Can I confidently drive a van? Check.
Am I quite content with sitting still for a few hours at a time? Check.
Does striking up conversation with strangers, including a celebrity, fill me with nothing but enjoyment? Check.
Right then, it was time to join a TV crew and Ross Kemp whilst they filmed for the new series of Extreme World in and around my home town.
My background in TV/film is zero. Unless of course you count my interaction with film students at University, but that usually consisted of watching rather than creating and involved a whole lot of chocolate consumption.
One love of mine however is driving, and that is exactly what the team were looking for; someone to drive between filming locations and to sit and watch over the gear whilst they went off to document local people. In reality, I let camera man Dan drive (I didn’t want to invade his love affair with the VW Transporter) and I got through almost 2 books in 3 days whilst waiting for scary people to approach the vehicle (this never happened and thank god – how is a 24yr old girl supposed to defend herself?! My first reaction would have been to drive off).
Meeting Ross Kemp was like meeting anybody else, except that I recognised him before shaking his hand. Unlike many of Clacton-ians and Jaywick-ians we met during the week, I didn’t feel star struck at all. In a way planting a sneaky kiss on his cheek, running up with arms flailing and nervously asking for a photograph looked much more fun than my mundane approach to the situation.
Although I was tempted to shout “GET OUTTA MY PUB!” To which I’m sure he would have replied “RICKYYYY!”
When I wasn’t singing loudly to the radio, I joined the team for lunch and dinner – the best part of the entire experience. Why? Having missed out on the actual filming, this was the time I got to listen to their day and learn about the people they had interviewed. At times I felt a bit silly – me and my family have been resident here for 15 years yet I could barely name streets or recommend places to eat/drink.
Our lunches were constantly interrupted by locals wanting a picture/autograph and Ross was consistently pleasant, despite having only just sat down after a long morning. Being a part of the background, I half expected to hear him complain as soon as they walked away, but I suppose this is normality to him – not something I would ever feel comfortable with.
Dinner was a different story and an evident time for the team to relax. Accidently sitting opposite Ross at the restaurant made me feel uneasy and not because of his big personality or his recognised talent, but because I hadn’t the foggiest idea of what to say to him. To my surprise, his interest in myself seemed genuine and between the 7 of us we managed to keep the conversation light-hearted and funny.
Being asked by Ross “So how are you enjoying working with us?” moved me. Compared to the work they were doing, I felt somewhat useless but I was reassured daily that I was in fact part of the team.
It’s hard to sum up a lot of what I witnessed over the 3 days, but it was a fantastic eye-opener to the world of TV. Each individual member of the team had travelled extensively and have been involved with all kinds of documentaries/shows yet their interest in the tiny seaside town of Jaywick seemed genuine. Of course Ross does a great job in front of the camera, but my hat comes off for the producer and his 3 weeks of planning in the run up to the shoot – being plonked in a new area expected to research and approach ‘dodgy’ individuals takes some balls.
If you tune in to the new series of Extreme Worlds you will see what I mean.
My one regret? Not getting a photograph with me, the team and Ross Kemp. I told myself that the experience was worth more and that I didn’t want to slide in next to the star-struck fans. But these kinds of opportunities don’t come around very often and that would have been one hell of a cool photo to show the grand-kids.