Junior actors, or 'actlets' get very excited about readthroughs, because they think it is an opportunity to try out different voices, and add or take away bits of dialogue depending on how clever they are feeling that morning, but they are WRONG, a script readthrough is mostly to see if the script is as long as the telly slot it is supposed to be fitting into. Ideally just a little bit longer, so if anything goes wrong you have stuff to cut, rather than being too short so that you have to add stage directions like 'everyone stares into space for 1min 32 seconds' like Pinter did WE'RE ON TO YOU PINTER.
If it's too long, that's not good, unless it's exactly twice as long, in which case you cut it in two and phone the broadcaster and say 'hey, good news, we have an extra episode!', which is more or less what happened with episodes eight and nine of Green Wing series one. #true
In case you don't believe I was in a 'room' with 'actors', here is a photo of me with 'actor' Alex MacQueen, who played Julius in The Thick Of It and is thus a hero to @Patroclus, who insisted I had my picture taken with him.
It turns out this is a great way to divide and conquer actors and thus let them know who's boss, by casually announcing 'my wife has insisted I take a 'selfie' with one of you BUT ONLY ONE WHO COULD IT BE'. Cue actors flicking their eyes from side to side with increasing nervousness over potential loss of status as I walk slowly around the room saying things like 'lalalala it could be you- BUT IT'S NOT, maybe it's this actor NO IT ISN'T, here we go it's Alex'.
It has been pointed out that Alex looks almost more excited to meet me than I was to meet him, which only emphasises how good an actor he is, and all the other ones could learn from him and his positive attitude.
Anyway, we start the readthrough, then realise no-one is available to time it.
ME: Where is Chris, the First Assistant Director? For usually it is he who times these readthroughs.
SOMEONE ELSE: Chris is in LA filming the new series of Episodes.
ME: CURSE YOU STEPHEN MANGAN AND YOUR ATLANTIC STRETCHING TENTACLES OF EVIL.
So I volunteered to time the readthrough, which disappointed everyone in the room because they were secretly hoping I would read some lines, at which I am very good. They didn't say anything, but I knew that's what they were thinking. However, now I had to not read lines and turn my phone back on, because I had turned it off so it didn't ring during the readthrough, which was very professional of me, I think.
DIRECTOR: Can we start now?
ME: My phone is still starting up.
Long silence. Eventually my phone makes a small beeping noise and something swims to the surface of the picture bit, 'screen', that's the word I was looking for.
ME: (helpfully) This phone is a Samsung Pocket Geo!
Everyone absorbs this information.
DIRECTOR: Now can we start?
ME: It's just sorting out its icons.
ME: Ooh, I've got Google+ on this, that's bound to come in handy at some point.
Bit more silence.
ME: Nearly there.
ACTOR: We could use my phone if it's-
ME: LOOK I HAVE ONE JOB ALL RIGHT?
ME: (calmly, with air of authority) You may all proceed.
I can now announce the following scoop, which will surely be in all the major media outlets seconds after I press 'Publish', that Episode 4 currently runs at thirty minutes twenty eight seconds, which is a bit long for an ITV half hour, which is twenty two minutes twenty seconds.
So basically we're going to have to sack someone. Not Alex though.