From Walter Cannel played a New York tramp and a Gondorian citizen in the films, Philip Eastwood was a hobbit and Laurie Penney was both a tramp and a hobbit. Organiser Paul Giles, 77 – a tramp at the head of a soup kitchen queue in King Kong – said the reunions had begun in 2002 with the help of his late wife, Marie. The informal gathering drew together people from throughout the country, all with fond memories of their show business experience. “There was a great atmosphere and the camaraderie was absolutely to the fore,” Mr Giles said.

“It’s kept people who have never done this sort of thing engrossed.”

Extras scanned the finished films for the slightest glimpse of themselves.

“It’s an absolute thrill when you’ve never been in anything like this.”

The extras were grateful to Jackson, he said.

“All of us out there today were saying, ‘I hope he makes The Hobbit. Maybe we’ll have a go’.”