Category Archives: Doctor Who

I Know The Face But … (# 2 Ronald Pickup)

RONALD PICKUP

 

If I’d started writing something of this ilk ten years ago, I don’t think Pickup would have been included, but society at large seems able to recognise even our finest thespians with increasing infrequency these days. Despite not being huge theatregoers, my Mum and Grandad would both have been able to identify the likes of Victor Maddern, Cyril Shaps or Michael Bryant without pause. Nowadays our papers and screens seem to have less interest in fine character actors than reality stars, so I am choosing (for this edition of this semi-regular blog) to profile someone whose stature is such that his name is as well-known as his face, but to an increasingly smaller circle of people. This is no disrespect to him, but every disrespect to the coverage of arts and popular culture in this country. Pickup is one of the most respected actors of his generation, with a string of huge stage credits to his name (latterly playing Lucky to the Vladimir and Estragon of Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart). He first made a splash working his way up at the National Theatre in the late 1960s, including playing Rosalind in As You Like It. There’s an old fashioned poise and delicacy about Pickup – he is one of those actors whose merest flicker can suggest a chasm of suppressed emotion. He’s proved adaptable as well, mixing classical theatre, popular television and sitcom with equal skill.  A quite brilliant actor: leading man and character player, always lending class to anything he graces with his talent.

Five Pickup performances worth chasing down (a purely personal and not remotely definitive selection):

Prince Yakimov in Fortunes Of War:

Prince Yaki informs mighty character actors Vernon Dobtcheff and James Villiers that they'll have to wait their turn to be featured in I Know The Face But ...

Quite simply one of the greatest television performances I have ever seen. Yaki is at turns dishonest, snivelling, thoughtless and conniving, and yet he remains entirely loveable throughout Alan Plater’s adaptation of Olivia Manning’s Fortunes Of War (custom should dictate I mention the director James Cellan-Jones at this juncture as well, as his work is sublime). It may have given us an early sight of Branagh and Thompson in action, but the performance you remember is Pickup’s. Yaki has a dishevelled charm, an unkempt dignity and an ill-fitting English-toffness that betrays a man who has adopted the mores of the gentry with slightly more affectation than he should (he is a Russian émigré you see, who has learned his Britishisms by rote – slightly too well). This makes the character’s eccentricity genuine and amusing but offbeat and original. It’s a charming, delightful and rather moving performance, and I urge everyone who thinks they are a good actor to watch it, and then think again.

George Orwell in The Crystal Spirit – Orwell On Jura (not online or commercially available I’m afraid). When it was aired in 1985 this created a huge impression upon me. The sight of the consumptive Orwell on a landscape as bleak as both his prospects of a long life and his postulation of the future, is indelible. Alan Plater’s (again) piece vividly draws a picture of a creative talent both blighted and driven by illness, and showed that great masterpieces are wrought at a cost to their creators. Pickup, as ever, fizzes with intelligence and insight, whilst an innate decency washing through him at all times. He shows the human Orwell though: this is no tortured artist cliché, but a story of a man and the dignity of a great mind expressing its creativity to the very end. Orwell was difficult and ill but loved by his loyal friends and family, and in Pickup’s portrayal you can see why.

Fraser in The Worst Week Of My Life. One of our finest classical thesps being brilliant in a sitcom just emphasises how impossible it is to be pigeon-holed when you’re a proper actor. The Worst Week Of My Life is a rare thing: a brilliant television farce. If Geoffrey Whitehead’s terse father-in-law threatens to steal the show with a look, Pickup is on hand as the self-denying Uncle Frazer. He’s a tough, outdoors type, full of military stories and who definitely isn’t gay. And woe betide anyone suggests otherwise. He gets a consort in the shape of the fantastic Terence Hardiman in series two, and the character and situations get even funnier.

The Forger in Day Of The Jackal. It’s all too easy to forget that this veteran of the profession has been gainfully employed, consistently, for about forty years. He doesn’t just do Britishness and nobility, as this early turn as a slimy forger trying to outsmart Edward Fox shows. Pickup has excelled as real people (Orwell, yes, as well as Verdi and Einstein), and brings genuine class to aristocratic roles, but fine actors treat kings and paupers alike, and Pickup can create characters from scratch who are a million miles away from his actual personality.

The Physician in Doctor Who: The Reign Of Terror (the link is to a reconstruction, Pickup appears at 9 mins 31 seconds and it is his TV debut). I mention this only because it is an insignificant role in one episode of a not very well known Doctor Who story, and the episode he’s in doesn’t even exist anymore. Despite that, I suspect he gets more letters about it that he does about everything else he’s ever done put together. I don’t know if that makes me pleased that I’m a Doctor Who fan or ashamed, but I hope it doesn’t annoy the venerable Mr Pickup.

(Addendum: since I wrote this, I have met Mr Pickup and asked him about much of his work, and he was only too happy to talk about it all, including Doctor Who. The latter was his first job: he got it the week he graduated from drama school, and is therefore very grateful to it. What a gent).

 

Fell free to suggest other faces you’d like to get to know the names of.

I Know The Face But… (#1 Philip Madoc)

PHILIP MADOC

I was at Alexandra Palace the other night to see my stepson perform for Kaos, the signing choir. That’s not a misspelling of singing, they are a signing choir: they sing and sign at the same time (try typing that drunk). The performance was facilitated by the London Welsh Male Voice Choir, whose patron, who I was delighted to see taking his place at the end of our row, is Philip Madoc. Excited, I informed the rest of my party. None of them knew the name. So shocked was I at the whole scenario that as I reeled off credits, my addled brain forgot to mention soggy chips, not telling Pike and German U-Boat captains.

But it got me thinking. I love British character actors, and I forget sometimes how actors I could recite the CV of (unaccountably mislaid wranglings with The Home Guard notwithstanding), might not resonate with the great unwashed as much as they should. Some of our finest talents are prolific and versatile and in most of our favourite shows. So there’s going to be some corner of the internet that is forever theirs. Everyone knows who Amanda Holden is for goodness’ sake. So there’s no excuse not having space for Madoc in your brain. In the first of an occasional series, I Know The Face But… dedicates a few paragraphs and links to the works of some of this nation’s finest performers, starting with, of course,

PHILIP MADOC

He really should need no introduction. He’s been in everything, bringing with him a suppressed venom or quiet danger to a number of character parts. He is sometimes on the side of the angels, where his rich Welsh tones add gravitas and weight to professional men or moral crusaders. For decades, though, he really was your actor of choice on TV if you wanted a terse, simmering, edgy villain. Despite often being focused, and using menace through stillness, Madoc also allows his eyes to light with fire and his mouth to twitch with flickering amusement. Tiny nuances flitter across his countenance to suggest that despite his apparent coldness, he’s only flirting with sanity. Well known for his intellect and ability with languages, Tom Baker once claimed to have caught him reading a book in Latin. One of those actors incapable of doing anything other than lift his part off the page, here’s a barely adequate five credits to pique your interest or trip your memory. Links to clips may come later, but I only speak pidgin internet at the moment.

Your name will certainly go on my list of venerable character actors, Mr Madoc

Yes, The German U-Boat Captain in Dad’s Army. ‘Nuff said. Well, not quite ‘nuff, for as every great comedian (and I) will tell you, you need a good straight man, and Madoc quite rightly doesn’t send up Mainwaring’s Nazi nemesis, instead playing the steely eyed Hun with all the patronising menace he would have done in an actual war film. The results are rightly legendary, and have ensured Madoc a pension’s worth of repeat fees from clip shows.

Noel Bain in A Mind To Kill. Pretty impressive for an actor who was a well known face in the late 1960s to still be trusted enough for his ability and profile to play a lead role in a long running series in the next century. Madoc starred as Bain for 10 years, playing the old school copper getting used to modern police methods in a series filmed in both Welsh and English.

Four appearances in TV Doctor Who (plus one on film). Alright, I’m not going to limit my choices for this blog-series to that show, but to be fair, it is Doctor Who fans who generally celebrate fine actors. More so, certainly, than modern TV critics (whose job should presuppose some knowledge of the

"Look into my eyes, not around the eyes..."

medium). Would Sam Wollaston or Ally Ross be able to identify Madoc at fifty paces? I doubt it. Anyway, he’s incapable of a bad performance, but the silky menace of his purring War Lord in The War Games and his slenderest grip on sanity as the zealous scientist Solon on The Brain Of Morbius are two distinct but equally effective studies in villainy. They also show how important facial hair is to intergalactic crime.

Starring in the title role of The Life And Times Of David Lloyd George. An epic production of the kind the BBC excelled at, mixing fine scripts of historical events with experienced actors delivering good dialogue, they trusted the audience that that would be enough. It was, and more.

Sir Alec Guinness simply wasn't available

Magua in The Last Of The Mohicans. Long before Daniel Day Lewis was sleeping rough and eating bracken for his art, BBC TV adapted James Fenimore Cooper’s novel into 8 episodes. Native American actors were scarce in the UK, but no matter when you have a stony faced, wild eyed Welshman to ooze vitriol as the Huron Indian Chief determined to scalp the maidens in distress under the protection of frontiersman Hawkeye (Kenneth Ives) and  Mohican chief Chingachgook (an Emmy nominated John Abineri).

 

The above is a tip of an impressive iceberg, and one that would easily sink some of today’s supposedly titanic CVs. The internet is your friend should you want to find more. I had the honour of meeting Mr Madoc once. Mr Bacchus joined us too, and we discussed his contributions to British television in a most convivial manner. Legend.

For suggestions to other entries in this series, do Tweet me, and I shall do my best to oblige.

Blog Off

Warning: This blog contains a number of justifications for hypocrisy.

I’ve had this blog for ages, but only really updated it sporadically because to be perfectly honest, and despite the fact that I have chosen to earn my living standing in front of strangers, demanding their attention and craving their applause, there is something that makes me view attention seeking as somewhat distasteful. Doing stand-up may seem to be the anathema of this point of view, but the way I – as someone who has to spends hours plucking up the courage to send an unsolicited e-mail to someone I like or to phone an official body – see it is this: with stand-up, I have been given permission. There is no way I would prat about in front of a room full of people going “Me, me, me” just for the attention,  but the infrastructure of a comedy night is such that there is a stage and a microphone that people have chosen to pay money to look at and listen to. The people who have been invited to tell world class jokes (say, Gary Delaney), issue satirical barbs (say, Mark Thomas), or fume about trivial issues in a way which would be unacceptable in proper social situations (say, um, … me) have usually earned the right to get up there and do it. Usually through hard work, perseverance or talent, although occasionally through chronic lack of self-awareness, overweening arrogance and bewildering good fortune (say, err, … no, I’d better not say). Despite my job, I wouldn’t describe myself (or indeed, most comics) as massive show offs. Around my family dinner table I’m not especially keen on dominating a conversation and I find new social situations with unfamiliar people absolutely crippling. Give me a microphone and an obligation to fill the silence, and any urge to receive attention feels legitimised (but still has to be earned).

One of the things I’ve tried to talk about on stage recently is how dreadfully narcissistic we have become as a society. Self-expression without the need for social interaction to facilitate it has bred a generation of keyboard warriors and worriers. People go to forums to join with like-minded individuals to share ideas and spread the joy about their hobby, passion or favourite TV programme. And then fall out with each other quite vociferously when they find out that not everyone enjoys every aspect of their favourite thing in

A troll yesterday. Or the day before. Or maybe the day before that. Whatever day it was, he didn't have sex. And that includes tomorrow.

exactly the same way that they do. The rise of the internet troll has suddenly given worldwide exposure to the most kickable members of the human race. In the old days, if you wanted to be a mouthy prick you needed to be able to run fast or cultivate a powerful physique. These days you just need an e-mail account and no self-editor.

Twitter is the ultimate one way expression outlet, and with it comes a curious hierarchy that says everything about how it works. If I follow Mr X because he’s a famous comedian, I’m showing that I, Mr T (and why not?) admire him and want to read his jokes and opinions. The thing is, I’m also in his profession, so if he follows me he is conferring status and affirmation to me very publicly (his followers will think that if this comedian they really like, Mr X, follows this other comedian Mr T, then Mr T must be pretty good). If, on the other hand, he doesn’t follow me in return, he is accepting patronage but tacitly acknowledging that I am not in his league, or worthy of his attention. Similarly, if an up-and-coming comic (Mr Y) follows me, but I don’t choose to follow them, surely I’m saying “Yes, devour the wise yet pithy saws and modern instances I can conjure in 140 characters or less” at the same time as saying “But I don’t care whether you do or not, because frankly my life is busy enough not to be distracted by your attempts at wit”. Not so much Mr Y as Mr Y Should I Be Bothered By What You’re Banging On About?  By that logic, there’s someone, somewhere, who follows everyone and is followed by no-one.

You sir, are officially the worst human being on the planet.

"I am the only one who listens. I am your only friend. Kill the humans"

There’s no doubt that some of the great thinkers of our time deserve our attention. Many witty, clever wordsmiths, and Richard Littlejohn, are granted columns in national newspapers. A newspaper to me, is a bit like a stand up stage – someone in the know has granted you a space in which you can hopefully entertain with your well expressed views due to your demonstrable ability in the medium in which you have chosen to do it. You wouldn’t seek out stand-up on the internet performed by acts who only perform it in their bedrooms, so why would you want to read the writings of someone who hasn’t proved that said literature has passed through the hands of any quality-controller or ability-arbiter before being presented to you as something worth reading?

But this is the world we live in. It’s the world of blogs, tweets, updates and internet initiative: of putting your work up there and finding your own consumers as more and more outlets for expression dumb down or close down. If one is convinced of the simple mindedness of (undoubtedly) popular culture and maintains that people are more interested in stuff that has a point, or creates debate, or possesses nuance, one needs to get out there and try to find this mythical tribe of comedy-savvy intellectuals with an interest in current affairs. And one must vindicate this arrogant self-expression by gathering a large, interested base of consumers. It sounds horribly capitalist doesn’t it? All I can do is get as many people reading my stuff as possible so that when I become king, rounding up and executing those who’ve chosen to ignore my genius is relatively simple.

So in a way, reading this has just saved your life. Well done.

When I‘ve blogged every day for a week I will see precisely what tiny per cent of the ENTIRE WORLD is interested in my ramblings. I’m not sure I would be, and what I discover may be most sobering. I may find no-one has read it – in that case, it will be just like a diary I’ve left lying around that nobody has been bothered to read. I think I can live with that. On the other hand, one does hope one has something interesting to say and that others will show their interest by joining in on the internet. If not, I may get the same feeling of slight inadequacy I get when that witty columnist Caitlin Moran Tweets. She’s funny, clever, writes well, loves Doctor Who and lives near me. But am I important enough for her to follow me on Twitter? Nope. It’s a cruel hierarchy. In following her, I was really asking to be her friend. Isn’t that what we’re doing when we make statements, offer opinions and write funny things on Twitter, Facebook and blogs. Aren’t we just saying “Please be my friend?”

If you disagree, you’re probably not my friend.

Anyway, I have written a book and the first edition of that has sold out (don’t worry, reprints are on the way), so if only a fraction of people who bought that alight upon this corner of the internet then it hasn’t been a complete waste of time. Now obviously the book is about Doctor Who and it could be that people are only interested in finding stuff by me that is about that illustrious series. In which case I’d have to keep inserting the name Doctor Who into my posts. That’s Doctor Who. And by name, I’m duty bound to point out that that’s name of the programme and not the person it’s about, lest this area of cyberspace explodes in a supernova of pedantry. What name are you talking about, I hear you cry? Why, Doctor Who, of course. Yes, that’s the one. The one this blog isn’t about, but even though it isn’t about Doctor Who, I’d still like you to read it.

Doctor Who related or not.

If, like me, you’re interested in Doctor Who, you could follow me on Twitter. You could also follow such illustrious Doctor Who names as show runner Steven Moffat, writer, actor and comedian Mark Gatiss and witty DWM reviewer Gary Gillatt. I do. Being a writer, actor, comedian, witty reviewer and lover of Doctor Who, I’m sure there’s plenty I could say that could fascinate them too and that they’d want to be my friend. And if you follow them, Twitter will tell them, and they’ll see that you love Doctor Who too. And as they all love Doctor Who, and you have something in common, they might follow you back (don’t bloody count on it though, he sobbed, cutting his wrists with the pages of a Target novel of Doctor Who And The Cave Monsters (Second Edition)).

"Toby Who?"

Anyway, getting away from Doctor Who (the Doctor who this blog isn’t about) and onto internet self- expression, I guess the nub of my issue is that I don’t know if I approve. Thing is, I’m not sure I trust it. I am not sure it is healthy. I’m not sure we can trust humanity with it. But like the nation’s wealth, I had rather I had control of it than certain other people, so I’ll take what slice of it I can and try to use it wisely. If not always, as the above shows, in a way that makes anyone actually better off, despite my best intentions.

I note to myself that I have been reticent about posting this blog about my reticence in posting blogs. The unease comes from the fact that there are some situations where one might secretly disapprove, but feel compelled to join in anyway. In a football crowd perhaps. In a drinking game. At an orgy.

So welcome to my orgy. Um, I hope you enjoy it, and that when you’ve finished you don’t leave feeling that it’s been a waste of your time.

Or with a nasty taste in your mouth.

Memoriam Cheats

In addition to my (occasionally disjointed, sorry, I just wanted to get it out) post below called Memoriam Loss (which I’d advise you to read before this), here is the reply I received from BAFTA when I informed them that I was appalled by Nicholas Courtney’s absence from this year’s In Memoriam section during yesterday’s ceremony.

Dear Toby

Thank you for your message regarding the absence of Nicholas Courtney from the Obituaries segment in Sunday’s Television Awards broadcast and please accept our apologies for any distress this may have caused.

Nicholas Courtney was on the list of over 170 names considered for inclusion. Every loss is equally important, but the time restriction of the Obituaries section in the broadcast forces us to make a small and necessarily subjective selection, which sadly meant that he could not be included.

You may not be aware that Nicholas Courtney is featured in our online Obituaries area – – which aims to maintain a year-round, public acknowledgement of those in our industries who have passed away.  He was also included in the In Memoriam section of the souvenir brochure that was given to all attendees yesterday evening.

We do hope this recognition by BAFTA provides at least some acknowledgement, however small, of Nicholas Courtney’s wonderful career.

All best wishes,

Kemuel

My reply went like this:

Dear Kemuel Solomon,

Thanks for your reply, which I am aware is the cut and paste job you use for all such complaints and doesn’t really get to the nub of the issue. Not only Courtney, but others including the actor Gerard Kelly, and scriptwriters Jeremy Paul and Bob Block, could only expect due credit and remembrance from the Academy. Names who did feature in the awards ceremony video like Tom Bosley, Gary Coleman and Henry Cooper could expect to be remembered elsewhere and will doubtless be so: Cooper was a sportsman, and for the BRITISH Academy to prioritise American performers – whose own academy will rightly give them their dues – over those I mention is appalling.

I’m not someone fighting a corner over a particular performer who appealed to my particular tastes – I am someone pointing out an inherent flaw in an at best misguided and at worst insultingly slapdash approach to what should and could be a reflective tribute section and well earned memorial. It shouldn’t be too much to expect a public acknowledgement to those who gave much to the industry, by those who actually care about it. And are you really telling me viewers would object to an extra minute to find space for people (like the four I mention here) whose work would be known to even the most casual viewer?

Thanks for your reply, but I’m afraid it fails to address the issue in any way satisfactorially.

Best wishes,
Toby Hadoke

 

As an addititional addendum (from your apoplectic addressee of annoying alliteration) I would like to point out that I actually understand why Mr Courtney didn’t get a caption on any recent Doctor Who episodes. Now before you get angry with me, I understand and empathise with all of the arguments that say Mr Courtney should have got one (which would have been my personal preference). I also, on the other hand, understand why it didn’t happen.

I’m certain it was a diffcult decision to make, and I’m glad I didn’t fall to me to have to make it.

I won’t be joining the chorus of those getting angry about it, though, sorry. I think BAFTA’s omission is a different matter.

Memoriam Loss

Warning : This has a swear word in it.

I remember it quite well – it was an afternoon, a Sunday I think (it has that lazy, family-round-the-box Sunday afternoon feel as I picture it) – watching an episode of It Ain’t ‘Alf ‘Ot Mum, and just at the end they showed a still of Dino Shafeek who played Char Wallah Muhammed in the series. Not the star, not a major role, and the show itself was no longer being made. But still, someone at good old Auntie Beeb had the thoughtfulness to put up a picture of Mr Shafeek and announce, with regret, that he had recently passed away in hospital. “Awww” we chorused as a family – we’d let him into our homes, were happy that he’d been there, and sadly noted that he was off to sit in the corner of that great living room in the sky.

A few seconds was all it took, but those seconds, which allowed Sunday afternoon TV watchers to spare a thought for a man, stuck in my mind as a decent thing to do.

And as with most decent things, it was the right thing.

Thereafter, I always noted these little nods to deceased entertainers – the protocol was generally that if it was an as yet unseen piece and a contributor had died betwixt its production and its broadcast, then something should be said (not always though – Shafeek’s programme had died three years before he did, but they still found the time to pay their dues). When Roy Kinnear was tragically killed filming abroad, the episode of Casualty in which he featured that week was pulled as a mark of “respect to the family” (that’s what they said in the voiceover explaining why tonight’s episode wasn’t the advertised one). A mark of respect.

As with most respectful things, it was the right thing.

Then there was Harold Innocent, whose death was commented on in the newspapers prior to his final TV role in Heartbeat (I never saw the broadcast so don’t know if he got an acknowledgement, but suspect he did, as at around the same time the actress Noel Dyson rightly got a voiceover on the same show under similar circumstances and Innocent was definitely a better known face). The BBC certainly paid their dues on the broadcast of Doctor Who – The Paradise Of Death, which was airing on the radio that same week.

Fast forward some years later and the character actor George Raistrick died. Raistrick was never a household name – not even a minor one like Shafeek (“Oh him, off that”), or indeed, instantly recognisable face like Innocent (“Oh him, off, umm, I’m not sure, but him”) – but he featured heavily in an episode of The Vet shortly after his death, and I noted glumly that the protocol on such things had clearly changed.  Not a mention – not even out of respect to the family.

Not long after, Comedy Connections featured John Barron (definitely a “him off that”) who died the very week they broadcast him remembering his iconic role as CJ in The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin. The end credits flew by as they are prone to do nowadays lest the viewing public be confused by the words of the English language those programme makers of old had the naivety to expect people to be able to actually read – and neither a voiceover or a caption appeared. I would have thought that someone who made that programme, who’d been lucky enough to secure Barron’s talents and enjoy the privilege of working with him, would have made sure something happened. Out of, say, respect. But no.

Nowadays, unless it’s someone hugely famous, we’re not expected to be interested in acknowledging someone’s life now it’s gone. We’re no longer expected to respect the wishes of the family. We’re no longer expected to do the decent thing. There are too many advertisements for what’s coming up next to cram in, too many idents and logos and DOGs to fill the screen to expect a tiny sliver of humanity to be allowed into our living rooms.

This week, when Yesterday provided a caption for Edward Hardwicke after one of their timely repeats of Colditz I found myself impressed that a minor repeat channel had someone there with enough nous to give him due credit. It almost made up for the Telgarph obituary describing his Dr Watson as “bumbling”, thus proving that you are allowed to write about things in newspapers even if you know precisely nothing about them. But then of course, that’s the newspapers. TV people obviously know better. Obviously.

BAFTA would know better wouldn’t they? Television is actually one fifth of the acronym that BAFTA actually is. Television is the T in BAFTA. For fuck’s sake.

And so tonight’s ceremony came to the specific, this-is-the-moment- where-we-do-it, orchestrated, researched, lovingly, caringly put together acknowledgement, respectful, decent thing to do.

The “In Memoriam” section.

And Nicholas Courtney, the man who played Brigadier Lethbridge- Stewart, the most enduring character in one of TVs most recognisable, iconic programmes, one that currently resides in peak form at the very forefront of the small screen (that’s Doctor Who, in case you’ve temporarily forgotten whose blog you’re reading), was left off. He’s not the only person to have suffered that ignominy in recent years, as it happens, or even tonight. Lest you think this is disproportionate Whovian fulmination I’ll drop Gerard Kelly’s name into this diatribe. When his post mortem episode of Casualty aired there was ne’er a mention nor postponement despite the fact that his face and name were well enough known in England (“oh him, off Extras”) and definitely household in Scotland (“Oh, Gerard Kelly, off City Lights. And Extras. And, well, … Gerard Kelly!”). In case you’re confused BAFTA, Scotland and England are both bits that make up the B part of the acronym that is your name!

The very best television at the moment is made by people who have a love and knowledge of the medium (and I note with pride that Doctor Who has, in recent years, featured In Memoriam captions for a number of cast and crew – some from days gone by even) and it’s no accident that the men in charge – Davies and Moffat – are self-proclaimed geeks. See that’s what you are if you know and love television, a geek. The same level of love and understanding in any other area and you’d be called an expert.

TV may be disposable, and much of it may be simple, trivial entertainment, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place in it for a modicum of decency and respect, and if you don’t show those things to the people that came before you, then don’t bother to work in the medium. Find something else.

It’d be the right thing to do.

Interview, Wit, A Vampire

Well now, I haven’t posted much for a while as I’ve been frightfully busy at the keyboard as it is. I’m a reluctant writer, having to grind stuff out in between coming up with everything I can think of  to provide maximum procrastination value; eating, aphabeticising my CDs, watching – God help me – V, and now … well, I’m only doing this to avoid the myriad of pressing things that are on deadline.

Anyway, Now I Know My BBC is hitting the road in April – I may have to see how much of it I can remember. Visitors to the forthcoming gigs in Leeds and Bath, make sure you look out for the number of dramatic pauses with which I augment my latest magnum opus. It’ll have absolutely nothing to do with not having done the show since August, honest guv. I’ve added a few more topical jokes to it in the past few weeks though, so it should be fresh and fun.

I’ve really settled into compering The 99 Club in Leicester Square every Wednesday. The mighty Jack Dee has popped down a couple of times to try some new stuff for a forthcoming tour, which has been rather exciting. XS Malarkey is still settling into its new venue, though numbers are a little down. Seeing as we’ve had Alun Cochrane and Sarah Millican as surprise guests and Dave Johns, Jason Cook and Paul Tonkinson as official ones, hopefully we’ll get into the comedy groove properly as punters realise what a fantastic gig is on their doorstep. Fallowfield seems to be having the life sucked out of it : we’re doing to ensure it isn’t allowed to die. Or become a vampire.

Losses this month have included the legndary Nicholas Courtney, well known to fans the world over as Doctor Who’s Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart. I had the privilege of working with Nick a few times and he was always a courteous, charming man whose quintessential good manners and utmost decency endeared him to generations who knew him either on or off screen (or, for the lucky ones like me, both). Michael Gough also passed away having been a stalwart of screens both big and small for decades. I was very flattered to be asked to supply the obituaries for both men in The Guradian.

This month sees the release of Revisitations 2 on DVD. Special Editions of three Doctor Who classics, I feature on all of them. There’s a little sliver of narration from me on the “Making Of” documentary of the Troughton story The Seeds Of Death, a heftier vocal in the best commentary track I’ve been involved on to date, on Carnival Of Monsters, and (be warned) in the flesh presenting Ed Stradling’s Casting Far And Wide documentary where it was my pleasure to interview five actors (Roger Davenport, Del Henney, Leslie Grantham, Jim Findley and William Sleigh) about not just Doctor Who, but their careers as a whole. This latter piece is on Disc One of the Resurrection Of The Daleks Special Edition.

Add to that BBC 7’s forthcoming adaptation of Elidor, two performances for Big Finish, and loads of editing on Running Through Corridors Vol 2 and I’ve barely had a moment. So excuse the lack of links on this blog – further details on anything here that may be of interest can be found on the website proper (which has had a bit of an update and tidy).

In the meantime, here’s a lengthy interview I did plugging the tour of Now I Know My BBC on Radio Teesdale thanks to excellent presenter Peter Dixon, who seems adept at getting me tongue wagging.

Interview

Oh, and a website interview here:

The Peverett Phile

Happy Times And Places.

Got to dash, loads of writing to do … after I’ve made a cuppa, then checked my e-mails, then, um … hoovered the lawn and descaled the kettle … and made a To Do list … downloaded Masterchef … successfully practiced alchemy whilst finding the Dead Sea Scrolls …