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Cineology ® presents the official CULT TV ® website.  

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

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

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CultTV

CultTV

Sunday, 24 February 2008 21:07

John Payne

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 21:06

Emma Ward

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 21:04

Sarah Geairns

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 21:00

Hazel Kohler

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 20:58

Justin Allum

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 20:57

Dave Mullin

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.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017 20:29

Landmark Series Award

A series celebrating an anniversary that has been largely ignored by the media ...

Wednesday, 25 October 2017 20:27

Lifetime Achievement

Awarded for an outstanding contribution to Cult TV ...

Saturday, 23 February 2008 09:44

Unsold Television Pilots

Dozens of ideas make it to a TV pilot, a trial episode to introduce the characters and formats, but some, rightly or wrongly, fall at this fence ...

 

In a medium where we've had flying nuns (The Flying Nun), cars that take on the personalities of recently deceased mothers (My Mother, The Car), and where folk run real fast by being shown in slow motion (The Six Million Dollar Man), it's impossible to believe that some of the really daft ideas actually got left on the shelf.

In the UK, we had the likes of Timeslip, not the smart childrens' show from the 1970s, but a proposed anthology series that would each week feature John Taylor of Duran Duran as a computer hacker, trawling the net to find the story for that particular episode. While Taylor's appearance was a tad embarrassing, the story itself was well-executed, all about a malevolent office block hunting down two lovers within its walls, and the director wasn't opposed to showing off a little female flesh. Mind you, it did feature Virginia Hey as the female lead!

Then there's ever-reliable Doctor Who, which brought us the likes of the one-off pilot K9 and Company, featuring the Time Lord's pet robot dog teamed up with a former assistant, namely Elisabeth Sladen as reporter Sarah Jane Smith. Elisabeth coped admirably with having to play second fiddle to the computer pooch, but in the end it ended up being no more than a 1981 Christmas Special. Somehow, the idea of K9 chasing villains on his tiny castors didn't quite gel!

But it's to America we must go for the really left-field material...

 

SHOWS WITHIN SHOWS

One way to get a pilot made is to do a "special" episode of an ongoing TV series, oust the incumbent cast for one week only, and bring your new protagonists to the fore. Take Assignment: Earth, an episode of the original Star Trek series that featured Robert Lansing as Gary Seven, a human abducted by aliens who is returned to earth to save us from ourselves. He's given a dumb-blonde secretary in the shape of Teri Garr, and a shape-shifting Siamese Cat called Isis as partners.

And Starsky and Hutch didn't escape this back-door pilot-production route. In 1977, the series spawned an episode by the name of Huggy Bear and The Turkey, in which Antonio Fargas as streetwise Huggy somehow gets to work with a prim and proper private eye, strainingly called J.D. "Turkey" Turquet, as played by Dale Robinett. For some reason, Starsky and Hutch decide to refer the case of a missing person to these unlikely 'tecs, and the pair lumbered through solving the mystery. Needless to say future episodes of Starsky and Hutch completely ignored this little sortie completely.

Charlie's Angels, meanwhile, the tall tale of three pretty ladies taking orders from an unseen man called Charlie, also spawned an attempt to do the opposite side of the coin. In Toni's Devils, Barbara Stanwyck, later to play the matriarch in The Colbys was Antonia Blake, the head of a detective agency populated by three beefcakes - hence Toni's Devils. Picture the Chippendales as private eyes and you get the idea of how excruciating we're talking, here.

 

SCI-FI SCHMUCKS

Sharon Stone got to play a hard-as-nails female boss to two U.S. Marshals (one human, one bionic) in Badlands 2005, a concept where the near future sees water as a more precious commodity than gold. The West of America has been deserted after droughts a decade earlier, and now a re-population programme is underway.

Don't buy that? Okay, how about Ian McShane (of Lovejoy fame) as The Messenger of Death in a series called Chain Letters, where he sends out such communications to us mortals in the hope of tempting us into sin, and consequent death.

Then there's Dack Rambo (Sword of Justice)as an unfortunate author who falls in love with Satan's girlfriend in Good Against Evil. When she's hauled away by devil-worshippers, he teams up with an exorcist and the pair search for her while stamping out evil.

Or there's Infiltrator, where Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap) finds his molecules mish-mashed and combined with a spy satellite in a freak accident. When he gets angry he turns into a metallic android capable of taking out entire office blocks with the weapons that are part of him - it brings a whole new dimension to the problem of premature ejaculation! Hell, at least The Incredible Hulk just turns big and green!

Talking of Quantum Leap, a similar time-vaulting show was Wurlitzer, a 1989 attempt which saw Scott Maldovan as the owner of a restaurant with a jukebox that transports him back to the time of the songs it plays.

Ever thought those two TV evangelists are actually alien invaders out to brainwash earthlings? In The Mysterious Two, James Stephens plays the non-believer who has his girlfriend kidnapped by the extra terrestrials to try and keep him quiet - the aliens in question being played by John Forsyth (Blake Carrington in Dynasty) and Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Barnes-Wentworth in Dallas).

You could always turn to Mars: Base One, a proposed sit-com from 1980 about a family, recently moved to the Red Planet, who find out they are living next door to a Soviet engineer and his American wife who's a stripper.

If you're really going for bottom-of-the-barrel laughs, think of 13 Thirteenth Avenue from 1983, where a widower and his son (Wil Wheaton, prior to becoming Wesley Crusher on Star Trek - The Next Generation), find they're in a block of flats surrounded by a model who's a witch, a lawyer who's a vampire, a superintendent who's a troll, and an accountant who's a werewolf! Naturally, there's a psychiatrist on hand to try and sort all their lives out!

Prior to M*A*S*H, Alan "Hawkeye" Alda featured in an alleged sit-com in 1966, featuring an invisible baby, called Where's Everett?. Apparently aliens have left this see-through oddity for them, although no-one was exactly sure why.

 

NOT WATCHING THESE DETECTIVES

We've had all sorts of detectives over the years, each with a gimmick - luckily we were spared Danger Team, where Kathleen Beller played a librarian who solved murders and mysteries with the help of animated clay figures and an arsenal of gadgets.

Then there's Gladiator (not the big budget movie), featuring Ken Wahl of Wiseguy fame as a vigilante taking revenge on those committing road-rage crime with the help of a gadget-festooned tow truck. Hardly Knight Rider!

What about Sonny Bono, former partner of Cher, as a Nashville songwriter who sets up his own detective agency in Murder in Music City? Guest appearances by Country and Western singers was to be a staple diet, but it never went further than the two hour pilot movie.

 

STARS RISKING REPUTATIONS

In 1976, Larry Hagman (J.R. in Dallas) played Sherman Holmes, a hardly thinly-veiled take on a certain Victorian gentleman in Return of the World's Greatest Detective. A traffic accident leaves Holmes convinced he is the reincarnation of our Sherlock, and is assigned a psychiatrist to keep tabs on him while he solves cases. Rather conveniently, the shrink is called "Dr Watson"!

Robert Vaughn is well known from The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Protectors and the final season of The A Team. But what possessed him to play a distant relation of Frankenstein in the modern day Doctor Franken in 1980? He made a creature from a dozen folks' left-overs, and it gains a mind of its own. The freak then goes on the run and, finding out it has the memories of all the people who donated organs to his cause, seeks out the friends and relations of said donors and tries to help sort out their lives.

Care to visualise Tom Selleck (Magnum) as one of two World War II gypsies roaming Germany and France on secret missions? That was the premise of 1978s The Gypsy Warriors, and needless to say they only roamed through one story.

 

CUTE ANIMALS, ETC

A precursor to Eddie Izzard's Cows, once on Channel 4, McGurk in 1979 we saw a family of actors dressed in dog suits, dolloping out observations on human life from the perspective of man's best friend. Needless to say, this one lay down and begged bad reviews.

However, one version of man's best friend, which has to be the funniest TV series never made, was 1990's Poochinski. Peter Boyle stars as Stanley Poochinski, a long-in-the-tooth cop who's seen it all. He's mortally wounded on a stake-out and his constant companion, a bulldog, becomes the new container for his soul. Only his former partner initially knows this incredible secret, which gives the dog the ability to talk through some nifty animatronics. The dialogue is snappy, the situations hilarious, and the duo avenge the human Poochinski's death. In the final scene, the pooch restrains his assailant by clamping on to the villain's crotch. When the criminal is released and is dragged away, the dog turns to his partner and mutters "I have to tell you I did NOT enjoy that!". Class.

What every oceanography student needs is a mermaid and her sea lion to help him swat up on areas that he's weak in. That was the concept behind Danny and the Mermaid. Needless to say the audience couldn't care less.

Equally, it's quite obvious that a New York photographer would take the action of letting an abandoned circus animal live in his small flat. That's the premise of the 1980 pilot Ethel is an Elephant, and the proposed series would follow the lengths the owner would have to go to keep the animal "with hilarious consequences".

 

YOU GOTTA BE KIDDING!

Great Day had the premise of taking Al Molinaro (Alfred from Happy Days) and showing how great and fun life as a tramp in New York could be. Needless to say, it did not succeed in its objective.

Or why not Love at First Sight, about a woman with frosty uptight parents who marries a blind music writer, who pens jingles for an advertising agency? Didn't think so.

Meanwhile, in "Which Way to the Mecca, Jack? from 1965, a Middle East king uses American aid to build up his harem, much to the disapproval of the local Embassy Emissary who is trying to control the use of the cash, again "with hilarious consequences".

In a medium where "reality" concepts have taken over, one wonders if in reality a lot of these ideas would actually be far better than some of the series we actually have on our screens these days ...

 

Further information on pilot shows that never made it can be found in the book Unsold Television Pilots, 1955-1988 by Lee Goldberg, and Published by McFarland and Company.

Saturday, 23 February 2008 08:57

Beginnings

Cult TV first came into being as a Student Union Society in 1983 at Wolverhampton University, back when it was a Polytechnic...

 

Regular events began from September 1983, ranging from screenings to co-operative ventures with other fan groups (including Six Of One - The Prisoner Appreciation Society). Within weeks the Society had over 300 members - more than all the political societies combined!

At the time, whilst specific shows had their own unique fanbases, there was still no recognisable term to encompass television series with fan-followings that covered a multitude of genres.

Happening upon Danny Peary's seminal "Cult Movies" book, which categorised the various films outside the mainstream which elicited a fiery passion from enthusiastic filmgoers championing their favourite features, Alex J Geairns made the connection from one medium to the other and began organising weekly Cult TV meetings. Before the decision was made to go with the name "Cult TV", various other possibilities had been considered, including "Classic TV", "FAB TV", and "Retro TV". However, no term seemed to really capture the spirit in the way that "Cult TV" did.

In 1984 "mini" Cult TV magazines were issued to publicise events, many of the screenings organised in co-operation with Wider TeleVision Access (WTVA), in an effort to open up the television archives.

In March of 1985 the first proper issue of Cult TV Magazine appeared throughout the country via the network of speciality comic and book shops. A low budget affair, its balance of knowledgeable appreciation and irreverence set a tone which continued for the next four years.

Over the following years, various failed attempts were made to launch a commercial monthly magazine, but at the time no-one could be convinced that there was a viable market for such a tome - in hindsight, one can see that Cult TV was very much ahead of its time.

From these roots, it was not long before something much bigger grew. The 1992 FAB 1 Convention, held in Wolverhampton, was a celebration of Thunderbirds, and brought together Henry Holland, Tina Bailey, John Wilkinson, Mark Andrews, Sarah Barker and Alex J Geairns, who would form the nucleus of the first Cult TV crew.

Reunited in Watford the following year, 1993, at a Gerry Anderson convention, come Sunday evening with the event winding down, and joined by Idris Evans, everyone adjourned to an Indian Restaurant. During the meal, conversation turned to wondering why an event that celebrated all strands of television with fan followings had never been organised. Looking to entice Sylvia Anderson as one of the guests, the proposition was focused enough to be the beginning of the idea that would become the Cult TV Weekender.

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