Have you ever dreamed of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood? Tomorrow could be your lucky day if you're willing to start by treading the boards at... umm.... 10 Downing Street.
A company called Extra People appears to have been hired by someone or something to provide a cast of extras who will crowd around Number 10 as the Emir of the Gulf Kingdom pays a visit to Theresa May tomorrow.
I do movie etc extras work. Just received this from an agency I don't usually work with.
They need a rent a crowd for the President of Qatar at Downing St @guardian @BBCNews @mrjamesob pic.twitter.com/xwd7XtzWzB
— Andy ™ ☠︎ ⚓︎ ♲ (@andywash) July 23, 2018
A casting email was posted to Twitter by Tour Manager Andy Washington, who discovered the unusual role after receiving an email from the company, which has also worked on everything from Netflix's The Crown to Disney's forthcoming Christopher Robin. He subsequently posted it to Twitter. Gizmodo UK has seen the original email, and following a link within reveals the true nature of what is going on:
"This is NOT a film or TV production. The company are looking for a large group of people to fill space outside downing street during the visit of the president of Quatar. This is an ANti-Quatar even You will not have to do or say anything, they just want to fill space. You will be finished at 12:30".
(We left in their original typos.)
That's right - if you want to turn up and look like a supporter of a cause you probably know nothing about, you could probably walk away with a twenty English pounds. Maybe if you're lucky, it'll get you enough visibility to get that gig as a dead body in Holby City.
What's especially curious is that it is specifically casting anti-Qatar protesters. So the obvious question to ask is who is behind it?
While the listing doesn't reveal who, we would wildly speculate that this is somehow linked to the on-going PR war between Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Though the two countries share a border and are both incredibly wealthy, the two have been locked in a proxy-conflict since 2002 in a battle for regional influence.
The divide isn't actually religious, like you might expect (both countries predominantly practice the same form of Islam), but Qatar maintains good relations with Saudi's regional rival Iran, and is also home to Al Jazeera, the news network that is sometimes critical of the Saudi government. There's dozens of other points of contention too - and the 2011 Arab Spring didn't help, as both countries backed different sides in a number of the countries that saw protests.
Most recently, Saudi Arabia led an all-out embargo on Qatar to try and put pressure on the tiny Kingdom. Amusingly, relations are so tense that Saudi Arabia is reportedly planning to dig a canal - effectively a moat - on the shared border between the two countries, to turn Qatar into an island.
And the conflict has also played out in London, with organisations supporting both sides previously buying advertising - in newspapers, on billboards and even on the side of taxis - either promoting their team, or slagging off the other side.
So it would be surprising if it wasn't anything to do with this.
In any case, Andy Washington tells me that the £20 fee is "way down on the payscale". But hey - this could be your big break!
Update (20:24): Uh-oh, the story picked up on Twitter and it appears the company has now pulled out of the deal with whoever was looking for extras. So will any protesters turn up tomorrow? We'll have to wait and see.
Extra People has gotten cold feet and pulled out it seems. pic.twitter.com/17aXdSlVdu
— .jonporter (@JonPorty) July 23, 2018
Incidentally, this update comes via the excellent Jon Porter, who wrote for us about what it is like being an extra on a film a while back.