📷 : Stan Seaton Photography
Earlier this year, Reuben Bainbridge could be seen in Casualty as Barney Scotts, airing on BBC1 in January, and he has previously worked for BBC Radio 4 playing Young Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, and Young Harry Corbett in A Sooty History for BBC4. Reuben starred in his own documentary – Dyspraxia: My Glass is Half Full – showing his life with Dyspraxia, and prior to this, he played Ginger in the award-winning short film The Ghost alongside Emilia Fox. Recently answering our questions, Reuben talks about Dyspraxia: My Glass is Half Full, playing Barney Scotts in Casualty and working on commercials.
Can you tell us about your character Barney Scotts in Casualty?
Barney is an average fourteen-year-old boy in an average school near Holby City. He’s a very likeable boy who loves Superheroes, comics and all Super Powers. However, he gets into a lot of trouble at school as his teachers think he doesn’t listen as he zones out a lot, but this is actually a medical condition as he is having mini seizures so he’s not aware of what is going on around him. He’s a very funny kid, so when he sees how serious it is in the hospital, he decides to try and cheer up Dylan (Dr Keogh) by dressing up in hospital equipment as a Superhero. His headteacher is furious about this and says he will be expelled, so Barney runs out of the hospital but straight into the path of an oncoming ambulance as he’s having one of his seizures!
What was it like filming for the show?
It was very memorable because our whole family love Casualty and I remember a couple of years ago wondering if I would ever be in the show. It was great meeting everyone in person, the cast were so nice considering how many guest actors they must have. It was also brilliant to have been cast and work with director Jordan Hogg and producer Daffyd Llewellyn, who have both won BAFTAs for the show. I had to go down before filming to have molds made of my face for prosthetics, then spent at least an hour in makeup every morning for them to be fitted. I think my favourite part of filming was when Will Beck (Dylan) had to push me out of the way of the ambulance. We had crash mats and luckily, both Will and myself have played rugby so that helped with the tackles, although at one point, Will hit me so hard my legs went over my head and I kneed him in the face so we had to stop for the real medics to check him out! It was also hard not flinching knowing an ambulance was driving straight at me at full pelt one way (thankfully, with a stunt driver) and knowing Will was going to take me out sideways, but as Barney was in one of his seizures, I had to just stare straight into the camera, not blinking or moving at all!
Can you tell us about the award-winning short film The Ghost?
The Ghost was filmed in London starring Emilia Fox, it’s based on the true story of the son of a famous footballer who played for Tottenham and Scotland. After the footballer was killed by a freak lightning strike, his mum moved the young son and his sister away and never told him who his dad was and the film covers how the boy discovers who his father actually was and comes to term with it.
What was Ginger like to play?
Although living in London, Ginger was Northern so I didn’t have to change my accent which was good! It was filmed in January so freezing cold, I remember the crew kept bringing us blankets and hot water bottles but that’s just one of the challenges of acting, you just get on with it. The casting process was quite lengthy with a first round audition, recall, director meet and then chemistry test. We then had a weekend of rehearsals, so by the time we actually filmed, we all felt like a real gang of friends, and as football featured a lot, it was a really fun shoot. Emilia Fox was also really nice and easy to chat to.
How was it playing Young Harry Corbett in A Sooty History for BBC4?
I really enjoyed this role, it was, again, fun to meet the man I watched as a little kid as Harry and all the previous Sooty presenters came along to the premiere. In one of the scenes, we were eating fish and chips and they kept reheating them in the microwave and they smelt so nice but, of course, I couldn’t eat them but I was so, so hungry. The other memorable scene was that Harry Corbett was quite an accomplished piano player as a boy and we filmed a scene where he went with his mum to a piano shop to choose a new piano. I had learnt to play the first few bars of a song as the camera would be on my hands in some shots. When we arrived at the piano shop, my real mum nearly had a heart attack as the piano I was to play on had its price on the top – a Steinway at £62,000!
What was Woolly and Tig like to be part of?
I was very young when I first starting recording as Timmy for Woolly and Tig radio episodes. I did it via ISDN with the director/writer in Scotland who told me the lines and then I said them back. The best part was being given a kazoo by the recording studio owner which I played on the train all the way home much to my dad’s annoyance.
📷 : Elsie Rose Photography, LA
How was it playing Young Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights for BBC Radio 4?
I really enjoyed this and finally got to try out the famous BBC London canteen. I was surprised at how different it was to voiceover work as we physically acted most of it out rather than just speaking into a microphone. They had all kinds of props including a fabulous staircase split into three parts, one concrete, one wood and one carpeted to create the different noises your shoes would make as you walked down.
Can you tell us about some of the voiceover work you’ve done?
Being Sugar Boy for Public Health England is probably my longest voiceover job which lasted over three years and involved multi TV and radio spots throughout each year. I’ve also voiced an insurance advert with Stephen McGann, and recorded for LIDL England, BUPA and NSPCC amongst others.
You’ve worked on commercials, including Heinz and KFC, can you tell us about these?
KFC was fun, I was only about six at the time and they wanted me to play a guitar, but being left handed and dyspraxic, I wanted to play it upside down! But as it was about the Black Sheep of the family it fitted in perfectly! Heinz was more recent, they had a lot of vignettes to get through and I was the last to film, and when I got on set, they only had ten minutes left in the studio and two minutes of battery time so we only had two takes. My scene was a take off from the film Close Encounters of the Third Kind and I had to fill a mashed potato volcano with tomato sauce but it had to run down the sides in a certain way so it was actually quite pressurised to get it right but we got it and it made the final cut. And before anyone asks, yes, I’ve been cast as Ron Weasley a few times, the last in an advert for the World Cup Cricket.
Can you tell us about the documentary, Dyspraxia My Glass is Half Full?
I wanted to try and explain to people what Dyspraxia is and how it affects people. At the start of the film I am riding horses, driving my car and showing clips of films I have been in so it all looks really good, but then I show the other side of my life, talking all about how Dyspraxia affects my everyday life and academic grades and how I have to work harder at things most people take for granted, such as physically holding a pen to write and tying my shoelaces!
📷 : S. Padhiar
How did you get into acting?
Due to my Dyspraxia/Dyslexia, I didn’t speak until I was four years old, and then I had a terrible stammer until six. However, I didn’t stammer when I sang or repeated a line after someone had said it. My elder brother had done a small amount of TV and photographic work but my mum wouldn’t sign me up with his agent as she felt it would be unfair on me and the casting directors when I wouldn’t be able to even say my name to them. However, the agent found a brief for CBeebies where they wanted a cheeky looking little boy to sing a naughty version of Twinkle, Twinkle, so, as it was singing, Mum agreed she could submit me. After a casting and recall, three sets of kids filmed in London and I made the final cut 😃. My speech therapist then recommended we carry on as she felt it would be really good for my confidence, so Mum agreed to try for six months and here I am ten years later!
What do you remember from your first acting experience?
I was only four, it was my first casting, first job so I didn’t really understand what was going on, I had to sing a very naughty version of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and I just remember the lady who was playing my Granny looking very crossly at me (which she was supposed to do) but I was still freaked out and thought I was going to get into trouble! I liked playing with the other kids though and we stayed in a hotel which was very exciting.
How do you spend your time away from your career?
I love gaming and enjoy competing in Fortnite competitions for cash prizes, I bought my elder brother’s old car off him so I enjoy driving that round the fields as I live on a farm. I like cooking and I occasionally write raps and songs. Comedy is my favourite thing though, I love making people laugh.
What advice would you give a young person with Dyspraxia wanting an acting career?
Well, I’ve always said make sure you have a backup plan as sadly, not everything goes to plan. Once you’ve got a backup plan then go for it and do your very best even though some things are harder than others. Find your strong points and make your weak points stronger. If you come across a problem from your past that you absolutely can’t get over, then look for a way round it. I also find it is good to mention to chaperones/directors on set re Dyspraxia, then they can arrange for such as extra time for wardrobe changes etc (I really struggle with buttons and shoelaces as I have fine motor skill dyspraxia in my hands) so it takes a lot of the stress away and everyone is always supportive when they know. You’ve just got to do your best, and even if you don’t get the roles, keep positive, most of the time it’s not down to your acting, it’s to do with locations, hair colour, accents, height etc. so, as long as you have done your best, you can’t do any more. Have lots of fun… Oh, and don’t take any jobs from me 😉!
Reuben Bainbridge is represented by LSI Talent https://lsitalent.com
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