The start of what I consider my professional career commenced on 7th July 1973. Mainly because I was paid to stand in front of a camera five days a week live to air and host a kids afternoon cartoon show. Cartoon Corner with Greg was what is known in the business as ‘my big break’.
I have a saying when asked by my acting students in regards to auditions and getting the role. “Right place, right face, right time”. This played an enormous part in me landing this highly sort after, take over host of an enormously successful show. My naivety to the business also contributed greatly.
At a time when my friends were back at school at the start of their senior years, here I am sitting among a room full of seasoned actors, NIDA* graduates and former television hosts with only one thought: I can get this.
I remember being led into the studio and seeing the all familiar Cartoon Corner set that I had seen so many times, for so many years every afternoon. This was also the first time I had ever set foot into a television studio. Whether I was daunted by this fact, I can’t remember. There were too many emotions going on to distinguish one from another and they were all holding me together.
The reality, this was now my first introduction to a process: The audition. A process that in subsequent years I was going to become very proficient. In fact I would have it down to an art. An art that gained me many a role.
I was introduced to a short, stocky, rotund man. He looked and spoke like a favourite Uncle. You know, the one that cracks silly jokes and always had time to play with you. This was Jim Badger or ‘Badge’ as I would later call him. My number two mentor in this crazy business and the man I certainly thank and recognise as the one that started my professional career.
So there i sat listening and watching as my competition joked and laughed about their last job, this job, that job. Bitching about one thing or an other involving the business. A type of conversation I would hear many times over through out my career. A conversation that I’m ashamed to say, I contributed to in the early years as I was caught up in the moment. A conversation that later years I despised and made me very tired of the whole business.
One of the most boisterous and flamboyant of this group was a young, well relatively young, actor: Grahame Bassett. He owned the room. Everyone seemed to know him whether they wanted to or not.
(To be continued)
* National Institute of Dramatic Art