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Wednesday, 20 February 2008 13:54


Media consultants who work with prisoners, persuaders, saints and sinners ...


Directors of Popco, a media consultancy specialising in classic television, music and film, since the company’s formation in 2001 Robert Fairclough and Mike Kenwood, along with fellow director Jaz Wiseman, have been involved in producing CDs, books and DVD packages.

Having received universal critical acclaim for their 1998 book Fags, Slags, Blags & Jags: The Sweeney, co-written with George Williams, which analysed Ian Kennedy Martin’s seminal police drama, the pair were commissioned to write Sweeney! The Official Companion which contains exclusive interviews with many of the series’ cast and crew including Ted Childs, Dennis Waterman and Garfield Morgan. In addition they put together the best-selling original soundtrack album Shut It! The Music of The Sweeney for the Sanctuary Records Group.

Alone, Rob has written The Prisoner: The Official Guide to the Classic TV Series, described in one of many critical notices as the definiive, and most authoritative study of Patrick McGoohan’s classic series. He also acted as consultant on Carlton Visual’s special 35th Anniversary The Prisoner DVD release which featured the first commercial release of the alternate edit of the episode Arrival.

Jaz co-produced the special features for the DVD boxsets of The Persuaders!, Space: 1999 and UFO for TF1 in France. He also produced the DVD extras and commentaries for boxsets of Minder, Department S and The Saint for Umbrella Entertainment in Australia.

More recently the company has had a hand in producing the newly released DVD/magazine partwork Inspector Morse: The Complete Collection.

For more information, check out their website: www.pop-co.com


Wednesday, 20 February 2008 13:53

Philip Martin

Writer who's worked from Gangsters to Doctor Who ...


Born in Liverpool, Philip is an experienced television writer who is probably best known for creating the ground breaking "Cult" series Gangsters which ran for two series following a successful "Play For Today" in 1975 and is just coming out on DVD.

Such is the longevity of this series it has been shown at the National Film Theatre as part of a season of significant TV films.

Philip has also contributed to many other well known TV series including Hetty Wainthrop Investigates, Shoestring, Virtual Murder, Star Cops, The Good Guys, Crossroads, Thirty Minute Theatre, New Scotland Yard, The Bill and two Doctor Who stories namely "Vengeance on Varos" and Parts 5 - 8 of "The Trial of A Timelord", both of which featured the villainous slug-like "Sil".

A third story featuring the return of "Sil" along with the "Ice Warriors" was scheduled for the ultimately postponed season 22 of Doctor Who in 1985, although Philip did complete a novelisation of this story based on his draft scripts.

Philip has also worked as a Writer, Producer and Director in Radio Drama for the BBC and was voted Best Director at the New York Radio Festival in, 1990.Other work includes the film "Valentina" and his plays have been performed at, amongst other venues, The National Theatre London, The Royal Court and Liverpool Playhouse.

As well as novelising his two televised "Doctor Who" novels he also wrote a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book and two novels based on Gangsters.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008 13:51

Paul Darrow

The man who was Avon continues to act prolifically ...


Best known for playing the glacial computer genius Kerr Avon in Blake’s 7, Paul Darrow defined the amoral antihero. Motivated by personal gain and lacking true revolutionary zeal, Avon became increasingly paranoid after taking over as leader following the disappearance of the fanatical Blake.

Trained at RADA like his Blake’s 7 compatriot Gareth Thomas, Paul Darrow has worked extensively in all aspects of the entertainment industry.

Beginning his television career playing Mr. Verity in the hospital drama Emergency-Ward 10, Paul’s links with Cult TV series go back to a guest appearance in The Saint episode The Gadic Collection. Since then he has played two roles in Doctor Who, appearing first as Captain Hawkins to Jon Pertwee’s Doctor in The Silurians, then as Tekker to Colin Baker’s Time Lord in the adventure Timelash.

Along with guest appearances in a wide range of comedies and dramas, he played the Sheriff of Nottingham in The Legend of Robin Hood, Oliver Bridewell in the psychological drama Maelstrom and George Parnell in Making News.

More recently he appeared as The Ghoul Master in Sky TV’s Goulashed, Gusset in The Gruesome Grannies of Gobshot Hall and C.D., the owner of a downmarket hotel, in Rob Grant’s surreal comedy The Strangerers.

A presenter of 2001’s Ghostwatch Live, which included mixed-media web-casts, Paul has since recorded the voices for numerous computer games. As a writer he has produced scripts and short stories, and written the novel Avon: A Terrible Aspect.

Having acted with most of Britain's leading repertory companies, including four seasons with the Bristol Old Vic, Paul has enjoyed an equally prolific career on stage. Amongst his numerous theatrical credits he has appeared as Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger, Elvis Presley in Are You Lonesome Tonight? and Captain Vimes in an adaptation of Terry Prachett’s Guards! Guards!

Paul had a cameo role in the James Bond film "Die Another Day", and at one time had been involved in the planned Blake’s 7 revival.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008 13:48

Michael Jayston

From The Valeyard to Colonel Mustard ...


Michael Jayston, as fans of Doctor Who will know, played the character of 'The Valeyard' in Colin Baker's final season, who was in fact the final regeneration of The Doctor himself!

Michael is well known both on-screen and through his voiceover work. He played Ernest Bristow in several episodes of The Darling Buds of May, and was Colonel Mustard in the UK 1991 version of Cluedo. Other series we have seen him in include "UFO", "Tales of the Unexpected", "CATS Eyes", "Press Gang", "Callan", "Casualty", "Heartbeat", "Quiller", "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", "Crazy Like A Fox", "A Bit of A Do", "Haggard", "The Bill", "Outside Edge", "The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes", "The Edwardians", "Holby City" and what was expected to be the last ever episode of "Only Fools and Horses" in 1996.

He appeared in the 1997 mini-series "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea", and has worked in many period pieces, including 1968's "A Midsummer Night's Dream", 1970's "Cromwell", 1971's "Nicholas and Alexandra", 1973's "The Merchant of Venice", 1973's "Jane Eyre", 1975's "King Lear", and 1988's "Macbeth".

Big screen appearances include "The Internecine Project", "Zulu Dawn", and "Highlander III: The Sorcerer".


Wednesday, 20 February 2008 10:23

Katy Manning

Jo Grant to Pertwee's Doctor Who ...


Katy Manning is the daughter of sports columnist J L Manning. At the age of eighteen she went to America and was offered a five-year contract with MGM. However, her father insisted that she return to England and study acting there. She trained at the Webber Douglas drama school for a year, then joined a Wolverhampton repertory company and made her debut on TV in 1970 in the series Man at the Top.

She made several commercials before appearing in an episode of Softly Softly. Later in 1970, Barry Letts cast her in the role of new Companion Jo Grant in Doctor Who, and she stayed for three years.

The role was described as follows: "Glamorous young female intelligence agent, newly attached to UNIT. Keen, professional, lots of charm. Works with The Doctor. Needs to be involved with the story in an active way, not just as a screaming heroine or passing The Doctor's test tubes. Not a scientist, but has enough basic background to know what's going on".

Katy was asked at her audition to be frightened of what her character thought was a monster, then to laugh in relief when she finds out it isn't. She has said that since this was very close to her own state of emotions at the time, she didn't have any problem auditioning!

Jo was a new recruit to UNIT who only got the job because her uncle had pulled strings for her. The Brigadier, not sure what to do about her, handed her over to the Doctor, pointing out that all he really needed was someone to hand him his test tubes and tell him how wonderful he is.

Trained in espionage and escapology, like all successful companions, the character draws upon the actress. Jo, while intelligent and resourceful, was somewhat accident-prone, definitely scatter-brained, and tended to act first and think later. It made her an excellent foil for Jon Pertwee's strong, action-hero Doctor, and it is no wonder that Jo's departure is one of the most poignant in the entire series.

Following Doctor Who she presented the BBC crafts programme Serendipity and appeared as Miss Damina in the film Don't Just Lie There, Say Something. She returned to the theatre in West End productions of Why Not Stay for Breakfast, There's a Girl in My Soup, and, with Colin Baker, Odd Man In. In 1975 she made a guest appearance in the series Target (episode "Joanna"). She also appeared in a Yorkshire Television production of Oliver Twist. Other TV roles have included Armchair Theatre, Roses for Me, Z Cars, and Are You Making Money?

Katy eventually moved to Australia where she has appeared in Educating Rita (as Rita), Blithe Spirit, Run for Your Wife, and The Odd Couple. She also wrote the TV series Private Wives, featured in The Magnificent Mellops, and wrote and starred in the television series Don't Call Us. Commericals include Vodafone Australia, and "Lamb Off the Bone" for the Australian Meat Marketing Board.

Recently she has returned to the worlds of Doctor Who, with The Plague Herds of Excelis by Stephen Cole - a Bernice Summerfield audio adventure with Lisa Bowerman, and Excelis Dawns by Paul Magrs - a Big Finish Doctor Who Audio Adventure also starring Peter Davison and Anthony Stewart Head.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008 10:19

John Glen

Director extraordinaire, from 007 to Space Precinct ...


John Glen is famous from his work on James Bond films, but he was also involved in TV series such as The Avengers, Man in a Suitcase, Danger Man and Space Precinct.

Back in the days before film schools became so prevalent, film directors started their careers as either an editor or a cinematographer. John Glen began work in the industry as a messenger boy in the editing studios at Shepperton, emptying the waste bins at first before graduating to rewinding and splicing the film. After working in the sound department as a dubbing editor and sound editor, he rose to the position of assistant editor putting inserts, such as car chases, into the films.

After editing episodes of ABC's The Avengers, and many of the ITC shows like Danger Man and Man in a Suitcase, as well as directing the episode 'Somebody Loses, Somebody... Wins?' for the latter show, John Glen was given the job of editing the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service. This outing was directed by Peter Hunt, who had created the editing style of the Bond films as editor of the first three, and supervising editor on 'Thunderball' and 'You Only Live Twice'. Once filming began, John found himself being flown out to Switzerland to shoot the famous "bobsled run" sequence. Completing the filming in three weeks from start to finish, he was given the task of directing the rest of the second-unit sequences, with the exception of the stock car race that had been shot by the previous unit.

After editing Gold, staring Roger Moore, and acting as second unit director on Shout at the Devil starring Lee Marvin and Roger Moore, John Glen returned to the 007 series as editor/second-unit director on The Spy Who Loved Me (filming the celebrated pre-credit sequence, when stuntman Rick Sylvester launched himself off Asgard Peak), and Moonraker. He worked as editor/second unit director on The Wild Geese, again staring Roger Moore, and second unit director on Superman: The Movie (without Roger Moore) in the year between these two Bond movies.

'Moonraker' had really reached the zenith of the gags and gimmickery that had crept into the James Bond films. Like 'The Spy Who Loved Me' before it the film's narrative was little more a virtual remake of 'You Only Live Twice'. After being in outer space it was decided to bring the long-running series back down to earth and return to a more minimalistic and realistic approach with the follow-up. After working as the editor on The Sea Wolves (yes, it starred Roger Moore!), John Glen was promoted to full director and was handed the reins of James Bond's return in For Your Eyes Only.

Returning back to basics, this entry in the series cut the fantasy elements short and returned to the more serious "00" action of the past. Plot twists were back in and invincible super-villains were out, making the bad guy much more on a level with Red Grant in 'From Russia With Love' and Largo in 'Thunderball'. While this experiment was not as warmly received by the cinema audience, the film was notable for bringing a sense of closure to the previous films in the series by showing the death of an aging character, who was supposed to represent the aging Ernst Stavro Blofeld, in the pre-credit action sequence.

Whilst the James Bond movies had used a rota of directors, most notably Terrance Young and Lewis Gilbert, John Glen is notable for directing all five James Bond movies that ran through the course of the 1980s. Octopussy followed two years later, returning to the more popular larger-than-life elements the fanbase demanded, and after that came A View to a Kill. By now the "Roger Moore as James Bond" era was coming to a close and the production team had to set their sights on a new actor to play the role. Although John screen tested James Brolin and Pierce Brosnan (who was unable to take the role then because of a contractual clause which dragged him back to further mid-season episodes of 'Remington Steele'), the part eventually went to the Shakespearean actor Timothy Dalton.

More in the style of Sean Connery, Dalton brought a darker intensity to the role, creating a ruthless character in line with the James Bond of Ian Fleming's novels. The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill, reflected that by replacing the humour with more dramatic situations. By now, though, James Bond wasn't the only action hero on the block. Although 'Licence ...' was a good movie with an engaging story and a killer performance from Timothy Dalton, who really nailed the part, the box-office returns were disappointing.

With the series put on hiatus, John Glen turned to directing the racing drama, Checkered Flag, and Aces: Iron Eagle III. In 1992, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the Americas, his movie Christopher Columbus: The Discovery set sail ahead of Ridley Scott's '1492: Conquest of Paradise'.

John Glen briefly returned to television in the 1990s, directing eight episodes of Gerry Anderson's Space Precinct, namely 'Protect and Survive', 'The Snake', 'Deadline', 'Illegal', 'Divided We Stand' (uncredited), 'Take Over', and the two-part 'The Fire Within'.

John was a special guest at Cult TV 2002.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008 10:17

John Freeman

Writer and editor at large ...


John Freeman is a freelance editor, writer and creative consultant. His current work includes being the News Editor for Star Trek Monthly and feature writing for Dreamwatch and other Titan Magazines.

In the comics world he recently worked with Striker3D (publishers of the "Striker" football strip in "The Sun"), sourcing new artists for upcoming projects. He's also working with CJL Publishing in Italy on a variety of strips. The Grand Tour, drawn by Mike Collins, is now being published by them in their flagship title, Daisy Hamilton's English4Life.

Online he's maintaining the official Hammer Films web site at www.hammerfilms.com, and investigating other projects, including new comic strips and some new media stuff. John recently edited the Planet of the Apes licensed comic for Titan Magazines and contributed a "Clapperboard" column on new film and TV projects to Dreamwatch.

Between November 1999 until December 2000 he worked as Project Manager for the online community-based site VZSciFi (www.vzones.com). That job included the creation of the framework for a new "virtual chat zone" using avatar technology. It mixed editing SF magazines and comics with new media applications. Unfortunately, it seems the technology was ahead of its time and the parent Avaterra.com pulled the plug on many of its operations just as its European arm was about to secure some major media deals back in June 2001. VZones is now back up and running and has a new project, The Second Kingdom, on the way.

Until November 1999 John was Managing Editor at Titan Magazines in London, publishers of a wide range of licensed science fiction magazines. Managerial duties included the hands-on editing of Babylon 5 Magazine and Star Wars Comic, and overseeing the creation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek Monthly, Star Wars Magazine, The X-Files, Xena, The Simpsons and Manga Max. Titan Magazines is part of the Titan Publishing Group, publishers of Titan Books and owners of many Forbidden Planet shops around the UK. John continues to work in a freelance capacity for Titan Magazines as a Creative Consultant, which means they can ask him all sorts of questions at any time of night and day!

Between 1987 and 1993 John was at Marvel UK and work there included being editor of Doctor Who Magazine and, later, several Marvel UK titles, including Death's Head, Warheads, Motormouth (its last few issues) Digitek and the weekly Overkill. He has also written a few comic strips for Marvel (among them, Warheads and Shadow Riders) and Fleetway (Judge Karyn); self-published a fanzine, SCAN, which counted comics luminary Alan Moore amongst its minuscule number of subscribers; and started writing a novel - and that's still a work in progress!

Wednesday, 20 February 2008 10:08

Gareth Owen

Researcher and writer ...


Gareth Owen graduated from Bangor University in 1994 with a Honours Degree in Applied Physics. He wondered what he might do ... perhaps some top job in nuclear research, or become an academic postulating mind boggling theories. But no, instead he took the next logical step and entered the film industry. Doesn't everyone?

After organising British Film Day in April 1994 at Pinewood, within two months of graduation the studio was to become his new home from home.

He set up a small production company, and served as Executive Producer on acclaimed comedy (i.e., no one ever saw it) A Fistful Of Fingers. He has since found greater success in writing. In 2000 his official history of Pinewood Studios, The Pinewood Story, was published. It was swiftly followed by a biography of special effects genius Albert J Luxford The Gimmick Man, and Roger Moore's career biography, fittingly entitled Roger Moore: His Films And Career. A couple of other projects are underway, along with writing for industry periodical British Film & TV Production Magazine.

He considers himself an expert on all things James Bond and can bore for England on British comedy films.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008 09:53

David Croft

We profile the creator of Dad's Army ...


Born in Poole, Dorset to a theatrical family he was educated at Arnold House, St John’s Wood; Durleston Court, Swanage; and Rugby School. During World War II he served in The Royal Artillery and Dorset Regiment in North Africa, India and Singapore. He was on Montgomery’s staff at the War Office, and eventually rose to the rank of Major.

After the war he appeared in Repertory theatre and a West End Musical. In 1952 he collaborated with Ian Carmichael and Ted Kavenagh on a new TV series, and commenced a partnership with Cyril Ornadel writing the music and lyrics for the Ciceley Courtnedge musical “Star MakerE He wrote a number of shows for the London Palladium and many light entertainment spectaculars for the BBC.

In 1954 he joined Rediffusion Television as Head of Light Entertainment Script Department. In 1959 he assisted with the setting up of Tyne Tees Television. He then joined the BBC and produced and directed such programmes as The Benny Hill Show, The Dick Emery Show, Hugh and I, Beggar My Neighbour, Steptoe and Son, Till Death Us Do Part, Tales of Lazy Acre and Up Pompeii.

He then started situation comedy writing with co-author Jimmy Perry, commencing with the legendary Dad’s Army, followed by It Ain’t Half Hot Mum and Hi De Hi. With Jeremy Lloyd he wrote Are You Being Served, Come Back Mrs Noah and Oh Happy Band. As well as writing he also produced and directed all of the above.

In 1982 he co-wrote, again with Jeremy Lloyd, and produced Allo Allo. This ran for some ninety episodes and also had a record-breaking theatre run at The Prince of Wales Theatre and the London Palladium. You Rang M’Lord followed, co-written with Jimmy Perry, which pioneered the 50 minute situation comedy. Most recently David co-wrote Oh Doctor Beeching with Richard Spendlove.

David has also produced and directed television in Australia for Channel 7 and Los Angeles for CBS and Paramount. In 1978 he was awarded the O.B.E. for services to television and in 1982 the Desmond Davies award for his outstanding contribution to the industry.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008 09:51

Danny John Jules

Red Dwarf's Cat creates a song and dance ...


If you have ever wondered what would happen to your moggy if it was left to evolve on a spaceship for three million years, then Cat, played by Danny John-Jules in Red Dwarf, supplies the answer.

Supremely cool but ever-so vain, Danny also played Cat’s highly memorable and completely opposite alter-ego in the episode "Back to Reality", Dwaine Dibbly.

Danny has been busy recently on TV, playing Ed Ross in the BBC sit-com The Crouches, Milton Wordsworth, a member of a family of library-inhabiting magicians in The Story Makers, and the role of Leon in Casualty.

For the big screen he played Asad in Blade II, and the part of Paul in the acclaimed short film Sleep.

Other roles over the years include Barrington in Maid Marian and her Merry Men, Byron Lucifer in "The Living Stones", a story from the 1990s version of The Tomorrow People, an episode of The Bill, and the part of Barfly Jack in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. You can also see him as one of the partygoers in the 1991 movie London Kills Me.

As a boy, he appeared as an extra in the hard-hitting drama Scum. His singing and dancing career includes appearances on The Hot Shoe Show, as well as the West End musicals Cats, Starlight Express and Soul Train. He toured America with Wham, was a Doo-Wop Street Singer at a bus stop in the 1986 version of Little Shop of Horrors, and a voice of two of the Fireys in Labyrinth. He also sang backing vocals on "Chilly Down", one of the David Bowie tracks on the Labyrinth soundtrack.

Danny recorded a CD single of "Tongue-Tied", a song from the Red Dwarf series, which was credited to The Cat, and reached the Top 20 in 1995. It also features his rendition of the theme to the series.

Danny's nephew, Alexander John Jules, played Lister as a baby in the “Ouroboros” episode of Red Dwarf.


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