I knew I was destined never to become a professional actor when, after my first audition for the local Am Dram society, I was offered the part of the front end of a pantomime horse. On reflection, I realise that this wasn’t (actually) starting at the very bottom.
The disadvantages of this are that you have no lines (just the odd whinny and comedic shake of your mane); there’s no chance of being spotted by talent scouts and it’s tricky signing autographs as hooves aren’t renowned for gripping writing implements.
I was determined to make the most of it and introduced method acting into my theatrical learning.
I’d spend a lot of time watching episodes of Mr Ed, eating hay and trotting, like Arkle, up and down Balham High Road; I’d have popped into the local Sainsbury’s, but they had a no horse allowed policy. Ironic, really, given that Princess Anne had actually opened the store – and if any member of the Royal family is half-horse, half-princess, it’s her.
Due to work commitments, allergy to stage make-up and metaphorically being sent to the acting glue factory, my “career” was short-lived.
If I hadn’t given this up, we would never have witnessed the greatest acting talent to come out of Tooting, Neil Pearson, treading the boards. There was only room for one thespian in SW17 in the mid-seventies.