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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

The young female star of Bless This House ...



Beginning her television career with guest roles in the anthology series Detective produced by Verity Lambert, and the ITC shows Strange Report and Man in a Suitcase, Sally Geeson is best known for her role as Sally Abbott in the ITV sitcom, Bless This House.

Created by Vince Powell and Harry Driver, Bless This House starred Sid James and Diana Coupland as Sid and Jean Abbott, trying to bridge the Generation Gap between themselves and their teenage children; Mike a work-shy liberal, played by Robin Stewart, and Sally, who embraced the principles of Free Love. With the addition of the neighbours, Trevor and Betty, the sitcom handled the standard comedy situations with gusto.

Produced and directed by William G. Stewart, now familiar as the presenter of the quiz Fifteen To One, Bless This House became one of the most popular sitcoms of the 1970s. Running for six series, the show also earned a film version directed by Carry On director Gerald Thomas with Terry Scott and June Whitfield as the Abbott's neighbours.

Sally began her film career in 1969 with The Oblong Box. An adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Premature Burial directed by Gordon Hessler, she appeared as Sally Baxter, maid to Christopher Lee's Doctor Neuhart and Vincent Price's Sir Julian Markham. The next year she played Sarah in Cry of the Banshee, also directed by Hessler and starring Price as the witch-hunter Lord Edward Whitman.

In What's Good for the Goose Sally starred as the free-spirited hippy, Nikki, who opens Norman Wisdom's timid assistant bank manager's eyes to the era of Free Love. She appeared as Jackie in Mr. Forbrush and the Penguins, starring John Hurt as a biologist who tries to impress a girl he has been chasing by studying a penguin colony in the Antarctic.

Sally also appeared as Lily in Carry On Abroad, set at the Spanish resort of Elsbels, and Debra in Carry On Girls in which a seaside town tries to boost its image by holding a beauty contest.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

The creator of Timeslip and the first producer of The Tomorrow People ...


Ruth is most fondly known for creating ITV’s first science fiction drama, Timeslip, while working for the ATV script department. She was also a script editor on the definitive The Adventures of Rupert Bear from John Read and Mary Turner, and on Tightrope, the series Spencer Banks did after Timeslip, which also starred John Savident. She also wrote the min-series Escape Into Night

This was followed in 1972 by a move to Thames Television, and producing the first four seasons of The Tomorrow People. She then produced the children's horror anthology series Shadows, which featured the likes of Jenny Agutter, Pauline Quirke, Russell Hunter, Sophie Ward, John Woodvine, Jacqueline Pearce, Clive Swift, Cassandra Harris and Donald Houston.

Other productions in her time at Thames include The Molly Wopsies with Phil Daniels, Warrior Queen with Sian Phillips and Nigel Hawthorne, and The Jukes of Piccadilly (also with Nigel Hawthorne).

Ruth moved on to producing adult drama for the BBC in the 1980s, taking the helm of many successful television dramas including Maybury, starring Patrick Stewart, Cockles with James Grout and Joan Sims, Late Starter with Peter Barkworth and Rowena Cooper, A Sort of Innocence with Cheryl Campbell and Kenneth Cranham, and Campaign with Penny Downie and Camille Coduri.

In the 1990s she was best known for producing the television dramas The Chief, starring Tim Piggott-Smith and Martin Shaw, and mini-series The Uninvited with Douglas Hodge and Leslie Grantham.

Her films include “Run of the Country” with Albert Finney, co-produced by Peter Yates and written by Shane Connaughton (of "My Left Foot" fame). She is currently developing a feature films entitled "Beautiful Enemy".

Ruth has recently returned to writing with her novel "Out of Time", published by The Muswell Press, and the audiobook adaption, read by Staten Eliot, is produced by Fantom Films.

Ruth Boswell appeared at the 2006 Cult TV Festival courtesy of Fantom Films.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Star of Doctor Who and Rainbow ...


Leaving school to tour England with the National Association of Boys Clubs' Travelling Theatre, Roy Skelton trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School before working for various repertory companies around the country.

While acting in the West End, Roy appeared on television as Lampwick in Pinocchio and the BBC's Music for You and Quick Before They Catch Us. After voicing Mr Growser in the puppet version of Toytown, he worked on Picture Book as the voice of Sossidge the Dog, Take a Chance on Me and Rubovian Legends.

Roy's association with Doctor Who began in 1966, as the voice of the Monoid in "The Ark" and the Cybermen in "The Tenth Planet". Though Roy would be called upon to voice the computer in "The Ice Warriors" and later "The Krotons", he made his mark as the voice of the Daleks. From the seven-part "The Evil of the Daleks" through to "Remembrance of the Daleks" in 1988, he worked with all seven Doctors.

In 1971 he eventually appeared in Doctor Who as Norton in "Colony in Space". In "Planet of the Daleks", as well as voicing the exterminating aliens he played one of the invisible Spiridons who only appeared when he died. Cast as James in "The Green Death", he also played Chedaki in "The Android Invasion", and the ancient King Rokon in "The Hand of Fear".

While working on Doctor Who, Roy was contacted by the producer of Rainbow. The actor who had voiced Zippy for the pilot decided not to continue with the character and Roy was asked to take over. Expecting the job to last no more than a couple of weeks, instead the role lasted for twenty years during which time he also voiced George, wrote over 100 scripts, and recorded "It's a Rainbow" in November 2000, a chart success, with a subsequent dance compilation album including an incredible version of Zippy and George's version of the Weather Girls hit "It's Raining Men"! He also played various roles in the spin-off, "Take A Chance".

After returning to the Daleks in Comic Relief's Doctor Who: The Curse of Fatal Death, Roy played Henry Swift, Balberith, and The Vauturm in BBCi's animated webcast "Ghosts of Albion".


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Heard but not seen as the Blake's 7 artificial intelligence ...



Beginning his career in weekly repertory on Hastings Pier, Peter Tuddenham entertained the troops during the Second World War as a member of the Army's "Stars in Battledress". Back home, he won a part in Ivor Novello's "The Dancing Years" and, following stints in West End revues and farces, worked with Noel Coward in "Ace of Clubs".

Finding his way into radio, Peter acted in the long-running series "Mrs Dale's Diary" and "Waggoner's Walk", numerous literary adaptations, and original dramas including the Blake's 7 radio drama, "The Sevenfold Crown".

On television, he was the voice of the computer in the Doctor Who adventure "The Ark in Space" and the alien Mandragora Helix in "The Masque of Mandragora", both starring Tom Baker as the Doctor. A decade later he returned to play the voice of Brain in Sylvester McCoy's first adventure, "Time and the Rani". Before that Peter famously voiced the artificial intelligence in Terry Nation's Blake's 7. Giving each computer a distinct personality, he played Zen aboard the Liberator, the testy Orac and the obsequious Slave aboard the spaceship Scorpio.

In person, he appeared as Jack Godfrey in The Nine Tailors, starring Ian Carmichael as Dorothy L Sayer's Lord Peter Wimsey, the Campion drama "The Case of the Late Pig", with Peter Davison as Albert Campion and Brian Glover as his manservant Magersfontein Lugg, and played the Priest in P D James' A Mind to Murder. He played Doctor Rendel in The Lost Boys, based on J M Barrie's relationship with the Llewelyn-Davies family, and was reunited with Paul Darrow in the psychological drama Maelstrom.

Along with guest roles in Nearest and Dearest starring Hylda Baker and Jimmy Jewel, Only Fools and Horses, and One Foot in the Grave, Peter appeared in The Onedin Line, Bergerac, two episodes of Tales of the Unexpected and The Bill.

An authority on East Anglian dialect, he helped the players with their Suffolk accents for the Glyndebourne Opera Albert Herring and regularly works as a dialect coach for Anglian TV. The subject of a MythMakers DVD from Reeltime Pictures, the interview with Peter is hosted by none other than Orac himself.

Peter died peacefully in 2007.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Michael's role of Vila was the only character seen in all 52 episodes of Blake's 7 ...


Michael Keating is responsible for one of the most major characters in the worlds of Cult TV. As the small-time thief Vila Restal, who placed self-preservation at the top of his agenda, Michael was the only actor to have starred in all 52 episodes of Blake’s 7.

Michael was born in 1947 in what is now known as North London, but in those distant halcyon days it was part of Middlesex. He grew up and went to school mainly in Potters Bar (except for a brief period as an immigrant in Australia in the 1950s). Potters Bar was then in Middlesex but is now in Hertfordshire. So, Michael's early years on this planet are a total confusion geographically.

Michael's first job, after leaving school in 1963, was as a mailing clerk for United Artists Film Corporation in Wardour Street, London. One of his duties was to take the telegrams to the Post Office in Soho, and it was during that period he took one to be sent to the United States to announce that The Beatles were to make their first film, which subsequently was called "A Hard Days Night". So, he was but a small cog in a very big wheel.

In 1964 Michael gained a place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, with help and encouragement from his late parents Gwen (Lyn) and Frank, to study drama for two years. After a very happy and sheltered time there, he began his first professional job at Nottingham Playhouse, under the directorship of the great classical actor John Neville (who played the eponymous hero in "Baron Munchausen", and the Well-Manicured Man in The X Files many years later). Michael spent two and a half years at Nottingham, and then set forth to work in many other repertory theatres up and down the United Kingdom.

Propriety prevents Michael from regaling you with the many tales of a mispent youth. Suffice to say that by the early 1970s he had reached London Town in search of fame and/or fortune. In 1972 the most important event occured in his life, his daughter Lisa was born. It was also that year that he first worked for the BBC in an episode of Doomwatch, "Enquiry", playing Stephen Grigg, under the direction of Pennant Roberts.

After more repertory theatre and a stint at The National Theatre, Pennant offered Michael the part of Goudry in the Doctor Who story "The Sun Makers" with Tom Baker as The Doctor. It was Pennant who was one of the first directors on a series called Blake's Seven, a series which Michael himself had some input into! He can't say he found much fortune with the BBC, but Michael considers himself rich in the many experiences and friendships that he gained as a result of being in Blake’s Seven.

Blake's Seven finished in the winter of 1981, and since then Michael has been involved, yet again, in repertory theatre and occasional appearances on TV. He even spent the year of 1985/86 in the West End in a play with music about Elvis Presley called "Are You Lonesome Tonight?", starring Martin Shaw as Elvis. Other productions have included "Charley’s Aunt", "Death of a Salesman", "A Christmas Carol", "Relatively Speaking", and "Dial 'M' for Murder".

Michael appeared in the 1995 Casualty episode "Bringing It All Back Home" with fellow Blake’s 7 star Gareth Thomas. Michael played a retired footballer. He then played Gareth Wingate in the 2000 episode "State of Shock". Michael has also guest starred in episodes of London’s Burning and Yes, Minister.

Michael has recently featured in audio dramas, playing Major Koth in the Big Finish Paul McGann Doctor Who story "The Twilight Kingdom", as well as starring as Mydas Mydason, the game show host turned agent, in the ongoing Soldiers of Love SF comedy. He can currently be seen making occasional appearances as the Vicar, Reverend Stevens, in Eastenders.

Since Blake’s Seven there have been many changes in Michael's life, one was reaching middle age quicker than he thought possible. In his forties, in between appearing in the theatre, he joined the Rambling Association, and it was through rambling that he met his partner, Sue, who he plans to marry if she'll have him! Now in his late fifties, and fitter than he has ever been, Michael and Sue lead walks with their group and enjoy life to the full.

Cult TV was delighted to have had Michael join us for our 2005 Festival.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

A member of The League of Gentlemen, Mark has also played in Doctor Who ...


Best known as one quarter of the comedy team The League of Gentlemen which started life on the London Fringe before transferring to radio, television and the stage, Mark Gatiss has also been heavily involved in post-television Doctor Who.

Along with penning several Doctor Who novels he has written and appeared in new audio adventures from Big Finish Productions as well as The Zero Imperative, The Ghosts of Winterborne, Unnatural Selection and The Devil of Winterborne for BBV Video Productions.

The interviewer in Bidding Adieu, a video documentary of Sylvester McCoy filming the Doctor Who television movie in Canada, in 1999 he appeared as The Doctor and various other characters in the specially recorded interstitial sequences for the BBC's Doctor Who Night.

As well as the multiple inhabitants of Royston Vasey in The League of Gentlemen, Mark has appeared in Spaced, Dr. Terrible's House of Horrible and In the Red.

He played the police inspector in Drop Dead, the first episode of the updated Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) starring Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer, and co-wrote with Jeremy Dyson, Two Can Play at That Game, the final episode of the second season.

In 2002 he appeared in The Cicerones, co-written and directed by Jeremy Dyson, provided voices for the animated Comic Relief film The Legend of the Lost Tribe, featuring Robbie the Reindeer, and has recently finished filming Sex Lives of the Potato Men.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Top flight costume designer for the BBC, ITC and others ...


Known for bringing her work in on budget and always giving good value, June Hudson has worked for the BBC as a costume designer on sitcoms, science fiction dramas and soap operas.

As a wardrobe supervisor she worked on Johnny Speight's comedy Till Death Us Do Part starring Warren Mitchell as the opinionated Alf Garnett. Rising to the position of costume designer, Ruth dressed Leonard Rossiter and the staff of Sunshine Desserts for David Nobbs' The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.

For Blake's 7, June followed producer David Maloney's instructions to create a look as colourful and spectacular as her budget would allow. Making costumes that suited the individual character's personalities, her designs subconsciously supported the series' Robin Hood theme. For Jacqueline Pearce's Servelan, June decided the character would always wear white, like Marilyn Monroe.

In 1978 June worked on Doctor Who after producer John Nathan-Turner decided to smarten up the long-running series' costuming which had become a hit-and-miss affair. Admiring June’s work, he requested she be assigned full time to Doctor Who.

Though the department head refused to agree to his request, she was allowed to alternate on the production with fellow costume designer Amy Roberts.

Working on such stylised shows, June worked closely with the make-up designers and sometimes the set designers to achieve the best results for the human characters and the aliens and monsters. One of her first tasks was to redesign Tom Baker's costume, originally been envisaged by James Acheson. Realising Baker's personality was tied up with the existing look, June decided to adapt the costume rather than create a wholly new outfit. Under her aegis, she introduced the deep burgundy overcoat and suggested the big collar incorporating the question marks.

Coming back down to earth once her stint on Doctor Who was over, June was the costume designer on the soap opera EastEnders when it launched in 1985. Most recently June redesigned Tom Baker's costume for the Radio Times cover celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Doctor Who.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

From The Avengers to Play Away, Julie Stevens is a familiar Cult TV face ...


Following the departure of Ian Hendry after the first year of The Avengers, three new companions were appointed to partner John Steed, who had now taken centre stage, before it was decided who would be the permanent replacement.

Although Honor Blackman's Cathy Gale would eventually take the coveted role, for six episodes Patrick Macnee was partnered with the platinum blonde night-club singer Venus Smith, played by Julie Stevens.

Best known as a children's television presenter, she hosted The Sunday Break, ABC Weekend Television's religious programme for teenagers, during the early 1960s and ITV's Sunday 'Family Hour' which featured the seven-part Pathfinders in Space and its two sequels, devised by The Avengers and Doctor Who creator Sydney Newman.

Between 1966 and 1979 Julie was a regular on Play School, which catered for the pre-school audience, and its companion show, Play Away from 1975 and 1979. In 1972 she played alongside Johnny Ball and Derek Griffiths in Cabbages and Kings, taking part in the historical comedy sketches the series was based around.

As an actress Julie appeared in episodes of Z Cars, Not For Women Only and The Dick Emery Show. For three years she played Rosemary Pilgrim in the ATV sitcom Girls About Town, and appeared in the cinema as Gloria, the slave girl, in Carry on Cleo.

Having spent many years as Harry Secombe's personal manager she recently returned to acting with an appearance in the hospital drama Holby City.


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.


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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