Red Letter Day (1976– )
8.9/10
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Ready When You Are, Mr. McGill 

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1:54 | Clip
A film extra has won a chance for the big break in his career. He has two crucial lines in a television film, but nothing goes according to plan.

Director:

Mike Newell

Writers:

Jack Rosenthal (deviser), Jack Rosenthal
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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Joe Black Joe Black ... Joe McGill
Barbara Moore-Black Barbara Moore-Black ... Nancy McGill
Diana Davies Diana Davies ... Val
Joe Belcher ... Gaffer
Mark Wing-Davey ... Terry
Jack Shepherd ... Phil Parish - Director
Stanley Lebor ... Don
Jim Bywater Jim Bywater ... Geoff
Fred Feast ... Kenneth - Sound Recordist
Peter Russell Peter Russell ... Colin
Joyce Kennedy Joyce Kennedy ... Deirdre
John Proctor John Proctor ... Milkman
Wenda Brown Wenda Brown ... Shirley
Eileen Davies ... Jean
Marty Cruikshank Marty Cruikshank ... Betty
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Storyline

A film extra has won a chance for the big break in his career. He has two crucial lines in a television film, but nothing goes according to plan.

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character name in title | See All (1) »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 January 1976 (UK) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Granada Television See more »
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Technical Specs

Color:

Color
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Did You Know?

Quotes

[Phil Parish rebukes Joe McGill because he has fluffed his lines yet again]
Phil Parish - Director: You had *two* lines to do, Mr McGill. Two! And you couldn't.
Joe McGill: It was the thirteenth take.
Phil Parish - Director: Do you know why you couldn't, Mr McGill? Because you're no bloody good. And *that's* why you're an extra. A stupid, lousy extra!
Joe McGill: You don't know that I'm stupid - no good at anything. You've only really met me today. I might be very good, for all you know.
Phil Parish - Director: Mr MrGill, you had *one* important thing to do - and you couldn't.
Joe McGill: That's not ...
[...]
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User Reviews

 
An Example of a Single Play in an Anthology Series
23 December 2017 | by l_rawjalaurenceSee all my reviews

Ready When You Are, Mr. McGill by Jack Rosenthal (1975). Dir. Mike Newell. Perf. Joe Black, Jack Shepherd, Fred Feast.

Produced as part of a television anthology series, Red Letter Day (another genre that seems part of television's past), Ready When You Are, Mr. McGill tells of Joe McGill's (Joe Black's) red letter day, as he gets to speak sixteen words as an extra on a period drama. The play tells of his day as he gets up, rehearses the dialogue, gets on the extras' coach, arrives at the location, and after a series of false starts, makes a hash of his big moment. The story could have been melodramatic, but director Mike Newell (later to make Four Weddings and a Funeral) keeps things light with a deliberate contrast between how Joe McGill thinks he's done (he firmly believes it will be all right on the night) and the opinion of director Phil Parish (Jack Shepherd) who indicates that the entire scene as shot will be deleted from the final cut. The contrast only serves to emphasize that, despite their dreams, most extras are appalling actors - this is why they remain extras throughout their lives. The film works hard to establish the sheer tedium of filming, especially in a suburb of Manchester on an extremely cold day of showers and sun. The crew work hard to jolly people along, but it's hard to remain calm when scenes are interrupted by hairs getting into the viewfinder or passing aeroplanes disrupting the shot. Stanley Lebor's Don is a study in miserable-faced boredom as he tries to protect his camera from the driving rain. Jack Shepherd is positively stellar as Phil. Saddled with a cold, while trying to finish a period drama with the producer on his back, he eventually vents his frustration on the luckless Joe McGill, describing his performance as one of the worst he has seen in history. Joe responds with spirit, but one can't quite escape the feeling that he knows he's messed up his big moment. In the end Phil curls up in the back seat of a car and tries to blot the rigors of the day out. Director Newell is careful to illustrate the effect of the television crew's presence. On the one hand, they are the inevitable focus of attention for the locals (Joe gets asked for autographs), yet the production has such little impact on the people that some of them walk by thoroughly disinterested in the proceedings. After all, they'll be gone soon, and the suburban village will resume its characteristic atmosphere of gentle torpor.


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