Friday 13th

Posted by Jeni in Ad Infinitum | 13 April 2007

Right, first things first.

Thank you for the cat pee suggestions. Especially Vinegar John in Shotts. Jim said he thought of it first, and told me to pour vinegar on it last week. I don't think he did but then he says I never listen to a word he says. At least, that's what I think he said. When I get the magical spray from the geezer in Penshurst I'll let you know.

Secondly, I do the 'Heat' magazine adverts. At least, I did for a long time then they changed the campaign. But now, just when I need it, I may have another batch to do.

Voiceovers are a funny business. Most of the sound studios are centred around Soho, so it's great if you want to buy fruit from Berwick Street Market or books from Walkers Court. Given that the book store is next to Raymond's Revue bar, you will understand that the kind of library they stock is not quite to my taste although Ed Baines' 'Auburn and Randell' is just round the corner, so if there's time you can slip down an oyster.

Having arrived at the studio, there's always a very lavish couch to sit on. A runner will appear immediately, offering refreshments, fruit, chocolate lollipops. They are a favourite since a dry mouth is fatal when voicing an ad. Listen for dry lips sticking together - they haven't had a long enough suck.

Punctuality is also de rigeur as time is money. A session lasts for an hour, so all of us voiceover sluts hope that we just slip into the next 60 minutes - double the money. My problem is that I'm usually in and out before you can say 'pass me the stopwatch'. Most adverts just require you to fit as many words into as little time as possible. So, there's not much acting required. Just a quick mind. It's three words a second so knowing how to time something is Paramount. Oh, I used to do their promos. God, was that boring!

You never get the script first. You may never know the other actors. You certainly won't know the director, the producer or the client. And you won't want to know the 17 hangers on who know as much about voice technique as I do about waxing a bikini line. Ouch!

In my case, I do know the team as I have been associated with 'Heat' for seven years. I used to be the white coated professor who said dryly 'The higher the IQ, the greater the need for gossip'. Interesting that this was before all the other mags came out like 'Now', 'Then' and 'Don't take a picture of me. I don't want to have my 15 minutes of fame pleeeeeeeese'.

25 years ago I did all the voices for 'Teddy Dropear', Anne Wood's cartoon on TV-AM. She was the brains behind Tinky Winky and the rest of the TeleTubbies which is why she's a billionare and I'm still voicing ten second ads for hot tubs on local radio in Bognor.

The thing is that we 'talent' (as our agents like to call us) are but ten a penny. If you get it right once, they'll have you back. If you run over, they won't. There's very little loyalty in this fab biz of ours. It's about hard nose selling. If you've got it, and it makes a profit, you could be laughing all the way to the bank.

There's a studio fee, and if you're lucky, repeats. In the cinema you will get dosh everytime it's shown. On telly a lttle less whilst on radio it has to be played at least 323 million times before you've got enough money to pay your water rates.

My lovely engineer Dave was the runner on Teddy Drop Ear, so he knows me and my voice, and when you have an engineer as good as him, life is simpler. 'Scramble' is the name of the studio - the kids there are wonderful. He knew I was out of sorts today but didn't say anthing. 'Quiet Storm' are the production company who make the ads. Trev, the boss, is cool and clever, and Ben, who books me and does pretty much everything else, looks too young to be a daddy, and never gets stressed. If I need to do a voiceover while I'm abroad, Ben organises for me to go to a studio anywhere in the world. Damn clever, these chaps.

Once you have been handed the script, you are sat all alone in a sound booth. Headphones on. There's a little TV screen that plays time-coded pictures and a red cue light. You may be told to watch the seconds or listen out for a sound cue, and then wallop, you're off.

I have mouth ulcers. From stress, says my homeopath. All the sadness is coming out. So it was really hard to suck, let alone say my lines. My poor tongue is the size of a Chow's.

I think I pulled it off. That's the voiceover, not my tongue. But if my tongue got in the way, it may be the last voiceover I do for a very long time.

Now, if you listen to all the adverts, you will start to identify the names behind the voices: Julie Walters, Jack Davenport, John Sessions, Hermione Norris. There's loads of 'em. Miriam Margolis used to be one of the highest paid artistes, buying her houses on the back of creamy caramel chocolate bars. It's a game innit?

So, there I was in Soho with my mouth all big and hurting and the sun beating down on my squeaky shoes which made my feet swell. By the time I got off the train I was all tearful and blotchy. But I was being bought lunch by Liam from Prospect Pictures and my lovely agent Rob.

Rob bought me a funny table mat with a legend on it that is too rude to write but it had the 'F' word on it (nothing to do with Gordon Ramsay!), and Liam presented me with a beautiful marzipan figurine of me made by (Andrew) Nutter.

When I got home, my little pink marzipan hands had dropped off and a red pepper with two miniture potatoes had rolled off the front. The spuds looked like my breasts until I realised that they were still perfectly intact alongside my mole. As always, my Jim fixed it. With a little super glue and patience.

We went to Meze in Soho for lunch. I had two gins, which I never drink, to sooth my hot mouth, and several nibbles of food. I tried to listen to the lovely men talking about stuff but I felt so rough that I fear it all went over me head. And they say that the life of the actor is glamorous.

Coming back on the train, a child cried from London to Tonbridge. If I had had a cudgel, I would have. But I didn't, so I bought a 7up instead. The ice spilt on the floor and I knocked the plastic mug full of lemonade over my black trousers and squeaky shoes. By the time I reached Jim, who was waiting in the car with Jackson, I was sticky, sickly and in very poor sorts.

Now I wait to hear my dulcet tones dryly snapping on the 'Heat' ad. If it isn't me, you know my gums have let me down. 'And not for the first time', shouts Jim.

Enough. Cu2morrer.

Jeni Barnett tells of her scrumptious time at Good Food Live in her first audiobook! Download NOW from iTunes

Comments

1. At April 14, 2007 5:59 AM christian wrote:

Hi Jeni

I think anyone who has you as the voice behind their caqmpaign is damn lucky.

Funny how the ad was for Heat and you were hot and bothered........
Well Ithink you'll have a great time with Sybil the soothsayer.....
who knows what mischief is lined up for you in LALA land

2. At April 14, 2007 2:38 PM Claire wrote:

Hi Jeni, I have watched your programmes with my other half for a long time and we have so enjoyed watching you. I so hope you are on again soon. Love Claire

3. At April 15, 2007 2:08 AM James Bywater wrote:

I DID suggest vinegar but, Bicarbonate of Soda should do the trick - it got rid of Carina's vomity smell, remember? We could always get rid of the cat!
Jim xxxx

4. At April 15, 2007 11:35 AM Loulou wrote:

Hi Jeni,

As hard as it is for all us GFL fans to be without the show, I can't imagine what it must be like for you. Having got through the last few shows, you must literally be grieving for something that changed your life. The gap it has left behind must be immense and your sadness touches me. Having suffered from depression for most of my adult life I recognise the surges of joy and sadness that it brings with it. I wouldn't change it because somehow depression makes you think in a certain way about life that you perhaps otherwise wouldn't. You appreciate things that other people don't think about, and develop a sense of humour that gets you through the worst days.

I truly hope that good things come to you and that you come back rejuvenated from La la land. It is so nice to read about you and your life and I hope that it is some comfort to know that so many people have such affection for you. I miss the show very much, and life is duller without you and all the team at GFL.

5. At April 16, 2007 11:34 AM Libby wrote:

Hey Jeni

Quick tip for ulcers spoonful of marmite (even if you don't like it) rubbed around your mouth does wonders, it's the only thing that works for me (and I hate marmite)...other marmaite type spreads are available.
Lots of love Libby x

6. At April 16, 2007 11:53 AM Genie Marshall wrote:

Hi Jeni,
If you're not busy this Sunday and are in the Streatham area, come down to the Common for the annual Streatham Kite Day. It's not as boring as it sounds, there will be lots of young luscious male flesh with some serious talent out there, especially the Robertshaw brothers. It will be a nice relaxing day out with lots of laughs. It would great to see you in the flesh as I am having 'Moose woman' withdrawl symptoms. If you do come, you'll meet my pup Fury (big Husky) who howls when he hears your voice.
P.S. Why are the voice-overs saying you'll be back on the screen in the Autumn. Is it true?.
I for one will be shunning the new show tonight, as will many others, to show our support for you and the GFL team.
Hope to see you soon.
Love Genie.

7. At April 16, 2007 1:18 PM Libby wrote:

p.s Think you would be a brilliant panellist on Loose Women....get Rob on it!!!
Love Libby x

8. At April 16, 2007 3:03 PM Clare wrote:

Dear Jeni, I have so enjoyed watching you and the GFL team over the years here in Switzerland. It's kept me incredibly up to date with what's new in the food world. Anyone can see you've had such a laugh doing the shows and given me as many laughs watching it. It was the BEST EVER food programme and the producers need their heads examined for axing it. You have such a great sense of humour and style that'll you'll have fun what ever you do next. You'll bounce back again once your wounds (and ulcers) have healed but I agree that a stay at The Optimum Health Institute is just what a gal needs right now! Recuperate and rejuvenate and come back to our screens soon. With every best wish, Clare

9. At April 16, 2007 8:13 PM Mark Cooper wrote:

Oh my!, the embarrassment factor made me turn the sound off on Market Kitchen...
I wanted to think they could pull it off...but no!
Ewwwwwwwww cringe TV...poor autocue...poor people...
I am taping it- just so I can see if I cahnge my mind in the morning...(I suspect, I will still be holding my hands over my eyes in horror)

Dear God- you fools, UKTVFood...

10. At April 16, 2007 11:32 PM dave wrote:

Jeni, what did you think of this new show Market Kitchen? Tell it like it is...

11. At April 17, 2007 10:37 AM Essex in a Shed wrote:

Oh dear Jeni your missed all ready
You and the cookie blokes and girls have helped me keep my woman rounded and happy!
Best get back before we take up gardening
Yours Alan J

12. At April 17, 2007 4:46 PM gary brown wrote:

was that you in brugge on sunday

13. At April 17, 2007 8:11 PM john from shotts wrote:

Hope the vinegar solution works,Jeni,I have read it has many more uses as well!
UKTV Food have made one big muck up.They lost a star -you - and gained a what???
I cannot express how the better half and I feel about their 'Market Garden'.
At ten in the evenng you just want to chill out not watch a bunch of loonies racing about like mad!
I dislike the whole programme and its' 'stars' intensely and it will never replace you or GFL!
God Bless, enjoy your travels and hope to see you back in a better programme than Market garden,which would not be very difficult!

14. At April 17, 2007 8:23 PM michael wrote:

hi jeni! missing you and gfl. its not the same, but at least we can keep up with you on your blog.

just been checking out the uktvfood message boards, everyones slating market kitchen and demanding your return. the management at uktv food are fools.

dont stay away too long x

15. At April 17, 2007 9:17 PM judi4 wrote:

Hi Jeni its me again. Just to let you know we're still missing you.I know I was being disloyal but I had to watch the new programme [can't bring myself to say the name!] its rubbish! Have a lovely time in America, I wish I could come with you! Please keep writing your blog Luv ya xxx

16. At April 18, 2007 12:46 PM karen wrote:

Jeni, You must be secretly pleased that market kitchen is so awful. The powers that be certainly look very stupid this week

17. At April 18, 2007 4:03 PM cc wong wrote:

I came back from holiday and found your program GFL was already 0ff air !!!!!! How could you do this to us? We cant funtion without a daily dose of your unique humour. Please come back soon. YOU are the best.

18. At April 18, 2007 5:47 PM Rob Elford wrote:

Oh how I'm missing my daily fix of GFL!

As a result I'm now watching Hollyoaks each evening!!!

19. At April 19, 2007 3:21 AM Julia Lockerbie wrote:

Dearest Jeni
We moved from Hackney to Australia in 1965 (at the age of 10).
I retired in January this year and discovered your show not long after, what an absolute delight, as an Aries with a Jewish father and a wicked sense of humour I felt an immediate connection.
You are an amazing woman, your sense of humour and energy are infectious, I truly cannot believe that for me tomorrow will be your last show. GFL is without a doubt the best show of its kind without rival and is of great credit to you and your team. Thank you for your talent, take care, like everyone, I look forward to your return. Mazeltov from Down Under, Julia xx

20. At April 19, 2007 8:52 AM Irene MacKenzie wrote:

What has happened to you? A lot of people have been very concerned about you in the wake of GFL ending. Donít please just stop your blog as some of us worry about you, you know. Please let us know that you are alright and not sad and despondent. If you are going to have a gap in posting your blogs, it would be nice to let people know.

21. At April 19, 2007 9:31 AM DaveB wrote:

Jeni, Jeni, where for art thou Jeni? Your last post "Friday the 13th" got me a bit worried. Hope it wasn't an omen...

Dave x.

22. At April 19, 2007 9:42 AM Donna wrote:

Went on holiday just before GFL finished and didn't manage to see the last show. Now back, can't really believe they have replaced the irreplaceable with the most boring food show on tv. Presenters are wooden, recipes predictable and the set just looks like a posh greasy spoon. Jeni should be head hunted for ready steady - Ainsley looks like he could do with a rest!!!!

23. At April 19, 2007 2:56 PM john from shotts wrote:

Hi Jeni, have now had to resort to surfing the channels to watch repeats of all the rubbish that we are all paying for on Sky.
Hope UKTV Food are happy with their loss of viewers
now they have done the damage.

24. At April 19, 2007 4:01 PM kerri wrote:

Hi Jeni, I also am wondering if you are okay? Hope you are just enjoying a few days rest (you deserve them). Have tried to watch Market Kitchen but am defeated - its awful! Hope you will be back and reinstated on our screens very soon. Have resorted to watching Loose Women! Lunchtimes are not the same. Hope to hear from you soon.
Take Care xxxxxxxx

25. At April 19, 2007 11:47 PM Libby wrote:

Hi Jeni

The best thing for ulcers I find is marmite (even if you don't like it) just put a spoonful in your mouth and swish it around...(other marmite types spreads are available). P.s I also think Market Kitchen is AWFUL, it's like watching paint dry only with an annnoying soundtrack -hope you are saying Na Na na na na in your head!!!!!
Lots of Love Libby xx

26. At April 20, 2007 9:46 AM Isabel wrote:

Hi Jeni,
glad you had a good time. Agree with all the above comments. Have emailed Terry Wogan to join the campaign and bring GFL and our Jeni back. I have also started gardening!
All the very best.

27. At April 20, 2007 9:50 AM Carole Lee wrote:

Dear Jeni, In Australia you are deeply loved and I was so shocked to find out that you have now recorded your last show. Come to Sydney and make Neil Perry laugh.
By the way isn't Jim gorgeous.

28. At April 21, 2007 4:04 PM Anne Moedbeck wrote:

Dear Jeni,
Have tried to watch the stupid Market street for a whole 5 minutes its so silly and boring. Anyone who is interested in cooking cant be watching this .... I now watch the news and then switch off. Really miss you Jeni, hope Jim is looking after you.
Good luck,
Anne

29. At April 26, 2007 10:01 AM Lynne wrote:

Hi Jeni and Bon Voyage. I am looking forward to hearing about your escapades in the USA. Hope your mouth is better. Only found your Blog today and am feeling better already that I can hear from you. I felt like I had lost a friend when GFL ended. Am not a stalker honestly. Wont add anything about MK its all been said. If there aren't any producers out there frantically trying to find a vehicle for you, (not the automobile type vehicle) before you are snapped up I'll be most surprised. Take care and enjoy your torture sorry meant your break!

Copyright 2007, Jeni Barnett. Website produced by Chopstix.