By Bernadette Griffin
So, you sign up your gorgeous bundle with the local modelling agency and sit back and wait for the call from Baby Gap as everyone knows how gorgeous and special your baby is – yes? err, not exactly… Missing out on a last minute casting for a previous job I thought our chance of Bethany taking child modelling by storm had passed but with a call from Nat, model booker at Alan Sharman Agency, we had our fingers crossed for our first booking – the BBC drama series Doctors were casting for a ‘mixed race baby girl’ – well Bethany ticked both boxes and off her ‘book’ went to the folks at the beeb. Hoorah! We got the job Bethany is cast as Baby Lily, daughter of a Anya, played by the beautiful Emmanuella Cole.
Get ready for 40’ Winnebago, baby stylist, glitz and golden nappy change station – thankfully I’m no stranger to producing shoots for photography and video so knew what to expect – no glitz or glamour but a down to earth cast and crew running behind schedule all freezing their butts off at Edgbaston Reservoir, without enough hot water for tea to warm the cockles!
Monday 4th February. Location: waterside at Edgbaston Reservoir. Call time 9.30am. Forgetting that we’d be waiting around most of the day and concerned about being late we arrive at 9am and park up next to the BBC motor home and climb aboard – me armed with baby, 3 outfits and coats for wardrobe, nappy bag and enough food and snacks for Bethany to last the day. There is no such thing as travelling light with me. It looked like I was out on the longest day trip. Here we meet our Chaperone and are briefed on the ‘rules’ for Bethany to work, no more than 4 hours working – and no more than 2hrs of total performance time. With unit move scheduled for the afternoon, not likely!
And then the waiting – or should I say ‘resting’ begins. The heavens open and delay filming of the current scene, so we sit in the ‘winnie’ and wait some more. Listening on the radio we hear ‘standby for the baby’. It’s still raining so I grab an umbrella from the car, with BBC cuts who knew if there’d be enough brollies to go around? (this umbrella goes missing before we wrap btw). The rain lets up a bit and again the radio crackle with ‘standby… bring the baby…’ the lady from wardrobe pops her head in and says “oh no is that a logo!?” frowning at Bethany’s current attire ( a baby K snow suit from Mothercare). Don’t worry I say, and display Bethany’s outfits like a fine wine over my arm – a nod of approval – quick change and we bundle into transport, pushchair, change bag, umbrella et al to take us down to ‘lake side’. The transport is a police van and as we get to set we get a little stuck in the mud and have to bundle out and meet 1st AD and more runners. Wardrobe take a polaroid for continuity and Bethany meets her new mummy for the day Emmanuella; no tears – just smiles all round and all the ladies coo over her gorgeous long eyelashes. (they are gorgeous). We wait while cast and crew shoot a couple of takes and then it’s the moment of truth. Bring in the baby! Bethany is strapped loosely into a car seat in the back of her mummy’s car, a blue 3 door hatchback, parked up by the lake. One round of ‘heads shoulders knees and toes’ sung and I stand back – Bethany doesn’t like car seats, but I don’t say anything. I walk away and let the team get on with it. No tears – hurrah. Bethany is a natural performer. I chat with the director Baff Akoto (award winning director don’t you know) and he says he’s happy. 2 takes and Bethany is done, her first 17 minutes of performance.
And off we go to ‘rest’ some more, this time in a people carrier and watch the action. We wait, Bethany eats butternut squash and a yoghurt. Phew we don’t get anything on her clothes. Continuity is paramount don’t you know. I eat one of the chaperone’s chocolate coated rice cakes – surprisingly tasty and then before you know it another hour has passed and Bethany is called for once more and then we wrap. Total 25 minutes performance for blink and you might miss her moment in the edit and one lost umbrella. So, first job complete, hopefully the first of many.
Bethany’s TV debut – Doctors Series 15, Episode 16 aired on Wednesday 24th April.