In the heart of Southampton at the Grand Harbour Hotel, SFB Events held their 25 ball celebrating all things Science fiction whilst raising money for charity Teenage Cancer Trust with big name guests, merch stalls, a golden ticket dinner with the stars and a ball each night as the name of the event suggests. Here are some highlight from the interviews we had with guests Sean Pertwee (Gotham) and Robert Duncan McNeil (Star Trek: Voyager).
Hot of the set of Gotham, which he recently wrapped filming on the last series, Sean was reflective looking over the sea at Southampton. “It’s lovely. I didn’t realise it was right out there, the water,” he said to me, looking over the enviable view from the hotel conference room where press interviews took place. “I want to go to where the Mayflower took off, having just come back from America … also I think I came here a lot with my Dad when he was filming Worzel Gummidge”.
For those who don’t know, Sean’s Dad was none other than the 3rd Doctor himself, Jon Pertwee. He’s also known here in the U.K. for playing Worzel Gummidge (a kids TV show where a scarecrow came to life). I got to Show Sean a picture of myself and my brothers when I was a toddler, on Jon’s lap, Sean smiled and said “I was probably there at the time”.
Sean went on to talk about his Dad more later in the day, talking in a panel he said when he decided to strike out and make it in his own as an actor.
“I hurt him with that, I think he felt that was the one thing he could give to me, but when he saw that I’d done what he did he got it and I think he was proud of me”.
I got the impression from Sean of someone very proud of where he’d come but also pleased he’s made his career his own.
When his Dad passed away Sean was actually comforted in part by future Doctor Peter Capaldi.
“I think he used to run the Scottish faction of the Doctor Who fan foundation thing… and Peter was always very close to my family, especially when my father passed away he was the first person to be in contact with my mother and with me. He’s a beautiful man. He’s done these flashes to my father in his portrayal of Doctor Who, with the red lining (in his jacket) and the ‘Who hands’ and all that”.
I asked about preparing for his role as Alfred in Gotham.
“It was a time that has very much never been seen before. The only comic that actually peaked interest, that I talked to Geoff Johns from DC about was the ‘Earth One’ book where he’s a marine. I changed him to being special Service because I’d actually spent time with the chaps in Herefordshire … and I thought there was a really interesting idea there. The fact that Batman is capable of doing anything and who taught him to be able to do all that? I had this idea of being a Swiss Army knife.”
I asked him about working with David Mazouz as the young Bruce Wayne.
David an extraordinary man. e just got into an Ivy League college all at the same time as shooting 5 days a week, 22 episodes a year, 10 month’s of that year … learning to drive and having to put up with me virtually every day. He’s nothing but a joy. He wrote the most beautiful thing about working with me for the most important part of his life -which was heartbreaking. Because I spent more time with him than my own son, Alfred – he’s called Alfred, not for Narcissistic reasons!
It was a very easy pool to draw from, the fact that I spent time with him, that when I missed my son terribly, I could just look into David’s face and my son would be there.”
Sean seemed genuinely moved and you could tell his whole experience on Gotham has been a good one.
It was an incredible experience… as it was run very much like a theatre company. With Ben McKenzie and the crew you got the feeling that people really care. When you’ve got 12 potential leads it’s good to know what’s going on around the corner in the city streets of Gotham. There was no skullduggery or ‘LA’ behaviour.
Robert Duncan McNeil
One could see Robert was tired from a long plane ride and then car journey to the ball, but he didn’t let any of that get in the way of sharing his stories of working on Trek both in front of and behind the camera as a director. He looked out of the same window Sean had.
The weathers actually quite nice. It’s kind of sunny and warm out there.
That’s a fair statement of surprise when dealing with British weather.
I love events like this that are trying to raise money for a Nobel cause… its one of the things I love about Star Trek. It brings people together to share values and the things we have in common. Not our differences.
I asked him about being one of the few to have worked on 3 different Trek shows as actor or director:
They all had a similar felling because they were Star Trek shows. So there was this sense of some of the best things of Star Trek. The family feel of the show was a part of every series.
On Next Generation:
The highlights for me would be on Next Gen, there was a real sense of that show had done something very special and I think the actors were aware of it. It had revived Star Trek for the first time. The franchise had been dormant for a while and they were part of something really special.
I think on that show, there was a little bit of nervousness, to be honest early on because there was a female captain. A lot of people did not know if that was going to be accepted, but back then it was a big deal. People were saying how could you make a Star Trek Show with a female captain? There was a lot of worry, are we going to be the first modern Star Trek Show that doesn’t run for 7 years because it’s just too much change?
Enterprise in an odd way had a lot more confidence than they probably should have. You got on that set and if our show was kind of nervous, they were the other way, not only would they run a long time, but they were going to take over the movie franchise from Next Gen. They had all these big plans and I think they had been fed this by the studio and the producers so they believed it. I think they were all very surprised when that show struggled.
You can catch the full interviews and more with other other guest at GallifreyStandsPodcast.com and Gallifrey Stands is on SCIFI.radio every Friday.
Book for SciFiBall 26 now at SciFiBall.com where they have just confirmed Marina Sirtis to attend.