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Wednesday, 20 February 2008 15:30

Johnny Crawford

The young star of The Rifleman, now a singer and orchestra leader, joined us for Cult TV 2005 ...

 

Johnny Crawford comes from a family of musicians and has been a performer right from the time he learned to walk. In 1955 his singing impersonation of Johnnie Ray came to the attention of the Disney empire, and a contract was offered which saw him become one of the original Mouseketeers on The Mickey Mouse Club in the 1955-6 season. As an actor, Johnny has appeared in nearly 300 television productions, 15 films, and over a dozen plays. He received an Emmy Nomination at the age of 13 for his role as Mark McCain, the son of series star Chuck Connors in the western series The Rifleman, which ran for five seasons following its debut in 1958.

Signed by Del-Fi Records in 1961, Johnny had several American Top 40 hits in the 1960s including "Cindy's Birthday", "Rumors", "Your Nose Is Gonna Grow", "Proud", and "Patti Ann", as well as four Top 40 albums.

After graduating from Hollywood High School in 1964, Johnny appeared in a number of television series, including Branded (which again saw him co-star with Chuck Connors), Whirlybirds, Lancer, The Lone Ranger, Mister Ed, Rawhide, Hawaii Five-O, Have Gun – Will Travel, Wagon Train, The Big Valley, Cade’s County, The Frank Sinatra Show, Murder, She Wrote and Paradise. He even reprised his role from The Rifleman alongside Chuck Connors, in the TV movie The Gamble Returns: The Luck of the Draw (which starred Country Music legend Kenny Rogers). Interestingly, in an earlier instalment in this TV movie series, Johnny had played a different character, Masket, in The Gambler: The Adventure Continues.

 

He became a rodeo performer for a time, using skills he had perfected filming The Rifleman, and spent two years in the Army, where he used the commission making training films.

In 1986 he co-starred in the new TV production of The Adventures of William Tell (sometimes known as William Tell, or even Crossbow) as Prince Ignatius. Unfortunately, despite this being a UK-based production, it sank without trace on these home shores, due to the powers-that-be objecting to a format that saw the hero carrying a crossbow as his weapon of choice.

A long-time fan of dance records from the first half of the 20th century, Johnny made occasional appearances during the 1980s singing songs from this period to his own guitar accompaniment. He spent the period 1987 to 1989 in New York as the vocalist in Vince Giordano's Nighthawks Orchestra. Now Johnny enjoys singing with his own dance band as well as producing period music for films and events.

Since 1990 "The Johnny Crawford Dance Orchestra", a 16-piece ensemble, has gathered an enthusiastic following in Southern California, appearing at such venues as The Argyle Hotel, The Atlas Supper Club, Cicada, The Derby, Moonlight Cafe, Biltmore Hotel and The Palace. Johnny's performances at The Hollywood Athletic Club in the late 1990s garnered much attention, and are even referred to in the Elmor Leonardís novel "Be Cool" (the follow-up to "Get Shorty"). He was recently heard on the soundtrack of the George Clooney film "Welcome to Collinwood".

Visit Johnny's official website at www.crawfordmusic.com

 

 

Wednesday, 20 February 2008 15:26

John Schuck

From Star Trek to McMillan and Wife, Holmes and YoYo to The Munsters Today ...

 

John has been one of the only guest characters to feature in more than one movie in the Star Trek franchise, when he portrayed the Klingon Ambassador in both "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home" and "Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country". He has also featured in various Trek series – as Parn, a Cardassian legate and member of Cardassian Central Command in Deep Space Nine’s "Maquis, Part II", Chorus #2 in the Voyager episode "Muse", and Klingon Doctor Antaak in the Enterprise season 4 episodes "Affliction" and "Divergence".

He was a series regular as Sergeant/Lieutenant Charles Enright in McMillan and Wifeopposite Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James for six seasons, including the pilot movie "Once Upon A Dead Man". He starred as robot cop Gregory Yoyonovic in the fondly remembered sit-com Holmes and YoYo in 1976, a series once screened early evenings on BBC1. He took on the role of Herman Munster in The Munsters Today, the 1988 reimagining of the classic format, and played Ordell in the classic mini-series "Roots", and Jair in "Greatest Heroes Of The Bible".

Another short-run TV starring role was in the sit-com Turnabout in 1979, where he played Sam Alston, in a tale of a Buddha statue that magically causes a permanent body-swap for a happily married couple. Sharon Gless played wife Penny, but just six episodes were screened. John also featured as Murray in 1982-3's The New Odd Couple, and was in four episodes of St Elsewhere as Andrew Wegener.

Further TV work has included Babylon 5 (2 episodes as Draal), Mission Impossible, Misfits of Science, MacGyver, Time Trax, The Young Riders, NYPD Blue, Diagnosis Murder, Law & Order and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (3 episodes), Titus, The Golden Girls, Diff’rent Strokes, Simon & Simon (4 episodes), Murder, She Wrote (2 episodes), Gunsmoke (2 episodes), Fantasy Island (2 episodes), Live Shot (2 episodes), The Bonnie Hunt Show (2 episodes), Cade’s Country (a 2-parter), The Love Boat (another 2-parter), Matlock, L.A. Law, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bonanza, Ironside, Partners In Crime, JJ Starbuck, Sisters, Faerie Tale Theatre, Love, American Style, Movin’ On, Hey Arnold, Arli$$, and Chicken Soup For The Soul.

TV movies have included "Project: ALF", the sequel to the TV series ALF, "Shepherd’s Flock", "Hunter", "Four Eyes and Six-Guns", "Run for the Dream: The Gail Devers Story", "The Trial of Old Drum", and "The Halloween That Almost Wasn't".

Born Conrad John Schuck in Boston, Massachusetts in 1940, he is the son of an English professor. Graduating from Dennison University where he had appeared in a number of plays, John got himself into regional theatre, including stints at the Cleveland Playhouse, Baltimore Centre Stage, and the American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) in San Francisco.

It was while at ACT that director Robert Altman took an interest, and featured John as Captain Walter Kosciusko 'Painless Pole' Waldowski, the dentist, in the classic film version of "M*A*S*H" in 1970. Altman used John in further big screen ventures, including "Brewster McCloud", "McCabe and Mrs Miller", and "Thieves Like Us".

Other big screen movies have included "The Moonshine War" (with Patrick McGoohan), "Hammersmith Is Out" (with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, directed by and co-starring Peter Ustinov), "Holy Matrimony" (with Patricia Arquette and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, directed by Leonard Nimoy), "Outrageous Fortune" (with Shelley Long and Bette Midler), "Just You And Me Kid" (with George Burns and Brooke Shields), "Pontiac Moon" (with Ted Danson and May Steenburgen), "My Mum’s A Werewolf" (with John Saxon and Ruth Buzzi), "Dick Tracy" (with Warren Beatty and Madonna), "Earthbound" (with Burl Ives), "Finders Keepers" (with Pamela Stephenson and a young Jim Carrey), "Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight", "The Curse of the Jade Scorpion" (directed by Woody Allen), and "Butch and Sundance: The Early Days" (directed by Richard Lester). He also had an uncredited role as Wilson in "Midway".

Stage musicals have become John's big love in recent years. He has regularly appeared as Daddy Warbucks in "Annie", on Broadway as well as on tours. He had great success as Frank Butler in "Annie Get Your Gun", and has appeared in "The Sound of Music", "Peter Pan", "The Most Happy Fella" and "She Loves Me".

 

Wednesday, 20 February 2008 15:25

John Saxon

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 15:21

Ian Fairbairn

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 15:20

Francis Matthews

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 15:18

Elisabeth Sladen

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 15:17

Carole Anne Ford

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 15:16

Terry Becker

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.

 

Wednesday, 20 February 2008 15:12

Ruth Boswell

The creator of Timeslip and the first producer of The Tomorrow People ...

 

Ruth is most fondly known for creating ITV’s first science fiction drama, Timeslip, while working for the ATV script department. She was also a script editor on the definitive The Adventures of Rupert Bear from John Read and Mary Turner, and on Tightrope, the series Spencer Banks did after Timeslip, which also starred John Savident. She also wrote the min-series Escape Into Night

This was followed in 1972 by a move to Thames Television, and producing the first four seasons of The Tomorrow People. She then produced the children's horror anthology series Shadows, which featured the likes of Jenny Agutter, Pauline Quirke, Russell Hunter, Sophie Ward, John Woodvine, Jacqueline Pearce, Clive Swift, Cassandra Harris and Donald Houston.

Other productions in her time at Thames include The Molly Wopsies with Phil Daniels, Warrior Queen with Sian Phillips and Nigel Hawthorne, and The Jukes of Piccadilly (also with Nigel Hawthorne).

Ruth moved on to producing adult drama for the BBC in the 1980s, taking the helm of many successful television dramas including Maybury, starring Patrick Stewart, Cockles with James Grout and Joan Sims, Late Starter with Peter Barkworth and Rowena Cooper, A Sort of Innocence with Cheryl Campbell and Kenneth Cranham, and Campaign with Penny Downie and Camille Coduri.

In the 1990s she was best known for producing the television dramas The Chief, starring Tim Piggott-Smith and Martin Shaw, and mini-series The Uninvited with Douglas Hodge and Leslie Grantham.

Her films include “Run of the Country” with Albert Finney, co-produced by Peter Yates and written by Shane Connaughton (of "My Left Foot" fame). She is currently developing a feature films entitled "Beautiful Enemy".

Ruth has recently returned to writing with her novel "Out of Time", published by The Muswell Press, and the audiobook adaption, read by Staten Eliot, is produced by Fantom Films.

Ruth Boswell appeared at the 2006 Cult TV Festival courtesy of Fantom Films.

 

Wednesday, 20 February 2008 15:09

Michael Keating

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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