HOW I TRIED TO GET FAMOUS An exclusive from Pete Johnson for this website
This was it. My big chance. I was going to be in a film.
All right, I would only appear on screen for two seconds – if I was lucky. For I was a film extra. In my scene (I love writing that) I was part of the audience at a dramatic tennis match. And when the camera drew close to me I had to cheer wildly.
Over and over I practised my cheering in front of the mirror. And then on the day of filming I threw myself into the part. We had to repeat the scene several times. So, at the end I was hoarse, but triumphant.
I was convinced that once the film came out my unmistakable star quality would burst off the screen. And people would cry they had just seen the next James Bond or Indiana Jones or Darth Vader (no, forget that last one) I waited so impatiently for my film to be released … and waited.
Finally it escaped on to a tiny screen in London. I sat waiting with a packed audience of at least four people (maybe even five) for my entrance. And at last, there I was, on the big screen.
Only I wasn’t quite as superb as I’d hoped. In fact, to be honest, I looked a bit of a geek. I slunk out of that cinema, a broken man.
But my love of cinema continued and a few years later I became a film critic for newspapers and magazines – and on Radio One. Did you know that at least six new films come out every week? And only a very small number of them make any profit at all.
Sometimes I would discover a low budget film I really liked and would do my best to promote it. And I’d become excited, if other people started enjoying it too.
But did I still dream of appearing in front of the cameras? Oh yes! I still hoped that one day someone would look at me and say: But you’re the very person we want …’
Anyway, then I started writing books. And one day I was invited to the ITV studios in London to meet someone who was interested in turning one of my books into a TV series. I’d just arrived at ITV when this woman bustled up to me. ‘Ah, here you are, at last.’
Actually, I wasn’t late, in fact, I was five minutes early. But I didn’t argue and dashed after her as she sprinted down this very long corridor. She half-pushed me into a room where two men smiled at me in a relieved sort of way. Then one of them said. ‘Pleased to meet you …’ and a name which wasn’t mine. I’d been mistaken for an actor who was auditioning to be in a big new children’s TV series.
And then, to my total amazement I heard the words. ‘Actually, you look very like the person we want …’ and they asked if I’d be interested in just reading a few lines.
I gaped at them. This should have been the greatest moment of my life. Only tragically, my throat closed over and I couldn’t get a word out. Finally, I mumbled something about having to meet someone – and fled.
My big chance at last – and I’d been overcome with nerves. My friends said this showed that I didn’t really have what it took to be a famous actor.
I fear they’re right.
So instead I’ve written about two characters – Tobey and Georgia – who share the same dream as me. But they’ve also got a bit more courage and a good deal more talent.
And now I have put away all my dreams of being a famous actor, haven’t I?