Let me introduce you to Fred. Like any aspiring actor he seeks every opportunity to launch his career. His ‘big break’ could be just around the corner, so he is always prepared and groomed to perfection. His dedication knows no limits and every morning you will find him bounding along the beach, studying other dogs for inspiration for his next role. Over the years he has developed a range of memorable characters, from the desperate beggar, the fearless protector and the comic fool. He practices his craft even in his sleep, and you can often hear him puttering away as he repeats his lines. He even works with cats on occasion, and is no stranger to performing the odd stunt.
As his lead manager, I realise that he has suffered disappointment during his career. He often becomes frustrated and barks at his reflection. I have found bones under his bed that he thinks are his secret. Sometimes, he grows so despondent at the lack of offers he sleeps all day. Fred even grew longer legs than the average Jack Russell terrier, but to no avail: the bigger breeds always seem to land the best roles. Not only that – he lives forever in the shadow of the sprightly Milo from The Mask.
Then, in just a moment, everything changed. It was a normal morning and I was escorting Fred on our Southwold harbour route, hoping to get scouted as usual. I had music playing in my ears to help him maintain his focus. There were lots of cars parked by the boat huts, with locals buying freshly caught fish from the black painted shacks and children crabbing in the muddy shores. Fred and I manoeuvred around the pot holes and I stopped to introduce him to a new contact. It was a productive encounter, and he seemed excited afterwards. We continued on, before he suddenly needed to ‘go’. Now that I look back on it, I wonder whether he did it for a publicity stunt. I don’t really blame him – other stars have done much worse in the public eye (I’m looking at you, Miley Cyrus).
As I foraged out a bag and bent down, I became aware of people looking at us. A man holding a furry boom dropped his arm, and a camera swung sideways. We had walked straight into a film set, completely oblivious to the wooden boards that announced the crew of ITV drama ‘A Mother’s Son’. Unlike Fred, I’m not a fan of the limelight and my cheeks turned instantly ruddy. He took the opportunity to get acquainted with the producer, who found him quite charming despite the circumstances. Doggy bag in hand, I left the scene with a very reluctant Fred in tow. The concluding instalment of the thriller starring Martin Clunes airs on Monday at 9pm, but I can be certain that they would have cut his impromptu cameo. Maybe next time, Fred.