Award Nomination For Radio Play

The Dad Who Fell Onto A Shortlist…

The Dad Who Fell To Earth has been nominated for a prestigious BBC Audio Drama Award. It made the initial shortlist of six, which was to be boiled down to three on January 5th 2016. Rather delightfully, it stayed on, alongside the acclaimed Cabin Pressure by John Finnemore and In And Out Of The Kitchen by Justin Edwards who is an old friend from university days. So it’s stiff competition but also splendid, flattering company to be in.

The ceremony is on January 31st at Broadcasting House and will be presented by Lenny Henry. I have everything crossed, which is going to make a call of nature somewhat more difficult to answer than usual.

FRANCES PIDGEON RIP – actress and Lennie Mayne’s widow dies.

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Frances Pidgeon photographed by Ken Russell in 1956, the year she married Doctor Who director Lennie Mayne (© Topfoto)

The actress Frances Pidgeon who appeared twice in Doctor Who has died at the age of 84. Her first role was an uncredited one, as the non speaking handmaiden of Queen Thalira in The Monster Of Peladon (1974). Her second role was more substantial, as Miss Jackson, the assistant to Professor Watkins in The Hand Of Fear (1976). The uniting factor of these two stories was director Lennie Mayne, to whom Pigeon was married until he was lost at sea in an accident in 1977.

Born in Epsom in May 1931, the tall, athletic and beautiful Pidgeon was a ballerina and dancer in musicals : an early appearance was in 1947-48 in Alice In Wonderland at the Shakespeare Memorial theatre (later the Royal Shakespeare Company) at Stratford-Upon-Avon. Mayne was an Australian who also began his career as a dancer and the pair worked together on stage, notably in 364 performances of Cole Porter’s musical Can-Can at the Coliseum in the West End in 1954/55. They married in 1956 and had twin girls in 1964.

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Pidgeon demonstrates an “Alternative Use For A Hip Bath” in another of Russell’s experiments in still photography (© Topfoto).

In 1956 she was picked by Ken Russell to be the subject of various photographs he took which showcased her beauty and married it with surrealistic props – in one her bare legs emerge from beneath a tin hip bath, in another she wears a lampshade as a skirt. She and Russell had danced together at the London Theatre Ballet and hung out together at the Troubadour coffee bar.

On screen she danced in Love From Judy (1953), many episodes of On The Bright Side (1959) with Stanley Baxter and Betty Marsden, This Is Bobby Darin (1959), Die Kleinste Show Der Welt (1960), Up Jumped A Swagman (1963)  Were Those Days (1969) and and episode of Omnibus about the waltz (1969). She also choreographed a sequence for an episode of Are You Being Served? (1976) and an Alan Plater penned Play Of The Week in 1978 called Night People (1978).

She was one of the supporting ensemble in the Mike Yarwood and Lulu vehicle, the series Three Of A Kind (1967) and gradually began to take small roles on television, often in productions directed by her husband such as Doomwatch (1971/72) and The Brothers (1975).

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Pidgeon as Miss Jackson in Doctor Who’s The Hand Of Fear.

There is no particular of nepotism here because Mayne – a universally adored figure – surrounded himself by people he knew when he was working, whether he was married to them or not. The number of productions in which Pidgeon and Mayne’s names also intersect with those of Denys Palmer, Rex and Pat Robinson (Patricia Prior) or Laurie Webb (all of whom appeared in Mayne’s The Three Doctors) are numerous and comprised a mutually supportive and respectful unit of artists and friends. The Robinsons and the Webbs lived very close to Mayne family as well and helped to provide a support network for Pidgeon after Mayne’s tragic death.

She had been in ill health for some time and passed away earlier this month. The twins survive her.

FRANCES PIDGEON 1931-2016

Who’s Round 151

WHO’S ROUND 151

A new podcast… at last!

Geoffrey Beevers-2The latest Who’s Round was actually conducted at the request of the interviewee. He has a special charity he would like to make you aware of. He has a heartfelt and moving story and highlights something most of us know nothing about but some of us could help with : and not necessarily with cash. Go to The Anthony Nolan Trust to find out more.

When you’ve done that have a listen to this interview which runs from Pertwee to Baker and has first hand insight into what it is like to be an iconic villain AND a much loved companion. And there’s a charming account of a career that has enjoyed an extra blossoming relatively late and takes us all the way to Broadway but always with wry humour and self deprecation.

Enjoy.

Thanks to Sue Cowley for setting up the interview.

 

Who’s Round 150!!!

WHO’S ROUND HITS A LANDMARK

RTDIt’s actually passed the landmark as I type this but I couldn’t not have a mention on my blog that we’ve arrived at edition 150 of my podcast of interviews with Doctor Who luminaries . It’s the last of my chats with the marvel that is Russell T Davies and, in a nice piece of tidiness  the final bit of footage that I recorded in 2013 to be released. I am so pleased that people have enjoyed listening to these chats with Mr Davies as much as I did meeting the great man. We had some fabulous old gossip off mic that will stay with me till the day I die but I still think we get some pretty candid chat and all of the trademark RTD bonhomie and insight. I gave Big Finish a load of bumph so that they could do a nice feature on their website so forgive me if I steal it back and post it here because – having missed acknowledging this landmark when it happened because I’m crazy busy – I obviously need to be getting on with things. Not least plugging number 151 , but that’s for another post …

The Big Finish Website reports: “In 2013 Toby began a celebration of fifty years of Doctor Who, with the momentous task of interviewing someone from every single Doctor Who story.

Feeling Doctors or companions are a bit too easy, he travels the country meeting legends of the show’s history both in front of and behind the camera, and chats to them about both Doctor Who itself and the lives his interview subjects have led since (and, indeed, before).

These interviews are shared as podcasts from the Big Finish website, which you can download or stream here, or subscribe to on iTunes. All episodes are free, so if you’ve enjoyed Toby’s chat, all he asks is that you give a donation to a charity nominated by the interview subject.

Now, 150 podcasts later, Toby is pleased to be releasing his final interview from his initial 2013 marathon – the seventh and final part of his in-depth interview with former Executive Producer Russell T Davies. And while there are still many more interviews recorded (and more to be recorded!), we thought it was right to take this chance to commemorate Toby’s journey so far. Here are a few words from the man himself:

It’s quite funny that the last one is number 150. It’s almost as if I had a plan. I never have a plan. And if I do it never works out how I’d imagined. When John Keeffe (whom I had never met at this point) challenged me on Twitter to “interview everyone from Doctor Who” to celebrate the 50th year and I suggested instead that I get a first hand anecdote from every story I thought I’d be able to call in a few favours from the Frazer Hineses and Katy Mannings of this world and do it that way. Only when I chatted to the brilliant Kevin McNally did I think that maybe this could be of interest beyond Doctor Who. The internet helped of course, with the likes of Lisa Bowerman opening her Big Book of Actors’ Contacts and Jim Bradshaw from BAFTA making overtures to members and giving me a bit of kudos by association. Suddenly I found myself timetabling in two or three interviews a day – fitting then into my travels around the country performing stand-up comedy, writing radio plays and getting divorced.

150 podcasts later and I’ve interviewed boom operators, Voord, make-up ladies and leading actors. The biggest hit has been the Russell T Davies interview so it’s only fitting that he headlines the climax of the 2013 interviews. I actually thought that getting him was a bit of a cheat: he practically knocked off the whole of the new series for me in one go! I also thought that because he was such a game contributor to Doctor Who Confidential that people might take him for granted a bit. Wrong! The editions with him have been hugely popular and of course he is a witty and candid and engaging subject and I was so lucky to have a whole day with him. I think it was the only interview he gave about Doctor Who in 2013 and, most importantly, his charity (The Terence Higgins Trust) actually contacted him to say that there’d been an upsurge in people making donations : people who all cited the Who’s Round interview as the reason for their pledge. So thanks listeners: I’m glad that people pay attention and oblige the entirely optional charitable element of the podcast.

I could have ended it here, but there was the odd person whom I had tried to secure in 2013 who for whatever reason hadn’t worked out. So I squeezed them in. And then I found other people. And so it went on. Plus, when Capaldi’s first season aired it turned out that I knew someone involved with every episode! So I haven’t confined myself to the stories that go up to 2013 – there are interviews in the can that relate to the very latest ones. So to come there are a few writers and actors from 2014-15, some more classic series contributors and some people who have been involved with key elements of the show who’ve not been interviewed before. Indeed as I speak I am off to interview two people, both of whom were married to important people connected with the show, both of whom have voiced iconic monsters, and both of whom were on hand as a new Doctor was ushered in by an old one. And I’ve not seen or read interviews with either of them anywhere.

I hope Who’s Round will stand as an oral history of certain aspects of the entertainment industry over the past 50 odd years. I’ve spoken to people who knew Pinter, worked with Olivier, and met Ivor Novello. I’ve uncovered a fact about Meglos, drunk wine with Brian Croucher and Skyped people in New Zealand, India, Canada and the USA. I’ve been shown such generosity and hospitality from people from all walks of life who are all united by having crossed paths – sometimes very briefly – with Doctor Who. Highlights? Milton Johns and myself in obligatory collar and tie in the Garrick Club and him giving me a guided tour: every nook and cranny with its own anecdote elegantly rendered by Mr Johns; John Moreno’s extraordinary story about being court-martialled; Geoffrey Bayldon’s unprintable phone conversation with me. And so many more.

I guess that’s why I’m still doing it. I don’t get paid, in fact each one costs me, but I consider it to be a hobby which just happens to produce a product that hopefully entertains and informs others, and one testifies to the skill and dedication of the many very talented individuals who made a silly programme about a time traveling police box something rather special.’

Toby Hadoke’s Who’s Round #150 is available to download today – with Russell T Davies’ nominated charity being the Terrance Higgins Trust. Please take the time to donate if you have enjoyed an interview.”

Obituaries Round Up

OBITUARIES ROUND UP

Here is how it works – if I haven’t been asked to do an obituary of someone for a paper I will try to do a good one here. Even if I have been asked, I still might blog about them, but giving a more personal or Doctor Who flavoured slant to the piece. I was very flattered when I was asked by the Herald Scotland newspaper if they might use some of the work here and publish it in their pages. I was delighted to agree and so I tweaked my obituary of Kenneth Gilbert and it appeared in the hard copy of the paper last week. That version (different from the one on this blog) and can be found on the Herald’s website here.

This week I have been rather busy becoming a kind of literary Hayley Joel Osment: a sad duty, maybe sign of a morbid disposition, but I like to think I’m giving proper their due. And so I am pleased that Doctor Who Magazine have commissioned a lengthy piece from me about Derek Ware which will be appearing in a forthcoming issue. 

Anthony Read-2The Guardian asked me to write a piece on Anthony Read, Doctor Who writer and script editor, BBC producer, and prolific contributor of scripts to loads of memorable series. Also a very lovely fellow. He was interviewed for Who’s Round, briefly, and the results are here. His family, especially his daughter Emma, were incredible helpful and patient at a very difficult time but it has really helped the piece so my thanks to them.

He was never in Doctor Who and I didn’t know him so I am incredibly flattered to have been entrusted with the obituary of an actor I greatly admired, Anthony Valentine, and his piece came out in today’s paper and is online here. As a general note, Richard Bignell and Rob Fairclough are the sort of unsung heroes one goes to when one wants a bit of help with these things and they are always unfailingly and speedily on hand with assistance. Richard, for example, delves into his database at all hours of the day for the kind of information that is essential but often difficult to access. So thanks to them.

108693-2In related news, prolific Doctor Who extra Terence Denville, who had a pretty busy career as a character actor on stage and played small roles on TV (he received his only onscreen credit on Doctor Who as a Cyberman in The Invasion but was also an Ice Warrior in The Monster Of Peladon amongst other non-speaking bits) passed away in October.  Those of you fascinated by the political affiliations of minor Doctor Who actors may be interested to know that he stood for parliament for the National Front a few times. A friend who worked with him said that he had never mentioned it on the many times they had spent together in dressing rooms but there we go.

P1320684Finally, I was sad to find out about the death – aged 79 – of stuntman Roy Street who worked on a few Doctor Whos (Terror Of The Autons, The Curse Of Peladon, The Masque Of Mandragora) but whose impressive list of credits outshine Saturday teatime television and bestride the movie industry. I use “bestride” advisedly as he was an excellent rider and could steer two horses at once – standing with one foot on the saddle of each one and taking both pairs of reins. He could also be relied on to do driving and motorcycling and his impressive list of credits includes lots of James Bonds (including as recently as Skyfall), lots of Sharpes and comes right up to date with Avengers: Age Of Ultron.

His old buddy Derek Martin – Charlie Slater in Eastenders no less – told me: “He taught me riding, he taught me how to pull horses over. He was great. He went to Italy to film The Borgias to do his horse trick down a hill. Anyway, he got there and it turned out they wanted him to ride two horses who were shod, bear back, on cobbles. And – typical of Roy – he did it.

“Funny with Roy – whatever job he was on the first thing he’d ask about was “What about laundry money?”. Say it was even two grand a week he’d say “Does that include laundry money”. Laundry money! It’d only be about 7’6″ but he’d still want to know if it was included. Ha! He was a good man though, a good man.”

Thanks to Derek for taking time out of his busy schedule to share his stories with me.

Who’s Round 149

WHO’S ROUND 149

RTDI think I had planned to end the who run of releases of Toby Hadoke’s Who’s Round with the extremely popular Russell T Davies interviews but they have been in the can for nearly two years and the timings meant that if give them to you now then Mr Davies would take us all the way up to episode 150. I like things to fit together neatly as much as the average person who has colour coded charts assimilating the Virgin books into season 6b via various concurrent UNIT dating theories does, so I am quite happy about it all.

When he utters his last words to me at the end of next week’s, that will be the end of every sentence I recorded under the Who’s Round banner in 2013. Job done, every story covered – though with a question mark over Vincent and the Doctor and a slight worry that I forgot to cover The Sea Devils but then did so inadvertently (though this might just be an issue for me and my colour coded charts and the rest of you might well just be enjoying the interviews without having to make a list – you weirdos).

Anyway – remember that Mr Davies gave his time (so, so much of his time) for charity, so don’t forget to donate to The Terence Higgins Trust.

Episode 49 of Toby Hadoke’s Who’s Round is available,m for free from Big Finish, here.

And I would like to add a personal note of congratulations to Ian Atkins and Esther Simpson of the occasion of their wedding this week. Ian is the fellow who works very hard to get the episodes online and does all the technical stuff with great enthusiasm. Lots of love to both and here’s to years and years of happiness together!