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Join us for the latest on the best in extraordinary fictional television and film from the past, present and future, and analysis on its cultural impacts.

Find out about the amazing facts in fiction, and discover the truth about what's really going on in the World around us...

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Heard but not seen as the Blake's 7 artificial intelligence ...

 

 

Beginning his career in weekly repertory on Hastings Pier, Peter Tuddenham entertained the troops during the Second World War as a member of the Army's "Stars in Battledress". Back home, he won a part in Ivor Novello's "The Dancing Years" and, following stints in West End revues and farces, worked with Noel Coward in "Ace of Clubs".

Finding his way into radio, Peter acted in the long-running series "Mrs Dale's Diary" and "Waggoner's Walk", numerous literary adaptations, and original dramas including the Blake's 7 radio drama, "The Sevenfold Crown".

On television, he was the voice of the computer in the Doctor Who adventure "The Ark in Space" and the alien Mandragora Helix in "The Masque of Mandragora", both starring Tom Baker as the Doctor. A decade later he returned to play the voice of Brain in Sylvester McCoy's first adventure, "Time and the Rani". Before that Peter famously voiced the artificial intelligence in Terry Nation's Blake's 7. Giving each computer a distinct personality, he played Zen aboard the Liberator, the testy Orac and the obsequious Slave aboard the spaceship Scorpio.

In person, he appeared as Jack Godfrey in The Nine Tailors, starring Ian Carmichael as Dorothy L Sayer's Lord Peter Wimsey, the Campion drama "The Case of the Late Pig", with Peter Davison as Albert Campion and Brian Glover as his manservant Magersfontein Lugg, and played the Priest in P D James' A Mind to Murder. He played Doctor Rendel in The Lost Boys, based on J M Barrie's relationship with the Llewelyn-Davies family, and was reunited with Paul Darrow in the psychological drama Maelstrom.

Along with guest roles in Nearest and Dearest starring Hylda Baker and Jimmy Jewel, Only Fools and Horses, and One Foot in the Grave, Peter appeared in The Onedin Line, Bergerac, two episodes of Tales of the Unexpected and The Bill.

An authority on East Anglian dialect, he helped the players with their Suffolk accents for the Glyndebourne Opera Albert Herring and regularly works as a dialect coach for Anglian TV. The subject of a MythMakers DVD from Reeltime Pictures, the interview with Peter is hosted by none other than Orac himself.

Peter died peacefully in 2007.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Michael's role of Vila was the only character seen in all 52 episodes of Blake's 7 ...

 

Michael Keating is responsible for one of the most major characters in the worlds of Cult TV. As the small-time thief Vila Restal, who placed self-preservation at the top of his agenda, Michael was the only actor to have starred in all 52 episodes of Blake’s 7.

Michael was born in 1947 in what is now known as North London, but in those distant halcyon days it was part of Middlesex. He grew up and went to school mainly in Potters Bar (except for a brief period as an immigrant in Australia in the 1950s). Potters Bar was then in Middlesex but is now in Hertfordshire. So, Michael's early years on this planet are a total confusion geographically.

Michael's first job, after leaving school in 1963, was as a mailing clerk for United Artists Film Corporation in Wardour Street, London. One of his duties was to take the telegrams to the Post Office in Soho, and it was during that period he took one to be sent to the United States to announce that The Beatles were to make their first film, which subsequently was called "A Hard Days Night". So, he was but a small cog in a very big wheel.

In 1964 Michael gained a place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, with help and encouragement from his late parents Gwen (Lyn) and Frank, to study drama for two years. After a very happy and sheltered time there, he began his first professional job at Nottingham Playhouse, under the directorship of the great classical actor John Neville (who played the eponymous hero in "Baron Munchausen", and the Well-Manicured Man in The X Files many years later). Michael spent two and a half years at Nottingham, and then set forth to work in many other repertory theatres up and down the United Kingdom.

Propriety prevents Michael from regaling you with the many tales of a mispent youth. Suffice to say that by the early 1970s he had reached London Town in search of fame and/or fortune. In 1972 the most important event occured in his life, his daughter Lisa was born. It was also that year that he first worked for the BBC in an episode of Doomwatch, "Enquiry", playing Stephen Grigg, under the direction of Pennant Roberts.

After more repertory theatre and a stint at The National Theatre, Pennant offered Michael the part of Goudry in the Doctor Who story "The Sun Makers" with Tom Baker as The Doctor. It was Pennant who was one of the first directors on a series called Blake's Seven, a series which Michael himself had some input into! He can't say he found much fortune with the BBC, but Michael considers himself rich in the many experiences and friendships that he gained as a result of being in Blake’s Seven.

Blake's Seven finished in the winter of 1981, and since then Michael has been involved, yet again, in repertory theatre and occasional appearances on TV. He even spent the year of 1985/86 in the West End in a play with music about Elvis Presley called "Are You Lonesome Tonight?", starring Martin Shaw as Elvis. Other productions have included "Charley’s Aunt", "Death of a Salesman", "A Christmas Carol", "Relatively Speaking", and "Dial 'M' for Murder".

Michael appeared in the 1995 Casualty episode "Bringing It All Back Home" with fellow Blake’s 7 star Gareth Thomas. Michael played a retired footballer. He then played Gareth Wingate in the 2000 episode "State of Shock". Michael has also guest starred in episodes of London’s Burning and Yes, Minister.

Michael has recently featured in audio dramas, playing Major Koth in the Big Finish Paul McGann Doctor Who story "The Twilight Kingdom", as well as starring as Mydas Mydason, the game show host turned agent, in the ongoing Soldiers of Love SF comedy. He can currently be seen making occasional appearances as the Vicar, Reverend Stevens, in Eastenders.

Since Blake’s Seven there have been many changes in Michael's life, one was reaching middle age quicker than he thought possible. In his forties, in between appearing in the theatre, he joined the Rambling Association, and it was through rambling that he met his partner, Sue, who he plans to marry if she'll have him! Now in his late fifties, and fitter than he has ever been, Michael and Sue lead walks with their group and enjoy life to the full.

Cult TV was delighted to have had Michael join us for our 2005 Festival.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

A member of The League of Gentlemen, Mark has also played in Doctor Who ...

 

Best known as one quarter of the comedy team The League of Gentlemen which started life on the London Fringe before transferring to radio, television and the stage, Mark Gatiss has also been heavily involved in post-television Doctor Who.

Along with penning several Doctor Who novels he has written and appeared in new audio adventures from Big Finish Productions as well as The Zero Imperative, The Ghosts of Winterborne, Unnatural Selection and The Devil of Winterborne for BBV Video Productions.

The interviewer in Bidding Adieu, a video documentary of Sylvester McCoy filming the Doctor Who television movie in Canada, in 1999 he appeared as The Doctor and various other characters in the specially recorded interstitial sequences for the BBC's Doctor Who Night.

As well as the multiple inhabitants of Royston Vasey in The League of Gentlemen, Mark has appeared in Spaced, Dr. Terrible's House of Horrible and In the Red.

He played the police inspector in Drop Dead, the first episode of the updated Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) starring Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, and co-wrote with Jeremy Dyson, Two Can Play at That Game, the final episode of the second season.

In 2002 he appeared in The Cicerones, co-written and directed by Jeremy Dyson, provided voices for the animated Comic Relief film The Legend of the Lost Tribe, featuring Robbie the Reindeer, and has recently finished filming Sex Lives of the Potato Men.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Top flight costume designer for the BBC, ITC and others ...

 

Known for bringing her work in on budget and always giving good value, June Hudson has worked for the BBC as a costume designer on sitcoms, science fiction dramas and soap operas.

As a wardrobe supervisor she worked on Johnny Speight's comedy Till Death Us Do Part starring Warren Mitchell as the opinionated Alf Garnett. Rising to the position of costume designer, Ruth dressed Leonard Rossiter and the staff of Sunshine Desserts for David Nobbs' The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.

For Blake's 7, June followed producer David Maloney's instructions to create a look as colourful and spectacular as her budget would allow. Making costumes that suited the individual character's personalities, her designs subconsciously supported the series' Robin Hood theme. For Jacqueline Pearce's Servelan, June decided the character would always wear white, like Marilyn Monroe.

In 1978 June worked on Doctor Who after producer John Nathan-Turner decided to smarten up the long-running series' costuming which had become a hit-and-miss affair. Admiring June’s work, he requested she be assigned full time to Doctor Who.

Though the department head refused to agree to his request, she was allowed to alternate on the production with fellow costume designer Amy Roberts.

Working on such stylised shows, June worked closely with the make-up designers and sometimes the set designers to achieve the best results for the human characters and the aliens and monsters. One of her first tasks was to redesign Tom Baker's costume, originally been envisaged by James Acheson. Realising Baker's personality was tied up with the existing look, June decided to adapt the costume rather than create a wholly new outfit. Under her aegis, she introduced the deep burgundy overcoat and suggested the big collar incorporating the question marks.

Coming back down to earth once her stint on Doctor Who was over, June was the costume designer on the soap opera EastEnders when it launched in 1985. Most recently June redesigned Tom Baker's costume for the Radio Times cover celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Doctor Who.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

From The Avengers to Play Away, Julie Stevens is a familiar Cult TV face ...

 

Following the departure of Ian Hendry after the first year of The Avengers, three new companions were appointed to partner John Steed, who had now taken centre stage, before it was decided who would be the permanent replacement.

Although Honor Blackman's Cathy Gale would eventually take the coveted role, for six episodes Patrick Macnee was partnered with the platinum blonde night-club singer Venus Smith, played by Julie Stevens.

Best known as a children's television presenter, she hosted The Sunday Break, ABC Weekend Television's religious programme for teenagers, during the early 1960s and ITV's Sunday 'Family Hour' which featured the seven-part Pathfinders in Space and its two sequels, devised by The Avengers and Doctor Who creator Sydney Newman.

Between 1966 and 1979 Julie was a regular on Play School, which catered for the pre-school audience, and its companion show, Play Away from 1975 and 1979. In 1972 she played alongside Johnny Ball and Derek Griffiths in Cabbages and Kings, taking part in the historical comedy sketches the series was based around.

As an actress Julie appeared in episodes of Z Cars, Not For Women Only and The Dick Emery Show. For three years she played Rosemary Pilgrim in the ATV sitcom Girls About Town, and appeared in the cinema as Gloria, the slave girl, in Carry on Cleo.

Having spent many years as Harry Secombe's personal manager she recently returned to acting with an appearance in the hospital drama Holby City.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Ruling the air waves as a writer and producer ...

 

After graduating from St Catharine's College, Cambridge with an MA in Law, Jonathan Ruffle joined the BBC World Service as a Studio Manager before moving to BBC Radio 1 to became an entertainment producer.

Known as Happening Boy on "Steve Wright in the Afternoon", which introduced the American zoo-format to UK radio, he played the character The Pervy as well co-creating Dr Fish Filleter. In 1989 he won a Sony Gold Award for following in the footsteps of Phileas Fogg by attempting to travel "Around the World in 80 Days" with Simon Bates.

Switching stations, he produced the Radio 4 documentary "The Romans in Britain" and the award-winning drama "Bomber". For the Radio 2 adaptation of Nicholas Monsarrat's "The Cruel Sea" starring Donald Sinden and Philip Madoc, he crossed the Atlantic on a cargo ship, recording the sounds of the winds and waves to create the right sound effects.

While contributing to "Excess Baggage" as a travel reporter, he was the Commissioning Executive for BBC Entertainment's "The Millennium" in 1999. After producing radio commercials and reporting from the 2000 Cannes Film Festival for LBC he returned to Radio 4 to produce the comedies "Wheeler's Fortunes" and "Wheeler's Wonders" which documented the life of Creighton Wheeler, a talented everyman afflicted with Splicer's Disease which removed whole phrases from his speech, making him appear to sound badly edited.

A charity producer for Comic Relief in 1991, and produced the award-winning Channel 4 documentary Edward VIII: The Traitor King. A consultant on the Discovery Channel documentary Wings and the BBC drama Night Flight, he produced the documentary Bomber for GB Films. Having written for BBC Radio comedies, he scripted numerous documentaries for Channel 4, Carlton and Five, and contributed to Never Mind the Buzzcocks as a gag writer.

As well as writing "Battle of Britain at the Barbican" for the RAF Benevolent Fund in 2000, he has been involved in producing numerous Air Shows and events including the History in Action re-enactments for English Heritage the Royal International Air Tattoos.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

A serious producer of the best in British comedy ...

 

Born in Glasgow in 1930, Joe McGrath’s credentials as a writer, producer and director in British film and television comedy are almost second to none.

Beginning as a producer on Michael Bentine’s surreal sketch show It’s a Square World, he co-wrote and directed the television play Justin Thyme starring Leonard Rossiter and produced the first of two BBC shows for the Soviet Union’s leading comedian Arkady Raikin, and the short-lived sitcom The Big Noise which starred Bob Monkhouse as brash pop disc jockey.

In 1965 he produced and contributed material to the first series of the classic Not Only... But Also starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. After producing East of Howerd which filmed Frankie Howerd entertaining British forces in Malaysia, Joe directed The Goon Show for Thames Television. A recording of Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe performing The Tale of Men’s Shirts, the programme was deemed unsuccessful and scuppered plans to transfer the classic radio comedy to television.

He produced Spike Milligan’s surrealistic sketch show Oh In Colour and directed the television series Zodiac starring Anouska Hempel and Anton Rodgers. Both director and producer of the sitcom The Losers written by Punch editor Alan Coren and starring Leonard Rossiter as a cockney wrestling promoter, he executive produced and co-wrote Good Night and God Bless with Donald Churchill who played a stand-up comic fronting a television game show.

In a film career that began as one of six directors on the James Bond spoof "Casino Royale", Joe co-wrote and directed "The Magic Christian" with Terry Southern and star Peter Sellers, "The Great McGonagall" with Spike Milligan playing the Scotsman eager to become Poet Laureate and the Sherlock Holmes spoof "The Strange Case of the End of Civilisation as We Know It" with John Cleese and Jack Hobbs.

In recent years Joe co-wrote the book "Now That’s Funny!" with David Bradbury, a collection of interviews with some of the greatest writers of British comedy including Spike Milligan, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, and John Sullivan.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Her bubbly personality took flight with Magpie ...

 

The daughter of actors Jimmy Hanley and Dinah Sheridan, Jenny Hanley's original ambition was to be a children’s nanny. She followed in her parents' footsteps after a career in modelling led to a part in the James Bond feature "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". As one of the patients at Blofeld's mountain lair alongside Catherine Schell and Joanna Lumley, Jenny was offered an exclusive contract from the co-producer Harry Saltzman.

After playing Caroline in "The Ballad of Tam-Lin", directed by Roddy McDowall, she appeared in "Scars of Dracula", the last of the Hammer Films period Dracula features alongside Dennis Waterman and Christopher Lee, and the Boulting Brothers' satirical "Soft Beds, Hard Battles" starring Peter Sellers. Balancing film work with roles on television, Jenny played Mrs Hawkins on the long-running BBC police drama Softly, Softly.

Appearing in The Persuaders! episode "Someone Waiting", she guest-starred in episodes of The Adventurer, Zodiac, the Royal Navy drama Warship, The Hanged Man and The Return of the Saint opposite Ian Ogilvy's Simon Templar. After playing Liz in Man About the House, she starred as Angie in the first series of the children's sitcom Robert's Robots and Alison Bentley alongside Sylvia Syms in the Comedy Premiere pilot "The Truth About Verity".

From 1974 Jenny was one of the presenters of ITV's trendier rival to the BBC’s Blue Peter, the bi-weekly children's magazine programme Magpie. During her six years on the show she travelled around the world joining in many hazardous events such as mountain climbing, go-kart racing and parachuting and even being sunk in a helicopter.

After fronting the popular Saturday Night at the Mill, she presented the magazine programme Sky By Day. Having been a celebrity guest on numerous game shows including Celebrity Squares, Punchlines and Give Us A Clue, she regularly appears in Countdown’s Dictionary Corner.

In demand as a voice over artist, Jenny currently presents a weekday afternoon and Sunday morning show on Saga Radio Digital.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Doctor Who's big-screen Barbara ...

 

Jennie Linden began her television career with guest appearances in The Avengers, two episodes of The Saint, including one directed by Roger Moore, Virgin of the Secret Service where she played a suffragette who has to be rescued from a school of love run by Rodney Bewes' Rajah of Chundrapore, The Persuaders!, and Monty Berman and Dennis Spooner's The Champions and The Adventurer.

She appeared in Present Laughter, adapted from the play by Noel Coward, alongside Peter Wyngarde and James Bolam, the Galton and Simpson comedy The Suit with Leslie Phillips and Bill Oddie and the Thriller episode "Death to Sister Mary", written by Brian Clemens. In the 1970s, after roles in the Cold War spy drama Charlie Muffin starring David Hemmings, Pit Strike and Degree of Uncertaintly, she played Mrs Errol in the BBC production of Little Lord Fauntleroy and Patsy Cornwallis-West in the miniseries Lillie starring Francesca Annis as Lillie Langtry.

Along with guest roles in Dick Turpin, Tales of the Unexpected and Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime, she featured in the Victorian drama Jessie directed by Bryan Forbes, The Corsican Brothers, adapted from the novel by Alexander Dumas, which starred Trevor Eve in the dual role of Louis and Lucien de Franchi, the three-part miniseries Menace Unseen and the TV movie The Endless Game starring Albert Finney and George Segal. With appearances in Lovejoy, the comedy The Piglet Files and Casualty, Jennie played Angela Healy in the horse-racing drama Trainer created by the veteran producer Gerard Glaister.

After starring as a young woman haunted by her mother's insanity in the Hammer film "Nightmare", directed by Freddie Francis, Jennie played Barbara opposite Peter Cushing in the 1965 film version of "Dr Who and the Daleks". She went on to appear in Ken Russell's "Women in Love", alongside Oliver Reed, Alan Bates and Glenda Jackson, and "Valentino" playing silent-screen star Agnes Ayres, "Vampira", written by Are You Being Served?'s Jeremy Lloyd and Trevor Nunn's RSC adaptation of Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler", starring Jackson and Patrick Stewart.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Gary has been working as a radio and TV presenter since 1989, initially with Radio Cymru, before getting another presenting gig with Radio Wales shortly afterwards. By 1990 he was one of the faces of magazine show Heno on S4C.

By 1999, he had his own show on S4C, Slaymaker - nought out of ten for originality, but it was good for the ego, and it ran for six years! This was a pop culture show featuring interviews, comedy items, and a hefty slice of film and television reviews. During the series he covered the 2002 Cult TV Festival Weekender at Southport, getting to meet one of his heroes, Dirk Benedict.

He has been doing stand-up comedy in both Welsh and English for the past 15 years, across the principality and beyond. He spent the whole three days at 2011’s Machynlleth Comedy Festival as MC/headliner/mid-carder, performing in both Welsh and English. Every show was sold out (thankfully).

Since 2006 Gary has been the presenter and head gag writer on Bwletin, a Welsh language radio version of Have I Got News For You/Mock the Week, for BBC Radio Cymru.

Gary was nabbed by S4C to present a Rugby World Cup show in 2007, in the style of Soccer AM.

Since 2010 he has been the resident film expert on The Jamie & Louise Show for BBC Radio Wales, with a monthly ‘crash course’ in different genres for Louise Elliott, who admits she doesn’t ‘get’ cinema.

Gary has over the years contributed to a number of S4C shows, and even worked on a couple of aborted sit-coms – apparently the formats were either a little ambitious or too ‘out there’. He was a regular contributor to both live and pre-recorded formats on the station. The last major piece of work for the channel was in 2008, as writer and presenter of a documentary about Wales’ qualification and appearances in the 1958 World Cup. This involved travelling to Sweden, and meeting former professionals such as Cliff Jones, Mel Charles, and the legendary Pele.

In the last few years Gary has turned more towards writing, with a regular film review column in the Western Mail newspaper, and his first novel, “Y Sach Winwns” was published in 2005 – a coarse comedy about non-league football and African tribal magic. This has been doing the rounds between a few production companies in Wales, who want to try and adapt it for television. He is about to finish his first English language novel for e-publishing. Interest in it was attracted by the simple pitch – “A zombie comedy rugby road trip”.

Gary is starting to organise a whistle-stop stand-up tour of Canada and North America for early March 2012. This will tie in with documentaries on the tour in both English and Welsh for BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru. He is in negotiations to film the final gig in Los Angeles, in front of a celebrity audience of the likes of Ioan Gruffydd, Mathew Rhys, and Bryn Terfel, for transmission on BBC Wales.

He will again be performing at the Machynlleth Comedy Festival in 2012, but this time with the expectation of presenting from the Festival for Radio Wales.

Radio Wales have also shown interest in producing a sit-com Gary offered them, with a science-fiction theme, before the end of 2012.

 

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