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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.

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Ruling the air waves as a writer and producer ...

 

After graduating from St Catharine's College, Cambridge with an MA in Law, Jonathan Ruffle joined the BBC World Service as a Studio Manager before moving to BBC Radio 1 to became an entertainment producer.

Known as Happening Boy on "Steve Wright in the Afternoon", which introduced the American zoo-format to UK radio, he played the character The Pervy as well co-creating Dr Fish Filleter. In 1989 he won a Sony Gold Award for following in the footsteps of Phileas Fogg by attempting to travel "Around the World in 80 Days" with Simon Bates.

Switching stations, he produced the Radio 4 documentary "The Romans in Britain" and the award-winning drama "Bomber". For the Radio 2 adaptation of Nicholas Monsarrat's "The Cruel Sea" starring Donald Sinden and Philip Madoc, he crossed the Atlantic on a cargo ship, recording the sounds of the winds and waves to create the right sound effects.

While contributing to "Excess Baggage" as a travel reporter, he was the Commissioning Executive for BBC Entertainment's "The Millennium" in 1999. After producing radio commercials and reporting from the 2000 Cannes Film Festival for LBC he returned to Radio 4 to produce the comedies "Wheeler's Fortunes" and "Wheeler's Wonders" which documented the life of Creighton Wheeler, a talented everyman afflicted with Splicer's Disease which removed whole phrases from his speech, making him appear to sound badly edited.

A charity producer for Comic Relief in 1991, and produced the award-winning Channel 4 documentary Edward VIII: The Traitor King. A consultant on the Discovery Channel documentary Wings and the BBC drama Night Flight, he produced the documentary Bomber for GB Films. Having written for BBC Radio comedies, he scripted numerous documentaries for Channel 4, Carlton and Five, and contributed to Never Mind the Buzzcocks as a gag writer.

As well as writing "Battle of Britain at the Barbican" for the RAF Benevolent Fund in 2000, he has been involved in producing numerous Air Shows and events including the History in Action re-enactments for English Heritage the Royal International Air Tattoos.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

A serious producer of the best in British comedy ...

 

Born in Glasgow in 1930, Joe McGrath’s credentials as a writer, producer and director in British film and television comedy are almost second to none.

Beginning as a producer on Michael Bentine’s surreal sketch show It’s a Square World, he co-wrote and directed the television play Justin Thyme starring Leonard Rossiter and produced the first of two BBC shows for the Soviet Union’s leading comedian Arkady Raikin, and the short-lived sitcom The Big Noise which starred Bob Monkhouse as brash pop disc jockey.

In 1965 he produced and contributed material to the first series of the classic Not Only... But Also starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. After producing East of Howerd which filmed Frankie Howerd entertaining British forces in Malaysia, Joe directed The Goon Show for Thames Television. A recording of Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe performing The Tale of Men’s Shirts, the programme was deemed unsuccessful and scuppered plans to transfer the classic radio comedy to television.

He produced Spike Milligan’s surrealistic sketch show Oh In Colour and directed the television series Zodiac starring Anouska Hempel and Anton Rodgers. Both director and producer of the sitcom The Losers written by Punch editor Alan Coren and starring Leonard Rossiter as a cockney wrestling promoter, he executive produced and co-wrote Good Night and God Bless with Donald Churchill who played a stand-up comic fronting a television game show.

In a film career that began as one of six directors on the James Bond spoof "Casino Royale", Joe co-wrote and directed "The Magic Christian" with Terry Southern and star Peter Sellers, "The Great McGonagall" with Spike Milligan playing the Scotsman eager to become Poet Laureate and the Sherlock Holmes spoof "The Strange Case of the End of Civilisation as We Know It" with John Cleese and Jack Hobbs.

In recent years Joe co-wrote the book "Now That’s Funny!" with David Bradbury, a collection of interviews with some of the greatest writers of British comedy including Spike Milligan, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, and John Sullivan.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Her bubbly personality took flight with Magpie ...

 

The daughter of actors Jimmy Hanley and Dinah Sheridan, Jenny Hanley's original ambition was to be a children’s nanny. She followed in her parents' footsteps after a career in modelling led to a part in the James Bond feature "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". As one of the patients at Blofeld's mountain lair alongside Catherine Schell and Joanna Lumley, Jenny was offered an exclusive contract from the co-producer Harry Saltzman.

After playing Caroline in "The Ballad of Tam-Lin", directed by Roddy McDowall, she appeared in "Scars of Dracula", the last of the Hammer Films period Dracula features alongside Dennis Waterman and Christopher Lee, and the Boulting Brothers' satirical "Soft Beds, Hard Battles" starring Peter Sellers. Balancing film work with roles on television, Jenny played Mrs Hawkins on the long-running BBC police drama Softly, Softly.

Appearing in The Persuaders! episode "Someone Waiting", she guest-starred in episodes of The Adventurer, Zodiac, the Royal Navy drama Warship, The Hanged Man and The Return of the Saint opposite Ian Ogilvy's Simon Templar. After playing Liz in Man About the House, she starred as Angie in the first series of the children's sitcom Robert's Robots and Alison Bentley alongside Sylvia Syms in the Comedy Premiere pilot "The Truth About Verity".

From 1974 Jenny was one of the presenters of ITV's trendier rival to the BBC’s Blue Peter, the bi-weekly children's magazine programme Magpie. During her six years on the show she travelled around the world joining in many hazardous events such as mountain climbing, go-kart racing and parachuting and even being sunk in a helicopter.

After fronting the popular Saturday Night at the Mill, she presented the magazine programme Sky By Day. Having been a celebrity guest on numerous game shows including Celebrity Squares, Punchlines and Give Us A Clue, she regularly appears in Countdown’s Dictionary Corner.

In demand as a voice over artist, Jenny currently presents a weekday afternoon and Sunday morning show on Saga Radio Digital.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Doctor Who's big-screen Barbara ...

 

Jennie Linden began her television career with guest appearances in The Avengers, two episodes of The Saint, including one directed by Roger Moore, Virgin of the Secret Service where she played a suffragette who has to be rescued from a school of love run by Rodney Bewes' Rajah of Chundrapore, The Persuaders!, and Monty Berman and Dennis Spooner's The Champions and The Adventurer.

She appeared in Present Laughter, adapted from the play by Noel Coward, alongside Peter Wyngarde and James Bolam, the Galton and Simpson comedy The Suit with Leslie Phillips and Bill Oddie and the Thriller episode "Death to Sister Mary", written by Brian Clemens. In the 1970s, after roles in the Cold War spy drama Charlie Muffin starring David Hemmings, Pit Strike and Degree of Uncertaintly, she played Mrs Errol in the BBC production of Little Lord Fauntleroy and Patsy Cornwallis-West in the miniseries Lillie starring Francesca Annis as Lillie Langtry.

Along with guest roles in Dick Turpin, Tales of the Unexpected and Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime, she featured in the Victorian drama Jessie directed by Bryan Forbes, The Corsican Brothers, adapted from the novel by Alexander Dumas, which starred Trevor Eve in the dual role of Louis and Lucien de Franchi, the three-part miniseries Menace Unseen and the TV movie The Endless Game starring Albert Finney and George Segal. With appearances in Lovejoy, the comedy The Piglet Files and Casualty, Jennie played Angela Healy in the horse-racing drama Trainer created by the veteran producer Gerard Glaister.

After starring as a young woman haunted by her mother's insanity in the Hammer film "Nightmare", directed by Freddie Francis, Jennie played Barbara opposite Peter Cushing in the 1965 film version of "Dr Who and the Daleks". She went on to appear in Ken Russell's "Women in Love", alongside Oliver Reed, Alan Bates and Glenda Jackson, and "Valentino" playing silent-screen star Agnes Ayres, "Vampira", written by Are You Being Served?'s Jeremy Lloyd and Trevor Nunn's RSC adaptation of Ibsen's "Hedda Gabler", starring Jackson and Patrick Stewart.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Gary has been working as a radio and TV presenter since 1989, initially with Radio Cymru, before getting another presenting gig with Radio Wales shortly afterwards. By 1990 he was one of the faces of magazine show Heno on S4C.

By 1999, he had his own show on S4C, Slaymaker - nought out of ten for originality, but it was good for the ego, and it ran for six years! This was a pop culture show featuring interviews, comedy items, and a hefty slice of film and television reviews. During the series he covered the 2002 Cult TV Festival Weekender at Southport, getting to meet one of his heroes, Dirk Benedict.

He has been doing stand-up comedy in both Welsh and English for the past 15 years, across the principality and beyond. He spent the whole three days at 2011’s Machynlleth Comedy Festival as MC/headliner/mid-carder, performing in both Welsh and English. Every show was sold out (thankfully).

Since 2006 Gary has been the presenter and head gag writer on Bwletin, a Welsh language radio version of Have I Got News For You/Mock the Week, for BBC Radio Cymru.

Gary was nabbed by S4C to present a Rugby World Cup show in 2007, in the style of Soccer AM.

Since 2010 he has been the resident film expert on The Jamie & Louise Show for BBC Radio Wales, with a monthly ‘crash course’ in different genres for Louise Elliott, who admits she doesn’t ‘get’ cinema.

Gary has over the years contributed to a number of S4C shows, and even worked on a couple of aborted sit-coms – apparently the formats were either a little ambitious or too ‘out there’. He was a regular contributor to both live and pre-recorded formats on the station. The last major piece of work for the channel was in 2008, as writer and presenter of a documentary about Wales’ qualification and appearances in the 1958 World Cup. This involved travelling to Sweden, and meeting former professionals such as Cliff Jones, Mel Charles, and the legendary Pele.

In the last few years Gary has turned more towards writing, with a regular film review column in the Western Mail newspaper, and his first novel, “Y Sach Winwns” was published in 2005 – a coarse comedy about non-league football and African tribal magic. This has been doing the rounds between a few production companies in Wales, who want to try and adapt it for television. He is about to finish his first English language novel for e-publishing. Interest in it was attracted by the simple pitch – “A zombie comedy rugby road trip”.

Gary is starting to organise a whistle-stop stand-up tour of Canada and North America for early March 2012. This will tie in with documentaries on the tour in both English and Welsh for BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru. He is in negotiations to film the final gig in Los Angeles, in front of a celebrity audience of the likes of Ioan Gruffydd, Mathew Rhys, and Bryn Terfel, for transmission on BBC Wales.

He will again be performing at the Machynlleth Comedy Festival in 2012, but this time with the expectation of presenting from the Festival for Radio Wales.

Radio Wales have also shown interest in producing a sit-com Gary offered them, with a science-fiction theme, before the end of 2012.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

One of the stars of Crackerjack and a regular on various television and radio comedy shows ...

 

Don was awarded a Silver Heart from the Variety Club of Great Britain to mark his 30th anniversary in show business in 2003 - Don McLean is one of Britain's leading television and cabaret performers.

Well known as one of the presenters of the long-running children's variety show Crackerjack, regularly shown on Fridays at 'five to five,' he was also the host of The Black and White Minstrel Show for three years on television and five years during its theatrical run.

A regular on Celebrity Squares in the late 1970s, Don hosted the game shows Mousetrap and First Letter First, and devised and appeared in The Cheapest Show on the Telly with Lenny Henry. He hosted three series of Keen Types and more recently presented Songs of Praise for the BBC.

On the radio he featured in his own series, Maclean Up Britain and Keep It Maclean. A team member of Wit's End and team captain on The Press Gang, he devised The Clever Dick Athlon and acted as quizmaster.

For the past twelve years Don has presented Good Morning Sunday on BBC Radio 2 which mixes music and interviews with a religious theme, and in the 2001 New Year's Honours List he was made an MBE for services to religion and inter-faith relations.

Interested in the First World War in the Air, and qualified as a private pilot since 1984, his aptly named autobiography, Flying High, was published by Hodder Headline.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Kowalski from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea ...

 

Del Monroe is best know for his portrayal of Kowalski in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, the TV series, and as Kowski, in the 1961 film of the same name. He is the only actor to have appeared in the movie and all four years of the series with a supporting character role.

Del enlisted in the army after finishing school, and during a tour of duty caught the acting bug. Returning home after his enlistment, he enrolled in the Pasadena Playhouse where he appeared in more than 30 plays, all the while adding to his TV and film resume, and working part-time to support his acting. Shows from this time that he featured in included The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, The Gallent Men, The Dakotas and The Legend of Jesse James. Then came his break in Voyage.

Del was born in Santa Barbara, California, ironically the same place that Irwin Allen placed as the homeport of the Seaview in Voyage, and the home of The Nelson Institute of Marine Research, the home of the Seaview.

When Voyage ended, Del was offered the role of Inspector Kobick in Land of the Giants which he didn't take. He did however work for Irwin again in an episode of The Time Tunnel - “The Kidnappers”.

Since then, Del has made many TV appearances in series such as Mission: Impossible, The Untouchables, Gunsmoke, Emergency!, Mannix, Wonder Woman, The Dukes of Hazzard, The Incredible Hulk, Hunter, The Fall Guy, The Men from Shiloh, Lancer, Longstreet, Adam-12, The FBI, The Mod Squad, Ironside, Tenafly, SWAT, The Rockford Files, Ark II, The Amazing Spiderman, Time Express, Robbery: Homicide Division, and Fame.

At the same time, Del continued to work on the stage, constantly improving and refining his skills. Within the last year, Del appeared on stage in his first musical, playing one of the fathers in the new production “Is This Anyway to Start a Marriage?”, at the NoHo playhouse, and he was recently seen on the small screen in a guest role in Medium.

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Producer and director of Sapphire & Steel ...

 

Known as an outstanding producer and director, first of television comedy then atmospheric suspense dramas, Shaun O'Riordan began his career as an actor.

Having studied at the Old Vic Theatre School where he specialised in Shakespearean comedies, Shaun began his televison career as one of the repertory players in The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Richard Greene, appearing in a variety of roles over successive episodes.

After playing Eddie, the dim-witted but enthusiastic son of Peggy Mount and David Kossoff's Ada and Alf for four years in the popular comedy The Larkins, he moved behind the camera gaining experience as a technician and religious programme director before becoming a fully fledged director.

From working on the hospital drama Emergency - Ward 10, Shaun directed Charlie Drake's 1965 comedy series The Worker and the Six Of The Best episode "Me And My Big Mouth" starring Alfie Bass and Peter Bowles. He reteamed with Peggy Mount, directing George and the Dragon, starring Sid James and John Le Mesurier, then in John Browne's Body and Lollipop Loves Mr Mole, written for her and Hugh Lloyd by Dad’s Army co-writer Jimmy Perry.

Producer of Goodbye Again, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's follow-up to Not Only... But Also, Shaun produced and directed the sitcom Girls About Town starring Play School's Julie Stevens, The Best Things in Life featuring Harry H Corbett as a cockney spiv and June Whitfield as his fiancée Mabel, and The Squirrels, Eric Chappell's first sitcom prior to Rising Damp.

Moving away from comedy, in the 1970s Shaun directed seven plays in ITV's Thriller series as well as working on Scorpion Tales. He produced the children's serials No Place to Hide and Come Back Lucy which eventually led to his involvement on P J Hammond's Sapphire and Steel which effectively married the two genres.

Suggesting Joanna Lumley and David McCallum play the title roles, Shaun produced all six adventures in the series and shared the directing duties with David Foster, effectively creating the sense of menace and unease that pervaded the studio-bound drama.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Detective writer in his element with Sapphire & Steel ...

 

Best known as the creator of Sapphire & Steel, Peter J Hammond studied art at Hammersmith School of Arts and Crafts, drama at Goldsmiths College, and wrote several radio plays for the BBC before breaking into television.

First commissioned to write the play "Four Way Incident" for Thirty Minute Theatre, he wrote all six episodes of the children’s thriller Ramshackle Road for BBC Bristol. Eventually joining the BBC as a script editor, Peter worked on the police drama Z Cars, when the programme ran bi-weekly, before leaving to write full time.

During the 1970s, as well as writing for Thames Television's daytime series Couples and the nursing drama Angels, he scripted episodes for numerous police series including Z Cars, The Sweeney, Hunter’s Walk, Target and Manhunt. He also wrote for the prison drama Within These Walls, Crown Court, and the The Professionals using the pseudonym James McAteer.

After dramatising of Arthur Morrison's Victorian novel "The Hole in the Wall" and writing for Thames' successful children's adventure Ace of Wands, Peter set out to create a fantasy show of his own. Wanting to write a detective story that incorporated the notion of time he came up with Sapphire & Steel. Initially designed as a one-off half-hour drama for children, the series was developed for a family audience. Running for six stories between 1979 and 1982, the series starred Joanna Lumley and David McCallum as mysterious elemental beings repairing rifts in Time through which malignant forces enter the everyday world.

After Sapphire & Steel finished with an enigmatic cliff-hanger, Peter tried his hand at comedy with the 1984 BBC series Lame Ducks starring John Duttine. In later years, with the exception of an episode for Sky One’s science fiction series Space Island One, he returned to mainstream dramas writing for The Bill when it was in a half-hour format, two EastEnders specials, Dangerfield and HTV’s Wycliffe.

Since 1999 he has been writing for ITV's popular Midsommer Murders, created for television by Anthony Horowitz and starring John Nettles as Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby.

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Vivian 'Jaws' Wright from Dream Team and Travis in Blake's Junction 7 joined us for Cult TV 2005 ...

 

The Cult TV Festival was lucky enough in 2004 to screen the highly regarded short film Blake’s Junction 7, directed by Ben Gregor. Amongst the star-studded cast, there was a murmur of recognition during the screening from the Sky One viewers when the character of 'Travis' appeared. Actor Philip Brodie, taking on the role of Servalan’s head henchman, is a regular on Dream Team.

As Harchester United's shot-stopper, Vivian 'Jaws' Wright became the latest keeper to sport the fictional club's number one shirt – he had originally been brought in due to a player crisis at the club. Jaws has a history of violence both on and off the pitch, and was coming back to play after a lengthy ban. He does not suffer fools gladly, and is extremely obsessive-compulsive. His wife Chelsea soon can't put up with him any more, which leads Jaws to some extreme actions.

The role of an unhinged character is always difficult to carry off, but as Jaws comes to terms with his marriage break-up, finally ending up as caretaker manager of Harchester and shouldering the responsibility that this entails, Philip Brodie rises to the challenge impeccably.

A native of Canterbury in Kent, Philip trained at Dartington College, Devon, qualifying with an Honours Degree in Theatre. His television appearances include Jaak in My Family (episode "Sixty Feet Under"), Robbie in a Tom Clegg-directed episode of Adventure Inc ("The Search For Arthur"), a Paramedic in Absolutely Fabulous, a reporter in My Hero, and Bruce Reynolds in Days That Shook The World ("The Great Train Robbery").

He also was also one of the performers in Mike Agnew’s Sack Race for the BBC in 2004, which saw Joseph Glavey and Laura Solon starting new jobs with the challenge to get sacked as near to 3.00pm on their first day as possible. Hidden cameras follow their progress. He was also involved in the pilots for Shoreditch Tw*t and Semi-Detatched. Philip will shortly be seen in There’s a German on my Sunbed, a series of six half hour comedies for ITV1, and as Colin Kay in Broken News, a half hour comedy series due in the Autumn on BBC2.

Theatre credits include "Waiting For Godot", "Bouncers", "Spooks", "Up 'n' Under", "Bandits", "Polar Bears", "The Legendary Polowski Murders", "Muscle", "West", and "Taylor Made Love".

Philip also featured in Simon Messingham’s short, "The Truth Behind The Facts". In his spare time, Philip writes and performs comedy.

We were delighted that Philip agreed to join us for the Cult TV Festival 2005.

 

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