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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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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Acclaimed writer on the likes of Space: 1999, Doctor Who, All Creatures Great and Small and Heartbeat ...


Johnny Byrne has had a long association with the development of television drama in the UK. With over 140 TV and film and credits, genres he has worked in include period, historical, contemporary, science fiction and children's drama. In the 1970s he was Executive Story Editor and principal writer of 12 episodes of Space 1999 season one, and also scripted Gerry Anderson’s pilot The Day After Tomorrow: Into Infinity as well as the short Message From Moonbase Alpha, which some consider the final, 49th, episode of Space:1999.

He wrote three Doctor Who adventures, namely "The Keeper of Traken", "Arc of Infinity" and "Warriors of the Deep". In the first of these he created Nyssa, who went on to be a very popular companion, and Johnny also wrote a screenplay for one of the proposed feature film versions of the series in 1990.

Johnny was the Script Consultant and principal writer of 38 episodes of All Creatures Great and Small. He is now most famous as the creator and principal writer of Heartbeat.

He adapted the biographical books of the wild animal doctor, David Taylor, which was the catalyst for One By One, for which he also scripted 13 episodes. He also created Noah’s Ark in 1997, and was a writer for Love Hurts (starring Adam Faith and Zoe Wanamaker), Pipkins (six episodes), Tales of the Unexpected (three episodes), Dodger, Bonzo and the Rest (three episodes), and Miracles Take Longer (four episodes).

Johnny wrote "Season Of The Witch" for the BBC Play For Today strand in 1971, and the films "Adolf Hitler, My Part In His Downfall" (adapted from the autobiographical book by Spike Milligan in 1972), "Rosie Is My Relative" (1976), and "To Die For" (1994).

In the 1960s he worked as a literary editor and wrote poetry and short stories, including a science fiction tale which was published in the magazine "Science Fantasy". Another story was included in Judith Merrill's "The Best Of Science Fiction 1965-6". He wrote the best selling novels "Groupie" (with Jenny Fabian) set in the 1960s London rock scene, and "Stopcock", a gothic thriller.

Johnny has written and lectured on political issues, especially those affecting Yugoslavia, and has an interest in Celtic mythology. He has also taught English as a Foreign Language in London, Paris, Athens, and Istanbul, been a Departmental Manager for ecclesiastical suppliers, an electrician, a lifeguard on the Isis (Oxford), a Touring Manager for rock groups, and a stage performer in the 1960s.

He is a director and shareholder of Teddytredbear Ltd, a company formed to exploit his screenplay "The Legend of Teddy Bear", and a director and shareholder of Backs Electronic Publishing Ltd, an independent company developing and producing software projects. Their first title "Ann Willan - The Food Of France" won one of the first awarded EMMAs (EuroMulti Media Award).

Johnny is married, the father of three boys, and lives in Norfolk.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

It's Boomer from Battlestar Galactica ...


Herbert Jefferson Jr is best known to Cult TV fans as Lieutenant Boomer from the original Battlestar Galactica. He's been seen in many more roles than just Galactica's erstwhile Cylon hunter, though!

Jefferson was a series co-star in Rich Man, Poor Man with Nick Nolte, as well as its sequel Rich Man, Poor Man Book II, the American Revolutionary War mini-series The Bastard, plus Yellow Rose with Sam Elliott and Cybill Shephard, and The Devlin Connection with Rock Hudson and Jack Scalia.

Jefferson has also guest-starred in over 100 episodes of series television, including ER, Sister Sister, Hill Street Blues, Police Story, Airwolf, TJ Hooker, Quincy, The Streets Of San Francisco, White Shadow, Knight Rider, McCloudand Mission Impossible. His most recent TV appearance was in the recurring role of Police Chief Price on NBC's Sunset Beach. His many feature film credits include "Apollo 13", "Outbreak", "Detroit 9000", "Black Gun", "The Slams", "One Dozen", and Roger Corman's "Private Duty Nurses" (which marked his feature film debut).

Herb's extensive theatre credits include two Pulitzer Prize winning plays, "The Great White Hope" and "No Place To Be Somebody". He was directed by Mike Nichols in the David Rabe play "Streamers", which went on to win Best New American Play of the Year by the New York Drama Critics.

Although currently a resident of Southern California, Jefferson is originally from Jersey City, New Jersey, where he attended high school and college. He is a New York trained actor studying at the Herbert Berghof Studio, The Actors Studio with Lee Strasberg, and an alumnus of New York's American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He has appeared in productions on Broadway, off-Broadway, and off-off Broadway, including several plays at Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theatre.

In his spare time Herb has been, and continues to be, an active supporter and volunteer with the US military by way of the USO, the Paralyzed Veterans Association, Operation Standown, US Navy Public Affairs, and the US Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. He is also a 25 year volunteer with the Special Olympics.

Having had one previous appearance at Cult TV, in Southport in 2002, Herb triumphantly returned for Cult TV 2006 at Hemsby.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

From Mike Tucker in "The Archers" to Davros in Doctor Who ...


Terry Molloy studied Music and Drama in Liverpool in the 1960s, and played in a soul band for three years, even performing in the famous "Cavern" club.


Terry became the third actor to portray Davros in Doctor Who - the character had previously been played by Michael Wisher and David Gooderson. He is the only actor to have played Davros in more than one serial, namely "Resurrection of the Daleks", "Revelation of the Daleks" and "Remembrance of the Daleks". He will be returning to the part later this year, when Big Finish release a quartet of audio dramas about the early years of the character, under the banner "I, Davros".

Each chapter of "I, Davros" will cover a significant moment in his life, revealing previously untold details of how and why Davros became the notorious creator of the Daleks. Big Finish has previously released a highly regarded double CD story entitled simply "Davros" by Lance Parkin. Elements from this story will also be woven in to this new mini-series. Terry also played the role for Big Finish in the dramas "Juggernauts" and "Terror Firma".

Terry played another role in the original television series, that of Russell in "Attack Of The Cybermen" – before being cast he had been considered for two other roles in that serial - Griffths (eventually played by Brian Glover) and Payne (played by James Beckett).

Other television roles have included Stan Harvey in Crossroads, plus Bergerac, Angels, French and Saunders, Chalkface, Chancer, Specials, The Bill, Dangerfield and All About Me. For BBV, he played DI Burke in "The Devil of Winterborne".

Radio fans will know him as the voice of long-standing character Mike Tucker in BBC radio 4 series "The Archers".

We are delighted that Terry joined us for the Cult TV Festival in 2006.

In the meantime, why not find out some more background about Terry by visiting his website at www.terrymolloy.co.uk.



Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Writer of "The Democratic Genre", this writer, poet and lecturer lifts the lid on 'fan fiction' ...


Sheenagh Pugh is a poet, novelist and lecturer in creative writing who got interested in reading fan fiction ('fanfic') some years ago. She then realised it was the one genre nobody had written a critical study of. This she has put right with the publication of "The Democratic Genre", which, according to Elizabeth Bennet’s review in The Independent, is "a lively book which lovingly details fan writers' private language".

She has published nine collections of poetry and translations, plus a Selected Poems and a sort-of mini-Selected, and two novels. She translates poems mainly from German but sometimes also from French and Ancient Greek. She read German and Russian at the University of Bristol.

Sheenagh's interests include language, history, northern landscapes from Shetland to the Arctic and all points in between, snooker, mortality, cyberspace (she spends massive amounts of time playing "The Sims") and above all, people. She likes to use poems to commemorate people and places, sometimes to amuse, to have a go at things she doesn’t like (censorship, intolerance, pomposity) and above all to entertain.

She has won many prizes and awards, including the Forward Prize for best single poem of 1998, the Bridport Prize, the PHRAS prize, the Cardiff International Poetry Prize (twice) and the British Comparative Literature Association's Translation Prize. Her poems have been included in several anthologies, notably "Poems on the Underground" and "The Hutchinson Book of Post-War British Poetry". They have also been set to music, have appeared on the trams of Helsinki and the St Petersburg Underground, and have been translated into German, French, Italian, Russian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Spanish and Dutch.

Sheenagh lives in Cardiff and works at the University of Glamorgan. "The Democratic Genre" is published by Seren (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Her web site is at www.geocities.com/sheenaghpugh, and she wastes most of her life online. A review of Sheenagh's new book can be found at: The Independent Online Website.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Fight Director and Swordmaster on "Sharpe's Challenge" and a host of TV and film projects ...


Richard Bonehill's work as a Fight Director and Swordmaster has enabled him to travel all over the world enjoying 'the best job in the world'.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s he worked as a film extra, stand-in and double. During this time Richard worked on numerous television productions including Doctor Who ("Logopolis", "Time Flight", "Enlightenment", "Timelash", "Revelation of the Daleks" and "Terror of the Vervoids"), Robin Of Sherwood, Edge of Darkness, Only Fools and Horses, 'Allo 'Allo! and Eastenders, as well as films such as "Highlander" and "Flash Gordon".

Fans of "Star Wars" should note that he worked on both "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of The Jedi".

Richard was born in 1949 in London, and educated at The City of London School and Hornsey College of Art. He studied jewellery design and gold-smithing, and for ten years worked in the industry designing jewellery, silver and gold items for private clients. In 1976 he won the prestigious De Beers Diamonds International Award. In 1979 he decided on a change of career and joined travelling shows appearing in Medieval Jousting Tournaments and Wild West Shows.

His expertise as a swordsman and horseman led him into the film and television industry and for the last 26 years Richard has appeared in numerous films doubling for many famous actors. Most recently he has worked on Sharpe's Challenge, and Bleak House.

Richard has represented England and Great Britain for the past six years consecutively at international level at Sabre. In 2001 he finished in 6th place in The World Veterans Fencing Championships in Martinique. In 2002 he won the title of North Atlantic Sabre Champion in Boston, Massachusetts and is senior fencing coach at Truro Fencing Club.

Richard lives in St Ives, Cornwall, in a magical house overlooking the sea with his wife Lynne and six cats. His main interests include films (working on and watching them) music (tone deaf but never misses Top of The Pops), researching his family history, and eating and drinking too much (then dieting and afterwards apologising for his boisterous behaviour!). His early school reports stated that he had a rather ‘cavalier attitude to life‘!

We were delighted that Richard joined us for the Cult TV Festival in 2006.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Lieutentant Green in Captain Scarlet and Hal Mellanby in Blake's 7 ...


Born in Guyana (then British Guiana), Cy Grant has lived an extraordinarily varied life. He served as a flight lieutenant in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, was shot down and spent two years as a prisoner of war. His War Memoir, "A Member of the RAF of Indeterminate Race", is being published by Woodfield Publishing.

After the war Cy qualified as a Barrister at Law, but went on to be an actor on stage and in film, as well as a singer in concert and cabaret. His was the first black face to be regularly seen on British Television, singing the news in calypso on television on the BBC Tonight programme from 1957 to 1960.

He voiced Lieutenant Green in Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, the first leading black character in a British SF series. He also appeared in the Blake’s 7 episode “Aftermath”, playing Dayna’s father, Hal Mellanby. He has also guest-starred in episodes of The Persuaders!, Softly Softly, Metal Mickey, Freedom Road, Born Free, White Hunter, They Met In A City, Home of the Brave and Man from the Sun.

On the big screen he has appeared in "At The Earth’s Core", "Journey To The Far Side of the Sun" (aka "Doppelganger"), "Shaft In Africa", "Sea Wife", "Calypso" and "Safari".

He is the author of "Ring of Steel: pan sound and symbol" (Macmillan 2000) and "Blackness & the Dreaming Soul" (Shoving Leopard). He was the Chairman and co-founder of "DRUM", the London based Black arts centre in the 1970s, and Director of the "CONCORD" Multicultural Festivals in the 1980s.

Cy is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Surrey, Roehampton and a member of The Scientific & Medical Network.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Creator of Dick Spanner and effects wizard on Terrahawks ...


Terry is a comedy scriptwriter who started out as a special effects technician, working on such films as "Arabian Adventure", "King Arthur and the Spaceman", "Clash of The Titans", "Bear Island", "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Return of the Jedi".

He later moved from film to television, where he worked on the Gerry Anderson production Terrahawks. During this time he also created, co-wrote and directed 26 episodes of Dick Spanner.

Since then he has written over 2,000 sketches, including material for Spitting Image, The Freddie Starr Show, Hale and Pace, Who Do You Do?, The Friday Zone, The Jack Docherty Show and Giggly Bitz. He's also written as part of a team for two series of S4C's Llwyth O Docs (aka Life on the Docks), and has scripted over 200 corporate videos, five stage plays (all performed) and is currently writing a book about a specific genre of comedy.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Cindy Cunningham from Hollyoaks ...


Stephanie was born in Urmston, Manchester in 1978 and has appeared in various television series including Nice Guy Eddie, Mersey Beat and Holby City, but is well known for the role of Cindy Cunningham in Hollyoaks. She also had one of the lead roles in the Australian Sky One series, Crash Palace, playing Tina Clark in the backpacker drama.

Stephanie was a long time in the role of Cindy Cunningham - she played the part for four years on Hollyoaks. Initially the character was played by Laura Crossley for a few episodes, before Stephanie took on the role between 1996 and 2000. For those who want a short recap of what the character was about, well, life was running pretty smoothly for Cindy until the night of her 16th birthday when she became pregnant, following the advances of scandalous Stan Stanley. Cindy would conceal the pregnancy from her parents and, when she finally gave birth, abandoned the child. Her parents forcibly reunited mother and child, but Cindy tried to suffocate the baby. The shock of her actions suddenly made Cindy realise that she actually really loved her newborn daughter.

Cindy fell for Sean Tate the decorator, who mistreated baby Holly. An incident with a firework was brought to the attention of Social Services, who then never let up on checking up on her. Eventually, Cindy tried to move abroad to start a new life, but was abandoned at the airport by Sean. Unfortunately, Holly was prevented from leaving as she did not have a passport. Instead, Cindy returned to Hollyoaks, set up her own business venture, "Steam Team", and hooked up with fireman Ben Davies.

An incident involving Holly swallowing an ecstasy tablet, and Social Services quickly being on her tail, meant that Cindy had no choice but to flee the country, involving Ben in helping mother and child make an escape from hospital.

In Nice Guy Eddie, Stephanie played Laura, one of the daughters of streetwise PI Eddie McMullen (Ricky Tomlinson). Other television guest starring roles have included Always and Everyone (as Linda), Sweet Medicine (with Ashley Jensen), Brookside, The Royal, and Doctors.

Her training includes two years at the Oldham Theatre Workshop, followed by two years at the Acting Studio in Manchester. She has devised a treatment for a drama format which is in development with a major production company. Recently, in fact on Christmas Day 2006, Stephanie appeared as Emma, a girlfriend of Jason Grimshaw in Coronation Street.

Some of Stephanie's personal TV favourites are 24, Ugly Betty, Ally McBeal, Will & Grace, Sex in the City, Buffy, Angel and Friends.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Creator and Writer of On The Buses, The Rag Trade and much more ...


Ronnie’s professional career began in BBC radio, with him eventually becoming Head Writer of the hit series "Educating Archie" (created by Eric Sykes). The cast at various times included such well-loved and remembered names as Julie Andrews, Tony Hancock, Max Bygraves, Beryl Reid, Harry Secombe, Benny Hill, Bruce Forsyth and Warren Mitchell.

Other writing projects around that time included intimate revue, summer shows and pantomimes, some of which starred Ken Dodd, Kenneth Williams, Beryl Reid and Tommy Steele.

In the 1960s Ronnie decided to concentrate on television, and with his writing partner Ronald Chesney, devised and created many TV sit-coms. These included The Rag Trade (with Peter Jones, Miriam Karlin, Sheila Hancock, Barbara Windsor and Reg Varney), Meet the Wife (with Thora Hird and Freddie Frinton), The Bedsit Girl (with Sheila Hancock), Take a Letter Mr Jones (with John Inman, Rula Lenska and Miriam Margolyes), Romany Jones, Don’t Drink The Water and, most famously, On The Buses (with Reg Varney, Doris Hare, Stephen Lewis, Anna Karen, Michael Robbins and Bob Grant).

The television series of On The Buses led to three cinema spin-offs, "On The Buses", "Mutiny On The Buses" and "Holiday on the Buses". The format has spawned a large and active fan club which continues to send out loads of literature, news and features to its devoted fans.

The Rag Trade is now a worldwide success, as in the last few years it has been successfully re-made in other countries. Each country has used their own actors and has been translated into their own language. And in each of these countries it has continually been top of the ratings, and is constantly repeated. So successful was the TV show in Scandinavia, that a full-length feature film, “Fredrikssons Fabriks - The Movie” was made. This show is still running in South Africa, with 26 further episodes recently made in 2003.

Ronnie’s work as a deviser, creator and writer of sitcoms has taken him across the world, and he has worked for all the major networks in the United States (ABC, NBC and CBS), Australia, Scandinavia, Germany, Portugal, Holland, Belgium, Canada and South Africa.

He is a script consultant for Alomo Productions, and in his work as Visiting Lecturer, Ronnie has been invited to speak and take Seminars and Workshops at the British National Film and Television School, The City University - London, the London Department of the New York University, the University of Barcelona, as well as at many other leading universities at home and abroad, plus various institutes of learning which have departments of Drama, Film, TV, Radio and Media Studies.

Ronnie’s definitive book, "Writing Comedy", has recently been published in a new and updated third edition by Robert Hale Ltd.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

What any Festival celebrating extraordinary fictional television needs is a cabaret act that has material specially angled to its theme. As attendees at the Cult TV Festival in 1999, 2003 and 2005 will tell you, Mitch Benn does this better than anyone else.

Mitch is not only one of the most sought-after acts on the comedy circuit but is widely acknowledged as one of the best writer/performers of comic songs in the country. Mitch began his comedy career in Edinburgh in 1994. He moved to London in 1996 and quickly established himself as a comedy club "headliner" as well as a favourite on the university circuit.

Mitch is a regular writer and performer on “The Now Show” for BBC Radio 4 on many a Friday night at 6.30pm, and “It's Been a Bad Week” for BBC Radio 2. Three series of his successful Radio 4 show, "Mitch Benn's Crimes Against Music" were also broadcast. He also presented "The Mitch Benn Music Show" on BBC Radio 7.

On TV, Mitch appears regularly on BBC1's The One Show as the writer and arranger of “The Complaints Choir”. Mitch contributes occasional songs to Channel 4's Bremner, Bird And Fortune. He has also appeared on The Last Word for More4, Gas for Channel 4, Live at Jongleurs, The Warehouse and Today With Des & Mel for ITV, The Comedy Store for Channel 5, The World Stands Up for Paramount Comedy and Raymaan Is Laat for Dutch TV. He was the presenter of the paranormal discussion show Out There for Carlton World, and in 2009 made semi-regular appearances on BBC1's Watchdog performing songs highlighting consumer grievances.

Mitch's second album “Radio Face” was released through Laughing Stock records in 2002. His earlier live album, “The Unnecessary Mitch Benn” is still available.

Mitch has toured extensively abroad, including Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, France, Montreal, Holland, India and South Africa (including a two-week run at the Grahamstown Theatre Festival in 1998). In 1995 Mitch won the Best New Comic award at the Glastonbury Festival and has played there every year since, including an hour-long extended set in 1999 which drew a standing ovation from an audience of 1,500.

In 1998 he won the “Mercury Comedian of the Year” prize at the Leicester Comedy Festival. Mitch has performed many times at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, including hour-long solo shows in 1997, 1998 and 1999. He also appeared in the successful revue show “The Bootleg Bootleg Beatles” in 1998 and the showcase Carlton Comedy Warehouse in 1999, the subject of a documentary series for Carlton TV.

In 2003 Mitch formed the band Mitch Benn & The Distractions with Kirsty Newton and Tash Baylis; after a successful run at the 2003 Edinburgh Fringe they took up a residency at The Bedford in Balham in October 2003. Mitch Benn & The Distractions completed a successful national UK tour in autumn 2004, to coincide with the release of their album “Too Late To Cancel”.

Mitch Benn & The Distractions' debut single, Everything Sounds Like Coldplay Now, was released on September 5th 2005, ahead of the release of the album “Crimes Against Music”. The video for the single www.everythingsoundslikecoldplaynow.com/ attracted 8,000 hits in one hour when first posted online. The band completed their second UK tour in December 2005.

Mitch brought a reconvened Mitch Benn and the Distractions back to the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2007, performing a nightly two-hour show – “The Mitch Benn Music Club” - at the prestigious Reid Hall concert venue (the “Cow Barn”). A live album, recorded on the last night of the festival, entitled “Official Bootleg Edinburgh 2007” (or “The Brown Album”) was released in October 2007 to coincide with the start of another national tour, which concluded in December 2007.

In spring 2008, Mitch released the controversial single “Happy Birthday War” (with accompanying video) and later on that same year, the album “Sing Like An Angel, from which the title track (featuring Rick Wakeman on piano) was released as a single.

In 2009 Mitch Benn & The Distractions (with Ivan Sheppard now permanently installed as drummer) completed the “Where Next?” tour, in support of the album of the same name.

In 2010, Mitch and the band completed the “Rhyme Lord” tour and also released the single "I'm Proud of the BBC", for which Mitch received the Media Blog Media Hero Of The Year Award.

Mitch has recently released an EP of Doctor Who-related songs (including one brand new never-heard-before track), which is available exclusively from the Mitch Benn download store.

To find out more visit Mitch’s website, www.mitchbenn.com


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