Actor Linda Hargreaves on her first job: ‘This business is not for the faint-hearted’
I studied drama at Birmingham School of Acting and was fortunate enough to be approached by several agents following our final London showcase at the Soho Theatre.
My first job about a month after graduating was a TV commercial followed by a part in Doctors, playing a rather obnoxious solicitor. I remember being on set, secretly fizzing with excitement, and thinking to myself: “Wow, I bloomin’ well did it… I’m a real actress.”
I don’t think I was particularly nervous at the casting – more excited at the prospect of my first TV gig. It helped that I’d had the script well before the casting. I was actually more overwhelmed by the fact that I was sitting chatting to ‘the bloke off One Foot in the Grave’ (Owen Brenman), who was directing. Outwardly, I remembered the advice from drama school and I tried to be (or at least appear) relaxed and calm; inwardly, however, I sat and stared at him with my mouth open because he was Victor Meldrew’s next-door neighbour off the telly. Anyway, I think I pulled it off.
That was just over five years ago, and I’ve since had many fabulous acting opportunities on some great productions with some very talented and notable people in the industry. However, I’m under no illusions about how brutal this business can be. It is not for the faint-hearted.
I entered this profession with my eyes wide open, feet firmly on the ground, hoping for and working towards success but prepared for rejection, which all actors have to learn to deal with. It can be disheartening, particularly when you’re up for a part that you believe has got your name written all over it and you don’t get it. We’ve all been there. And will be again. My coping mechanism? I keep my chin up whatever the outcome and tell myself that gig wasn’t mine after all. But the next one just might be.
Training: Birmingham School of Acting
TV includes: Bodyguard (BBC), Vera (ITV), Raised by Wolves (Channel 4), 4 O’Clock Club (BBC)
Theatre includes: The Yellow Doctress (West Yorkshire Playhouse)
Film includes: Mad to Be Normal, The Essence
Other credits: Writer and performer of two YouTube web series featuring my comedy characters Tish Tushington and Shyrell Torks
Agent: Kristin Tarry, TCG Artist Management
Linda Hargreaves appears in The Lost Hancocks, a live performance of two unbroadcast Tony Hancock sitcom episodes, at the British Library on September 20. She was talking to John Byrne