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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

From The Six Million Dollar Man to Melrose Place, Planet Earth to Enter The Dragon, here's an actor with an incredible track record ...


John Saxon is a powerhouse of cult appearances on both the big and small screen. Gene Roddenberry fans will know him as 'Dylan Hunt' in the 1974 TV pilot movie Planet Earth, a second attempt at a format originally filmed with a different cast as Genesis II the year before. Eventually the format was developed into the series we now know as Andromeda.

On The Six Million Dollar Man he guest-starred as Major Frederick Sloan, who became better know thanks to the tie-in toys as arch-villain Maskatron (a role which also crossed over to The Bionic Woman)! Other regular series roles included Henry Waxman in Melrose Place, Tony Cumson in Falcon Crest, Rashid Ahmed in Dynasty, and the first incarnation of Edward Gerard in Another World.

His list of TV guest appearances in monumental, and includes outings on Kung Fu, The A Team, Burke’s Law, Gunsmoke, Dr Kildare, Bonanza, The Virginian, The Time Tunnel, Cimarron Strip, Ironside, Garrison’s Gorillas, It Takes A Thief, The Name Of The Game, The Sixth Sense, Night Gallery, Banyon, The Streets of San Francisco, The Rookies, Police Story, Banacek, Petrocelli, The Rockford Files, Starsky and Hutch, Wonder Woman, The Fantastic Journey, Westside Medical, Fantasy Island, Vega$, Hardcastle and McCormick, Scarecrow and Mrs King, Magnum PI, Masquerade, Murder She Wrote, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Hotel, Monsters, Matlock, Ray Bradbury Theater, In The Heat Of The Night, and Kung Fu – The Legend Continues.

John became interested in acting as a teenager and began attending dramatic school in Manhattan while still going to New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn. A photograph of him from a summer modelling job came to the attention of a Hollywood agent and thereafter luck, ability and the then prevailing Hollywood studio system provided John with a Universal Studios Stock Contract at the age of 17, three weeks after his arrival in Los Angeles.

After much screen-testing he gained a co-starring role with Esther Williams in the 1956 drama "The Unguarded Moment". Roles in "Rock Pretty Baby", "Summer Love", "The Restless Years", "This Happy Feeling" and "The Reluctant Debutante" secured his reputation as something of a 'teenage heart throb'.

By 1960, character acting had become his trade, in movies such as "Cry Tough", "The Big Fisherman", "The Unforgiven", "The Plunderers" and "Warhunt".

In 1965 John won the role of Chuy Medina, a Mexican bandit, playing opposite Marlon Brando in "The Appaloosa". A new contract with Universal led John to appear in many of the earliest television movies, such as "Doomsday Flight" and "Winchester 73", and well as the part of Dr Ted Stuart in The New Doctors - a regular strand of the anthology series The Bold Ones, from 1969 to 1972.

He has featured in the mini-series Harold Robbins’ 79 Park Avenue, Once An Eagle, and Greatest Heroes of The Bible.

In 1973 John co-starred as Roper in "Enter the Dragon", with Bruce Lee, a film that has achieved classic cult status. John has now appeared in over 100 feature films, including "From Dusk Till Dawn", "Strange New World", "Raid On Entebbe", "The Electric Horseman", "Battle Beyond the Stars", "Prisoners of the Lost Universe", "Cannibal Apocalypse", "Tennebrae", "Wrong Is Right", "Nightmare on Elm Street" (1 and 3), "Fever Pitch", "My Mom's a Werewolf", "The Arrival", "Aftershock", "Frame-Up II – The Cover-Up", "Night Class", "Maximum Force", "Jonathan of the Bears", "Released to Kill", "Beverly Hills Cop III", "Final Payback", "Outta Time", "Living In Fear" and "The Road Home".

John has also tried his hand at directing, having helmed "Death House" with Dennis Cole and Anthony Franciosa in 1987. Unsurprisingly, Mr Saxon has a black belt in karate!

We were delighted to have John as a guest at the Cult TV Festival 2005.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

The little-seen member of The League of Gentlemen ...


The 'reclusive' co-writer of The League of Gentlemen, Jeremy Dyson met Mark Gatiss, Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton while studying for a Philosophy degree at Leeds University.

Starting out on the London Fringe, the quartet played at the Edinburgh Festival in 1996 and, when they returned the following year, won the Perrier Award and were signed by the BBC.

Introduced to a wider audience when the award-winning On The Town With The League Of Gentlemen aired on Radio 4, the bizarre inhabitants of Royston Vasey arrived on television in 1999, winning an RTS award, BAFTA and the Golden Rose of Montreux for Best Entertainment.

While the other members relish portraying the freakish characters, except for the odd cameo role Jeremy Dyson stays behind the camera, co-writing the show and, since the second series, taking on the role of assistant producer.

Outside of The League of Gentlemen, Jeremy has co-written an episode of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) with Mark Gatiss, and written and directed the short film The Cicerones. Writing fiction since 1987, his books include the short story collection Never Trust a Rabbit, Darkness Bright and The Essex Files, co-written with Mark Gatiss.

A keen musician, Jeremy plays with the band Rudolph Rocker, described by the NME as "so good we missed the last bus home," and recently joined Joby Talbot of The Divine Comedy for the musical ghost story, The Same Dog, at London's Barbican Concert Hall.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

A stalwart of the Carry On movies, Jack has featured in many TV series, including The Goodies, The Shillingbury Tales and The Good Old Days ...


Best known for his appearances in the Carry On films and television specials, Jack Douglas was born into a theatrical family and produced his first show at the age of fifteen.

Showing no interest in performing until an actor was taken ill and he took his place, Jack Douglas learnt his craft playing stooge to the likes of Benny Hill and Bruce Forsythe before forming an act with Jack Baker.

One night, with Baker locked out of the theatre, Jack Douglas was forced to go on alone. Fidgeting nervously infront of the bemused audience, the character of Alf Ippititimus was born.

As Alf he began a long partnership with Des O'Connor that saw them through pantomimes, summer seasons, and numerous television shows before an impressive performance on the Royal Command Variety Show and an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

A recognisable character actor, Jack Douglas appeared in Carry on Matron in 1972 and stayed with the series until the final Carry on Columbus in 1992. After appearing in an episode of The Goodies, he became a regular on Joker's Wild and played Stanley Pickersgill in Not on Your Nellie. A role in The Shillingbury Blowers led to him reprising his character in The Shillingbury Tales and the further spin-off, Cluffy, alongside Bernard Cribbins.

With many stage successes to his credit, Jack Douglas has also penned the musical, What a Performance, based on the life of entertainer Sid Field.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Star of four Doctor Who stories with three different Time Lords ...


Ian is famous for his numerous appearances in Doctor Who alongside Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, in "The Macra Terror" (as Questa), "Inferno" (as Bromley), and "The Seeds of Doom" (as Dr Chester). He also featured as Gregory in the first part of "The Invasion", a missing episode that is being especially animated to an existing copy of the soundtrack for release in October.

In 1970 Ian starred in ATV's first SF children's series, Timeslip. He appeared in the last two serials as Dr Frazer and his clone Alpha ’, alongside the late Dennis Quilley.

Other Television Credits include Adam Adamant Lives! “The Last Sacrifice”, Emergency Ward 10, The Big Spender, Softly Softly, Z Cars, Stand up for Nigel Barton, Mogul, Paul Temple, No Exit, Van der Valk, Spy Trap, Shoestring, Last of the Summer Wine and two episodes of The Professionals ("Private madness, public danger" and "Kickback").

Ian's theatre work includes a number of seasons and tours, including "The Mousetrap" (during 1963-4) understudying and playing both male leads.

He has also performed all the voices on the cartoon series All Talk for Central and is currently involved in providing the voices for Horrace and the Magic Motorcycle. He also appeared in the Big Finish audio drama "Catch 1782" as Professor David Munro.

Ian recently returned to acting in Explode Part 3 – "Power Struggle", in 2005, and recorded an interview "In Conversation with Ian Fairbairn" about his life as a jobbing actor, both released by Fantom Films.

Ian made an appearance at the Cult TV Festival 2006 thanks to www.cultpodcast.co.uk.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Writers Ray and Alan were responsible for shows like Hancock and Steptoe and Son ...


Born a year apart, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson first met at Milford Sanatorium in 1948 while undergoing treatment for T.B. and decided to collaborate on comedy shows for the amateur radio room used for occupational therapy.

Avid listeners of Take It From Here and The Goon Show, they wrote four scripts entitled Have You Ever Wondered. After leaving the sanatorium, Alan was asked to write a show for his church concert party. He contacted Ray, and by 1951 the pair were writing professionally for the BBC.

During the next decade the pair established themselves as one of Britain's most successful comedy-writing partnerships. Working from an office over a greengrocer in Shepherd's Bush along with a crowd of writers that included Spike Milligan and Eric Sykes, they met Tony Hancock and in 1954 Ray and Alan started writing Hancock's Half Hour.

Running for 101 episodes until its final broadcast in 1959, by 1956 the radio show transferred to television with 63 episodes screened before it ended in 1961. After their Sid James vehicle Citizen James, the pair moved on to write the BBC Comedy Playhouse. From the sixteen episodes emerged Steptoe and Son, starring Wilfred Brambell and Harry H. Corbett as the two rag-and-bone men.

Over the next twelve years Steptoe and Son ran for eight series on television and five on radio. Like Hancock's Half Hour before it, the format was sold world-wide, most successfully in America where Sanford and Son topped the ratings for five years.

After adapting Gabriel Chevalier's novel Clochemerle for television, they wrote the BBC series Casanova, starring Leslie Phillips, Dawson's Weekly and seven plays for The Galton and Simpson Playhouse before Alan decided to take a sabbatical. In 1995 they got back together to update eight of their classic scripts for the first of two series of Paul Merton in Galton and Simpson's .... Three years later BBC Radio 4 celebrated the 50th Anniversary of their partnership by broadcasting four of their comedies, specially adapted by Ray and Alan, in The Galton and Simpson Radio Playhouse.

Amongst their film credits are The Rebel, starring Tony Hancock, an adaptation of Joe Orton's play Loot, and two Steptoe and Son features. For the stage they collaborated on the revue Way Out in Piccadilly and adapted Rene d'Obaldia's The Wind in the Sassafras Trees, starring Frankie Howerd, which successfully transferred from London to Broadway.

The recipients of numerous awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Writers Guild, Ray and Alan were recognised with OBEs in the Millennium New Year's Honours.

In 2002 the BFI ran a special season culminating in the launch of a new book to commemorate forty years of Steptoe and Son, written in conjunction with Robert Ross.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Star of Paul Temple and Captain Scarlet ...


Schooled in classical theatre, Francis Matthews began his career as an Assistant Stage Manager at the Theatre Royal, Leeds. His first role, at the age of 17, as a schoolboy in a production of Emlyn Williams "The Corn is Green" led to two years in rep at the Oxford Playhouse, followed by subsequent leading roles in London's West End. Acting alongside Rex Harrison in "Aren't We All", and playing Badger in the National Theatre's production of "Wind in the Willows", Francis starred as Mr Darcy in the musical version of "Pride and Prejudice", which inaugurated the new Birmingham Repertory Theatre, and Professor Henry Higgins in a European tour of "My Fair Lady".

On television, Francis made guest appearances in shows such as Hancock ("The Writer"), The Avengers ("The Thirteenth Hole" and "Mission: Highly Improbable"), The Saint ("The Noble Sportsman" and "To Kill a Saint"), The Adventures of Robin Hood ("The Little People" and "The Minstrel"), the war-time spy drama O.S.S. ("Operation Powder Puff"),and the BBC’s SF anthology series Out of the Unknown.

He starred as an educated and ambitious son of a furniture producer, forcing his traditionalist father to modernise his ways, in the sit-com A Little Big Business, before landing the lead in Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's 1967 series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons. Basing the voice of the title character on his impersonation of actor Cary Grant, Francis played the indestructible Spectrum agent, defending the Earth from Mysteron threats.

After the success of Captain Scarlet Francis moved on to another starring role in the BBC's classic detective series, Paul Temple. Based on the character created in the 1930s by Francis Durbridge, and similar in vein to Dashiell Hammett's The Thin Man, where fabulously wealthy Nick and Nora Charles become high-society sleuths, Paul Temple was similarly suave and sophisticated, but it was his success as a writer of detective novels that allowed him to become an amateur detective. Touring Europe with his wife, Steve, while solving crime, the part seemed tailor-made for Francis.

He played six characters in Alan Plater’s Trinity Tales, a contemporary reworking of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales", and was a three-times guest on The Morecambe and Wise Show, as well as appearing alongside Eric and Ernie in their film comedies The Intelligence Men and That Riviera Touch.

With other television roles including Lord Peregrine Hansford in the sitcom My Man Joe, as well as parts in Don't Forget To Write, Middlemen, and A Roof Over My Head, Francis has made more recent appearances in Taggart, Tears Before Bedtime, and Jonathan Creek.

After appearing with the late Ava Gardner in the film "Bhowani Junction", Francis appeared on the big screen in "Crossplot", "Just Like A Woman", "Rasputin The Mad Monk", "Dracula: Prince of Darkness", "Murder Ahoy", "Nine Hours to Rama", "The Treasure of Monte Cristo", "The Hellfire Club", "I Only Arsked", and "The Revenge of Frankenstein". He played Noel Coward in "Ike", and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan in "Moi, General De Gaulle" and appeared with William Hurt in "Do Not Disturb".

Francis joined in the fun at the Cult TV Festivals in 2002 and 2006.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Sarah-Jane Smith returned to Doctor Who, then got her own spin-off show, and we were delighted the actress who plays her returned to the Cult TV Festival in 2006 ...


Elisabeth Sladen is perhaps one of the most famous of all the Doctor Who companions, having been a cornerstone of both the Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker eras of the programme. Her character of Sarah Jane Smith also appeared in a spin-off pilot in the 1980s, K9 and Company, and both she and the robotic pooch are returning to the series, for the first full season with new TARDIS incumbent David Tennant this year.

Elisabeth steadily built up to this role as companion, her big break came when she played Desdemona in a TV adaption of Shakespeare’s "Othello". There was also a short stint as barmaid Anita Reynolds in half a dozen episodes of Coronation Street in 1970. In 1972 she played a terrorist in "Say Knife, Fat Man", an episode of Doomwatch. Elisabeth found herself on the right side of the law, playing a police woman in episodes of Special Branch and Public Eye. She also popped up in a trio of episodes of Z Cars as well as Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em.

Following her three and a half years in Doctor Who, Elisabeth went back to work in theatre in Liverpool. She was not off our screens for long, as she spent a couple of years as a presenter of the children's series Stepping Stones. Elisabeth then co-starred in Send in the Girls, a seven episode comedy about a Sales Promotion Team that also starred Floella Benjamin, Annie Ross, Andrew Sachs and Anna Carteret, and the six episode sit-com Take My Wife, playing spouse Josie in a vehicle designed for comedian Duggie Brown.

Other television appearances have included In Loving Memory, Play for Today, Dempsey & Makepeace, The Bill, Peak Practice and Faith in the Future.

In 1981, former Doctor Who producer Barry Letts cast Elisabeth as one of the leads in the BBC's production of Gulliver in Lilliput, and she worked with Letts again, playing the Dormouse in the 1986 adaption of Alice in Wonderland.

Elisabeth appeared as a bank secretary in "Silver Dream Racer", a movie written by Michael Billington (Foster in UFO) and starring David Essex.

Sarah-Jane Smith has never been too far away for Elisabeth – as well as the 20th anniversary celebration story "The Five Doctors", the Children In Need special "Dimensions in Time", as well as the BBV production "Downtime", there were also the BBC Radio plays "The Paradise of Death" and "The Ghosts of N-Space". Big Finish Productions is also currently releasing several audio adventures featuring Sarah-Jane. Elisabeth also appeared in the Bernice Summerfield story "Walking to Babylon", as Ninan-ashtammu, a member of that ancient civilisation.

Previously a celebrity guest at the Cult TV Festivals in 1996 and 1997, we were delighted that Elisabeth joined us once more in 2006.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Doctor Who's Grand-daughter Susan joined our celebration of the origins of the travelling Time Lord at Cult TV 2005 ...


Carole Ann Ford first appeared in a film at the age of eight. Following acting and elocution lessons, she started doing commercials and walk-on work. Her first professional role was in the play "Women of the Streets" and her career blossomed from that first engagement.

She excelled in the world of televisions, taking roles in series that included Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads, Public Eye, Z Cars, Emergency Ward 10, Attorney General, Probation Officer, Dial M for Murder, Moonstrike, Compact and Man on a Bicycle.

It was while working on Man on a Bicycle that she was approached to play the part of Susan in Doctor Who. After leaving the series, being unhappy with the way Susan’s character was not being allowed to develop, Carole worked mainly in the theatre and, having missed a lot of her first daughter Miranda’s childhood due to pressure of work, decided to put her family first when her second daughter Tara-Louise was born.

As her family commitments became less demanding, Carole took on more acting work, and also began voice coaching for actors, businessmen and politicians. She also reprised her role as Susan in the 20th anniversary Doctor Who story "The Five Doctors", and spin-offs such as the independent production Shakedown, and "Auld Mortality" and "A Storm of Angels" for the Big Finish audio range of Doctor Who - Unbound adventures.

Carole’s theatre credits include "The Jungle Book", "Stranger in the House", "Bakerloo to Paradise", "The Owl and the Pussycat", "The Rumpus", "Pride and Prejudice", "Inadmissible Evidence", "Enrico", 2Expresso Bongo", "Sleeping Beauty", "You Never Can Tell", "Ned Kelly", "Mother", "MacBett", "The Boyfriend", "Have You Seen Manchester", "Private Lives" and "Solitary Confinement".

On film she has appeared in "Sarah", "The Hiding Place", "The Great St Trinians Train Robbery", "Mix Me a Person" and the part of the blind French girl Bettina in "The Day of the Triffids".

Today, Carole lives in North London with husband Harry ... and Tara-Louise has grown up to become an actress herself.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

A regular guest in the worlds of Doctor Who, and familar face from a huge range of Cult TV series ...


Guest-starring in the Cult TV shows The Saint, Department S, The Persuaders! and three episodes of The Avengers, Bernard appeared in four Doctor Who adventures directed by John Maloney.

He played Gulliver in the 1968 story The Mind Robber, a Time Lord in The War Games, which marked Patrick Troughton’s last outing as The Doctor, and appeared as Taron in Planet of the Daleks opposite Jon Pertwee. Playing Chancellor Goth in The Deadly Assassin, his battle with Tom Baker is one of the most violent scenes in the history of the series and drew strong complaints from Mary Whitehouse.

Amongst his numerous television credits, Bernard portrayed Sir Christopher Hatton in Elizabeth R and Dr Philip Martel in Enemy at the Door, set during the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands, Rankin in The Jewel in the Crown, the Prime Minister in For the Greater Good, and Peter Dobson in Nice Town.

After roles in Minder and Between the Lines, he played Harland in The Return of Sherlock Holmes's The Hound of the Baskervilles, starring Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke, and the elder Crawford in David Pirie's Murder Rooms: The Dark Beginnings of Sherlock Holmes.

On the big screen he played Campbell opposite George Lazenby’s James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, then went on to appear in Gold and Shout at the Devil for director Peter Hunt. More recently he played General Edgar in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi and Balliol in Braveheart.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Chief Sharkey from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea ...


Actor, director, producer, and writer Terry Becker has been a familiar figure on television since the 1950s, on series such as Perry Mason, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, M Squad, The Untouchables, Wanted: Dead Or Alive, Sea Hunt, Combat!, Rawhide, and most memorably as Chief Francis Ethelbert Sharkey in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

Born in New York City, Terry discovered as early as elementary school that acting in plays helped keep him out of trouble. He later attended Morris High School in the Bronx, where one classmate was fellow future actor Ross Martin, who was a close friend. While there, Terry tried directing and discovered that he enjoyed that discipline as well. He turned to drama after he graduated, studying at the American Theater Wing. His teachers included Stella Adler and Lee Stratsburg and he also made the acquaintance of playwright Paddy Chayefsky, who was to become a giant in the world of American television in the 1950s.

As an aspiring young actor in post-World War II New York, he crossed paths with such up-and-coming players as Marlon Brando, Ben Gazzara and Anthony Franciosa on the New York Stage. Terry made his television debut on the same episode of The Philco Playhouse that saw the debut of Ernest Borgnine. Terry went on to appear in parts of varying sizes, from bits to starring roles, in dozens of early live-television dramas, while continuing his stage work.

After his move to Hollywood, he continued to work in television drama, one of his best known performances being “ I Am the Night, Color Me Black”, an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Picked by Irwin Allen as a replacement for the late Henry Kulky, who had played Chief Curley Jones up until his death in 1965, Terry brought his personality to the set of Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea. As Robert Dowdell recently noted: "Terry brought humour to the show in a way that would have made Voyage very different if he had not been part of those last three years".

He developed a rapport - and lasting friendship - with star Richard Basehart, that gave a depth and interest to the characters, and often carried episodes that would have failed without that relationship.

After Voyage, Terry went on to direct, produce and develop a number of TV series. With Gene Reynolds and James L Brooks, he created Room 222, directing several of the episodes, and winning an Emmy along the way. He also directed episodes of Mission: Impossible, M*A*S*H, Love American Style, Anna and The King and The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.

Terry then moved into film, writing and directing “The Thirsty Dead”, executive producing “The Last Hurrah” that starred Carroll O’Connor, and producing the TV movies “Savage in the Orient” (starring John Saxon and Leif Erickson) and “Blade in Hong Kong” (with Leslie Nielsen and James Hong).

Today, Terry spends his time running Sugar Flowers Plus, a company that makes gum paste flowers for cake and cookie decoration, and acting in new films with the UCLA Film Department. He recently won an award for one of those films, in which he starred.


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