Is this Britain’s most prolific extra? Super gran has kept busy in retirement by appearing in more than 1,000 films, TV shows and adverts
Most people like to take it easy in their retirement – but super gran Ninette Finch has been keeping herself as one of Britain’s most prolific TV extras.
You may well recognise her face – 82-year-old Ninette has appeared on screen more than 1,000 times in films, TV series and adverts.
Ninette, from Wallington, South London, has been working as a supporting artist for the past 16 years, after she retired from her job as a cashier at HSBC in 1999.
Ninette has appeared in everything from Eastenders, Holby City and Downton Abbey to Derek, New Tricks and kid’s favourites Basil Brush and Dick and Dom in da Bungalow.
She has also featured in more than 100 films – including four Harry Potter films, Finding Neverland and Les Miserables starring Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe.
Ninette, who has two children and four grandchildren, said: “It just started out as something to keep me busy in my retirement.
“I do it to top up my pension, but it’s also great fun.
“I love the variety, every day is different and exciting – it’s a thrill to get on a TV or film set and just see what happens.
“When the phone rings you don’t know what sort of job you will get or even where you’ll be working until the night before.
“On average, you might get around £85 a day after deductions – and that could be a 12 hour day.
“But I get to work in lovely places and locations that I wouldn’t normally get to go to.
“If someone told me I’d be doing this in my retirement I never would have believed them – I certainly never expected it to go this far when I started.
“I just love doing it – it’s quite addictive, I’ve become hooked on it.”
Ninette, who is currently working on a comedy series with David Hasselhoff and a show with comedian Keith Lemon, said: “I’ve been very lucky!
“I also like doing comedy programmes – I’m quite good at ad-libbing and I often get a bit more to do.
“I do enjoy costume jobs, it’s like a time travel experience.
“I have seen Anne Boleyn and Charles I lose their heads, I have celebrated the end of WW1, waved Nichols Nickleby off to Yorkshire and seen Oliver Twist arrive in London.
“I’ve met a lot of famous people – although I wouldn’t say I’m friends with any of them, I don’t move in their circles.
“Most people are very nice though and will always say hello.
“Although once I was kissed by Antonio Banderas – that did throw me!”
Ninette’s actor son was the one to introduce her to extra work, and after he got her an introduction with her first agency the work began to snowball.
She said: “My son was the one to suggest it, and my first thought was no one would ever let me go on a film set!
“On my very first job I never even saw a camera – I was devastated, I thought I was no good.
“But more work came along, you get more and more the longer you do it.
“I only had about 12 jobs in the first year, but as people get to know you it builds up.
“My son used to do background work but hated it, he wanted to be a star – but I actually think I’ve ended up more successful than him! I feel terribly guilty.
“He’s very nice about it though and doesn’t begrudge it – it’s just different circumstances.
“I don’t think I’d have done so well when I was younger – I get a lot of jobs in old folks’ homes and as elderly people.
“I’ve even had the odd line given to me, which is fantastic!
Ninette’s family are delighted with her exploits in her retirement, and her grandchildren love to point her out when they spot her on TV.
Ninette said: “They all think it’s quite funny really.”