Once upon a time I had an audition for The Basil Brush Show.
For those who don't know, it was a popular kid’s show in the 70s (repeated through the 80s) and then came back between 2002 and 2007.
The note from my agent said 'You'll be meeting the Producer, the Director and Basil'. I had to go to a hotel suite in Hammersmith and on asking the receptionist awkwardly for the Basil Brush audition, I was breezily told Basil was upstairs - as if this was the most normal thing in the world. The image of him tottering into the lobby to book a room flitted through my mind.
Even then, I assumed that seeing as how he was a puppet fox, I'd be meeting his puppeteer. He'd say 'Look at the puppet, not me mate.' And it would all be all bit joyless.
I was wrong.
I was called in, clocked the director and producer as described – and there 'standing' behind a table was he. Basil Brush.
'Hello hello Mr Ben! Come on in!' He chortled.
Now I don't know if you've ever been seriously addressed by a puppet, but my head did two things:
It assured me that this was all part of the audition and they simply wanted to see how I interacted with the puppet.
It went 'THERE'S BASIL BRUSH! SAY HELLO AND SHAKE HIS PAW. THEY CAN'T STOP YOU.'
I did the latter and was overjoyed to feel his tiny fox paw in my hand. He even gave me a 'BOOM BOOM!' after the first read of the scene.
Afterwards he asked me a bit about myself, and I asked him about himself. 'What have you been up to since the 70's?' (answer: I've been clubbing mainly! Know what I mean Mr Ben!? BOOM BOOM!) by which I imagined him in Stringfellows or at Ministry of Sound. Both good places to picture him.
At the very end, Basil said goodbye, sank below the table and a slightly exhausted man called Michael rose in his place wearing a headset and knee pads. It was a bit discombobulating. He was interested in whether I watched the current series – I said I didn't but my nieces did. He pulled out 3 signed photographs of Basil and gave them to me to give to them.
On top of that, I got the part.
Best. Audition. Ever.