Production Team

The people who brought you the Cult TV Festival

Sunday, 24 February 2008

One of Cult TV's Presenters and Interviewers ...


Since graduating from the Academy Drama School in Whitechapel, Melissa has become a "Jack of all Trades", her activities include puppetering and costume character work.

She is no stranger to Cult TV programmes, and as a child enjoyed Doctor Who from behind the sofa, in order to escape detection by the Daleks, as any well-adjusted child would, past or present! Overcoming her fear, she has recently appeared in a Doctor Who episode herself (the new season two opener, "New Earth"), and is proud of being partly responsible for giving a whole new generation of children the thrill of peeking through their fingers in terror.

Other television appearances include Casualty, Midsommer Murders, Holby City, Judge John Deed, London's Burning and Born and Bred (an episode that featured Richard Wilson).

Melissa is equally at home on the stage - performing in front of a live audience - as she is on TV. Recent theatre credits include an appearance as a maid in "Don Giovanni" at the Royal Opera House, and her hand has appeared as both Sooty and Sweep on several of their theatre tours (puppeteering, of course!). Incidentally, she even featured as Postman Pat on Jim Davidson's Generation Game!

Although acting is her first love, Melissa's interests have always been diverse, and include synchronised swimming and weight lifting, even becoming British Junior Olympic Weight Lifting Champion.

Presenting for Cult TV is another exciting departure for Melissa, and we were delighted to have her inside track of the acting business to held shed new light on our celebrity guests in 2006 and 2007.


Sunday, 24 February 2008

One of Cult TV's presenters and interviewers ...


Sue has been a fan of science fiction and cult programmes since she was at primary school, and loved to watch the likes of Battlestar Galactica and Space: 1999. While still having a fondness for the original Galactica, she’s also partial to the new version, and enjoys the likes of Firefly, Highlander, Andromeda, Doctor Who, Thunderbirds, Stargate (SG-1 and Atlantis).

Sue first got involved with the inner workings of Cult TV by conducting interviews with some of our celebrity guests for The Contact news-zine, Cult TV's one-time official monthly publication. While she used to conduct interviews in a previous job for a bank and therefore has some grounding in that area, trying to think up inventive questions for people involved in television and film is a real challenge ... and provides some much needed exercise for her little grey cells! It was a logical progression to therefore become one of the interviewers for Cult TV, having cut her teeth in a baptism of fire at the 2005 Festival, and further honed her skills in 2006 and 2007.

Sue contributed to The Contact for several years, in the form of a regular "Snippets" column, which consisted of news, reviews, and general banter about the world of SF. Writing wise, one of her proudest moments was finding out that all her hard work had paid off when she passed her Master's Degree in Leisure Tourism and the Environment. Another proud moment was winning the fiction contest at Cult TV 2001, where her entry was a radio script created using guidance from a book, as she'd never written a radio script in her life!

Originally more familiar with conventions from the point of view of being an attendee rather than from behind the scenes, Sue went to her first event in 1998, when a frustration with a lack of a social life following a move to a new part of the country set in. It was then that she discovered that conventions are a great way to socialise, meet new people through a common interest and enjoy lots of parties – and a few drinks along the way, too! She likes to attend at least four a year, but happily increases that figure if time and money allow!

At past Cult TV events Sue has taken to the stage in "Famous 4-3 Minutes" in various guises – from that of one of the Bouvier sisters in The Simpsons (complete with blue wig and yellow body paint), to being a 'yellow coat' and greeting everyone "Hi De Hi" style!

Sue is a member of the League of the Non Aligned, a fun loving science fiction group based in London, who have in the past sponsored guests for Cult TV (in 2004 it was Colin Baker, 2005 it was Annette Badland, and in 2006 Elisabeth Sladen). LOTNA have put in appearances at Cult TV as the Men in Black, UNIT and almost the entire cast of The Simpsons - and cut a dash in their brightly coloured polo shirts from year to year.

Sue's pet hates include train delays (and lack of information), cold calling salespeople offering "fabulous prizes", artificial sweeteners which seem to be in everything these days, and the strange lack of coffee in hotel restaurants at breakfast when she really needs a caffeine fix!


Sunday, 24 February 2008

One of Cult TV's Registrations Co-Managers ...


Like many of the other members of the Production Team, John has been a fan of the Cult TV genre since birth. His first cult TV memories are probably of Davros or the Zygons from Doctor Who in the mid 1970s, when he was just two or three years old! John's bedroom window ledge is adorned with numerous Davri (if that's the right plural!), and he's just now impatiently waiting for the Zygon action figure to appear to go with them!

John has been to all but the first Cult TV Festival, and only a handful of other conventions, such is the power/quality of Cult TV – these include "Manopticon 95" and a Red Dwarf "Dimension Jump" a few years' back. He fatefully fell in love with Emma Ward in Cult TV 1999 after the pair were part of what they describe as a "diabolical" (but winning) performance in the talent contest "Famous 4-3 Minutes".

John works as a Support Team Leader for a recruitment software company called, ironically enough, Voyager Software Ltd, in Basingstoke.

A self-confessed exercise lover (gym, running, cycling, walking), he also appreciates real ale, video games, new technology, nature, and dance and 1980s music. He is a vegetarian and a keen environmental issue advocate.

John's claim to fame and proudest moment was running the London Marathon in under three hours in 2000. His pet hates are smokers, litter-louts, people who are cruel to animals, and ever-shrinking supermarket conveyor belts!

With Emma, they take care of two over-sized brindle whippets and two hamsters. John's favourite shows include Doctor Who, Blake's 7, The Prisoner, Babylon 5, Star Trek (TOS and DS9), Red Dwarf, Lost, 24, Alias, and The Incredible Hulk.

John's favourite previous Cult TV Guests include Paul Darrow, Tom Baker and Vaughn Armstrong. John first joined the Cult TV Production Team in 2005, and in 2006 and 2007 was one of the Registration Managers, greeting you as you arrived at the venue.


Sunday, 24 February 2008

Cult TV's Registrations Co-Manager ...


Emma has been interested in Science Fiction and Cult TV since her school days. Her first convention was a Star Trek event in London in 1995, where she got to see the late, great Jon Pertwee, and Patrick Stewart.

Emma has been to all but the first two Cult TV Festivals. She first met John Payne, her partner, at a Cult TV Festival, and they eventually "got together" at Cult TV in 1999 (right after winning the "Famous 4-3 Minutes" competition!). They have been 'together' ever since, so Cult TV can almost claim to be the matchmaker!

Emma works for the Hampshire Constabulary, and takes great pleasure in telling people that "yes the police are like on The Bill, and most of the other cop shows".

Originally from Coventry (a place where people DO NOT speak with a Birmingham accent!), Emma now lives in Basingstoke (and she's heard all of those phrases about it - "If the world needed an enema, they would put it in at Basingstoke"; "It always rains in Basingstoke"; and "So many roundabouts in Basingstoke").

A keen jogger, Emma is always taking part in half-marathons and other long distance charity events, and was a volunteer at this year's Sport Relief mile.

She owns two whippets, Wilbur (who's neurotic)and Frisk (who will eat anything, including other small dogs), and two hamsters. Her favourite shows include The Professionals, The Persuaders!, The Champions, Babylon 5, Star Trek: Enterprise and TNG, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Blake's 7, The Clangers and Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased).

A minor claim to fame is that Emma had a Great Uncle who used to do 'odd jobs' for Patrick McGoohan! Her favourite Cult TV guests over the years have been Michael Sheard and Willam Gaunt.

Emma first got the call-up to Cult TV Production Team duties in 2005, and in 2006 and 2007 she was again one of the faces you first encounter when you arrive at our venue, being one of our Registration Managers.


Sunday, 24 February 2008

Cult TV's Screenings Manager ...


Sarah is the long-suffering wife of Cult TV's Executive Producer Alex J Geairns. The pair met while working on a Thunderbirds convention in Wolverhampton in 1992 and, after a decade together, finally married in 2002.

Sarah has obviously also been involved with the Cult TV Festival from the very beginning, and provides valuable support to Alex on a variety of tasks that ensure the smooth running of the event. She has run the front desk several times at the Festival, assisted with advanced bookings, and been the Stage Manager for all but one of the Cult TV Awards ceremonies over the years. She also puts together the fiendish Video Quiz that teases and torments Festival attendees throughout each event.

Following her work on the most ambitious and most well-received screening schedule ever staged at a Cult TV Festival in 2003, Sarah again took up the challenge of preparing an intriguing mix of classic archive material and new series to tempt people away from the three main strands of programming that occupied Cult TV attendees in 2005, 2006 and 2007.


Sunday, 24 February 2008

Co-organiser of the Cult TV Weekender's Hospitality Services for our celebrity guests ...


Hazel was at the very first Cult TV Festival, just as an attendee, but loved every minute of it.

In the following year, 1995, she volunteered to be a Steward (or "Production Assistant" as we know them these days), and joined the Production Team proper in 1996 as a Hospitality Assistant.

Work commitments meant she had to miss 1997 and 1998, but she returned to the Festival as an attendee in 1999. Bitten by the Cult TV bug once more, she was again a Hospitality Assistant in 2000, before become Hospitality Co-Manager in 2001. Graduation was complete in 2002, when at Southport she became the fully fledged Hospitality Manager!

A broken foot and other commitments led her to miss 2003 and 2004 respectively, but she returned for Cult TV 2005 as our Hospitality Manager. A change of job got in the way of 2006, but she's back with us for 2007. Her media experience and level-headedness come in very useful when ensuring our celebrity guests are happy and content - so much the better for them to give their best performances when onstage!


Sunday, 24 February 2008

Cult TV's Producer, Press, Media, Flight Liaison and Photographer


Mark has been attending Cult TV since the Telly Breakaway weekend in 1999.

Mark is a keen photographer and was initially a source of photographs for website and Festival brochures, with a keen eye for detail, and a grasp of what people want to see in stills and footage from our Festivals. Despite having grasped the chance to be an on-set photographer for ten days out in America, he'd rather stay in his chosen career.

He joined the production team after our 2004 event, each year taking on more and more of an active role, with 2007 being his favourite event onboard.

"I found 2007 to be an easier event to try to sell to the masses. We finally had the marvellous venue in Heythrop [after builders ruled out our previous booking], our best guest line-up and the weather was kind for our final event", enthused Mark. "I have some fond memories of the conversations I had with guests on the phone when sorting out their flights, albeit with some forgetting the eight hour time difference between California and the UK, 'phoning me well after midnight! It is great to be part of a production team where we all work so well together and pull off such a first class event."

Mark continues to work behind the scenes with creative thinking as we look at ways of bringing new Cineology events to you all.



Sunday, 24 February 2008

Cult TV's Director or Presentation ...


Justin is one of the long-serving presenters of the Cult TV Weekender, having worked behind the scenes right from the beginning in 1994 (as a celebrity guest driver), before graduating to presentation in 1998. He has been known to adopt a number of disguises (including the infamous Skippy The Bush Kangaroo). His favourite Cult TV moment was meeting Hattie Hayridge, his lowpoint was SF luminary Harlan Ellison kissing the floor after experiencing Justin's minibus driving.

A fan of Red Dwarf, The Simpsons (favourite character Mo!) and Scooby Doo, Justin fulfilled a lifetime ambition when he met Scooby on a trip to America.


Justin runs some of the fun and games for the Weekender, including our Friday evening escapades, and is the Sunday night cabaret compere, as well as being the Director of Presentation for the Soundstage Arena.

A Film School graduate, Justin swapped working in a bank for now working on the technical side of things at one of the UK's major shopping channels. He is also the main supplier of design and graphics for the Weekender, including those for the annual Cult TV Awards, as well as being the editor of the Cult TV Weekender DVDs.


Sunday, 24 February 2008

Cult TV's Financial Director  ...


Dave first attended the Cult TV Weekender (Festival) in 1996, the second of the three very popular years that Cult TV spent at Haven Caister on the East Coast of England. While there, he and his family were press-ganged into filming a "Day in the Life"-style account of their experiences at the event for the UK's Sci-Fi Channel.

The following year Dave joined the Production Team, having been persuaded this would be a good idea by long-time friend Alex J Geairns. Dave looked after the interests of the Merchandise Dealers, something he has continued to do for every Cult TV Festival since.

In 1998, Dave's remit for the Festival expanded, as he took on the role of Financial Director, keeping the spending on the event in check whilst encouraging sensible risks where there was a potential benefit to the Festival.

In a previous existence, Dave was a Bank Manager with a leading financial institution, so you know that the event is in safe hands.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

alex:g is the new host of ON THE EDGE, the flagship live Thursday night show from Edge Media (Sky channel 200). The format of the name comes from the 'Free Man on the Land' concept established under common law, but practically it came about because no one can say, let alone spell, Alex's surname (it's pronounced 'Gairns', by the way).  Presenting is something Alex has done for years - from being one of the interviewers at the Cult TV Festivals (1994-2007), to helming the backstage interviews filmed for The Alternative View conferences (AV3 and AV4 - the latter being available on their DVD releases); now he transfers that extremely long apprenticeship to television.

Alex J Geairns - Founder of Cult TV and CineologyAlex devised the term "Cult TV" in 1983, when looking for a name for the Student Union Society he was looking to set up at Wolverhampton University (then a Polytechnic). Within a year, it had over 300 members and was larger than all the political societies in the Union put together!

Since then, as part of his freelance writing and also as one of the presenters of the Cult TV Festival Weekender, he has quizzed over 100 celebrities about their lives and careers, including Patrick Stewart, William Shatner, Nicholas Lea and Mitch Pileggi from The X-Files, Catweazle's Geoffrey Bayldon, Claudia Christian, Mira Furlan and Jerry Doyle from Babylon 5, Dirk Benedict from The A-Team and Battlestar Galactica, The Prisoner actors Alexis Kanner and Mark Eden, plus George Sewell, Ed Bishop and Michael Billington from UFO, and Paul Darrow, Jacqueline Pearce and Gareth Thomas from Blake's 7. His favourite interviews have been with the producer Sylvia Anderson.


For ten years Alex wrote for "Satellite Times", contributing behind-the-scenes information and trivia on the Cult shows making their debut on terrestrial and satellite channels. He was also the TV Editor and Video Review Editor for lad-mag "FrOnt" during its first year, controversially taking his name off the credits after just a couple of issues, following editing he didn't approve.

As well as producing uncredited work for UK Gold and Sky TV Guide, Alex rewrote the English version of The Avengers Companion for Titan Books and American publisher Bay Books, revising the original French publication and amending the text to include newly unearthed material.


He was involved with and appeared in Sky One's review of all that's good in SF, Ultimate Sci-Fi Top Tens that was screened during the winter of 2004. He was also seen in Granada's The Story of ITV, a 50 year retrospective of the first established commercial broadcaster in the UK, talking about The Saint and The Sweeney amongst others.  And as we're talking about classic television, he appeared as part of the team 'Crackerjack!' in two episodes of the 1994 season of Telly Addicts - annoying Noel Edmonds, much to the delight of many a viewer!

He worked as a consultant and participant in the "Superfan" strand of UK TV Gold's pilot panel show Classic Comebacks (hosted by Les Dennis), which has since gone to series under the title TV Now and Then, making its debut in April 2007. He also performed a dozen radio interviews for Channel 4 DVD, promoting the release of Hill Street Blues.


Married to Sarah, who was also involved in the organisation of the Festival Weekender, during the event Alex took on the role of Festival Director, co-ordinating the various arenas and activities. He also fronted the Charity Auctions and the Cult TV Awards ceremony, as well as co-hosting the late night discussion forum, Handbags Before Dawn.

Alex has been instrumental in persuading various star guests to come along to the Cult TV Weekender, knowing they would have a great time with our attendees. The Festival raised over £50,000 for various good causes during its time.


Alex is now concentrating on presentation, scriptwriting and event management.  He has been approached to be the presenter of a live weekly satellite and internet television programme, is working on a film script that has producers twidding their thumbs in anticipation, and is working on a home studio for podcasts and video news bulletins.  He is also working on "Cineology - Facts in Fiction", which looks at where extraordinary TV and film unexpectedly has very strong roots in reality. Indeed, the truth really is stranger than fiction would make us imagine!

Alex is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

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