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Monday, 28 November 2016 - Reported by Chuck Foster
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GangstersBookmark and Share

Friday, 25 November 2016 - Reported by Chuck Foster
Philip Martin's Gangsters (Credit: Candy Jar Books)

Candy Jar Books is reissuing the two Gangsters novelisations written by Philip Martin.

Originally broadcast as the 1975 Play for Today, Gangsters featured Maurice Colbourne and provoked a storm of controversy. Its violence was graphic, its portrayal of contemporary racism authentic, its depiction of the mean streets of Birmingham unsparing.

But Gangsters combined this scandal-inducing realism with a daring, postmodern style of storytelling, eschewing the po-faced worthiness of much of Play for Today’s output for a genre-bending self-referentiality that aimed to entertain as much as to hector.

Critics dismissed it, but audiences loved it – so much so that the BBC quickly commissioned two series to continue its story. Airing in 1977 and in 1978 these two six-part serials prompted a critical reappraisal, and ever since, Gangsters has been considered a cult classic, garnering plaudits as one of the most singular shows ever broadcast by the BBC.

This reputation for originality is well deserved. Gangsters featured one of the first truly multiracial casts to be seen on British screens; it depicted both the exploitation of illegal immigrants and the conniving of magical kung fu assassins; the misery of heroin addiction and cut aways to Martin himself dictating the script. It is a truly unique piece of writing.

Now Philip Martin’s uncompromising, anarchic take on the crime genre returns with the re-publication of the two novels that accompanied the TV series. Together in the same volume for the first time, A Life for a Life and Vendetta are two standalone stories that demonstrate the same cocktail of verve and verisimilitude that characterises the show.

Not only furthering the story of the show’s protagonist, John Kline, but setting up what will be the first brand new addition in the Gangsters story for almost thirty years – Death Touch, to be published by Candy Jar Books in 2017 – Philip Martins’ Gangsters is an indispensible addition to this chapter in cult television history.

As the editorial coordinator for Candy Jar Books, Will Rees, says:

With our recent publication of the Dr Strangelove novelisation, and our Lethbridge Stewart range, Candy Jar has an established reputation for publishing quality material from the world of cult film and television. Fans of cult media are real devotees, and it is their fandom that keeps these original and challenging works alive. The Gangsters novels have been collector’s items for far too long, and we will get as much of a thrill from making them available to all the fans as they themselves will get from reading them.

So with these upcoming releases, enthusiasts will finally be able to complete their Gangsters collections, and this iconoclastic blend of the high and the low, the serious and the absurd, the realist, the postmodern and the sheer surreal can finally be enjoyed as its creator always intended it to be.

Philip Martin’s Gangsters is available from Candy Jar Books.





Gareth Thomas 1945-2016Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, 13 April 2016 - Reported by Marcus

Gareth Thomas The actor Gareth Thomas has died at the age of 71.

Gareth Thomas was best known as the eponymous hero of the 1970's science fiction series Blake's 7.

Thomas played Roj Blake, leader of a band of rebels, pitted against a corrupt federation in the series created by Terry Nation.  The series ran on BBC One from 1978-1981, with Thomas taking the lead role for the first two series. When Thomas decided not to renew his contract for series 3, the character of Blake was killed off. The ghost of Blake was present throughout the remaining series and Thomas returned to the series twice, once at the end of series 3 and once for the climatic final episode, Blake.

Gareth Thomas was born in Wales in 1945. He trained at RADA  and made his TV debut in a 1965 production of Rome and Juliet. 

A steady succession of TV roles followed, including parts in Coronation Street, Z-Cars, Harriet's Back in Town, Sutherland's Law, Edward VII, Jackanory and How Green Was My Valley where he played Rev. Gruffydd.

In 1972 he was nominated for a BAFTA for his performance in the BBC Play for Today, Stocker's Copper.

He played Adam Brake in the 1977 children's series Children of the Stones, and Shem in the ITV series Star Maidens

Following his role as Blake he played Philip Denny in the 1983 version of A.J. Cronin's The Citadel and took the lead in the BBC One drama Morgan's Boy, about a Welsh hill farmer who finds himself looking after a teenage boy, a performance which won his second BAFTA nomination.

He appeared in By the Sword Divided and Knights of God and had a regular role in the ITV series London's Burning. In 1998 he took on the role of Nathaniel Clegghorn in Heartbeat.

In 2012, Thomas returned to the role for which he was best known, playing Roj Blake in the Big Finish Production, Blake's 7: The Liberator Chronicles. 

Gareth Thomas died Wednesday 13th April. He is survived by his wife Linda.

 





Gareth David-Lloyd to Direct Twisted ShowcaseBookmark and Share

Wednesday, 21 October 2015 - Reported by Marcus

Twisted ShowcaseTorchwood’s Gareth David-Lloyd to make his directorial debut in fourth series of hit Welsh web show, Twisted Showcase

Best known for his role as Ianto in Torchwood, Welsh actor Gareth David-Lloyd is returning to both direct and star in the fourth series of the hit web show, Twisted Showcase, due to be released in 2016.  Today sees the launch of a crowd funding campaign to raise funds for the production of the series.

The only British independent web series to be named in The Guardian top 25 must watch shows in 2012, Twisted Showcase is an anthology series mixing genres from horror and psychological thriller to sci-fi and comedy. The fourth series is created by Wrexham based writer, Robin Bell, one of the original creators of the web show.

Today (Tuesday 20 October) sees the launch of a crowd funding campaign to raise the £2,000 required to produce the fourth series. Fans old and new can support the campaign here and watch a special message from Gareth David-Lloyd on what to expect from the brand new episodes. Backers of the campaign can receive rewards ranging from early access to exclusives to a Gareth David-Lloyd fan pass and even the chance to be a producer on the series.

As with the previous series, series four will draw on a range of modern anxieties to offer unique, stand-alone installments, each offering something new and different to shock, amaze and entertain. Twisted Showcase will be revealing its line-up of directors, writers and actors over the course of the next week via Twitter

Gareth David-Lloyd commented:

I love the horror genre and I am always looking for opportunities to help showcase new talent. I couldn't resist the offer to star in and direct an episode of series four. Web drama is such a fertile ground and I feel very much part of the future - help support Twisted Showcase and you can be part of that future too!”

Twisted Showcase writer, Robin Bell, said:

'm still amazed at how far Twisted Showcase has come, from fumbling through our early films with a half broken camera and a crew of two, to seeing brilliant, respected actors making their directorial debut in our series and working with scripts written by BAFTA winning writers. With every series our ambition has grown, while retaining our trademark of psychological terror within the confines of a small budget. As with anything in Twisted Showcase, though, the achievement of dreams is accompanied by a nightmare, and that is funding the series. There's no easy way around this, but if this series is to happen we really need the public's help to make it a reality.

 





The Prisoner CastingBookmark and Share

Tuesday, 13 October 2015 - Reported by Marcus

The Prisoner 1 (Credit: BIg Finish)Big Finish has  confirmed that actor Mark Elstob has been cast in the leading role of Number Six in its brand new audio revival of The Prisoner.

The new production is based on the highly influential 1967-’68 ITV series, which starred Patrick McGoohan as a former spy imprisoned in the mysterious ‘Village’. Desperate to learn his secrets, the Village’s authorities used ever more ingenious methods to bend Number Six to their will — including the iconic ‘Rover’, a menacing, howling ball-like object.

Elstob  is known for his many stage appearances, including Present Laughter, Neville’s Island, The Importance of Being Earnest, Sir Peter Hall’s Hamlet and Steven Berkoff’s Salome, as well as for his year in Emmerdale as Andrew Fraser. He was chosen for the part of Number Six after an extensive search by writer/director and producer Nicholas Briggs.

I knew, of course, that the casting of Number Six was pivotal. Patrick McGoohan was the driving force of the original series, both on and off-screen. The new central performance would have to be every bit as powerful in its own way. I did a lot of searching and listening to clips and showreels  I had meetings, I spoke to actors and agents. I looked further and wider than I’d ever done for any Big Finish casting. And then I realised that I’d worked with the ideal person, long, long ago. An actor who was a brilliant, powerful leading man — Mark Elstob. There was one other key ingredient I was looking for. Someone for whom doing The Prisoner would mean something. Someone who knew the series. I didn’t know Mark was a fan of The Prisoner, but I knew he was a fan of Doctor Who, so I harboured a hope that, as someone interested in cult TV, he’d at least have heard of The Prisoner. As luck would have it, he is as nuts about the series as I am. We had a meeting — and there, sitting in front of me was my new Number Six. I was certain

Mark Elstob said 

Patrick MacGoohan’s The Prisoner is a bona fide classic, representing a high watermark of television. In the hierarchy of British TV fantasy, Number Six has a status perhaps matched only by Quatermass and Doctor Who. For me personally, to play this part is more than just a great job for an actor, it is the stuff of which a fan’s dreams are made. Thank you, Big Finish! 

The administrative head of ‘The Village’ is Number Two, and throughout the original series Number Six found himself pitted against a series of different authority figures in this role. The audio series follows the same template, with different actors appearing in the part. John Standing (V for Vendetta, The Elephant Man, 8 ½ Women), Celia Imrie (Bridget Jones, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Highlander), Ramon Tikaram (This Life, Fortitude, Stella, Man Down) and Michael Cochrane (Sharpe, The Archers, The Iron Lady) will each appear as Number Two, subjecting Number Six to a variety of ordeals.

Nicholas Briggs said

I remember explaining to Celia Imrie that they used to hire whichever marvellous, fruity actor was available to play Number Two for each episode, For The Prisoner: Volume 1, I opted to echo this policy, dipping into the impressive back-catalogue of actors Big Finish has been lucky enough to work with. And I can confirm that they are all not only fruity and marvellous, but by turns terrifying and mesmerising.

Other inhabitants of the Village include Sara Powell as Number Nine, Kristina Buikaite as Number Eight and Jez Fielder as Number 17 — with Helen Goldwyn as the Village Voice, Jim Barclay as Control and Barnaby Edwards as Number Two’s diminutive Butler. Sarah Mowat plays the role of Zero-Six-Two, a former accomplice of Number Six.

The Prisoner: Volume 1 is released in January 2016.





Thunderbirds: A Complete Guide to the Classic SeriesBookmark and Share

Friday, 9 October 2015 - Reported by Marcus

Thunderbirds: A Complete Guide to the Classic Series (Credit: Panini)Fifty years after International Rescue’s first mission, Thunderbirds continues to entertain children and adults all over the world.

Panini Magazines have published a lavish, 116-page ‘bookazine’ celebrating this timeless classic. Writers include former Fanderson chairman Chris Bentley, Andersonic editor Richard Farrell and Thunderbirds author Sam Denham.

Highlights include:

  • A detailed guide to all 32 episodes of the classic series and the original feature films.
  • Previously unpublished interviews with Thunderbirds’ creator Gerry Anderson and director of photography Paddy Seale.
  • A tribute to Derek Meddings by BAFTA-winning special effects director Mike Tucker.
  • New interviews with voice artists David Graham, Shane Rimmer, Jeremy Wilkin and Matt Zimmerman, model-makers Alan Shubrook and Mike Trim, director David Lane and head of merchandising Keith Shackleton.
  • A guide to 1960s Thunderbirds collectables.

...and much more.

 

Thunderbirds: A Complete Guide to the Classic Series is edited by Marcus Hearn and designed by Mike Jones, the team behind the 50th anniversary book Thunderbirds: The Vault.

Marcus Hearn said

In terms of its content and scope the bookazine is very different from The Vault. The articles offer fresh perspectives on the series and we’ve uncovered some rare and previously unseen material. Fifty years is an important milestone, and it’s our aim to celebrate it in style.

 

Thunderbirds: A Complete Guide to the Classic Series is available from WH Smiths and all newsagents, price £9.99.

 








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