Sunday 28 February 2016

Barking signing - 27th February 2016

Today was the latest celebrity signing session at Barking Library, and it was an interesting mix of faces, mainly from Doctor Who.
Barking Signing - 27th February 2016
After cancelling twice before at the last minute, I like many was kind of hoping Jeremy Wilkin would finally put in an appearance, but all our hopes were dashed as yet again he was a no-show.

Still, the rest of the line up had some great names always worth meeting, plus some I had not met before and was looking forward to seeing for the first time.

There was a minor Eleventh Doctor cast reunion, with two actors who both appeared in A Good Man Goes To War and The Wedding Of River Song.

FRANCES BARBER has an amazing body of work, from the Pet Shop Boys musical Closer to Heaven; to appearing alongside Ian McKellen and Roger Allam in the Old Vic's pantomime production of Aladdin; she appeared alongside Peter Capaldi in Do Not Disturb plying his wife; as a opera diva in Inspector Morse.

In Doctor Who she starred as Madame Kavarian in A Good Man Goes to War and The Wedding of River Song (and 5 other episodes, sometimes uncredited).

I was very excited to get Frances to sign my book, as I have seen her in many great programmes down the years.

SIMON FISHER-BECKER played Dorium Maldovar in The Pandorica Opens, A Good Man Goes to War, and The Wedding of River Song. He also played the Time Lord Science Minister Kavil in series 5 of Gallifrey stories Emancipation, Evolution and Arbitration.

KELLY HUNTER played the Shadow Architect in The Stolen Earth returning to the role in The Magician's Apprentice.

Kelly very much liked my book, remarking on its cover before happily signing inside.
MOYA BRADY played Bridget Sinclair in Love & Monsters.

Moya was the last of the new series guests at today’s line up, and she was great to chat to.

The next couple of guests were from the classic series.
HENRY WOOLF is a London-born film, stage and TV actor who played the Collector in The Sun Makers. The diminutive actor was a close colleague of Harold Pinter and performed in a number of his plays; Pinter's The Hothouse is dedicated to Woolf.

His best-known  ilm work has included Marat/Sade, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Gorky Park. TV work other than Doctor Who has included Rutland Weekend Television, The Protectors, The Sweeney and Steptoe and Son.

PETER STENSON played a Voord, an Ice Soldier and the Second judge in The Keys of Marinus.

Since then he appeared on Taxi!, R3, Adam Adamant Lives!, Champion House, The Wednesday Play and Terry and June.

GEORGINA MOON is known especially for playing Lt. Sylvia Howell in Gerry Anderson’s UFO. She was Erotica in Up Pompeii!; Miss Finch in You're Only Young Twice, and appeared in How's Your Father?.
She starred in two Carry On films: Carry On Camping and Carry On Behind as well as the film version of Bless This House.

FRANCOISE PASCAL first appeared in Coronation Street, playing Ray Langton's friend, then Play of the Month for the BBC in Don Quixote with Rex Harrison. She was cast in numerous comedy series such as Happy Ever After with Terry Scott and June Whitfield, as well as My Honourable Mrs with Derek Nimmo. Her most notably comedy part was in Mind Your Language.

After the usual autograph opportunity as well as a chance to get a professional photo with the guests, there was the ever popular question and answer session.

It proved to become a lively discussion, bordering on a debate.

In fact at one point Simon Fisher-Becker said he felt like he was on Question Time!

The discussion opened with Henry Woolf, who by the sounds of things thoroughly enjoyed his time on The Sun Makers, especially the electric wheelchair he was given. He had insisted on practice time with the chair in the BBC rehearsal rooms so he was proficient at its use on set, which I think shows through.

Georgina Moon had not appeared in Doctor Who, but had notably member of the supporting cast in Gerry Anderson's UFO as a member of the SkyDiver personnel. She particularly remembered her cringeworthy string-vest uniform, that left little to the imagination!

Kelly Hunter talked about her work with her theatre company which brings Shakespeare plays to those with learning difficulties. The format draws the audience into direct contact with the actors, and a range of improvisation ensues.

Next we heard from Francoise Pascal, and the discussion hit upon her time in Mind Your Langauge, a sitcom from the 1970s about a group of foreign characters learning English at evening classes. The series had proved controversial at the time, even more so no, with its accentuated characterisations of black, south Asian and Europeans.

Despite being a series not screen in the UK for many years, Francoise explained how it is shown in a number of countries the characters originate from, proving in a way that although it is seen in the UK as racist, it is not perceived as such in those countries.
The discussion continued with the audience, and the rights and wrongs of such programmes was drawn into question and sharp focus.

Moya Brady drew the conversation to her times working with Russell T Davies on Love And Monsters, which she explained had been about the fans. Sadly it had failed to hit the right note with the audience which had disappointed her, but she thoroughly enjoyed her time working on it. Asked about Peter Kaye, she explained how with a lot of productions, unless you are in scenes together you don't necessarily spend time together off-set, so she hadn't seen much of him.

A lot of Peter Stenson's appearances in Doctor Who were in full body costumes and masks. The first of these was as Voord in The Keys Of Marinus, where he was required to wear a full-body wet suit and head mask. Being skin tight, and under the hot studio lights, it was very uncomfortable and he was soon sweating resulting in the suit getting quite squidgy to wear! At one point he took one of the boots off in sight of the cameras and he poured the collected sweat onto the studio floor, which the gallery saw. The studio doors was opened after that to allow a throughput of cool air, but it had little effect.

Francis Barber has had an amazing career, working with some incredible actors and is still very busy today. She had just finished work on a series for HBO with Dustin Hoffman shot in Italy, and before that another filming in Mexico.

She revealed that she auditioned for the part of Mrs Slocombe in the upcoming Are You Being Served? revival, but didn't get it. Harking back to earlier discussions, she questioned how on earth such scripts were written then, and how they can't be done now.

Simon Fisher-Becker chipped in that he had been put forward for Mr Rumbold, but hadn't been called for an actual audition.

He talked about agents and how they are a necessary evil: good to have when negotiations get tricky; annoying when they get in the way of a good part. His agent is disinterested in convention bookings, so he has a young PA to help him out, who's got 40 bookings this year already, some as far afield as Australia and America.

Discussion turned to how a lot of actors and catwalk models are pressured into looking or acting a certain way, making for a blandness in characters on screen.

I raised an interesting point which I heard at a Gerry Anderson convention last year. At a panel containing all the surviving voice artists who played the Tracy brothers, a member of the audience had expressed his appreciation of classic Thunderbirds. However, he had an issue with the latest CGI revival. He is blind, and cannot distinguish the voices for the Tracy brothers from each other - they all have a similarity in tone, accent and style. This had stunned the audience last year, and several of the panel were visibly challenged by the idea today.

It's something we don't necessarily think about, but is an increasing problem - a lack of diversity and a levelling out of types of actors being used.

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