Cassie stood frozen to the spot trying to slow her breathing as she felt the embers of her fury start to drift upwards from her toes towards the top of her head. From an early age she’d had a temper but had done all of the necessary and recommended therapy and training to master and contain it for the most part. However, on this occasion she could feel the emotional lava creep further up her legs.
It’s not like she’d not done an audition before but she had not expected such harsh criticism for this kind of job. Her brain was trying to fully compute what she had just heard from the people sat in front of her with little success.
“Like a fish asking for more food…. Underwater!”
“Cats and dogs are running up to their TVs all over the country… to switch them off.”
“You weren’t awful… it was worse than that.”
“Ignore them, they’re being harsh. But you were pitchy throughout.”
And then in unison, these so called glittery experts said the words that had struck and bulldozed through the one nerve Cassie, and especially her agent, had hoped they would avoid.
Throughout the annuls of time there has never been an instance where the use of these two words together has actually meant that the person using it didn’t mean to offend the person they’re referring to. It’s a get out of jail free card used by idiots to say the first offensive thing to come into your head and then flippantly excuse it with that throwaway phrase. Well to Cassie she had been deeply irreversibly offended, she was Miss Offended from Offended St, Offendedshire, OFF 3ND. She remained fixed in position in front of these over-opinionated odd balls, wondering what exactly brought her to this moment in time.
Whilst she tried to construct a polite professional response to the harsh critiques, Cassie’s whole life and career flashed before her eyes. Meanwhile the hot mental magma continued to flow past her waist heading for the summit.
Her mind drifted back to where this crazy journey began, on the stage in the sports hall of Shelfry Park Primary School. Dressed as a giant snow ball, Cassie was selected at the age of nine, to be the lead singer in the school production of “When The Ice Melts” . It was a triumphant show which had a host of memorable songs including “This Snow’s Not Going to Fall”, “Cold Opening”, “Having a Ball!” and the classic title track that Cassie made her own.
Outside of her memories, though her body temperature continued to rise to volcanic levels in front of her harsh critics, Cassie started to hum the catchy chorus quietly to herself:
When The Ice Melts,
I’m in a spin!
The wintry tundra is burning my skin
If only the sun would come out I’d win
When The Ice melts,
My life can begin!
Her two performances, one in the morning and then afternoon, were so impressive that she made the local paper and a YouTube video posted by her parents went viral thanks to various C-list celebrities picking it up and retweeting it. Within two days, 10 million people had seen that video and some of them even genuinely liked it.
Before Cassie’s school had broken up for Christmas, she was already having meetings with local talent agents that saw something in her high-pitched singing voice and Alice in Wonderland looks that had the potential to make her a star. Over the next five years Cassie was put forward for every role you can possibly imagine, movies, radio, TV, theatre and, when the number of Nos had hit triple figures, eventually she got her first Yes as “Young Cinders” in a pantomime.
Cassie relished this opportunity and grabbed it with both hands. She may have been performing in front of lots of empty seats, noisy impatient children and incontinent pensioners but, putrid smells aside, she loved acting and singing her heart out in eight shows a week. It may have only been a five week run but Cassie was buzzing and wanted more. Her agent had lined up three auditions for adverts and this was where Cassie became a household name for the next decade. You name it, she has been in the ad for it. Some of the most famous include:
The only toy doll that used real smells and aromas for when it pushed out a fake wee and plastic poo from its foam filled orifices. The ad showed Cassie in her pretend back garden dressed up to look younger pushing Dolly around in a tiny pram. When out of nowhere she does an over the top sniff towards the camera. What followed was the tag line that Cassie had probably heard the most from randoms in the street during her entire career, “Dolly, have you done a Dookey?”
Horace Lost His Marbles
This was the number one Christmas board game five years running. Up to five players take it in turns to roll the spherical dice and move around the board and collect Horace the Spider’s marble tears. The winner is the first person to collect five marbles and get out of the cave at the end of the board without being captured and wrapped in a cocoon.
The advert was set in a cave where a family are playing the game when a huge spider creeps up behind Cassie’s character. The actor playing her brother says “Sis, Horace is behind you?”. Cassie bursts out laughing before she sees her entire family running out of the cave. She slowly turns around, sees this huge - and clearly fake - animatronic spider and screams. The ad ends with Cassie jumping around completely enclosed in a cocoon before being dragged away by the spider. The accompanying voiceover uttered the haunting line, “Can you find Horace’s marbles before it’s too late?”.
Barry’s Burger Sauce
Cassie played Diner number three, where for 20 takes she had to bite into a Barry’s anchovy burger sauce-covered bun before saying, “There’s nothing fishy about this burger… except the sauce!”.
Queen’s Chunky Fruit Salad
Cassie’s first voiceover job saw her playing Polly Pineapple who would jump into the can of Queen’s Chunky Fruit Salad screaming “Wheeeee!”. This was not her finest acting hour but ironically one of the most lucrative jobs due to the repeat fees. Recently ranked in the top five adverts of all time.
Pizza My Mind
The first pizza chain that updated their menu based on ideas from the general public. In this advert, Cassie was dressed in a pizza outfit playing the Full English. For six hours she had to say the line, “I’m the ultimate breakfast feast!” whilst fresh egg, bacon, sausage and beans slowly dripped down her deep pan front. This was the final nail in the ad cash cow and led to Cassie sacking her agent, despite her parents pleading with her to reconsider.
Looking back at those crazy times gave Cassie the warm and fuzzies, even though most of that was down to the ever increasing rage brewing in her chest.
The next few months were quiet where the phone didn’t ring at all but eventually Cassie found a new agent who set her sights on bigger things… movies. Her first audition was with a debut director who saw her potential and offered her the lead role almost immediately. Cassie couldn’t believe her luck, she was ecstatic. This was the big break she had been waiting for! “Hidden Treasures” was going to be huge.
Cut to a closed set three months later on Cassie’s 22nd birthday. She’d been given some new pages of the script that morning. The director was also the screenwriter and decided to add an unnecessary sex scene. Two hours later a nervous and naked Cassie lay in bed on her back whilst an also naked male actor wearing a pink sock over his bits pretended to make love to her. She tried to make the right orgasmic noises and take it seriously but the ridiculousness of it all caused her to burst out laughing which lasted for most of the next 50 takes. The intimacy co-ordinator quit that night and a body double for Cassie was brought in to finish the scene.
The movie failed to find a distributor and eventually was dropped on a streaming platform unannounced but winning “Worst Sex Scene” at the Razzles the next year.
That memory did nothing to cool Cassie’s simmering anger as it reached her throat with the flames licking at her tonsils.
With her career in tatters Cassie came back to the UK and needed to do something fast to remain in the public eye and that meant one thing… soap opera.
“Humber Park Road” was a regional drama set near the Humber Bridge in the North of England. Cassie was the character of Tina, the lovable bar maid in the local pub, The Humber Arms. In five years of playing this character she became the “Most Loved Soap Actress” according to Soapy Magazine and the only person to win “Ears of the Year” two years running. Cracking catchphrases like “Wotcha!” and “Ehhh I’m not doing that!” made her a firm fan favourite as the audience figures rose up to 12 million per episode. This was it, Cassie had the job of her dreams and she was getting the praise from the press and the public she’d always craved.
Sadly the best job Cassie could ever wish for disintegrated in a matter of hours after she lashed out at a paparazzi photographer in the street, grabbed his camera and chucked it at him. He’d leapt out of the way into the road and was unexpectedly hit by a bus. These events may sound like the storyline of an average Wednesday night episode of “Humber Park Road” but it was not a laughing matter. Within four weeks Cassie avoided any prosecution for those events but the programme makers bowed to the social media frenzy around #cassieisakiller and fired her from the soap. No big storyline ending for Cassie, just dismissed and replaced by a new actress playing Tina without anyone batting an eyelid.
Cassie’s reflections on her brief dips in the pool of celebrity were complete, but how did she get to be on a stage in front of these bizarre critics who were also in front of a huge studio audience? Because that’s where her career had got to, rock bottom, and saying No to anything was no longer an option. Her agent couldn’t believe it when the offer came in and they warned Cassie knowing her history, “Just don’t take it seriously! They might slag you off but it’s just for fun!”. Maybe Cassie thought her singing voice was so strong, even though she’d not held a tune for years, that there was no chance she would receive harsh feedback. Famous last words.
Whilst reminiscing on her career may have felt like minutes, only 15 seconds had passed in reality with Cassie giving her adversaries the death stare. She had hoped the deep breaths and flashbacks would have helped but in truth it was the root cause of why her hot molten temper was about to explode out of the top of her head. Throwing caution to the wind, with steam pumping out of her ears Cassie blurted out a response nobody expected including herself,
“No offence? No offence! Well let’s see how you like it…”
Cassie turned to the first critic on the far right end of the sparkly desk, with overly coiffured hair, dressed in a polka dotted black and white suit.
“You! Looking like Cruella Deville’s stupid brother. No wonder no one famous wants to go on your chat show anymore!”
Turning to the overly made up woman in a bright orange jumpsuit sat next to her first victim Cassie continued:
“Are you a singer? I’ve never heard a single song of yours. You’re only famous because you know Ed Sheeran and are dating that director who makes movies about Thor and happy bunny loving Nazi children.”
She was on a roll as Cassie directed her attention towards judge number three:
“As for you, haven’t you got a shampoo or fitness dvd to promote? I’m surprised you found the time in your busy schedule to be here. I used to like you when you were on that reality show telling people not to swear. But now you’re just a sad old woman trying to fool everyone you’re still 30 instead of 60. Spoiler alert - you’re fooling nobody!”
Judge number three burst into tears whilst Cassie kept going. Her penultimate critic was in a dapper three piece suit and bright red shoes. He looked genuinely worried.
“Here he is. Mr Up and Comer. You have the nerve to criticise my singing. You’re not even a funny comedian or talented interviewer but at the moment your face fits for the channel. I look forward to seeing and laughing when your career dries up in five years time.”
At this point the audience started to cheer and boo in equal measure. The crowd couldn’t believe what they were seeing but they were on the verge of turning against Cassie. Sensing she may have outstayed her welcome she turned to her fifth and final target, the host standing next to her, dressed in his bright blue glittery suit which matched his huge overly perfect white smile and large quiff.
“I remember you. You went into the jungle after someone posted a video of you having a wank. You think we’ve all forgotten about that. We haven’t! We never forget! You’ll always be a wanker to me. You may think your career is back on track but you are only a second away from another disaster.”
With all four judges brought to tears, threatening to storm off, the shocked host looked around for support from the production staff and listened to the voice in his ear piece. He lifted the microphone to his mouth.
“Well that’s a first for this show, we may need to introduce gags beneath the masks.”
The jeering crowd behind the cameras filming the TV show burst out laughing, Cassie’s outrage instantly thawed, replaced with fear and regret. Enclosed in this oversized outfit with a small fan blowing air in her face the realisation of what she had done was clear. She looked through the eye holes towards where her agent Sally was sat. The seat was empty.
The host returned to the autocue which had been quickly updated,
“Did their performance bring the juice or were their comments too fruity for some? We’ll find out when their mask is possibly removed later. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Pineapple!”
With the catchy theme tune ringing in her ears, two assistants either side helped Cassie off the stage. In her ridiculous outfit she waddled down the walkway to a cacophony of boos from the crowd and the judges, while coming to terms with the reality that she had done it again and must have one of the most stupid and pointless jobs in the world.