How to become a TV and film extra

Emma Woollacott
production marker
production marker

One day, you might be pretending to pilot a helicopter; the next, doffing your cap to Downton's Lady Edith. And the chances are that the next day, you'll be pacing up and down wondering where the next job's coming from.

Being an extra - or background artist, to use the official term - is an unreliable way to make a living, but is certainly never boring. And you don't need to be particularly beautiful, or even have any acting experience. An unusual appearance can sometimes be an advantage - being tattooed or obese may be just what's wanted, and pensioners can often get more work than students.