A few months ago, when I was approached by a woman, asking me if I would like to be an extra for the hit E4 ‘dramality’ show, ‘Made In Chelsea’, I automatically agreed. Being a fan of the show, the thought of being on television, alongside London’s young socially elite, sounded really fun. Shame I never actually got round to doing it.
So, with the creation of this blog (and lack of interesting ideas) I decided to take the plunge, and see what it’s like to be an extra for a day.
The day started particularly early for me, as three tubes and a 20 minute walk caused me to have to spare an hour in order to get there on time – it would be terribly unprofessional of me to arrive late, after all. As we arrived on set, we were told to take a seat, and we were left waiting around for a bit. Of course, we didn’t mind in the slightest, as our buzz of excitement and nerves prevented us from boredom, especially as, slowly but surely, the cast members began to arrive.
We spotted Rosie Fortescue first, who looked effortlessly chic upon arrival, her ‘comfy clothes’ clinging to her petite frame, and her sunglasses shielding her face from the harsh sunlight. She goes inside, and reappears 10 minutes later, looking amazing in her styled outfit.
Next to arrive was Hugo (one minute while I marvel at his beauty) looking like he just stepped off an advert. Looking devilishly handsome in his trademark shades, he could’ve just stepped off a yacht if it weren’t for the fact that we were in the middle of Chelsea.
Spencer is the last to arrive, joking around, as he strolls on set, mocking fellow cast member Jamie, who is scheduled to join later, for having had a spray tan.
Around half an hour later, we are finally approached by a member of the crew, and are asked to sign a form, and then we are placed in the shot. The shoot was based in a restaurant, so we are sitting at a table outside, in the sun (this is the point were I deeply regret bringing my sunglasses, as realisation hits me that I am going to spend the majority of my time squinting, and attempting to look normal, whilst my vision is impaired by blurry spots). As there are not many extras required for the shoot, it is just us three and a few others, we are sitting on the table next to the cast. I found it particularly awkward at first, because I was sat opposite Spencer and Hugo, and so awkward eye contact was inevitable.
So, we just sat at the table, ordered drinks, and chatted amongst ourselves. To be quite honest, the whole concept was quite awkward at first. Trying to act cool is basically impossible, because it’s downright obvious what people are extras, and who just came here for a quiet lunch, unaware of filming taking place. However, after a few takes, I relaxed more, and felt less self conscious.
One unexpected aspect of filming, was that, because the main cast members wore microphones, we could actually engage in proper conversation, as opposed to ‘pretending’ to talk.
Numerous takes later, just when I thought things were getting boring, Jamie arrives. He is full of energy, and this gets everyones’ spirits up, making us laugh as the others mock him endlessly.
However, with Jamie’s arrival, I began to notice the scenes get more staged and less spontaneous. I always knew that some of the show was scripted, but seeing it first hand made me realise just how false some of it is.
Anyway, after about 2 and a half hours, I began to get a bit fidgety, developed pins and needles, and was very hungry. Word of advice – eat a proper meal before shooting. Unfortunately I didn’t have breakfast. Rookie mistake, I know.
At one point, towards the end of the shoot, when Spencer and Jamie were filming a scene, word seemed to have spread of the location of the shoot, and fans had started to gather outside the restaurant, opposite our tables.They excitably hid behind the fence, shoving their phones in between the metal bars, taking photos. One gutsy girl even managed to climb to the top of the fence, only to wave frantically at the boys, causing Jamie to burst out laughing mid-scene.
Soon enough, once that little fiasco was over, the shoot finished. Tired and hungry, I was ready to leave, only to be told to wait around again to get photos taken. At this point, I think the novelty of our company had worn off, and everyone was too tired to care.
A little fact for you Harrow campus students; Hugo Taylor attended Harrow School for Boys
Overall, the experience was enjoyable, and I’d definitely do it again. It was fun in the sense that we got to hang out with the stars of the show, and we get to be on TV, too. However, it was a long and tiresome day, consisting of lots of waiting around. The experience hasn’t really altered my opinion of the show, if anything, it has made me love some of the cast members even more. Despite being ridiculously rich, they are actually relatively down to earth, and dare I say it, normal. Contrary to popular belief, we were treated with respect; they spoke to us how they spoke to the main cast, and it definitely didn’t feel degrading in the slightest.
I’d advise any fan of the show to try it, even if it is just once for the experience. However, I wouldn’t recommend going alone, unless your incentive is along the lines of work experience, because it wouldn’t be half as fun. Luckily I brought my friends along, so I had company. I’m definitely going to try and make it to another shoot, that’s for sure!