This weekend saw hundreds of Trekies, Whovians and Sci Fi fans of all stripes descend upon Southampton’s (UK) Grand Harbour Hotel for one of the most celebrated events in the U.K. geek calendar. From TV, film and radio icons such as Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Picard), Gareth David-Lloyd & Kai Owen (Torchwood) and Tim Brooke-Taylor (The Goodies, I’m sorry I’ll read that again, I’m sorry I haven’t a clue, Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory) to cabert, themed parties, signings, stalls and exclusive talks, this event has something for everyone. And the best part? It’s all in aid of Charity Teenage Cancer Trust, for which the event has raised thousands over the years and helps teenagers deal with what is the hardest moment any of us could face. Below are some highlights from stage talks and one to one interviews I had with the stars of this great event…
Looking as stunning as she did when she first slipped on a one piece and counselled the crew of the Enterprise D, Marina is back among the stars in an upcoming episode of Star Trek: Picard alongside Sir Patrick Stewart and her onscreen husband Jonathan Frakes and apparently the years have mellowed Sir Patrick.
“When we were filming Next Gen, we had a director in the first season who directed two episodes, then he refused to come back because we were too roudy and unrulely. So I’ve been telling this story for thirty years and we’re on the set of Picard. Me, Jonathan, Levar, Michael Dorn and we’re talking about the old days. I said ‘do you remember, we all got called into Tasha’s quatres and told off because of this director?” And I look over at Patrick and he’s looking a bit sheepish. So I say, ‘Patrick, have you got something to say to us?’ ‘Well yes darling, it wasn’t actually a director. It was me…’ He had gone to the suits!”
As Marina put it, “revenge is a dish best served cold” and at a recent ceremony putting his hands in the cement outside Grauman’s Chinese theatre, Sir Patrick asked Marina to say a few words. She did not waiste the opertunity.
“Everyone was gushing and lovely and all that stuff, then he introduced me. I got up and said ‘well enough of that, let me tell you about the real Patrick Stewart! When I first got the job on Next Gen all my friends who’d worked with him at the Royal Shakespear Company called me and said, ‘Marina, you can’t be you! He’s very serious, he’s all about the work.’ And I said, it was true. He was so far up his own bum. But I’m proud to say in six months we knocked that out of him, now he’s the silliest one of all of us.”
As well as remembering the old days, Marina also took the opertunity to put in her pitch to work on British soap opera legend ‘Eastenders’.
“I’d give my first born, if I’d had children, to be on Eastenders. And it would make sense. All these years and they’ve never had a Greek family? Have they been to the Eastend of London?”
I, for one, can’t believe Eastenders wouldn’t bite her hand off at the offer, so BBC if you are reading I asked what character she would like to play?
“I think she would be a Greek matriarch and she’d cause a lot of bother.” Are we hearing the birth of the next Peggy Mitchell? We can only hope!
Gareth David-Lloyd & Kai Owen
After being asked the important questions by a young member of the audience, “Do you like Marmite?” And follow up by me “Smooth or crunch peanut butter?” (Respectively they do and crunchy for both gents) they talked about the impact of productions like Torchwood on the television industry in Wales. “It’s been really good for shows being made in Wales, but I wish we could have more Welsh dramas with Welsh actors” said David-Lloyd “or actors who can do a convincing Welsh accent. There have been a few stinkers recently. I’ve played English, I’ve played American so I have no problem with English people playing welsh but get it right.” Kai added “yeah, that’s what it’s about, (actors using accents other than their own), that’s fine but you’ve got to do the work.”
Both gents have reprised their Torchwood roles in audio form (please read the reviews here on KryptonRadio.com) and I asked them about the opertunities this has given them.
Firstly I asked Gareth about taking up writing duties as well as playing Ianto again. “I’ve (written) 4 now. It’s nice to put (Ianto) in situations he hasn’t been in before and it’s nice to write for the other characters you’re a fan of as well. For budgeting you have to chose one character at a time. I’ve writen for Owen, Yvonne and I’ve just done one for Toshico recently.”
I asked him about recent release “Torchwood One: Latter Days” (avalible now from BigFinish.com) In which he wrote a story where Ianto becomes a secret agent, James Bond style. “Yeah, that was my holodeck episode. It’s been mentioned in a couple of episodes now, with other writers, Ianto has a James Bond lunchbox and a James Bond bedspread. So in that story we got to go into a virtual world and he really likes James Bond, so that’s what it would be. Tracey Ann-Oberman (Yvonne Hartman in Doctor Who and now the Big Finish audios) was playing all the other characters. She was either going to love me or hate me for that, playing ten different versions of herself with different accents… she loved it and she nailed every single one flawlessly. It was brilliant.
I asked Kai about recent adventure ‘Torchwood: Sargasso’ where Reece gets to take centre stage and unlike his Torchwood pals, puts getting out alive over the having fun with aliens.
“They are always good, I love doing them. It was a good fun storyline. We are trapped in a shipping container and Reece drew on all his experience with Torchwood to sort of help these guys get out of there. He was in charge and sorted it out. But he was on the phone to Gwen for advice. He’s good at spotting a suspicious character Reece. His gut instinct is good. He knows someone’s dodgy instantly. He’s quite matter of fact. Leave them there, we’ll go and get out alive!”
The phrase legend gets banded about a lot. But with 50 years of his current radio show, “I’m Sorry I haven’t a clue”, years of radio and TV prior to that, the Goodies and having been one of the four original “Four Yorkshire men” in the sketch popularised by Monty Python, this is a man with a real claim to that title.
I asked him about keeping it fresh after all these years.
“It does get more difficult. We were doing a round (of I’m sorry I haven’t a clue) called ‘sound charades’. And I came up with a riff on instead of “Toys R Us” it was “Dad’s R Me” for the sitcom, only to be told I’d done it five series ago. So it gets harder after fifty years.
As part of the caberat Tim performed some scripts from ‘I’m sorry I’ll read that again’. The precursor to I’m sorry I haven’t a clue involving scripted sketches. In this updated version a team calling themselves “I’m sorry I’ll read that again… again” tour with Tim and other guest stars pick some of the best sketches from the old show, punched up with topical references.
Tim says, “They play the originals on radio 4 extra and I find myself chuckling at it. Not at myself, but the scripts, there is some good stuff. I find myself listening and I think ‘that was me fifty odd years ago.
You can hear the full interviews with these stars, Leslie Ash and more on this Friday’s Gallifrey Stands on KryptonRadio.com (please check website for local times) and shortly after in Podcast form wherever you get your podcasts!