HOPES FOR THE FUTURE: Reuben Bainbridge with Dylan, a recent arrival at the family farm
HOPES FOR THE FUTURE: Reuben Bainbridge with Dylan, a recent arrival at the family farm

At the beginning of the year young dale actor Reuben Bainbridge was riding high. His most high-profile television role in the BBC’s long-running hospital-based drama Casualty had aired and he had signed with an American agent. Lockdown brought a few surprises for the teenager including surprise birthday picnics on the family farm and Skype calls with comedian and Great British Bake Off presenter Matt Lucas.

At the beginning of the year your career looked to be taking off with auditions and casting calls. Did the lockdown affect these initially or were you able to continue?
At the start of lockdown, it affected everyone in the acting community. Lots of productions that were filming had to shut down and productions that were about to cast were delayed so everything just stopped for months. In the last couple of months things have begun to pick up again. Bigger budget productions as they can afford insurance against Covid, unlike the smaller independent films. Castings at the moment are now initially via selftape which for me and my family is brilliant as it means we don’t have to take a day going to London or spend a fortune on train fares.
Recall rounds are via Zoom and then director/ producers meets are face-to-face where possible.

For three months the UK was on strict lockdown. How did you keep busy with your family?
Well, I live on a farm so there’s always lots to do but we did spend time together playing board games and card games and I can especially recommend Doblo which is great fun. And there was more time to just talk with my family about things you don’t normally have time for.
We also took on a retired riding school horse who is very cute.
As a young person what did you find most difficult about the lockdown and is there any advice you could give to others that would help during the current local restrictions?
Not seeing my mates was hardest – but at least we could communicate online together, then some of the youth groups starting having online get-togethers as well which was fun.

Have you or a family member celebrated a birthday during lockdown and how did you make it memorable?
My whole family had their birthdays between April and October so we had to invent something at home rather than going out bowling or to the cinema etc.
I was right in the middle of lockdown at the end of May and I thought we were going to do some work on the quadbike when dad asked me to come out – they had decorated the quadbike and trailer with balloons and streamers like a chariot then dad drove me to the very highest point on our farm where we can see all over the dale.
My mum and brother were already up there with a party picnic set out as a surprise for me.

Lots of people have created videos of their antics during lockdown. Have you been keeping people entertained?
Erm..... yes! I did some comedy Instagram reels which was fun and they got about 14,000 views.
2020 is a year people won’t forget, but is there one stand out event/thing that makes you smile about the year?
That people have had more time to spend with their family.

As a young actor, what practical things have you been able to do while at home?
Once the acting industry saw films weren’t going ahead, they all got their creative thinking heads on. Casting directors offered free meetings over Zoom to just meet actors, so I did a few of those.
I also signed up to an actor site who get brilliant casting directors to do Zoom calls.
We’ve had the Normal People casting director, The Witcher, Fast & Furious and Disney films. It’s been really interesting.
I did an online Zoom with Matt Lucas and ending up singing the Baked Potato song with him, which was fun, and a three-hour voiceover workshop with Marc Silk, who is the voice of Scooby Doo. I really feel like I’ve learnt a lot.

When restrictions eased in June/July did you find there was more positivity in the arts industry with projects given the green light for pre-production?
Yes, people were more appreciative of the arts in different forms.

What does the future hold for you at the moment?
I hope the future holds many good things. I am being asked to do some big name castings both in acting and voiceover work through my agents. However, 15 is a dead age for acting as children have to be licensed to perform and have restrictions on the hours they can work on set, plus need a chaperone and have set hours they must work with a tutor.
Once they hit school leaving age of 16 they don’t require tutors or chaperones and can work just like adults so it’s very rare 15-year-olds get any work as productions will use younger looking 16-year-olds instead.
However, I give every casting my full attention as if I can keep giving the casting directors tape after tape of good work then when I turn 16, hopefully the offers will come in.
My latest two projects, which were for a TV series and a Disney film, both came back to my agent to check my date of birth, which is a really good sign that they liked it enough to doublecheck I wasn’t yet 16, even though it won’t go any further as they will go for a 16-year-old but it gives me hope to carry on.
Coming to the end of 2020 I have realised that even with everyone’s daily struggles there are good things all around us if we look for them.
Once we were allowed, my mates and I spent hours on the fells above our farm and swimming in the streams and I really enjoyed the freedom and the beautiful area we live in and was so happy I wasn't stuck in the middle of a city.