My adventures as a balmaiden.
I'm a pretty reserved person and any kind of public performance is not really my thing, but when I saw that Poldark needed people and the criteria was only long hair and no tattoos, I thought hey - I could do that.
To be honest I didn't actually think that I would be picked. I took a dodgy selfie and uploaded it to the 20/20 casting agency, took a load of fast measurements and didn't expect to hear back.
When I heard that my details had been forwarded to the Poldark team I got a bit excited and then dismissed it as unlikely to be chosen. However, they must have thought that I looked like a balmaiden as I was accepted as an extra and received details of fitting times.
My fitting was in Newquay and the field was full of massive vans that doubled as wardrobes, kitchens and homes for the people involved. My husband and Tabitha joined me and we were greeted by a Springer Spaniel named Charlie who had a nice little den in the front portion of the van.
There was an ironing board and a lady sitting down and sewing a balmaiden's hat and the rest of the van was obscured by rows and rows of ragged clothes. I was led to the back of the van accompanied by Tabitha who decided she couldn't leave me and wanted to know why I wasn't going to be wearing a pretty pink dress.
Boxes of shoes nested beneath the lines of clothes and I was handed a baffling amount of clothes: a corset, chemise, top, knee length socks, petticoat, bum pad, skirt, apron and hat. I needed to helped into them and it made me wonder how on Earth people got dressed in their time.
My outfit looked well made and well worn. It was full of holes and definitely made me look like I had fallen on hard times. After my clothes had been put on it was time for make-up and they used a beetroot based fluid to add redness to my cheeks and chest and plenty of 'dirt' which wasn't real dirt but made up from some rather nice smelling ingredients.
While I had all this done, my husband and Tabitha played with Aiden Turner, who joined in with their pretending to trip up game!
Filming was a long day. It was a little surreal to drive ten minutes from home to then sit in a trailer filled with other extras already in costume. Some had travelled hundreds of miles, whereas some were scattered around Cornwall. I chatted to a lady who had been an extra in 'Miss Peregrine's School for Peculiar Children' and overheard others talking about their parts in various West End shows.
We were all ferried to the edge of the cliff for filming where we waved at tourists on the look out for real stars. There was a lot of waiting and pretending to be cold and starving as take after take was done from different angles. The make-up and clothing department swooped in between takes to reapply dirt and tweak costumes. It was fascinating to see that attention to detail.
It was wonderful to see Poldark first hand and see the chemistry between the actors. It definitely made a change from my everyday life and it was an insight into how hard life would have been if I was alive a few hundred years ago.
11/9/2016 10:52:14 am
What a beautifull account of your adventures Jax, you must have had so much fun, so envious that you were on chatting terms with Mr Poldark. Can't wait for the new series, we will be looking out for you xxxxxxx
11/9/2016 12:04:00 pm
Thanks Crisy - you would have loved it! ???
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