6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Berkshire & Buckinghamshire Life today click here

Jacqueline Haworth on being an extra, filming with Hugh Grant and her latest production

PUBLISHED: 15:38 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 15:38 20 April 2017


From gliding around behind Meryl Streep to ducking from the explosive antics of Tom Hardy in Taboo, a Wendover former teacher gets to see it all. Sandra Smith met her

“Hugh Grant was really lovely when filming Florence Foster Jenkins. Sometimes there were up to 20 takes, just going over and over the same scene. As if Meryl Streep could ever get it wrong – she’s an absolute goddess in my eyes!”

With shoulder length hair pinned into tight curls and suitably glamorous in a fur stole and pearls, Jacqueline Haworth’s role as one of the Verdi ladies saw her applauding and encouraging the would-be opera singer who entertained troops with her memorable voice.

“It was a seminal experience,” Jacqueline continues with a broad smile. “Filming took place in the Hammersmith Apollo which doubled as Carnegie Hall. The venue was packed with over 400 extras in army uniforms.”

Discussing award winning actors could easily sidetrack us. You see, in creating a career as a film extra this energetic 72-year-old has clocked up over 100 roles during the last three years, appearing in numerous productions from The Lady in the Van to Bridget Jones’s Baby. Iconic names – too many to list but how about Alison Steadman and Celia Imrie (“really lovely people”) to give you a flavour – filter into our conversation. And whilst Jacqueline in no way gives the impression of being star struck, she clearly appreciates the escapism her calling offers.

“I enjoy going into a different world. It’s both random and fantastic. For Endeavour I was part of a 1960’s party in Halton House. The costumes and masks were amazing.”

One of her early gigs turned into a regular. The first series of Call the Midwife not only featured Jacqueline as the only random nun, but numerous passers by as well. She recalls the experience.

“We filmed at Longcross Studios near Chertsey and also Chatham Docks. The costumes you wear are very specific, even down to the sort of stockings. Hair and make up can take 45 minutes. There’s a lot of sitting around and waiting, you have to be okay with that. Sometimes it might be three or four hours before you’re doing anything. But food is provided, which is usually excellent.”

Although she drives home still wearing theatrical make up, hairstyles are deconstructed before leaving, hairpins being valuable items for any wardrobe department.

Given the legendary unpredictability of the industry, early starts and late finishes are commonplace. Jacqueline recalls once having to arrive at Shoreditch Town Hall for 4.30am; recent filming at Alexandra Palace didn’t finish until 3am. When I ask about this latest production her response is a blend of politeness and professionalism.

“I can’t say too much; I’ve signed a disclosure. All I can tell you is it features Benedict Cumberbatch.”

Sitting in Jacqueline’s first floor apartment overlooking Wendover High Street we sip white wine while discussing her early interest in the acting profession.

Her father, having been offered a place at RADA, instead chose a “proper job” in the RAF. His daughter, despite reservations, trained as a teacher and it was only years later when accompanying her sister to an amateur theatre company session to which Jacqueline tagged along that she realised her calling.

“It was a lightbulb moment. I thought, ‘My God, this is what I was meant to do’. But I couldn’t make a living from acting. I got married, had children, then worked in a special needs school. I finally plucked up courage to go on a drama course after my divorce.”

A theatrical part in The Boyfriend followed. She’d always been told she couldn’t sing but lessons from a Musical Director prepared her to audition for Hello Dolly. She was offered the part. Next came a stint at Central School of Speech and Drama after which she launched herself into professional pantomime before joining a casting agent who invited her for a photoshoot.

Since then work has consistently come her way, yet Jacqueline remains eager to learn new techniques. A two day role play audition workshop is currently lined up (“Fascinating and quite a departure for me”). The multi lingual extra has also completed courses covering improvisation, singing, movement conditioning, clowning, speaking Shakespeare and Meisner Acting Technique, the latter encouraging actors to respond instinctively to their surrounding environment.

She goes on to talk animatedly about Assistant Directors whose guidance helps her to lock down characters and recalls those occasions when even a few syllables demand rehearsal.

“One episode of Call the Midwife involved a chap coming into the village hall. He was gay, which was a real no-no in the Sixties, and after the character next to me commented I had to say ‘Nerve!’ I practised and practised that line. For crowd scenes sometimes you’re often miming, but for a scene in EastEnders my line was, ‘Oh, how much is that?’”

Speaking parts carry a premium and Jacqueline is entitled to both travel expenses and holiday pay. Apart from the occasional emergency, she is usually given at least 24 hours notice, with filming taking place months ahead of the film or programme being aired.

One of the most recent television hits in her portfolio is Taboo. This gritty epic starred man of the moment, Tom Hardy, with Jacqueline appearing in a scene featured in the final thrilling episode.

“I was a villager when 11 horses galloped through our village. You could hear them thundering towards you; the ground shook.”

In her spacious oak beamed sitting room whose traces of bohemian décor reflect an independent spirit, this laidback actor has found her feet. Yet popular as she is as an extra, does she also harbour bigger ambitions?

“I loved that feeling I had when I performed in Terence Rattigan’s Separate Tables. It’s lovely to be a different person and I’m always totally focussed. Being an extra is worth it because of the experience, but I would love one really good role.”

Perhaps such an opportunity isn’t so far away. At the moment a major understudy role is being discussed and she takes a call from her agent just as I’m leaving. Who knows what might be on offer? Maybe it won’t be too long before she enjoys star billing.


How the sale of Mentmore Towers’ contents changed how we view national heritage - How the 1977 ‘Sale of the Century’ of a magnificent home’s art treasures and contents helped to change how we view national heritage


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from People

Mon, 12:09

Real life TV star Dr Zareena Hyder discusses being a ‘GP behind closed doors’, surviving the cold and flu season and swapping the city for village life in Chartridge

Read more
Mon, 12:08

It’s a busy time for the Hamiltons as they prepare to open a specialist pet hospital

Read more
Monday, December 11, 2017

Our favourite contestant from The Great British Bake Off is now ‘all grown up’ but will be back in Ascot for a traditional family Christmas

Read more
Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The executive chef never gets in a pickle and is turning his thoughts to local game and Christmas surprises

Read more
Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Graphologist Elaine Quigley can uncover personality traits from your handwriting, Sandra Smith discovers

Read more
Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sandra Smith catches up with two young Buckinghamshire women setting the pace in very different careers

Read more
Monday, October 9, 2017

Behind the scenes in Wokingham, a group interested in finding out more about everything from street art to tapestries is thriving, Linda Fawkes discovers

Read more
Tuesday, October 3, 2017

As a national charity based in Bucks celebrates its 125th anniversary, Nicola Swanborough explains how it has become an integral part of Chalfont St Peter

Read more
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

It can be done – local residents now own their local pub one year on from fearing it would be the latest to close

Read more
Tuesday, August 22, 2017

From Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’ to a kaleidoscope of hot colours, Manoj Malde’s spectacular design had plenty of spice, says Naomi Slade

Read more
Friday, August 18, 2017

A breast cancer survivor is taking on an epic challenge for The South Bucks Community Hospice. Here she tells Charlotte Davis why she is doing it

Read more
Tuesday, August 15, 2017

It’s not all trolls and outrage, some of us ‘meet’ people who share and care in a new version of ‘community’ Karen finds

Read more
Monday, August 7, 2017

As nominations open for this year’s glittering county sport awards, Steve Cohen talks to the ‘unsung hero’ who has devoted 40 years to one junior club in Bourne End

Read more
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Celebrities and other famous figures who went to school in Berkshire

Read more
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Latest Competitions & Offers

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Berkshire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search