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    I Was An Extra In "Red Nose Day Actually" And It Was So Bizarre

    I had to pretend to be a journalist while being a journalist. It was wonderful.

    Today in the UK they screened Red Nose Day Actually, a 10-minute sequel to the film we all get drunk to and debate each Christmas: Love Actually.

    BBC / Emma Freud / Via Twitter: @emmafreud

    I was asked to be an extra in the new press conference scene, a scene I was fucking obsessed with in the original Love Actually.

    The scene where our PM, David (Hugh Grant), fucked up our special relationship with the United States because he had a crush on a colleague, and then, in another scene later on, danced to "Jump for My Love" by The Pointer Sisters.

    The scene where David referenced Harry Potter and made a joke about David Beckham's left foot and right foot.

    A joke I still don't understand.

    The scene where this guy did this amazing Whoa wtf face.

    Universal Pictures

    He fucking nailed it, that extra. Best bit of the entire film IMHO.

    Anyway, like the original, the 2017 version wasn't filmed at Number 10. Instead it was filmed in a fancy house a mile away that was made to look like Number 10.

    When I arrived I was ushered into an upstairs room to wait. There were some very famous vloggers in there too, all of whom would be appearing in the scene pretending to be journalists.

    They were all passing the time by taking selfies and uploading them to Instagram to their millions of followers.

    These photos racked up more than 100,000 likes on Instagram in just a few minutes. I was too anxious to say hi and didn't want to take selfies alone.

    So instead I took a photo of 30 bottles of water and three half-drunken coffees. It would have got 0 likes on Instagram because the photo was so bad, so I decided later never to upload it. Here is the photo:

    Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

    It then got a bit weirder because actual real journalists then arrived.

    I had no idea that there were going to be real journalists at the fake press conference.

    Yes, I know "I had no idea that there were going to be real journalists at the fake press conference" is a weird sentence to read.

    There was Susanna Reid from ITV's Good Morning Britain. Cathy Newman from Channel 4 News. Keir Simmons from NBC News. Victoria Derbyshire from BBC News. ITV's Robert Peston from Peston's Peston on ITV.

    And errrrrrrmmmmm...

    Hang on a minute.

    I whipped out my phone.

    I googled something discreetly in the corner.


    And Charlie Stayt from BBC Breakfast.

    Look, I recognise his face on TV all the time but the name escapes me as BBC Breakfast is on when I'm fucking tired, alright.

    And now I feel bad.

    I am gutted to say that these news rivals meeting each other was not the scene from Anchorman.

    Paramount Pictures

    Less blood. More talk about what we were doing that afternoon.

    I did however accidentally splash water all over my trousers in front of BBC Breakfast's Charlie Stayt in the men's toilets 20 minutes later.

    I'm blaming the taps.

    So at this Love Actually shoot there were journalists pretending to be journalists, extras pretending to be journalists, and vloggers even pretending to be journalists.

    I mentioned this to one of the newsreaders, who said this back to me:

    "I don't think the journalists are pretending to be journalists, Scott."

    Everyone was then given pretend press credentials for the scene.

    The other news presenters got passes with their names on.

    I received mine and instantly realised that there was something slightly wrong.

    Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

    I don't work at The Observer.

    Oh, and I'm not a woman called Sophie.

    I was told that they didn't make credentials for me or BuzzFeed.

    I guess that in the Love Actually world, BuzzFeed isn't a thing.


    We were then taken downstairs for the proper fake news conference with everyone pretending to be journalists, apart from the journalists, who weren't.

    On the stairs I came across this weird sight: Tony Blair and Gordon Brown on top of the Number 10 staircase.

    Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

    This is where I go nerdy as fuck and I am not apologising.

    If you look closely at the top image from the original Love Actually, you can see David dancing down the stairs with a photo of Tony Blair at the very top.

    Universal Pictures

    That suggests that he was prime minister after Tony Blair, either defeating him in an election or ousting Tony within his own party.

    But when you look at the final version, you will see that on the wall Gordon Brown was PM after Tony Blair, who was PM four years after the film was out.


    Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

    Weeks later, in Red Nose Day Actually, we learned that David was prime minister twice. He left Number 10 and then he came back again.

    So here's my theory.

    David replaced Tony Blair as prime minister, but then Gordon Brown defeated him in an election.

    And then David came back to power and defeated Gordon Brown again.

    When I told a colleague this theory, he responded with: "Shouldn't Hugh Grant be on the wall too, if he's come back after being deposed?"

    Oh god.

    Oh yeah, and it seems David Cameron never existed.

    Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

    Nor did Theresa May for that matter.

    All of the news people and myself were then taken downstairs to the back of the press conference room, waiting for the other extras to arrive.

    I foolishly decided to check Twitter at this point and didn't notice the guy that was standing on my right.

    Courtesy of Nick Briggs

    This photo makes us all look like we're an indie band on their fourth album and it's had very mixed reviews.

    The guy introduced himself, said his name was Keir Charles. He said he was an actor. I assumed he was an extra.

    The room then filled up and we were told to act as if a real press conference was about to take place.

    Red Nose Day

    And Hugh Grant pointed at Keir standing next to me, and Keir started talking:

    "Prime minister, when you came to power the first time, you were very optimistic. You said that the power of God will finally win. That Love Actually is all around."

    Notice my face on the right.

    Red Nose Day

    My face was like, "oh fuck", but also one of, "I'm a journalist and there's a camera near my face and we journalists have serious faces all the time."

    You don't see journalists making a facial expression of "OH SHIT" every time someone near them gets asked a question by the prime minister.

    So I hatched a plan. During the second take, I decided to turn my head to the front and then back to him, to act like this was real press conference and this was a proper question.

    Here we go:

    Red Nose Day


    Looking at this back, I think my year 9 drama teacher would be proud.

    When the take was over, I immediately turned to Keir and said: "I never knew that you had a line in Red Nose Day Actually."

    He then told me that he was in the original film, where he gave the opening line at the press conference.

    And if you look at both versions, it's true. Look!

    Universal Pictures and Red Nose Day

    Titting hell.

    Between one of the takes, a member of the costume team told me that my tie was clashing with Keir's and it needed to be changed immediately.

    So she gave me a different-colour tie and waited for me to put it on.

    And she waited while I tried.

    And waited.

    The problem was that I couldn't put the tie on properly. Even though we have political journalists who wear suit and ties at events, I mainly write about TV and the WTF topics discussed on Loose Women and you don't need to wear a suit and tie for that.

    At this moment Peston, in the row in front, turned round and winked at me.

    It felt like I was going to school on my first day and he was my dad.

    Directly after this I decided to take this monumentally shit photo of the reunion between Hugh Grant, Martine McCutcheon, and Richard Curtis.

    Scott Bryan / BuzzFeed

    You know the photo that all the papers used of them three standing together?

    This isn't it.

    We then did the three- or four-minute scene three or four more times. Each time Hugh Grant improvised a line at the very end that wouldn't make the final cut.

    At the end of one someone in the audience shouted: "Where's your Red Nose?"

    Hugh: "I wear my Red Nose someplace else."

    At the end of another one he pointed to one of the extras in the press conference and said: "You, from Horse & Hound."

    Everyone shrieked. It took me two hours and a conversation with my partner to realise that it was a Notting Hill reference.

    I looked over at the other journalists during the takes too. A few of them were writing in shorthand, which for non-journalists out there, is basically writing symbols instead of words so you can transcribe stuff quickly.

    For fun.

    You can see them doing this in the film.

    Red Nose Day

    They just loved the thrill of the press conference so much and were happy to go along with it. It was wonderful.

    Between takes, one of the producers came straight for me.

    "Why does your badge say you're a woman?!"

    I was then changed from being a woman at The Observer to being a man.

    Oh, and I now worked for BBC News apparently.

    I lasted as long working at The Observer as it takes to read a copy of The Observer.

    And after four takes of filming, it was over.

    We were quickly moved off set. The PM disappeared.

    I ate a chicken salad.

    I also met up with my boyfriend, who was in the area.

    He asked what being an extra was like. Instead of responding calmly with what I saw and what the scene was like, but I was too excited and said something like:


    For 45 minutes straight.

    In hindsight, I think I can summarise being an extra as this:

    It was the best day of acting like a real journalist when I was in fact a real journalist I have ever had.

    To donate to Red Nose Day, head to the Red Nose Day website. To watch Red Nose Day Actually in the UK, head to BBC iPlayer. It will also be shown during Red Nose Day USA, which will be on NBC on 25 May 2017.

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