The Winner of the 2023 Andrew Dunbar Award is GARRY HARPER!
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Inside The Extras Dept.

The Winner of the 2023 Andrew Dunbar Award is GARRY HARPER!

09 April 2024

The winner of this year’s Andrew Dunbar Award is…


Every year we like to celebrate our most worked extra in honour of Andrew Dunbar, a legendary extra who held the title for many years.

This year we are overjoyed to award the 2023 Andrew Dunbar Award to Garry.  We’re announcing this a little later in the year than usual and that is because Garry has been so busy with a continuity role on a feature film that is currently shooting in Belfast.  Garry worked across multiple productions in 2023, some for just a single day, some for intense continuity and some featured and speaking roles as well.  All of this along with the incredible things Garry does outside of his extras work, is truly remarkable.

As part of The Andrew Dunbar Award, each year The Extras Dept. make a charitable donation.  After a conversation with Garry, he has decided to follow in the footsteps of previous winners and has asked for the donation to be made to PIPS.  PIPS Suicide Prevention Ireland Charity provides counselling and befriending support to individuals who are experiencing or have experienced suicidal thoughts or mental unwellness. PIPS Charity also provides support to families and friends who have been touched by suicide.

We encourage you to read more about PIPS and the great work they do and if you can, donate via the link below:

Congratulations Garry your hard work in 2023 was recognised both on set and by all our team here at The Extras Dept.

We managed to grab 5 minutes with Garry to chat about his incredible year and find out a bit more about him.

Tell us a bit about yourself Garry and how do you balance your home / work life with doing so much extras work?

I'm lucky to have an amazing family who I'm so proud of.  If it wasn't for my wife's support with our family and our fostering commitments, I wouldn't be able to be so flexible. Which is the key, in my opinion.  Being reliable and committed is what you need as an extra. She really understands how much I love doing this.

I've been lucky to have worked with both of my sons once as a 'Harper Guard' (Harper is our surname) on Dungeons and Dragons. And additionally, my character name in Silverpoint was Gary! (A wee Easter egg) Plus, a shout out to my daughter who was my biggest fan and now she's my biggest critic…

 In 2023 you worked across 7 different productions; do you have a favourite moment?

The highlight from last year was working on the kid’s drama "A Kind of Spark" with the very talented and amazing young cast (Lola, Georgia, Ella, Zac, and Forrest).  This drama meant a lot to me because of my involvement with neurodivergent children. On the last day of filming, the showrunner came over to me and personally thanked me for being involved and appreciated my commitment and enthusiasm on set.

You’ve been busy the last few months with your continuity role on How to Train Your Dragon, tell us a bit about that experience.

Working on 'How to Train Your Dragon' has been unbelievable. The food has been top-notch; ask anybody, they would say the same. It's the first time I've known a big group of extras to come together and have a collection of gifts for the crew, ads, caterers, and the director. Also, I've never seen extras come together like they have on this, seriously.  It's a great bunch of people who all look out for each other, and it's become one massive family group.

What was your most challenging moment of the last year?

I was on "Breathtaking" this year, which was a hard-hitting drama about Covid for ITV.  There were many occasions on set when I struggled to hold back the tears. The cast members, Jo, Stephanie, and the talented Lucy Montgomery were lovely, always coming over in between takes for a chat. And before I forget, Mark (Dexter) went out of his way in front of the cast and crew to say thanks to me for helping him get in the zone in one of the scenes we did together.

You've been doing extras work with us since 2013, have you noticed changes in the industry since then? 

I've seen some outstanding changes since I've been a supporting artist. The new young blood has come in with such a positive attitude. Being respectful and having people skills is a must (it's nice to be nice).  Some have been extras, learned the trade, and moved up the ladder to assistant directors and much more! I was brought up to treat people as you would want to be treated yourself. There are a few special people I want to shout out for making the changes that really needed to happen. Here I go:  Becky, Emma, JJ, The Awesome Tim, Hussain, Theo, Scotty, Danny, Matthew, Kirsty, Sam, Owen, Chloe. 

And finally, the main man, the guy who was the first AD I met on Game of Thrones at 4 am one winters morning. Every day, he brought his A game for over three weeks on nights with the biggest smile on his face. This guy is a true gentleman.  He has ascended the ladder and the sky's the limit. Jamie, I salute you, you deserve all this credit!  I'm passionate about giving credit where credit is due.

PS Everybody in The Extras Dept. office have been amazing over the years... you guys do an amazing job and I really appreciate what you do! 

What makes you want to keep doing extras work?

The mix and surprise of each day on set, along with the chance to meet new people and be part of creating something special, are the things that keep me motivated to continue doing extras work.

Out of the productions you worked on last year, which are you most looking forward to watching?

I'm most looking forward to watching "A Kind of Spark." The involvement with the talented young Lola Blue and the meaningful themes of the drama made it a standout for me.

As a veteran extra now, what advice would you offer to someone for their first day on a set?

Being on set can be a long day.  Be prepared by bringing a book or a tablet, some snacks are handy, and a smile and you will get through the day. Always listen to the assistant director and remember what you've been told on set.

Congratulations again Garry, we are always impressed with everything you do on set and off.