I was in a film once when I was 11. It was called the Ruby Ring and I played a girl called Victoria whose sister went back in time and fell in love with a handsome prince. It was filmed just outside Glasgow, I had four lines which were subsequently dubbed to give me a Geordie accent, and it went straight to Nigerian cable television.
Later acting roles were even less exalted: generally I was always the man/brother/husband/male peasant on account of being tall. I played the star part of Lord Goring in Oscar Wilde’s An Ideal Husband when I was 16, but that was a confusing experience because I was at a hormonally-charged, single-sex boarding school and various girls told me afterwards that I’d played him so convincingly that they fancied me. All I’d done was put on a fake moustache.
Needless to say, when I was invited to be in the new Absolutely Fabulous film a few months ago, I was thrilled. Finally, my talents had been spotted! Here was my breakout role! I imagined a trailer and a nervous assistant with an earpiece and a clipboard who would say things like ‘Miss Money-Coutts, you’re needed on set now’. It was going to be, well, pretty fabulous. I would be off to Hollywood and married to Tom Hiddleston by Christmas.
I was a *bit* perturbed to find out that the film makers wanted other magazine bods as extras, too (including my editor, Kate Reardon, the GQ editor, Dylan Jones and Vogue’s Emily Sheffield and Sarah Harris), but I felt sure that, given my prior experience, I would be asked to say a few lines.
The plot of the new film has been kept a secret but, without having seen it, I think we can safely say it’s not going to be as labyrinthineas Game of Thrones. Eddie (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) are back, more pissed than ever. They accidentally push Kate Moss into the Thames at a fashion party and have to flee to the south of France.
I wasn’t sent a shooting script. Instead I was told that I just needed to do was to sit and watch as models paraded up and down a catwalk.I’d probably be given my lines when I was there, I decided.
We appeared as instructed at a big glass apartment block on the Southbank, and rode in a lift up to the penthouse suite. ‘Sunglasses and accessories galore,’ we’d been told. ‘Anything goes but it should either be eccentric or fashionista.’ I was wearing skinny black jeans, huge heels, sunglasses and several enormous and vibrant scarves. Brilliant, I thought, they’re going to LOVE it. And, also, where should Tom and I buy our enormous house in LA?
There was a vast room in this penthouse with benches running along either side of it and glass walls overlooking the Thames. I spotted a few people with earpieces and clipboards, but weirdly they weren’t interested in me. They were interested in the models taking part in the fashion show (including Poppy Delevingne, dressed in Giles Deacon).
Other extras on the benches included Lulu, Tine Tempah, Abbey Clancy, Gwendoline Christie, Sadie Frost and Made in Chelsea’s Jamie Laing, who I sat next to and chatted to for a bit, although he didn’t know much about Absolutely Fabulous because he was only two when the first Ab Fab sketch came out in 1990.
With everyone assembled on the benches, filming started. In came Eddie in an enormous hat, Patsy behind her – that famous blonde beehive wobbling like a blancmange. They tottered across the catwalk dodging the models, found their seats and, sitting down, bumped Lulu off the end of the bench to the floor. There were many takes of this, from one end of the catwalk, from another end of the catwalk. And it’s hot under camera lights, so I started sweating. And the hard benches were uncomfortable. And I started inhaling fibres of my scarf and coughing up hair balls. It was less glamorous than I remembered, this filming lark. Nor was I given any lines.
After three hours, I was not only being asphyxiated by my own scarf but dangerously dehydrated as well. So I’ve decided, on balance, that acting isn’t for me, while it clearly IS for Lumley and Saunders who gamely went through take after take and then obligingly posed for photos with us afterwards. Note my enormous and hazardous scarf. So if you do watch the film but find your enjoyment of it is slightly marred by the sound of someone choking and spluttering throughout the fashion show scene, I’m terribly sorry.