With episode two of the show going out this week, I thought I would write a bit of a background on how I got to be part of the cast of Second Chance Summer.
Being part of a TV show sounds kind of fun, an adventure.
In a way, it was all of those but it was also challenging, tiring and stressful. You’re followed from the moment you wake until the moment you go to bed, wearing a microphone pack constantly. When you close your bedroom door at night, it is sweet bliss and sanctuary.
The journey all began in June of 2016, a Tuesday to be exact. I was sat at home after having finished work. I used to be the general manager of a lovely little hotel in Pitlochry called East Haugh House Hotel. A lovely little hotel just outside Pitlochry, if you can’t stay there or are passing I highly recommend stopping for some food.
While at home I was flicking through social media, fighting not to speak my mind on a few people’s posts here and there, when I saw an advert.
As with most adverts on social media you think “oh yeah, usual horsesh*t” however this one hooked me. It said:
“Are you aged 35-60?
Always wanted to run your own business?
Always dreamt of living overseas?”
I was right in the age bracket, 38 at the time. My girlfriend and I had just split up, I was unsettled in my job and I was not excited about another Scottish winter. So I filled out the form and added some blurb about me – I love wine, food, travel, I manage a hotel in Scotland, etc.
The very next day I got a call from a lad called Charlie, a casting director. We talked for a while and he said he wanted to Skype me and record it to send it off to the exec producers. I said “I am happy with this, as long as I get to keep on my pants!” luckily Charlie found this as funny as I intended to to be.
The call took place on the Wednesday and then the following Tuesday I received another call from Charlie to say that from the hundreds of applicants, I had made the shortlist.
Then things became interesting…..
Weeks went by, calls from producers, assistant producers, calls from a shrink, and lots of questions about my past, questions about my family. They wanted to speak to my friends and family, which would be my sister, as Mum and Dad are not with us anymore. They also spoke to my best friend and his wife as they are pretty much family to me too.
Finally I received a call on a Thursday to say “We will let you know tomorrow who is going, but you are on the short, short list, we love you, the BBC love you, so bear with us”. The Friday came and the call came in, “We have good news and bad….the bad news is that we can’t tell you until Tuesday” There was a bank holiday Monday, “but the good news is that it’s going to be Tuscany!” If I am honest, which I am, I was gutted it wasn’t the South of France. The only real reason for that, is that I did GCSE French, and I had spent a few weeks the previous summer hammering about the south of France with my oldest friend. I can fumble my way through a conversation in French, but I know zero Italian. Which gave me just over 4 weeks to try and learn some.
When they said it was rolling to the Tuesday, I called my best friend to tell him. The first thing he said to me was “mate, you have to quit your job today!”
The reason he said that was that, if I was going, I would be flying on the 18th of September, which was four weeks away. I really wanted to give my boss as much notice as possible.
He took it well, “you’re mental, you’re nuts, you can’t go, what will you do after, you’re mad” I think were his exact words.
“Building a Life Abroad” was the original working title, which then got changed to “Second Chance Summer.”
By accepting the TV show, it meant I had to leave Scotland, the apartment I had, my job, my friends and find a home for Jackson for seven (nine) weeks.
Finding a home for Jackson was easier than all the rest, he is loved by everyone, especially my best friend and his wife and kids. We drove from Scotland to Kent in one day and stayed with family for a few days to get Jackson settled in. I had left him with friends for a week, two weeks, even three weeks once, but never seven weeks. I knew he would be loved and looked after, even spoilt rotten as often as possible, sofa naps, sneaking onto beds in the night. Saying goodbye to Jackson was one of the hardest things I have done in a few years but I knew I was doing something that would lead to a better life for the both of us.
Next stop Buckinghamshire, to my sister’s to find some shorts in storage, I mean, when was I ever going to need shorts in Scotland…?!
My friends were all incredible about me doing the show, I had so much support and a lot of well humoured abuse about being on the TV. It was lovely to spend some time with my family, who may not all be blood, but through the years they have become my family.
The first night in Italy, I spent in a hotel in Grosseto. I stayed in the Grand hotel Bastiani, which is in the old part of Grosseto. A nice enough hotel, not very modern, but clean and the receptionist gave me a plug adapter to keep. I know, “you should have bought one at the airport” well, I did, but there are 3 different types of 3 pin plug sockets in this country!
I arrived in the dark on a Sunday and as most who have been to Italy know, everything shuts on a Sunday. I still managed to find a place to eat after wandering the streets for a while.
Midway through my meal, granted I was the only person in the restaurant, in an English guy (Andy), who does his best to order in Italian and does a much better job than me!
While I am eating my phone rings….it’s the production team:
“How are you?”
“How’s the hotel?”
“How’re you feeling?”
“We will pick you up at 7:30am tomorrow morning, if you can be in reception and checked out then we will meet you there”
Call ends. Literally, 30 seconds later the only other person in the restaurant’s phone rings and he says:
“I’m well thanks”
“The hotel is fine thank you”
“I feel good, excited to be here”
“Okay, so you will pick me up at 8:30 from the hotel, oh I thought it would be earlier, but that’s okay”
I caught the waiter’s eye at this point “cheque please” while doing the hand signal and made a sharp exit for the door.
I did this, not because I am rude, but because I had messaged the production company while Andy was on the phone and said “there is another person from the show in my restaurant” to which they thought I was taking the p*ss. I convinced them otherwise, and they asked that we not speak and wait to meet on camera.
The next morning I was picked up and taken to the farm…..
So there you go, that’s what happened before the show started. A bit of background on how I got to be on your TV.
As the weeks unfold, I will fill you in on any parts that may have been missed from the show – after all, you can only fit so much in in an hour….