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Last Updated: Tuesday April 04 2006 16:56 GMT

Behind the scenes at the Lyra auditions

People queued for two hours

Leigh Mytton reports for CBBC Newsround Online at the first audition for the star of The Golden Compass - the film based on Philip Pullman's Northern Lights.

Lyra Belacqua. Philip Pullman heroine and star of upcoming movie The Golden Compass. But who will play her?

The thousands of girls who turned up for the first audition for the role were hoping the answer would be "Me! me! me!"

An icy night followed by a windy morning were not the ideal conditions for queuing in Cambridge. But they came in their thousands.

Nine-year-old Hannah, from Derby, had given up a lot to attend the auditions.

Hannah was wearing her snooker outfit
Hannah was wearing her snooker outfit

She's taking part in the World Ladies Snooker Championship and was meant to be playing in the billiards competition on Tuesday.

"I like drama and I like billiards, but I had to choose between the two," said Hannah.

"I think going to an audition is the same as playing snooker in that you have to concentrate and people are looking at you."

She added: "I like Lyra because she gets into mischief a lot and I like doing that too."

The queue stretched around the block. Most girls faced a two-hour wait before seeing the casting directors.

Rachel, right, made a new pal - Lottie
Rachel, right, made a new pal - Lottie

Nine-year-old Rachel from Peterborough started queuing at 8.30am - an hour and a half before the doors opened.

She said: "It's been a bit boring at times, but I've found a friend to talk to."

Rachel described Lyra as determined. She said: "I was determined to read the book before I came here."

Then she disappeared into the audition with her new friend, Lottie.

Georgia told us what happened behind the scenes
Georgia told us what happened behind the scenes

Newsround wasn't allowed into the audition but 11-year-old Georgia from Essex told us what happened behind the scenes.

"They asked for the children to go into the hall but for the parents to stay behind," she revealed.

"There was a group of about 60 of us. They asked the children their names and where they came from.

"Then they asked random kids a few questions. They asked me who my favourite character was. I said Pan.

"Afterwards they asked four people to stay. I was one of them. I felt really nervous about what they were going to do.

Mireille didn't mind waiting
Mireille didn't mind waiting

"They took photos of us then our parents came to get us. They might contact me now to read some lines. I would feel nervous but very excited."

Georgia had been and gone before 11-year-old Mireille from Grantham joined the queue - and it was still before midday!

"It doesn't matter, it's moving fast," said Mireille of the long wait ahead.

"I really really like acting. Some people have said Lyra's like me, I'm a bit weird.

Sisters Sam and Michelle were entertained by Tom
Sisters Sam and Michelle were entertained by Tom

Being sisters didn't stop Sam and Michelle from Cambridge going for the same part.

"It's cold but we're nearly at the front," said 10-year-old Michelle.

Sam, 11, said she liked Lyra because: "She's a star."

The girls were joined by their brother Tom who kept them amused while they were waiting.

Eleven-year-old Charlotte from Tunbridge Wells said her 5.30am start had been worthwhile after getting a recall from her audition.

Charlotte's early start was worthwhile
Charlotte's early start was worthwhile

"They asked me which character I preferred in the His Dark Materials series. I said Mrs Coulter. She's so powerful. She's evil but she's different. She can be nice and she can be horrible."

As Newsround left the audition, the queues were getting longer, even though the 2pm cut-off point was edging closer.

Thousands of girls had been seen by the casting directors. A few lucky ones were waiting for the call to see if they would be returning to read a script.

Meanwhile the search for Lyra goes on, with auditions in Kendal, Oxford and Exeter in the coming days.

Good luck, girls!!

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