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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

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

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.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Babylon 5, Relic Hunter, NYPD Blue, Claudia's very versatile ...


Claudia Christian is most famous to Cult TV appreciators as Commander Susan Ivanova in Babylon 5.

An actress, author, musician, singer and most recently a director ("Heartbreak Cafe"), she continues to expand her horizons. She's recently been seen on E4's Freaks and Geeks as 'Gloria Haverchuck', and voiced 'Helga Sinclair' in the animated smash hit movie Atlantis. She's also featured in recent episodes of Relic Hunter and NYPD Blue. Claudia has also been a series regular in BERRENGERS (as 'Melody Hughes'), and BLACKE'S MAGIC (as 'Laurie'). She has guest-starred on a huge selection of TV series, including "Hunter", "The A Team", "Dallas", "T J Hooker", "Falcon Crest", "Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer", "Riptide", "Jake and The Fatman", "It's Garry Shandling's Show", "Quantum Leap", "Matlock", "Murder, She Wrote", "L. A. Law", "Dark Justice", "Space Rangers", "Columbo", "Kelly Kelly", "Webster", "The Highwayman", "Total Security" and "Highlander".

Big screen roles include "Hexed", "Maniac Cop 2", "The Hidden", "Mad About You", "A Gnome Named Gnorm", "Never on Tuesday", "Snide and Prejudice", "Love and Sex", "True Rights", "Substiture 3", "Running Home", "LAncelot Guardian of Time", "Thick & Thin", "Strays", "The Dark Backward", "The Haunting of Hell House", and the soon to be released "Half Past Dead".

One of Claudia's many passions is music. She wrote both the lyrics and the music for her first CD, "Taboo", which she co-produced with Michael Jay (of Celine Dion fame). She has produced and sings on two additional albums, "Claudia Squared" and the jazz and blues orientated "Trying to Forget". Her long awaited fourth CD, "Once Upon a Time", has her working again with her "Babylon 5" co-star Bill Mumy, and recent winners of the John Lennon Song writing award, Share and Bam Ross. Always expanding her musical horizons, she recently recorded the soundtrack for the Sci-Fi Musical "Area 51".

As an author, Claudia has written a series of children's books entitled "The Misadventures of Miss Emma Bradford".

Always one to explore new technology, Claudia stars in the Internet series "Love Bytes" (which just been picked up by ilive.com), a sit-com about a dating service that actually gets viewers dates. Her voice can also be heard as the character "DeWinter" in Westwood Studio's live-action internet on line game entitled "Earth and Beyond", and she's the lead voice in "The Summoner 2" for PlayStation. Claudia narrated the five part mini series for VH-1 titled "Below the Waist: Men, Women and Music", and was hand-picked by Jaguar as the voice to represent their range of cars. She recently starred in the offbeat comedy Starhyke.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Morris O'Brian from 24 ...


Carlo Rota is one of the most engaging characters on the Emmy Award winning hit drama series 24. He plays Morris O’Brian, CTU analyst and ex-husband of Mary Lynn Rajskub’s Chloe O’Brian.

Carlo is certainly well-traveled - he was born in London and grew up in Italy, Hong Kong, the Philippines, the Bahamas and Canada. He recently made the move from Canada to Los Angeles to advance his acting career in the United States. We are delighted to announce that he will be adding Oxfordshire to his list of places visited, as he joins us in October for the Cult TV Weekender, subject to work commitments.

Carlo’s father, an internationally renowned chef, instilled in him a passion for fine cuisine. This influenced him to co-create, host and direct The Great Canadian Food Show on Canada’s Food Network. This hugely popular documentary styled show ran for five seasons and earned Rota a nomination for the prestigious James Beard Award for Excellence in Culinary Journalism.

Cult television audiences will recall him from his five seasons as Mick Schtoppel on five and SCI FI UK’s La Femme Nikita. The Executive Producer of the show, Joel Surnow, created that role specifically for him, and then moved along to create Carlo’s role on 24.

In Canada, Carlo also stars in the critically acclaimed CBC situation comedy Little Mosque on the Prairie, playing Lebanese-Canadian construction contractor Yasir Hamoudi. He also played Brunet in the long-running investment banking drama Traders, and Albert in At The Hotel, a drama-comedy-musical series set in an illustrious Montreal hotel, known for its favorable treatment of struggling artists, both also for CBC. He played Gardner Vance in the American restaging of Queer as Folk, Sergi Borodin in the “Village of the Lost” episode of Adventure Inc (this was recently seen on UK satellite’s Zone Thriller channel) and he had a trio of roles in Relic Hunter.

Other TV guest roles have included episodes of Matrix (the 1993 TV series), Counterstrike, Street Legal, TekWar, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, Forever Knight, Viper, The Sentinel, Highlander: The Raven, Total Recall: The Series, Earth: Final Conflict, PSI Factor, Doc, Black Harbour, Veritas: The Quest, Street Time, and Show Me Yours. He also features in four episodes of A Nero Wolfe Mystery.

On the big screen , Carlo has featured in “The Boondock Saints”, “Mission to Mars”, “Maximum Risk”, “The Wrong Guy”, “Global Heresy”, “Horsie’s Retreat” and “Cake”.

Carlo’s TV movies include “Down Came A Blackbird”, “Naked City: Justice With A Bullet”, “The Last Witness”, “Murder In A Small Town”, “Bonanno: A Godfather’s Story”, “Catch A Falling Star”, “Anne of Green Gables: The Continuing Story”, “Trapped In A Purple Haze”, “Phantom of the Megaplex”, “Recipe for Murder”, “A Colder Kind of Death” and “Rough Air: Danger on Flight 534”.

Carlo’s interests include trivia, motorcycles, and learning to embrace the California lifestyle! Originally anticipated to be joining in the fun at the Cult TV Festival 2007, unfortunately schedule changes meant he needed to be in Los Angeles to shoot 24 and then fly up to Toronto to work on a project of Othello with the CBC.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Star man from Lexx ...


Brian was born and raised in Newfoundland, Canada. Selected theatre credits include the role of Bobby in 'Cheatin Hearts,' Theseus in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream,' and Fleet in the Trinity Festival's 'Black Stick Tales.'

Brian plays Stanley Tweedle, bumbling nebbish and former revolutionary, in the dark science fiction comedy series Lexx. Stanley was an utterly unexceptional low-grade security guard in the Divine Order, the 20,000-planet empire ruled by the malevolent Divine Shadow.

However, he had a history of covert resistance, but his involvement with the rebellion was very counterproductive, eventually putting the greatest weapon ever created, the Lexx, into a galactic tyrant's hands.

Brian has also appeared as the recurring character Mister Dean in Chris Carter's Millennium, as Milo Grunbacher in The Beachcombers, plus CBC Television's long running Revue (1987-93), as well as co-starring in the award-winning Salter Street Production George's Island.

Brian also wrote and starred as Captain Joe, the First Wise Fisherman, Vincent, Good Lifer Number 2, Ron and the Third Logger in the Canadian Movie 'Joey' in 1982. Other films include 'Secret Nation,' 'Norman's Awesome Experience' (aka 'A Switch In Time'), 'John and the Missus,' 'Culture Shock' and 'The Adventures of Faustus Bidgood.'

Downey is also a talented musician, with skills at guitar (acoustic and electric), electric bass and harmonica, in both straight and blues styles.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Star of Primeval and The Armstrong and Miller Show joined us for the 2007 Cult TV Festival Weekender...


Ben Miller is one of the stars of the new ITV1 Science Fiction series Primeval, where he plays the disbelieving senior Home Office official Sir James Lester.

Ben was midway through a PhD in Physics at Cambridge University, when he met Alexander Armstrong, who was also studying there, and neither have looked back since getting involved with the Footlights comedy club.

Ben was soon getting television roles, appearing in an episode of Murder Most Horrid, “He Died A Death”, as PC Watkins, and as a Client in the Jack Docherty comedy Mr Don and Mr George. He was also in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles episode “Palestine, October 1917”, playing a ‘French Officer’ amongst a cast that also included Colin Baker, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Terrance Hardiman and Daniel Craig! He also featured in Smith and Jones, Jerry Sadowitz, Paul Merton – The Series and French & Saunders.

Other roles around that time included a turn in the Casualty episode “Trials and Tribulations” as Daniel Murdoch, and Marty in the mini-series “Look at the State We’re In” which also featured John Cleese, Hugh Laurie, Rik Mayall, Dawn French and Robert Hardy, amongst a great many others. In 1995, with John Collins, he wrote the TV movie “Sardines”, where he played Simon alongside a cast including Alexander Armstrong, Jack Docherty and Griff Rhys-Jones.

Moving back to the tale of the comedy duo of Armstrong and Miller, after four years of touring pubs and underground comedy clubs they got a break on Saturday Live in 1996 as the Euro-Rock duo “Strijka”.

They were nominated for the Perrier Award that year, and were soon after commissioned to produce The Armstrong and Miller Show. Receiving its first transmission on the UK’s Paramount Channel in February 1997, and co-funded by Channel 4, three further series were made for Channel 4, one later in 1997, and then in 1999 and 2001.

The duo had their own radio show, “Armstrong and Miller” on BBC Radio 4 in 1998, which featured many of the sketches and characters from their TV series. A second show, “Children's Hour with Armstrong and Miller” aired later the same year on Radio 4, featuring their journalist characters Craig Children (Miller) and Martin Bain-Jones (Armstrong) as hosts of a spoof cultural review.

Ben co-wrote “MindGym”, winner of the first BAFTA Interactive Entertainment Award for comedy in 1998, with Tim Wright and Adam Gee. Meanwhile Armstrong and Miller both appeared in supporting roles in the highwayman comedy-drama “Plunkett And McLean” in 1999, playing Winterburn and Dixon.

Ben appeared in the television films “Passion Killers”, a comedy-drama about an agency that exposed cheating spouses, “Coming Soon”, a three-part comedy-drama about an improvisational theatre group, and played Gavin in the hilarious “Hunting Venus”, a spoof comedy drama about a former new romantic pop band being forced to reform, that included cameos by Gary Numan, Tony Hadley, Phil Oakey, Simon Le Bon and Jools Holland.

Ben lined up alongside Ray Winstone and Robert Carlyle in the comedy drama “There's Only One Jimmy Grimble”, played small time criminal Colin in Steve Coogan’s “The Parole Officer”, as well as the hotel concierge in Jez Butterworth's “Birthday Girl”.

He was also Rowan Atkinson's sidekick 'Bough’ in spy spoof “Johnny English”, as well as featuring in “The Actors” as Clive, alongside Michael Caine and Michael Gambon, and played Soren in “The Prince and Me” with Julia Stiles (Nicky in “The Bourne Identity”), James Fox and Miranda Richardson.

Ben played the unlucky groom, Howard, for two series of The Worst Week of My Life alongside long-time friend Sarah Alexander. He has also appeared in Doc Martin as Stewart James, The Book Group as Martin Logan, and Dr Terrible’s House of Horrible as Rebenor.

Over the years, he has also featured on Have I Got News For You, Space Cadets, The 11 O’Clock Show, Not A Lot Of People Know That, Never Mind The Buzzcocks and 8 Out Of 10 Cats. He even presented a season of cult film company Troma’s films for Bravo!

TV movie-wise, Ben played Edmund Bickleigh in “Malice Aforethought”, Basil Blake in “Marple – The Body In The Library”, and Roland Moxley-Nemesis in “Jeffrey Archer – The Truth”. Later this year, and from the collective pen of Robin Ince and Carolyn Wilson, Ben will be starring as Mr Jonathan in “Razzle Dazzle – A Journey Into Dance”.

Ben was also the voice of ITV Digital’s ‘Monkey’ character alongside Johnny Vegas, which is now the PG Tips monkey character in the same set-up. He also now works behind the camera as a director, and took the helm of the first episode of Steve Coogan's Saxondale. He is currently recording a new series of The Armstrong And Miller Show for Hattrick Productions.

Having now written, produced and directed as well as acted, Ben was once asked which of the four disciplines he enjoyed the most. He replied: “Whichever one I'm doing at the time! I try and vary it a bit. And I feel I learn a lot about acting when I'm directing, and vice versa. I just love being involved in things that I think are good, whatever capacity it's in”.

We were delighted that Ben agreed to join us for the 2007 Cult TV Festival Weekender.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Scriptwriter on Doctor Who and Script Executive on the new audio Blake's 7 adventures joined us at Cult TV 2007 courtesy of B7 Media...


Ben Aaronovitch is a writer whose first work for television was the critically acclaimed Doctor Who story "Remembrance of the Daleks" from the Sylvester McCoy era of the series.

He had been put in touch with Andrew Cartmel by a BBC script editor, Caroline Oulton, and he produced a story idea called "Nightfall" on spec, before being commissioned for the Dalek story. Ben also scripted "Battlefield" for the 26th season of the show.

Ben has gone on to write for Casualty and also wrote, with Cartmel, an initial script for the 1989 Doctor Who stage play "The Ultimate Adventure". He also scripted 13 episodes of the BSB series Jupiter Moon, and has written several novels in Virgin Publishing's "Doctor Who: The New Adventures" range and a new Bernice Summerfield novel for Big Finish Productions.

Other credits include five's Dark Knight, a fantasy retelling of the classic Ivanhoe tales.

He is the son of economist Dr Sam Aaronovitch, and the younger brother of actor Owen Aaronovitch and British journalist David Aaronovitch.

He is currently Script Executive on the re-imagining of Blake's 7, and is hard at work on a novel based on the 1960s TV series The Prisoner.

Ben appeared at the Cult TV Festival Weekender 2007 courtesy of B7 Media, the producers of the brand new Blake’s 7 audio dramas that you can currently hear at the SCI FI Channel’s website.



Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Huggy Bear in the original Starsky and Hutch...


The status of Antonio Fargas is legendary. Since his initiation into the world of film at the age of fourteen, when his exceptional interpretative skills led to a role in Shirley Clarke's "The Cool World", he has been noted for the unforgettable characters he creates, most famously through his role as the incorrigible and loveable Huggy Bear in Starsky & Hutch.

Whether perfecting outrageously comedic characters as in Robert Downey's "Putney Swope" and Keenan Ivory Wayan's "I'm Going to Git You Sucka", or chilling the audience through a convincing rendition of a 90-year old witchdoctor, as in the Broadway play "The Great White Hope", Antonio's performances have generated a near endless array of enthusiastic acclaim from some of the industry's most respected critics of film, television and stage.

Antonio's television credits include starring, recurrent and guest roles on Miami Vice, MacGyver, Charlie’s Angels, Vega$, The Love Boat, G vs E, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Hardcastle and McCormick, Kojak, Police Woman, Kolchak – The Night Stalker, Sanford and Son, Ironside, All My Children, Martin, L.A. Heat, Kaz, Police Story, CHiPs, The Bill Cosby Show, Eve, The District, Homeboys In Outer Space, Holby City, Fastlane.The Simpsons, and most recently Everybody Hates Chris.

His list of Movies Of The Week includes back-door pilot "Huggy Bear and The Turkey", "Denmark Veresy", "Huckleberry Finn", "Ambush Murder" and "Ali – An American Legend".

His film credits include "Osmosis Jones", "Shaft", "Car Wash', "Cleopatra Jones", "Pretty Baby", "Next Stop, Greenwich Village", "Le Bell Anglaise", "Whore", "Conrack", "The Howling VI" and "The Borrower", amongst many others.

Antonio's stage career is most extensive with appearances both on and off Broadway, these include Melvin Von Peeples' "Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death", the on-Broadway production of "The Great White Hope", North Carolina Repertory's "The Contract", Stage West's "The Rainmaker" and "The Emperor Jones", and numerous other productions.

He is also a partner in his own production company, and they currently have a television series in development for a UK TV network. Antonio is currently partnering with a number of other artists in a tribute to urban art forms, the focus of his tribute is a twelve city tour of "Calling All Saints", a gospel musical stage play about the threats to marriage and family.

His commitment to theatre is further exemplified by his position on the boards of Rhode Island's Langton Hughes Centre for the Arts, and the Martin Luther King Center of Newport. He is Chairman of the Board of the Mount Vernon Open Case Theatre, and Honorary Board Chair on the Progressive Symphony's Academy of the Arts, an organization by Maestra Yvetter Devereaux.

Antonio was unable to join us as anticipated due to scheduling conflicts in 2006, but he cleared his diary for our Appreciation Weekend in 2007, and wowed his fans in person, with a red Ford Torino in tow!

Check out more on Antonio at his very own website, www.antoniofargas.com.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

From Crossroads to Monarch of the Glen ...


Angus Lennie was born in Glasgow, and is best remembered for playing chef Shughie McFee in the original Crossroads (first appearing onscreen in 1972 as a Travel Agent), although his career before and after that gig has been renowned.

An episode of The Saint (1963's 'The Fellow Traveller') saw him play MacTavish, and he can be seen in the Doctor Who story 'The Ice Warriors', playing Storr in 1967 (He would return to the series in 1975 for the Tom Baker story "Terror of the Zygons", playing Angus McRanald). In 1964 he featured in the series HMS Paradise as Able Seaman Murdoch.

He can be seen in the movies Tunes of Glory (an orderly room clerk alongside Sir John Mills and Alec Guinness), The Great Escape (Flying Officer Archibald 'The Mole' Ives alongside Steve McQueen), and 633 Squadron (playing Flying Officer 'Hoppy' Hopkinson). He even provided the voice for Hamish Great in One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing as well as appearing in Oh What A Lovely War and The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood.

On television, he has appeared in Rumpole of the Bailey, Lovejoy, Game On, Hale and Pace, Hannay, The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe, Parahandy, Doom Castle, The Stanley Baxter Show, Dad, The Les Dennis Show, The Bobby Davro Show, Justice, Keeping Up Appearances, The Upper Hand and All Night Long. He played John MacColl in the 1978 mini-series of Kidnapped, and was Curtis in the 1980 BBC Shakespeare adaption of The Taming of the Shrew. He has also been seen in Monarch of the Glen.

In terms of theatre work he undertook Rep seasons at Bath, Birmingham, Dundee, Farnham, Westcliff and Surrey. Other stage highlights include Dear Brutus and A Midsummer Night's Dream at Nottingham Playhouse, a Far East and Gulf tour of Lloyd George Knew My Father, The Three Estates at the Edinburgh and Walsall Festivals, plus several pantomimes.

Angus left Crossroads in 1981, but he is still recognised all over the world from the role: a doorman at the Barclays Bank branch in Paris once greeted him with "Bonjour, Monsieur Shughie"!



Wednesday, 20 February 2008

He was with us to announce the continuing adventures of Blake's 7 in 1999, and Andrew made a return visit in 2007 as Producer of the brand new audio adventures of the series...


Andrew was a former Creative Director at BBC Worldwide, and in that role was a key architect in defining the editorial and commercial strategy for exploiting BBC interactive content globally.

He was a Writer, Producer and Executive Producer on a range of cross-media projects, including the UKTV simulcast event Haunted (short-listed for the Montreux e-Rose), Dig Egypt, The Old Grey Whistle Test and Tomorrow’s World+.

Other credits include documentaries Echoes of the Past (for the UK History channel), Barcelona Burnout (Men and Motors) and Secrets of the Paranormal.

He was the UK Producer of the critically acclaimed feature film "Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont" that starred Joan Plowright, Anna Massey, Robert Lang, Rupert Friend and Zoe Tapper.

As co-founder of B7 Media, he most recently produced and directed the SCI FI Channel audio drama series based on the cult SF series Blake’s 7, starring Daniela Nardini (This Life), Derek Riddell (No Angels) and Colin Salmon (Keen Eddie, Hex, Bad Girls, and was Charles Robinson in a trio of James Bond movies, "Tomorrow Never Dies", "The World Is Not Enough" and "Die Another Day").

We were delighted to welcome Andrew back to the Cult TV Festival Weekender 2007 after eight years away. Goodness, how things changed in that time!

You can catch the brand new Blake’s 7 audio dramas right now at the SCI FI Channel’s website.


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