SHERLOCK HOLMES DVD

posted: February 28th, 2015

Thanks to the success of the BFI Out Of The Unknown DVD Box Set for which John Kelly and (to a lesser extent) I supplied the majority of the extra material, we have been asked to provide a similar service on the forthcoming release of the Douglas Wilmer series of Sherlock Holmes (click on the title and you’ll be directed to the purchase page from the BFI, not Amazon). Asked and budgeted for two commentaries John has done his usual magic and provided five, all of which I have moderated. The line-ups for these are:

The Illustrious Client
Peter Sasdy (director)

51znWiOx1mL._SY300_The Devil’s Foot
Douglas Wilmer (Holmes)

The Red Headed-League
David Andrews (Vincent Spaulding), Trevor Martin (Duncan Ross)

Charles Augustus Milverton
Douglas Wilmer (Holmes)

The Abbey Grange (existing 20 minutes only)
Peter Cregeen (director)

Douglas Wilmer and his wife Anne were courteous enough to welcome us into their home and Mr Wilmer – at 95 – was on fine form, though his relationship with the show was not the easiest. We hosted the other gentlemen at Shepherd’s Bush and it was fantastic to be reunited with Out Of The Unknown alumni Messrs Cregeen and Sasdy (my “moderation” of the latter’s commentary comes to the sum total of about two and a half sentences I think!). David Andrews and Trevor Martin hadn’t seen each other since the episode was made but got on like a house on fire and are great company throughout. It’s another terrific package and the set benefits from reconstructions of the missing portions of the two incomplete episodes – episodes which have never been released commercially until now. The soundtrack exists for one, and the other features a special Story So Far… performed by Mr Wilmer. The set will be released at the end of March 2015 and the extras were turned out in record time. Thanks to ultra-keen exec Sam Dunn of the BFI and John Kelly as ever for going above and beyond. And my old mucker Peter Crocker has tarted up the pictures too!

David Andrews and Trevor Martin reacquaint themselves with each other - and The Red-Headed League - after fifty years.

David Andrews and Trevor Martin reacquaint themselves with each other – and The Red-Headed League – after fifty years.

Toby Hadoke and Peter Sasdy.

Director Peter Sasdy worked with 4 different Sherlocks.

Bernard Kay 1928-2014

posted: January 1st, 2015

Myself and Bernard at the CAA last month.

Myself and Bernard at the CAA last month.

I am very sad to report the death of that fine actor Bernard Kay.

I’ll add something personal later but for now:

The actor Bernard Kay, who starred in Dr Zhivago and was a recognisable TV face in over 100 programmes ranging from the very first episode of Z-Cars to Jonathan Creek via Doctor Who and The Professionals, has died aged 86.

Born in Bolton in Lancashire, the son of a journalist, he initially worked as a reporter for the Bolton Evening News and a stringer for the Manchester Guardian. Educated at Manchester’s Chetham’s School, when he completed National Service he studied at the Old Vic Theatre School on Waterloo Road, London (having also been accepted by the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and the Guildhall School of Music And Drama). He used his army experience whilst making his first film, Carry On Sergeant: helpfully correcting its star Willliam Hartnell regarding drill procedure. Hartnell was not impressed and unsuccessfully tried to get him fired.

Hartnell had forgotten the incident when Kay was the lead guest star in one of the early Doctor Who adventures The Dalek Invasion Of Earth (1964). He returned to the series the following year to give a dignified turn as a war weary Saladin in the highly regarded adventure The Crusade (1965) and crossed the paths of later Doctors Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee in, respectively, The Faceless Ones (1967) and Colony In Space (1971).

Bernard in Doctor Who.

Bernard in Doctor Who.

His most notable film role was as the Bolshevik in Dr Zhivago, a part written by Robert Bolt with Kay in mind. Other film credits included Sinbad And the Eye Of The Tiger (1977) and Psychosis (2010) but he was more at home on the small screen. One of his most acclaimed roles was as the german Korporal Hartwig in the famous Tweedledum episode of Colditz (1972) in which Michael Bryant’s Wing Commander Marsh attempts to fake insanity in order to be repatriated. Hartwig is charged with ascertaining the truth and after an antagonistic start the two develop a touching friendship as Marsh genuinely begins to lose his mind.

He was given six weeks paid leave and told to keep a low profile by the Coronation Street producers after the angry public reaction to his killing of Ida Barlow in 1961.

On stage he learnt the role of Macbeth in 24 hours to save the opening night of a production at the Nottingham Playhouse in 1952, he performed in Baghdad as Shylock as part of a British Council tour of The Merchant Of Venice and he received critical acclaim for his last stage performance in Dream Of the Dog at the Finborough Theatre. At the start of his career he had played small parts for the Royal Shakespeare Company in its early days and returned there to play Glendower in Henry IV Part 1 in 1991 but he was most proud of his performance as Danny (the Pete Postlethwaite part) in the stage tour of Brassed Off, for which he had to conduct genuine brass bands.

He won an award for the first chapter of his memoirs, describing his torrid childhood in pre-war Bolton. One of the judges for the New Writing ventures panel, which awarded him first prize, was novelist Ali Smith who described it as “wise, taut, gripping and a perfect piece of explication”.

He was married to the actress Patricia Haines who died aged just 45 in 1977. Her daughter Niki (by her first husband, the actor Michael Caine) survives him. He was found dead at his home on December 29th, although cause of death and exact date are yet to be determined.

Out Of The Unknown DVD Commentaries

posted: August 20th, 2014

I have had the privilege of working on the DVD commentaries for the forthcoming BFI box set of Classic BBC sci-fi anthology series Out Of The Unknown. With about 8 weeks to turn things round and a minuscule budget, producer John Kelly and I managed to accrue a pretty decent roster of talent which I am delighted to be able to reveal now.

All commentaries moderated by me.

No Place Like Earth
With Mark Ward (Out Of The Unknown expert) and Dan Rebellato (playwright, lecturer and John Wyndham expert).

The Dead Past
With John Gorrie (director) and Brian Hodgson (Special Sounds).

Time In Advance
With Peter Sasdy (director), Wendy Gifford (Polly), Philip Voss (Police Officer) and Danvers Walker (Dan).

With Clive Endersby for Sucker Bait.

With Clive Endersby for Sucker Bait.

Sucker Bait
With Clive Endersby (Mark), Roger Croucher (Fawkes).

Some Lapse Of Time
With Roger Jenkins (director), John Glenister (PA), Jane Downs (Diana Harrow) and Delena Kidd (Dr Laura Denville).

The Midas Plague
With Peter Sasdy.

The Machine Stops
With Philip Saville (director), Kenneth Cavander (adaptor), Michael Imison (story editor).

With Philip Savile And Michael Imison for The Machine Stops.

With Philip Savile And Michael Imison for The Machine Stops.

Level 7
With Mordecai Roshwald (author), Michael Imison (story editor).

This Body Is Mine
With John Carson (Allen).

Welcome Home
With Moris Fahri (writer), Bernard Brown (Bowers Two).

The Man In My Head
With Peter Cregeen (director), Tom Chadbon (Brinson), Jeremy Davies (designer).

Some of the commentaries spend some time with one participant then switch over to another as it wasn’t always practical to get people at the same time: indeed Roshwald and Cavander (for example) live in the USA so we did them by Skype. Others we visited at home to minimise disruption to them. So some are a bit of a mix and match, but we wanted as many participants as possible.

We were asked to provide 7 commentaries. We aimed for 13 and managed, ultimately, to get 11 – over half of the available episodes. I’m very proud of what we did on a release originally planned to have no commentaries at all.

 

Ray Lonnen RIP

posted: August 2nd, 2014

Ray Lonnen RIP

Ray LonnenA couple of weeks ago I was very sad to learn of the death of Ray Lonnen – a fine, understated actor who took part in a couple of television shows that deserve to be remembered for a very long time: namely Harry’s Game and The Sandbaggers. I had the good fortune of visiting Ray a couple of times – most recently an evening a couple of months ago of fish and chips a chatting about his good friend Richard Shaw. Ray had showed me some paintings he had which had been done by Richard and kindly offered to share his memories of the late Quatermass actor. Ray had a lot of empathy for others and behind the considered decency that emanated from him was a twinkle and a wry sense of humour.  He and his lovely wife Tara were extremely hospitable and I had kept in touch with them since I interviewed them both for my Who’s Round project last year. They, along with their good friend Bernard Holley, came to see my West End double bill in November despite Ray being in a lot of pain. I was flattered to have known him and pleased to have had the opportunity to provide Ray’s Guardian obituary here. I can’t thank Tara enough for her help with this – her positive attitude and encouragement for others even shining through at a most difficult time for her and the family. If the world is a bit of a struggle sometimes, following Tara on Twitter is recommended – she’s an empathic person with an infectious optimism : find her at @TaraWardBooks.

My Who’s Round interview with Ray and Tara can be found here.

It’s typical of the fellow that the last contact I had from him was after he found out my other half’s name: it’s unusual and he postulated that it might have been inspired by a film of the same name. I admitted that I thought that that was the case but that I didn’t know much about it. After a short time there was an email from Ray with a link to the movie and everything about it. He was  a thoughtful man for whom nothing was too much trouble.

Rest In peace Ray.

EXCITING NEWS!

posted: July 18th, 2013

BACK IN THE WEST END!

garrick_theatre_london

Well, this is exciting : for one night only Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf and My Stepson Stole My Sonic Screwdriver will be in a double bill at the famous Garrick Theatre in London’s West End. It’s a 900 seater. My Mum’s coming, so now we only need another 800 of you to keep her company.

Garrick

We’re gonna need a bigger audience…

There promises to be a bit of an An Audience With kinda vibe, with a number of Doctor Who luminaries on the invite list. It’ll be an ideal warm- up for the 50th Anniversary as the show will be taking place just under a week before that giddy time. So put 17th November in your diary (7pm), and maybe get a ticket for that friend of yours who needs a special present to celebrate this amazing milestone for both Doctor Who and  – thanks to this performance produced by James Seabright and Lee Martin of Gag Reflex – this humble fan.

When tickets went live most of the seats in the front 10 rows were snapped up immediately, and punters from Russia and the USA booked themselves in, so you know, if you think the trip for, say, Kent, is an arduous one, you really have no excuse not to see the show which has won acclaim from press and comics (including Sarah Millican) alike. All the nice things that have been said about it are here.

Tickets are available here.

STUPID IDEA

posted: December 31st, 2012

I have decided to do a stupid thing.

A couple of days ago a gentleman called Jon Keefe (@jjkv007) posted on Twitter: Doctor Who 50th; a weekly podcast w everyone thoughout the history of the series interviewed by @TobyHadoke . Make this happen internet Gods. In the absence of input from any such invoked cyberspace deities, I have decided to rise to the challenge myself. Now, I obviously can’t do everyone ever, so what I propose to do is this:

I will post a podcast every week in which I interview someone from Doctor Who. My aim will be to get every single story name-checked over the course of the next 52 weeks; but name-checked through first hand, personal recollection. Big Finish have kindly offered to host the resulting interviews in their podcast. Obviously it would be very simple to go for companions or producers or major contributors, and I am indeed hoping for a full quota of them: but that would be relatively straightforward to achieve and fairly predictable … so I want minnows to rub shoulders with giants – bit part actors, vision mixers, floor managers – anyone with new stories to tell, fresh perspectives or even illustrious careers outside of Who that are so interesting that we barely touch on the Doctor himself during our conversations. And if I do get a companion, I won’t be asking what their favourite story is that’s for sure.

And this is where you come in:

 

Do you have my e-mail address? Give it to Toby!

With the podcasts being so frequent, I haven’t really got time to pussyfoot around and it’s going to have to be achieved in something of a guerrilla style. Therefore, any contacts (preferably e-mail or snail mail) readers may have that will get me to a person direct so I can drop them a line, offer them a pint or two (I’m not getting paid so neither will they sadly) and arrange something quick would be hugely appreciated. Realistically, I can probably only do people in London or Manchester, or arrange something over Skype that I can record. Also, I am cripplingly shy when it comes to making contact with people and haven’t really got the time resources to bounce negotiations back and forth – so if you know the person and could pave the way, explain the scenario and tell them I’m not a dick (I know – lying is wrong, but it’ for a good cause), that’d be even better.

As there is no money changing hands I will be asking each interviewee to nominate a charity at the end of each podcast so anyone who has enjoyed what they’ve heard can make a small donation.

So… do you have any contacts for people – no matter how obscure – who from your dealings might be happy to have me invade their privacy for about an hour? You may know the Chicki from The Macra Terror? Your uncle might have been the call boy on Colony In Space! You may even have had a one night stand with a Lakertyan: well, now’s your chance to give something back and make use of your tenuous Who connection!

If so, give me your details and I will be in touch! Sooner rather than later – I start tomorrow!

 

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