FILM / Take One Actor / Hugh two?: A change is better than resting: 20 indispensable steps to staying in work

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1. Wait for your agent to telephone.

2. Ring agent with the latest titbit of industry rumour even if you heard it on the Richard and Judy Show which you just happened to switch on while searching for the cricket score. End nervous conversation by asking in high-pitched squeal if there's 'anything in the pipeline for me?'.

3. Redecorate stairwell.

4. Take private voice lessons. Hear from 50- year-old voice coach, drinking Turkish coffee from cracked mug in rundown N5 flat, how he used to be an actor too.

5. Stop taking private voice lessons.

6. Receive phone calls from neurotic actors who want to know if you've got the part they didn't get.

7. Ring agent about parts neurotic friends failed to get and that you'd never heard of.

8. Consider changing agent. After all, why aren't you like Hugh Grant?

9. Stare in mirror and wonder why you're not like Hugh Grant.

10. Ring your mother. Moan. Be reminded how good you were at imaginary games in the garden when you were 10.

11. Think of visiting Somerset House in the hope of discovering that you are related to some prominent member of the industry. If successful, this may only give you a start but you'll find that you can 'start' again and again and again.

12. Meet up with a group of actors. Hope to get some inside information. End up drunk.

13. Wake up with the dreadful hollow feeling that you spent all the

previous evening talking about yourself.

14. Begin redecorating the spare room and contemplate a dual career in property development.

15. Play tennis with your agent. Exercise all frustrations out on the ball, race to a 5-1 lead then reconsider your position.

16. Promptly receive an uncanny phone call from agent about a film you're bound to get. Realise that this may have something to do with his incredible triumph at tennis.

17. Start filming. Tell everyone how brilliant you think your agent is and how you'd never consider changing him.

18. Finish filming. Spend 24 hours luxuriating in not working. Buy foolishly expensive gifts for your loved ones; try not to buy that brand new brown leather jacket; take champagne to your agent's office, tell hysterical anecdotes about the film you just made, allow him to take you out to lunch and finally ask in deep, confident tones, 'So, what's next?'.

19. Wake up in the middle of the night wondering if you'll ever work again.

20. Return to Step 1.

PS: Things will be much easier if at some point before Step 1 you were: President of the Soviet Union; Leader of the Opposition; or, at least, the red head of a dodgy metropolitan council.

PPS: Under no circumstances should you consider sleeping with prominent members of H M Government as their only interest in film extends to avoiding shots of their bald spots on the overhead cameras.