiator.
But then why bother with the faces, hats,
sunglasses, etc. Perhaps they were there to give the
place a bit of atmosphere, especally when we were
sitting in the stands with them. Seems like a lot of
effort just to make us feel a bit comfy.
The long and short of it is I don't know. Sorry. But
I did find the answer to one question: Did they leave
them out overnight in the rain (Court Two and Court
Three's stands are uncovered) or did they bring them
all in every evening and take them all back out again
early every morning? When the rain came and we went,
the dummies stayed where they were and got
Tuesday 5th August 2003
Just a week since my day of fame. I don't know if
or when they may want me again, but fingers crossed
they don't call me this week to swelter in the 30
The mustard yellow t-shirt was fine, by the way. I
kept my beige jacket on all the time to dull the
yellow's power a little.
As we were setting up for the morning session a
woman carefully assessed our colours in the crowd;
Quite a few people were too dark and a couple
were too bling. She really said bling. She
dished out new shirts of various colours being carried
by a guy trailing in her wake.
Two people to check our colours; This serves as an
example of the sheer numbers of people employed on the
film. The director turned out not to be the real
director: It seems his name was Max. Nice guy,
looked like Eddie Izzard, but not the main man. Some
of the time an older guy turned up who was clearly in
higher authority - perhaps he was Richard Loncraine?
No, they called him Martin.
When Kirsten was getting ready she admitted it was her
first tennis filming! We felt very privileged,
although it didn't seem like they had planned or
rehearsed their sequence of shots. And they weren't
entirely sure if they could convincingly superimpose
the ball when she's holding it for the serve.
The scoreboards were set up for Kirsten's match in the
morning, but they only bothered to change the score
once. Some guy covered up the serve-speed display
with 97 mph (I think) which stayed there all day. We
were a little surprised that they couldn't just plug
the numbers into the computer to get it displayed.
What else? Oh yes, the line judges were hopeless -
they didn't seem to know what they were supposed to do
and needed constant prompting from their coach who, if
you remember, had taken over as umpire. For example
the serve line judge didn't seem to know that she
should always be the other side of the net from the
server. In contrast the ball boys and girls were
excellent and had all the right moves.
I think that's probably everything, isn't it?
Saturday 2nd August 2003
Tuesday afternoon, 2pm, they ushered us into Court
Three's grandstand. The dummies had been moved
around to create a square space for a hundred-odd
people to sit. I'll explain about the dummies
another time. We settled in and the director
explained that we were watching two British guys
playing each other, although we wouldn't actually
see them; instead a couple of different female
players had been brought along to pat the ball
around a bit at the edge of the court to give us
a focus. Nevertheless, we were a pumped-up,
patriotic, Henmania-esque crowd, cheering on our
hero and waving our Union flags. I got a flag this
time, but my friend who had the USA flag last time
was again picked on to wear a fetching Union flag
tank top! Nice. At least we didn't have to wear
the large floppy Union flag hats.
We performed several different types of cheering:
mild, excited, very excited and orgasmic. We did
some of those "Come on Tim" shouts when they're
getting ready to serve. (It wasn't Tim by the way.
I don't want to give anything away...) We
gasped and looked concerned as our hero fell over,
then gradually changed to applause and encouragement
as he got up and readied himself to serve. We shook
our heads in despair as he lost his serve again. We
groaned, muttered and held our heads in our hands
when he lost another set. And when he lost the match
we all groaned very loudly, shook our heads, and
started leaving quickly in disgust.
I haven't given anything away here, have I? I mean
I've been careful not to mention that it was supposed
to be a quarter final match. As was the Kirsten one
apparently. Which struck us as a little odd
because the quarter finals are all played on Centre
and Number One Courts unless there had been several
days of rain. But even then an all-British quarter
final would surely be on a big court? Well, what do
Every half hour they swapped chunks of us around the
stand and I got split up from my friends after an hour
and a half. They even swapped people from the front
row which we thought a bit odd because they would
normally stay there all day. But the director was
probably pretending it was several different sections
of the front row.
At 3:45pm we got some light rain and gradually our
umbrellas went up in classic Wimbledon style. They
decided to film it, got the cameras ready and then
asked us to put our umbrellas down and then gradually
put them up again!
The rain cleared quickly but returned at 4:10pm for
five minutes whereupon they filmed our umbrellas
going up again. The rain that arrived at 4:30pm
decided to stay so we readied ourselves to go, but
the director said he wanted some good shots of heavy
rain bouncing off the umbrellas. Great. Nearly half
an hour we were sat huddled under umbrellas in
light rain, willing it to get heavier, before they
got the conditions they were looking for. I'd been
moved to the end of the row at the edge of the stands,
so although I've got a distinctive blue EU umbrella
with yellow stars, I suspect I'll be out of shot.
At 5pm they'd got their rain scene and let us go back
to the buttery. This was also the first opportunity
for a comfort break (as they're politely known in
tennis circles) since 9:30am unless you'd found a
few minutes at lunch. Some of us were dying for a
comfort. Glancing in the mirror I noticed my face
ever so slightly red, despite the almost total absence
of sun all day. Bugger.
The rain didn't relent and our idle chatter in the
buttery speculated as to when they'd let us go home
early. In traditional Wimbledon style they kept us
waiting for a break in the weather, but just gone
6:30pm they gave up hoping and decided to let us go.
Second unit were not required tomorrow, just the
main unit. A bit of a scrum to get my chit sheet
signed, a quick goodbye to my temporary friends and I
was home ninety minutes later.
Thursday 31st July 2003
Not much time today - just enough to tell you about
We joined a depressingly large queue at the buttery
for lunch but pretty quickly rumours started to
spread that second unit should jump to the front of
the queue! Whayhey! More special treatment! We
picked up a packed lunch, gathered outside and were
led into the Centre Court stands, following plenty
of signs indicating "holding area". They directed
us to sit in three rows of seats, which meant we
were rather squashed together into small seats to
eat our lunch. Strange. It would've been nicer to
sit in the comfort of the buttery, but then we
wouldn't have seen the dozens of cables stretching
the full length of the court's roof, the ropes
across the court, the workmen building rigging, the
decking all along the near-side of the court and,
most of all, the thousand dummies sitting opposite us.
A thousand. Okay, so we didn't count them, but
Centre Court's capacity is about five thousand and
the dummies filled half of the longer stand behind
the umpire, becoming more populous the further back
they went. I'll explain about the dummies another
time, but suffice to say it felt very strange staring
at each other across the empty court, especially with
all the cables between us sagging in the way that
heavy cables sag even when they're pulled as tight as
Lunch consisted, by the way, of a tasty chicken,
salmon or beef salad, Muller yoghurt and banana, plus
a bottle of mineral water. As 2pm approached, they
wanted us back on Court Three.
Wednesday 30th July 2003
Well, what an exciting day yesterday! There's so
much to tell you, I don't know where to start! Let's
try yesterday's headlines:
- I went, I performed, I got paid, I came home
- It was a lot of sitting around and some standing up
- It was mostly clapping and cheering
- It was some groaning and muttering
- I made some friends but didn't exchange names
- There was an array of stars. Well, three
- I don't know when they'll want me again
Granted, that doesn't sound like the word "exciting"
has been accurately deployed. In fact "dull" and
"tedious" sounds closer to the mark, but bear with me.
I got there at 7:15am to find a hundred people
queueing to sign in, encouragingly without the
camaraderie of last week. After ten
minutes a nice guy shouted out "Anyone for the
second unit follow me to the buttery" and a handful of
people left the queue with me to follow him. Glad I
was in the second unit getting special treatment! And
glad to find my name on the list, getting my chit
sheet and then finding a spare seat at the second
unit's breakfast tables.
After filling in the form I tentatively started
chatting with the three people nearest me. It was also
their first day and two of them had been called
last week and then cancelled. The four of us ended up
spending most of the day together, although strangely
we never found out each other's names. Two of them
had been intimately involved in Lord Of The Rings!
Well, one was an actual New Zealander and had a
friend who had produced the story boards. The other
had a New Zealand friend who's farm was used for a few
shots, although they scrubbed the farmhouse out of the
scenery! Pretty impressive! I was the only one who
had actually been to Wimbledon this year and knew
anything about this film.
At 9:30am they called us out and took us to Court
Three where they stood us behind the courtside benches
infront of the grandstand which was half-full with
hundreds of dummies. I'll explain about the dummies
another time. After a few minutes it occured to us
that we could be standing there for some time and we
looked enviously at the people sitting in the benches.
Several things then became apparent: There
weren't enough of us to look like a convincing
Wimbledon crowd and the director sent runners to steal
people from the main unit to bulk up our numbers. (We
agreed that being in the main unit was clearly inferior
to the second unit, even though they were on Court Two
and turned out to be working all week, not just the one
day. Bastards.) The painted court lines were still
wet and the director kept reminding the numerous people
milling about on court not to tread on the lines. And
then the guy chosen to be umpire didn't know how to
score. Unbelievable. The woman who was coaching the
linespeople patiently explained everything to him and
then hurried off to get her umpire's uniform and kick
him out of the chair.
At 10am a couple of female tennis players started
warming up. The blonde one was the imitation Kirsten
who we were supporting despite her being outclassed by
her brunette opponent. A runner came round handing out
stars and stripes flags and bandanas - we all studiously
avoided eye contact but a flag was proffered to one of
my friends who very reluctantly accepted. The director
started filming and asked the players to let the blonde
one win, but this proved difficult to manufacture
convincingly, needing about ten break points and match
points to get a few correct takes with us cheering and
waving our flags.
At 11am Kirsten Dunst appeared to an expectant hush
accompanied by Pat Cash who was advising Kirsten on her
technique. She warmed up a bit with the blonde player
and turned out to be slightly lacking in the tennis
department - she was awkward and stiff, and
although she got the balls over the net,
few of them landed in the court. But when filming
started they were miming without balls and Kirsten was
transformed: She looked smooth and agile, her timing
was great and she even made authentic little grunts.
Whereas her brunette opponent looked rushed and out of
sorts, although she could've just been upset that she
was destined to lose every point. During one short
break a darkly dressed man appeared on court, kissed
Kirsten politely and then disppeared just as I realised
it was Sam Neil who we later learned was playing her
We filmed several versions of Kirsten winning a point,
a game, a break point and a match point whereupon she
looked very pleased and gave a cute wave from the
net to her adoring fans. The director then wanted some
shots down the other end of the court and asked us all
to move round the other side of the umpire's chair - we
were all bunched up one end to look bulky. One of my
friends quickly grabbed an empty bench, so we got a
sit down after nearly two hours of standing. We shot
some more point winners and also some of those moments
where the umpire calls time, the players get up from
their chairs and the crowd changes from quiet nattering
to polite clapping. It's surprisingly hard to quietly
natter to people you don't know without just saying
rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb.
At 12:30pm they let Kirsten go, brought her double back
and asked us all to rearrange ourselves back over the
other side of the umpire's chair again, in different
positions to look like a different bit of the crowd.
We were back to standing and repeated some of the
first scenes. That was the last we saw of Kirsten, Pat
and Sam - no more celebrities for us. Kirsten's double
looked almost identical from the back; height, hair,
build, and they even had a matching tattoo peeking out
from behind their vests' shoulder strap.
Just past 1pm and they let us go for lunch. And that's
where I'd better leave you for today. More tomorrow!
Tuesday 29th July 2003
Oh dahhhling, mwhah mwhah, it was just divine, sweetie!
And so exhausting! Beddy-byes beckons right now, will
give you all the goss tomorrow.
Monday 28th July 2003
Did I say a couple of weeks? Make that four days!
They called! They want me again! Tomorrow!
Excited! Yes, tomorrow! Yes, just tomorrow. For
the moment. Yes, I know they said they wouldn't need
me this week, but I didn't really feel it was worth
She patiently explained where to go and what to
bring, which was almost exactly the same as a week
ago and rather comforting evidence that she didn't
have a big red mark next to my name saying "wastrel
who messed up last week". She was even more strict
about the t-shirt: not too dark, not too bright, not
white, grey, black or red. How about yellow? Yes, that
sounds fine. She didn't mention umbrella - should I
bring one? Yes, no problem, although there are covered
areas if it rains. Ah, so it's filming outside? Yes.
She also said I was in the second unit (oooh, an
assignment!) and they want me there at 7:15am with a
finish time of 8:30pm.
Hmmm, that doesn't quite add up to 12 hours...
Again, not really worth arguing over. Unfortunately
I'll still have to get up at -gulp- 5am to catch
the same train.
Curiously I had a dream about it last
night. I was wandering around the set trying to find
where I was supposed to be when they started filming
and I was desperately keeping out of shot
whilst looking for Chris Evans who was rumoured
to be doing a cameo. Dreams are in my opinion a
load of rubbish, but nevertheless I'll probably keep
half an eye out for ginger hair tomorrow.
Thursday 24th July 2003
Called them and unsurprisingly they don't want me
tomorrow. They don't know when or even if they
want me. Definitely not the next couple of weeks
anyway. Not so excited. Wimbleblog will therefore
take a break for a couple of weeks.
Strangely I got a spam email this afternoon saying
film & TV extras are urgently required in my area,
call 090xxxxxxxx to register. I know it's complete
rubbish and 150p per minute, but, but...
Wednesday 23rd July 2003
It was odd walking around Wimbledon early in the
morning, just like a month ago but without
thousands of tennis fans milling about. As I
approached the All England Club I could see people
standing around in the members enclosure and Court 2
and Court 3's stands were full already! So early!
They were all very still. Very still. Ah, they're
Appropriate really, because so was I. Whilst
queueing up for twenty minutes to sign-in, everyone
else seemed rather ominously chatty, clutching
official-looking forms and saying things like "So
you made it back again?" to each other. I wasn't on
the list. They added me to the standby list. An hour
passed whilst a collection of thirty standby people
gradually assembled, during which time I checked my
They'd called yesterday. The schedule had changed.
They didn't need me today.
Why hadn't I checked my voicemail? Why hadn't they
called me at home? Bugger.
They finally called the standby people to the desk
and decided to sign us all in for the day. I
explained my new situation and they said I might as
well sign in seeing as I was there! Whayhey! Forty
minutes later they called my name out and said,
actually, they didn't want to use me today. Oh.
Fair enough. Bye. I guess I don't get paid then?
No, thought not.
They called this afternoon: they don't want me
tomorrow. The schedule's changing and the weather's
not helping. Maybe Friday. Call tomorrow. I'd like
to think they're saving a special role for me and
they were impressed with my enthusiasm, rather than
noting my inability to receive and follow simple
Monday 21st July 2003
Called them this morning and the plans have changed
slightly: they now want me on Wednesday, Friday and
possibly Thursday. Was I available Thursday? Yes.
Best not to mention that I'd really need to leave
by 6pm on Thursday. I'm sure it won't be a problem...
I must get to Wimbledon at 7am on Wednesday.
Which means getting up at 5am. -gulp-
There's no parking... That's okay, I'll come
by train. How about cycle parking if I use my bike?
No facilities will be provided so it would be at my
own risk. They want me to bring an umbrella, jacket,
sunglasses and hat. Oh, and a book to read. They
want me to wear summer clothes, although not a white
or red t-shirt. Something darkish perhaps? No, not
black, more pastel. I'll try mustard yellow. Should
I bring a black umbrella or a blue EU flag umbrella?
Either would be fine. A waterproof jacket or...?
Whatever will keep you warm.
My questions seemed increasingly unwelcome and I
didn't want to get myself blacklisted, so I fought my
desire to understand the background of whatever key
role was waiting for me and decided not to
offer them the choice of a white floppy Australia hat
or a dark baseball cap (if they'd wanted baseball caps
they would've asked for them), nor offered to try out
my Aussie accent to match.
This afternoon I got my hair cut in preparation for
the big day. The barber skillfully shortened the
back of my hair that joined my neck,
cleverly revealing a strip of pale skin that hasn't
enjoyed this summer's exposure to the sun
that the rest of my neck has. Brilliant.
Friday 18th July 2003
Went to the job centre for my regular fortnightly
jobseeker review and told them about my impending
employment. The woman was very enthusiastic and told
me about her moment of TV fame at junior school when
she was on the children's game show
On Safari with Christopher Biggins and Gillian
Taylforth (pre-Eastenders)! It's amazing how quickly
I've been accepted into the celebrity social circle.
Thursday 10th July 2003
They called! They want me! I'm going to be a film
star! Okay, so it's just three days the week after
next, but this is only the beginning. They said that
it would be Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and that I
need to call them on the Monday (21st) morning to find
out where to go and what to do. Excited!
Saturday 28th June 2003
Audition day. Although not really a proper audition;
there was no actual exhibiting of talent, in fact
genuine actors were directed to an entirely separate
process. Got there early, no queue, just straight in,
filled in a standard form, took my measurements (shoe
size, waist, hat size, etc.) and then they took my photo
where I gave them a warm, welcoming, hire-me smile.
The form had a small section for talents, giving
tennis and juggling as examples. So I put tennis and
juggling, and after a few moments added diablo
(a traditional wooden toy which the artisan spins on
some string and tosses into the air). They also
asked whether I had a bicycle (yes), whether I could
drive (yes) and whether I was available to work in
Brighton in the first week of September (oh yes).
They explained that they were taking over Wimbledon
when the Championships finished in July and wanted us
for various periods until October. They'll arrange the
work on a week-by-week basis, calling the previous week
to establish availability.
They'll pay a flat fee of £60 per day for up to a
maximum of 12 hours including lunch which is better
than a slap in the face with a wet fish. Although this
being the magical world or make-believe, I guess that
can't be entirely ruled out either. They warned that
filming can be a very slow process - I'll be very
happy to get paid for sitting around reading a book!
It took fifteen minutes in all. Nice touch to have the
Kensington farmers market open down the road to pick up
some strawberries and cream on the way back to the tube