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Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Tabatha in T-Bag and Jean in Budgie joined us at Cult TV 2007 courtesy of Fantom Films ...


Georgina Hale is am iconic actress, having appeared in numerous films including many directed by Ken Russell ("Mahler" and "The Devils", as well as in-joke cameos in "Lisztomania" and "Valentino"). Add to these her performance in the Twiggy musical "The Boyfriend" (alongside Glenda Jackson) and her reputation for superb performances was sealed.

She first came to national recognition in the TV series Budgie, playing the leading role of Jean, alongside Adam Faith’s title character. Before that, her TV career began with a small part in a BBC Wednesday Play in 1966, “Way Off Beat”, which led on to guest roles in such series as Special Branch, Public Eye, Detective, Virgin of the Secret Service and Menace.

Other subsequent TV series appearances have included the starring role of Tabatha Bag in T-Bag, Daisy K in the 1988 Doctor Who story “The Happiness Patrol”, plus The Protectors, One Foot In The Grave, Upstairs, Downstairs, Yes, Honestly, Minder, Hammer House of Horror, Murder Most Horrid, Boon, The Lady Killers, Casualty, The Detectives, The Bill, Murder Investigation Team, Emmerdale, and the 1976 TV movie “Voyage of the Damned”.

Georgina won the BAFTA for Outstanding Newcomer for her role as Alma Mahler in Ken Russell’s "Mahler" in 1975. Other films during her career include "Sweeney 2" (1978), "The World is Full of Married Men" (1979), "The Watcher In The Woods" (1980), "McVicar" (1980), "Castaway" (1986), "Beyond Bedlam" (1993), "Preaching to the Perverted" (1997), "Photo Finish" (2003), and Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont" (2005).

The film “Butley” (1976), was written by Simon Gray, and Georgina continued her connection with this writer, performing in many of his stage plays, which were filmed and shown on TV, such as "Only Make Believe", "Electra", "Plaintiffs And Defendants", "Two Sundays" and "The Seagull".

She has had many theatre roles over the years, many of them for the Glasgow Citizens Company such as "Mourning Becomes Electra" (1991), "The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore" (1994), "Britannicus" (2002) and "The Cherry Orchard" (2002). Other plays include "Life Support" (1997, The Aldwych, London), "The Guardsman" (2000, National Tour) and "Semi-Monde" (2001, The Lyric Theatre, London).

Georgina appeared at the Cult TV Festival Weekender 2007 courtesy of Fantom Films, to celebrate the release of their T-Bag Reunion DVD.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Researcher and writer ...


Gareth Owen graduated from Bangor University in 1994 with a Honours Degree in Applied Physics. He wondered what he might do ... perhaps some top job in nuclear research, or become an academic postulating mind boggling theories. But no, instead he took the next logical step and entered the film industry. Doesn't everyone?

After organising British Film Day in April 1994 at Pinewood, within two months of graduation the studio was to become his new home from home.

He set up a small production company, and served as Executive Producer on acclaimed comedy (i.e., no one ever saw it) A Fistful Of Fingers. He has since found greater success in writing. In 2000 his official history of Pinewood Studios, The Pinewood Story, was published. It was swiftly followed by a biography of special effects genius Albert J Luxford The Gimmick Man, and Roger Moore's career biography, fittingly entitled Roger Moore: His Films And Career. A couple of other projects are underway, along with writing for industry periodical British Film & TV Production Magazine.

He considers himself an expert on all things James Bond and can bore for England on British comedy films.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

The principal female voice artiste in Captain Scarlet, presenter of Finding Out and co-star of The District Nurse...


Liz Morgan was the principal female voice artist for Captain Scarlet and The Mysterons, lending her vocal talents to the French ‘Destiny Angel’ and resident Sloane ‘Rhapsody Angel’, as well as ‘Harmony Angel’ in early stories, before Lian Shin took on the role a dozen episodes into production. Liz also voiced Dorina Cordova in the Joe 90 episode “Viva Cordova”.

At the time of the production of Captain Scarlet, Liz was the presenter of ITV schools programme Finding Out. She starred in The Old Devils for BBC Wales, was District Nurse Joanna in two seasons of ITV’s We Are Seven, Mrs Prosser-Davies in The District Nurse, and Joyce in the LWT comedy The Two of Us.

Other guest roles include Public Eye, The Wednesday Play, Dad’s Army, The Dick Emery Show, Dixon of Dock Green, Softly Softly, The Befrienders, Are You Being Served?, Terry and June, Angels, Fair Ground, Maybury, Mapp & Lucia, and Hetty Wainthropp Investigates.

Other television productions include the TV movie “Headhunters” and the mini series Ransom For A Pretty Girl and To Have And To Hold.

Liz appeared in a story from The Magnificent Six and a Half – “A Good Deed In Time”, a children’s cinema series from Harry Booth (who would go on to use some of the cast and the same style of production for Here Come The Double Deckers!), as well as “Ballet Shoes” alongside Angela Thorne and Barbara Lott, and appeared briefly as Christina in “Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed”.

Liz continues to take on various roles, including radio comedy and dramas, theatre and TV, including new animations Captain Sabertooth, and Snow Children.

Liz was born in Llanelli and has performed at the National Theatre and provincial venues, notably the Sherman Theatre Cardiff and Theatre Clwyd, plus several tours in the USA with her own one-woman plays. She has worked extensively in radio, particularly with the BBC Radio Drama Company, and recorded “Under Milk Wood” with Sir Anthony Hopkins. Recently she played Caitlin in a new play about Dylan Thomas at the Dylan Thomas Festival in Swansea.

She has written 26 performed plays for BBC Radio 4, several short stories and four television plays, and wrote and appeared in the 1994 sit-com pilot Sisters Three. A regular contributor to magazines and newspapers, she is now working on a sequel to her book, “Can We Afford The Bidet?” (Queen Anne Press), a guide to setting up a house in France. Her first novel “The Girl On The Promenade”, was published in 2003.

A devoted Francophile, she spends half the year at her home in the South of France, easily recognisable by the Welsh flag 'Y Ddraig Goch', which flutters from the balcony.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Lofty in It Ain't Half Hot, Mum ...


Don Estelle was born in Manchester, and spent his early years there until, during World War II, he was evacuated to Darwen, near Blackburn, Lancashire. It was here that the young Don found his voice as a boy soprano at Holy Trinity Church (known today as St Peter's, Darwen). He was lucky enough to have the guidance and tuition of the prominent church musician, Sydney Nicholson.

The end of the war found Don back in Manchester, where he continued his valuable church experience at St Mary's Church, Crumpsall. The choir master and organist Mr Middleton continued Sydney Nicholson's sterling work by helping Don to maintain his musical studies which were given a further boost when he met Mrs Vaughan-Williams, a relative of the great composer, who taught him voice training for some years. This solid basis inspired the confidence required for Don to continue with an artistic career.

His first stage experience was with a local charity group, The Manchester Kentucky Minstrels. This led to a solo career on the North of England Club circuit - a renowned tough circuit for any aspiring artiste - during which time he met Windsor Davies. They teamed up to together with a double act, and played all the top clubs and theatres thoughout the UK for the next four years.

Don's short physical stature was to deny him the lead in romantic roles. Thus, he turned to comedy as a way to have his talent as a singer noticed. He was fortunate to meet Arthur Lowe at Granada TV who suggested he contact David Croft, the producer of the BBC's Dad's Army. Don was asked to play a Pickford's removal man delivering a 13 pounder naval gun to the Platoon, and from there the comedy career had started. When David Croft and Jimmy Perry went on to develop the series It Ain't Half Hot Mum their natural choice for the role of Gunner "Lofty" Sugden was Don Estelle.

The programme ran for eight years and brought the release, by EMI, of a cast album of the show. The ensuing single 'Whispering Grass', featuring Don and Windsor Davies soared to Number 1 in the BBC charts and remained in the hit parade for three months. To date it has sold well over one million copies. Don and Windsor's album Sing Lofty, also on the EMI label, sold over 80,000 copies and made the top ten, re-released on the 'Music for Pleasure' label it has sold a further 250,000 copies making it one of EMI's top twenty selling regular albums.

Never an artiste to rest on his laurels he continued to perform regularly around the world, from the UK to New Zealand, Australia and beyond. In 1999 he launched his autobiography 'Thoughts of a Gemini,' and started another recording venture, a reworking on CD of the classic Laurel and Hardy movie song 'Trail of the Lonesome Pine' featuring Rochdale's very own Liberal personality Sir Cyril Smith. TV audiences also saw Don the actor in his cameo role in the award winning series The League of Gentlemen.

Don died in August 2003, aged 70. He had been a guest, and star of the cabaret, at Cult TV 2002. Further information about him can be found at his website www.donestelle.co.uk


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

The actor behind Starbuck and Face, and a guest at Cult TV 2002...


Dirk Benedict was born on 1st March 1945, in Helena, Montana, Dirk Niewoehner grew up in White Sulphur Springs. With no cinemas or television, he learnt to hunt, fish and enjoy sport, particularly American football. He was elected to the All-State Football team in his senior year at High School, in addition to having his own Dixieland Dance band (he played the trombone).

Gaining a football scholarship to Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, he got acting bug by accident. He was dared by his friends to audition for the spring musical Showboat and landed the lead role, Gaylord Ravenal. He fell in love with the stage and, once he graduated with a degree in music, decided to pursue an acting career. He underwent a two year course at Meadowbrook Theatre in Detroit, under John Fernald, who had been the Principal at RADA for 15 years. As soon as he finished the course, he was offered a job in Fernald's Repertory Company, and the next few years were taken up with various Repertory gigs, filling in with other plays and musicals when he was between seasons.

Dirk's stage career took him to New York and inevitably Broadway. Shortly after arriving he landed a role in Abelard and Heloise, playing opposite Keith Michel and Diana Rigg. He also played the lead in Butterflies Are Free, with the late Gloria Swanson playing his mother. Their mother/son relationship developed off the stage too, and Ms Swanson shared her dietary secrets for health and long life with him.

Once Butterflies Are Free finished on Broadway, Dirk accepted an offer to do the play in Hawaii, with Barbara Rush. Whilst there, he had a guest role in Hawaii Five-O - his first TV role. Shortly afterwards he was given the role of Gil Foley, the lead in Aaron Spelling's Chopper One, which was cancelled after one season.

He then left the acting profession for nearly three years. During this time he fought his own private battle, with prostate cancer. He treated this with a macrobiotic diet, a regime that he still follows to this day.

On his return to acting, he toured the East Coast in Li'l Abner with Lucy Arnaz, and in 1978 Glen Larson offered him the starring role of Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica. This propelled him into the spotlight and from there he progressed to his other well-known role, Templeton "The Faceman" Peck in The A Team, which ran from 1983-87.

Dirk has had several guest appearances on television, including, Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense, Murder, She Wrote, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Charlie's Angels, Baywatch, The Love Boat, "mazing Stories, Walker - Texas Ranger and Hotel, to name but a few.

His film career started in 1972 with Georgia, Georgia, where he starred alongside the late Diana Sands. His next film was a psycho-thriller, SSSSS, in which he was turned into a king cobra. He followed this, in 1974, with W, in which he had a starring role opposite Twiggy, in her first American film. Since then, he has starred in numerous films including, Alaska, Shadow Force, Underground Aces, Trenchcoat in Paradise, Blue Tornadoes, Abduction of Innocence, Scruples, Mark of the Devil, and Zork, Grand Inquisitor. He also directed Christina's Dream (1994).

In addition to acting and directing, Dirk is a renowned author. His first book, Confessions of a Kamikaze Cowboy, published in 1991, chronicles his journey from Montana to Hollywood, including his fight with cancer. His second book And Then We Went Fishing is the true story of becoming, and losing, a Father. His third book, Montana Memoirs: Notes from a Dangerous Wordsmith, will be a collection of short stories covering his childhood in Montana. He has also written two original stage plays, Puppy Dog Tales and Acting Becomes Her, as well as several screenplays. He has directed his own screenplay, in Cahoots.

Dirk lives in Montana with his two sons, George and Roland, and he maintains that the greatest role he has ever played is that of "Dad".

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Programme consultant and writer ...


Spending his formative years working in a variety of odd jobs to gather the varied experiences essential to a creative writer, since 1979 Dick Fiddy has devoted his professional career to television.

As a researcher and archivist he was responsible for the Channel 4 specials The A to Z of TV and 1001 Nights of TV and was a consultant and writer for the 13-part series TV Heaven.

Contributing sketches to Not the Nine O’Clock News, and Spitting Image, he was one of four writers on the Channel 4 sitcom Little Armadillos. In partnership with Mark Wallington he created The Ballad of Johnny Vanguard and the six-part All Night Long.

After writing and developing an audio/visual history of British television for the BFI’s Museum of the Moving Image he has been a consultant programmer for the National Film Theatre, collaborating on their seasons of classic film and television.

One of the founders of Primetime: The Television Magazine, Dick has written numerous books including So You’re the Famous Simon Templar, Television: An Introductory Guide to its History, and Missing, Believed Wiped which details the programmes missing from British television archives.

He is currently writing a book about Television in the 1960s.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Victoria Waterfield from Doctor Who and Norma Baker from Danger UXB ...


A companion to Patrick Troughton’s Doctor from 1967 to 1968, Deborah had set her sights on becoming a dentist but turned to stage school instead, only to leave after three weeks, unhappy with what she was being taught.

Born into a theatrical family, her first onscreen role was in the William Tell episode “The Spider”, and from 1957 to 1958 she played Sally, the niece of the invisible Peter Brady in HG Wells’ Invisible Man. She later landed the title role in the 1965 BBC Wednesday play “Alice”, which brought her to the attention of Doctor Who producer Innes Lloyd - recognition which would eventually lead to the role of Victoria Waterfield.

Deborah had originally auditioned for the part of Polly a year earlier but lost out to Anneke Wills. After the forthright and extrovert Polly, Victoria was designed to be the classic Victorian-style heroine; innocent and scared witless of just abut everything that moved, relying of the Doctor and Frazer Hines’ Jamie for protection. She first appeared in “The Evil of The Daleks”, and after her mortally wounded father asks The Doctor to take care of her, joined in his adventures until “Fury from the Deep” where her trademark scream was effective in killing the parasitic seaweed creatures.

Deborah made a brief appearance in “Dimensions in Time”, paired with Jon Pertwee, and returned to play Victoria in “Downtime”, Reeltime Pictures’ 1995 direct-to-video drama, starring alongside Nicholas Courtney, Elisabeth Sladen and her actor-father Jack Watling, who she had also played the role with in “The Abominable Snowmen” and “The Web of Fear”.

Other television roles have included The Power Game (“Later Via Rome”), Out of the Unknown, The Newcomers, Arthur of the Britons, Lillie, Danger UXB, Rising Damp, Accident and Doctor in Charge, while her film work includes “Take Me High” with Cliff Richard and “That’ll Be the Day” with David Essex.

Deborah has also had a distinguished career on the stage as well - her most recent theatre credits range from playing Mrs Alving in Ibsen’s “Ghosts”, to Beverly in “Abigail’s Party”.

Deborah last joined us for a Cult TV Festival in 1997, and we were delighted that she agreed to return for our final live event in 2007. She appeared courtesy of Fantom Films.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

We profile the creator of Dad's Army ...


Born in Poole, Dorset to a theatrical family he was educated at Arnold House, St John’s Wood; Durleston Court, Swanage; and Rugby School. During World War II he served in The Royal Artillery and Dorset Regiment in North Africa, India and Singapore. He was on Montgomery’s staff at the War Office, and eventually rose to the rank of Major.

After the war he appeared in Repertory theatre and a West End Musical. In 1952 he collaborated with Ian Carmichael and Ted Kavenagh on a new TV series, and commenced a partnership with Cyril Ornadel writing the music and lyrics for the Ciceley Courtnedge musical “Star MakerE He wrote a number of shows for the London Palladium and many light entertainment spectaculars for the BBC.

In 1954 he joined Rediffusion Television as Head of Light Entertainment Script Department. In 1959 he assisted with the setting up of Tyne Tees Television. He then joined the BBC and produced and directed such programmes as The Benny Hill Show, The Dick Emery Show, Hugh and I, Beggar My Neighbour, Steptoe and Son, Till Death Us Do Part, Tales of Lazy Acre and Up Pompeii.

He then started situation comedy writing with co-author Jimmy Perry, commencing with the legendary Dad’s Army, followed by It Ain’t Half Hot Mum and Hi De Hi. With Jeremy Lloyd he wrote Are You Being Served, Come Back Mrs Noah and Oh Happy Band. As well as writing he also produced and directed all of the above.

In 1982 he co-wrote, again with Jeremy Lloyd, and produced Allo Allo. This ran for some ninety episodes and also had a record-breaking theatre run at The Prince of Wales Theatre and the London Palladium. You Rang M’Lord followed, co-written with Jimmy Perry, which pioneered the 50 minute situation comedy. Most recently David co-wrote Oh Doctor Beeching with Richard Spendlove.

David has also produced and directed television in Australia for Channel 7 and Los Angeles for CBS and Paramount. In 1978 he was awarded the O.B.E. for services to television and in 1982 the Desmond Davies award for his outstanding contribution to the industry.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Red Dwarf's Cat creates a song and dance ...


If you have ever wondered what would happen to your moggy if it was left to evolve on a spaceship for three million years, then Cat, played by Danny John-Jules in Red Dwarf, supplies the answer.

Supremely cool but ever-so vain, Danny also played Cat’s highly memorable and completely opposite alter-ego in the episode "Back to Reality", Dwaine Dibbly.

Danny has been busy recently on TV, playing Ed Ross in the BBC sit-com The Crouches, Milton Wordsworth, a member of a family of library-inhabiting magicians in The Story Makers, and the role of Leon in Casualty.

For the big screen he played Asad in Blade II, and the part of Paul in the acclaimed short film Sleep.

Other roles over the years include Barrington in Maid Marian and her Merry Men, Byron Lucifer in "The Living Stones", a story from the 1990s version of The Tomorrow People, an episode of The Bill, and the part of Barfly Jack in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. You can also see him as one of the partygoers in the 1991 movie London Kills Me.

As a boy, he appeared as an extra in the hard-hitting drama Scum. His singing and dancing career includes appearances on The Hot Shoe Show, as well as the West End musicals Cats, Starlight Express and Soul Train. He toured America with Wham, was a Doo-Wop Street Singer at a bus stop in the 1986 version of Little Shop of Horrors, and a voice of two of the Fireys in Labyrinth. He also sang backing vocals on "Chilly Down", one of the David Bowie tracks on the Labyrinth soundtrack.

Danny recorded a CD single of "Tongue-Tied", a song from the Red Dwarf series, which was credited to The Cat, and reached the Top 20 in 1995. It also features his rendition of the theme to the series.

Danny's nephew, Alexander John Jules, played Lister as a baby in the “Ouroboros” episode of Red Dwarf.


Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Babylon 5, Relic Hunter, NYPD Blue, Claudia's very versatile ...


Claudia Christian is most famous to Cult TV appreciators as Commander Susan Ivanova in Babylon 5.

An actress, author, musician, singer and most recently a director ("Heartbreak Cafe"), she continues to expand her horizons. She's recently been seen on E4's Freaks and Geeks as 'Gloria Haverchuck', and voiced 'Helga Sinclair' in the animated smash hit movie Atlantis. She's also featured in recent episodes of Relic Hunter and NYPD Blue. Claudia has also been a series regular in BERRENGERS (as 'Melody Hughes'), and BLACKE'S MAGIC (as 'Laurie'). She has guest-starred on a huge selection of TV series, including "Hunter", "The A Team", "Dallas", "T J Hooker", "Falcon Crest", "Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer", "Riptide", "Jake and The Fatman", "It's Garry Shandling's Show", "Quantum Leap", "Matlock", "Murder, She Wrote", "L. A. Law", "Dark Justice", "Space Rangers", "Columbo", "Kelly Kelly", "Webster", "The Highwayman", "Total Security" and "Highlander".

Big screen roles include "Hexed", "Maniac Cop 2", "The Hidden", "Mad About You", "A Gnome Named Gnorm", "Never on Tuesday", "Snide and Prejudice", "Love and Sex", "True Rights", "Substiture 3", "Running Home", "LAncelot Guardian of Time", "Thick & Thin", "Strays", "The Dark Backward", "The Haunting of Hell House", and the soon to be released "Half Past Dead".

One of Claudia's many passions is music. She wrote both the lyrics and the music for her first CD, "Taboo", which she co-produced with Michael Jay (of Celine Dion fame). She has produced and sings on two additional albums, "Claudia Squared" and the jazz and blues orientated "Trying to Forget". Her long awaited fourth CD, "Once Upon a Time", has her working again with her "Babylon 5" co-star Bill Mumy, and recent winners of the John Lennon Song writing award, Share and Bam Ross. Always expanding her musical horizons, she recently recorded the soundtrack for the Sci-Fi Musical "Area 51".

As an author, Claudia has written a series of children's books entitled "The Misadventures of Miss Emma Bradford".

Always one to explore new technology, Claudia stars in the Internet series "Love Bytes" (which just been picked up by ilive.com), a sit-com about a dating service that actually gets viewers dates. Her voice can also be heard as the character "DeWinter" in Westwood Studio's live-action internet on line game entitled "Earth and Beyond", and she's the lead voice in "The Summoner 2" for PlayStation. Claudia narrated the five part mini series for VH-1 titled "Below the Waist: Men, Women and Music", and was hand-picked by Jaguar as the voice to represent their range of cars. She recently starred in the offbeat comedy Starhyke.


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