OUR EXTRA-ORDINARY RELATIONSHIP
AS BRITAIN’S MOST PROLIFIC TV EXTRA – HAVING CLOCKED UP A STAGGERING 2,000
APPEARANCES IN DRAMAS, SOAPS AND COMEDIES – IT’S NOT SURPRISING THAT JOHN, 40,
MET HIS WIFE-TO-BE, NEILUM, 36, ON SET.
THE COUPLE HIT IT OFF AFTER WORKING ON DAYTIME TV SHOW ‘DOCTORS’ AND NOW
REGULARLY PERFORM TOGETHER ONSCREEN!
WITH PARTS IN ‘THE BILL’, ‘CASUALTY’ AND A REGULAR SLOT ON ‘MIDSUMMER MURDERS’
THE LOVED-UP DUO ARE THE RICHARD AND JUDY OF THE EXTRA WORLD!
‘And action!’ the director yelled.
Blending into the background, I did my best to look like I was having a good
I was an extra in a party scene, where a cancer patient was returning home from
hospital after having successful treatment.
Playing the role of a friend or relative for the daytime TV show Doctors, I was
there to welcome her back.
I mimed chit chat with a fellow extra as the cameras rolled.
‘Nicholas, where’s your wife Joanna?’ the leading actress in the scene asked.
‘There she is,’ the man playing Nicholas said, pointing at me!
I guessed that meant I was Joanna today, so I tried not to act too shocked that
I had been cast as the character on-the-spot, and smiled going along with it.
Later I learned Nicholas was actually John Walker, 40.
As we were in the same scene, we spent the day together.
And in between filming we sat with cups of tea and got talking.
‘I just pointed to the prettiest girl in the room!’ he laughed, as I tried not
John was a charmer and we got on like a house on fire.
It turns out we had a lot in common, having both appeared in some of the
nations best-loved soaps, dramas and comedies.
Policeman, doctor, reporter, corpse – John had played them all.
I’d had my fair share of roles too and was usually cast to play a teacher,
yummy mummy or a nurse.
He had worked alongside some of TV’s finest, including David Jason, Julie
Walters, Daniel Radcliffe and Jack Black.
And I had featured in shows with Anthony Hopkins, Liam Neeson and Larry Lamb.
Featuring in Doctor Who, The Bill, Eastenders and Casualty as well as dozens of
other shows, John had racked up an impressive aray of blink-and-you-miss-it
You’re not supposed to play in rival soaps but once he was a doctor in
Hollyoaks, Coronation Street and Emmerdale – all in the same week!
I had done my fair share of acting work too and would constantly get texts from
my family and friends saying ‘Spotted you on TV again last night!’
At first it was so exciting seeing myself crop up in the background on the box,
but I soon got used to it.
I had been working as an extra for a few years after leaving my job on the
perfume counter at Boots.
On a shift one day, a colleague mentioned work as an extra.
‘You should go for it!’ she said, handing me the number of an agent.
It sounded like fun so I didn’t hesitate in dialing it, knowing I had nothing
I quickly mastered blending in, not making big movements and miming rubbish
without anyone knowing – all essential skills to make a good extra.
I soon became a familiar face onscreen – one that the public wouldn’t be able
to put a name to – but I liked remaining unheard of, instead preferring to be a
face in the crowd.
As we got back to filming our scene, John and I tried not to make too much eye
contact, we knew we would both burst into laughter.
John stuffed sandwiches in his mouth that had been out on the side all day to
stop himself from cracking up.
‘They’re so dry!’ he mouthed grimacing at the texture and I couldn’t resist
Playing a married couple seemed to have gone to his head though.
‘That’s a wrap!’ the director shouted, signalling that our day of filming had
come to an end.
‘I will marry you one day,’ John teased as we said goodbye.
‘We’ve only just met!’ I giggled, but there was no denying it – there was
chemistry between us.
But it wasn’t until we bumped into each other a couple of months down the line,
on the set of Grownups with actress Sheridan Smith, that we exchanged numbers.
The scene was one of the strangest of all. We had to sit in a cafe as a cow
strolled past the window!
It was great to see each other again and catch up.
At the time John was working as a producer for a pilot CITV show. He knew I
wanted to do some work behind the scenes so he invited me along to help out.
From then on we were inseperable and got together officially.
We moved in together in Dudley, West Midlands, and started appearing in more
and more shows together including Shameless, Casualty, Misfits and Gavin and
We became such a frequent addition to the backgrounds that bosses on Midsomer
Murders gave us a regular role as a policing pair.
But at the end of the day when we curled up on the sofa, our taste in
television proved very different.
‘Noooo,’ I moaned when John switched on a sci-fi film.
It wasn’t my genre, I loved anything with Julia Roberts, but he hated
Instead of fighting over the remote control we settled on switching on a horror
film – as we both liked the gore!
Five years on and we’re about to tie the knot. John popped the question on a
romantic break in Paris at the top of the Eifel Tower.
He worked full-time as an extra until last September, and had been doing it for
14 years. I’ve been doing it for nine now too!
He is convinced he has done so many shows that he appears on TV at some point
every single day.
He has clocked up 70 hours on screen – the equivalent of 35 feature length
films – and featured in around 200 programmes, so he probably does!
He done so much that he’s even penned a book – Extra Time – about the real life
exploits of a supporting artist.
Now he’s working at Tesco, but still does part-time work, earning between £80
and £280 a day.
When I’m not working as an extra, I chaperone children appearing in programmes
and making sure they are looked after all day, meaning I’m constantly on set.
Being extras has never made us millions, but no two days are the same and
getting to work with each other on some of the nation’s favourite shows has
been so much fun.
It’s a great chance to get away from real life and rub shoulders with some of
I guess we are practically the Richard and Judy of the extra world!
John said: ‘It’s fantastic that I met my future wife through my work.
‘While I was doing my lines I looked off camera and saw her – she was the most
beautiful woman I’d ever seen.
‘Straight away off screen we hit it off instantly.
‘It was great first seeing yourself on the screen, but now we’re both used to
‘One week I’ll be playing a criminal in Shameless, the next week I’m a police
‘The roles I was picked to do were always fun, and I find myself very often
picked to be a doctor or policeman.
‘I still do it part time which is great fun. I love seeing myself in the
background of the nations favourite programmes.’