The Unmutual Photo Report: A CELEBRATION OF ITC
Report by Rick Davy. Photos: Alys Hayes, Jo Hough, Annette Hill, Derek Leftly, Ray Warren, Michael Lee. Not to be reproduced without permission.
On Saturday November 17th 2018, Elstree Studios came alive again with the latest event from The Unmutual Website and Quoit Media Limited, following the success of the 'Fifty Years of The Prisoner' and 'Not a Number - A Patrick McGoohan Retrospective' events.
First of all, I would like to thank each and every person who attended the event, both the guests, and everyone who was kind enough to purchase a toicket. The three events put together last year have cumulatively and ultimately helped the children of Ty Gobaith Hospice, and for monies raised I am extremely grateful.
A DVD of the event is planned in the near future, so rather than spoil the fun for those who will hopefully be purchasing this to raise further DVD funds, I won't give too much away from the discussions on-stage at the event. Thanks to everyone who submitted photos and memories from the evening, which are reproduced below.
A sell-out crowd of 240 people attended the event, and as each arrived they were greeted by some pieces of ITC history.
Many thanks to Kevin Price for the original Saint volvo, Phil Caunt for the original 'Prisoner' Mini Moke, James Winch for the original 'UFO' jeep, and Mike Smith for Bob Baker's actual Jaguar.
After being presented with a free full colour programme, there was a chance for attendees to meet the guests, each of whom had a signing table at the event, and look at displays such as that arranged by Phil Caunt, relating to his 'Prisoner' Moke, and the Quoit Media stall.
The event officially began with a tremendous film montage of ITC shows, featuring all the guests and their appearances in the classic shows we were all here to celebrate. Many thanks to David Mackenzie for doing such a fantastic job. After a pre-recorded intro from the late Fenella Fielding, Elstree Studios chairman Morris Bright MBE took to the stage to welcome everyone to the stage in his own unique, and highly amusing, style.
Next it was my turn to welcome everyone to the event, and introduce the long roll call of guests. In addition to those who would be appearing on stage, it was also a pleasure to announce 'Prisoner' crew member and writer Ian Rakoff, studio saviour Paul Welsh MBE, Nick Briggs of Big Finish, and Elaine Spooner (daughter of Dennis).
First up on stage for me to interview were three legends of ITC. Director John Hough, stunt coordinator Paul Weston, and actress Annette Andre. Annette began by wowing us all with tales of one of the first ITC series, 'Whiplash!' in which she nearly came a cropper in a canoe scene before talking about her time on series such as 'The Saint' and of course 'Randall and Hopkirk'. Annette was in possibly more ITC shows than any other actress so had many entertaining tales to tell, and was on hand afterwards to sign copies of her memoir.
John Hough was as always very engaging and entertaining (do, if you ever get the chance, ask him about directing Bette Davis in 'watcher in the Woods'), talking about working at Elstree on all manner of shows, including shows such as 'The Baron' and 'The Champions' as a young assistant director.
Paul Weston is one of the world's most highly-respected stuntmen, still working today on Bond films and the like, but he also started out in television (after a brief career as a model) and worked on all manner of ITC shows including 'Randall and Hopkirk', 'The Prisoner', and later for Gerry Anderson on 'The Protectors' and 'Space 1999'. It was great to hear his amusing tales and, as with all the guests, we could have talked for a lot longer.
After a short screening of Fenella Fielding's memories, recorded for last year's 'Not a Number' event, it was time for the next panel - a Gerry Anderson panel, no less.
Prentis Hancock was first to speak, talking about how he was cast in the 'Protectors' on the back of a devilish performance in a TV play. The talk of course turned to 'Space 1999' and also 'Return of the Saint' (who would have knwon Prentis wore a wig for some of the re-shoots on that show)? Joining Prentis was Georgina Moon, who talked very fondly about her time on 'UFO' and also about working with Frankie Howerd and others, and Jamie Anderson (son of Gerry) who spoke about the shows and his father with tremendous warmth. Prentis was a gentleman, and enthralling guest, and Georgina clearly loved her time on UFO and had a very infectious nature. It was a pleasure to speak to all three of them.
As a special treat, the trailer for the new 'Anderson' show 'Firestorm' was shown to the audience, with everyone agreeing that Gerry would have been very proud of Jamie's creation.
Again we could have talked all night, but with time pressing it was time for the next screening, a lovely anecdote from Kenneth Cope about Lew Grade, and keeping the 'Randall and Hopkirk' theme going, a letter from director Ray Austin, who now lives in the states, was read out to the audience.
Next up on stage wee two of Britain's best loved actors, both with a connection to Bond films, but also very much part of the ITC family. Shane Rimmer appeared in many ITC shows as an actor, and then of course struck up a wonderful relationship with Gerry Anderson as a voice artist for 'Thunderbirds' and other series. His respect for Roger Moore, his relationship with Gerry, his foray into writing for 'Captain Scarlet', and his undoubted love for Madeline Smith, our other guest for this panel (you had to be there) shone through. Madeline of course is a rarity in that she appeared not only in ITC shows, but also Bond, Hammer, and the Carry Ons. I have probably never interviewed a more-lovely and more-enthusiastic person, and her memories of working on shows with the likes of Moore, Wyngarde, and others were a joy to hear.
Next up was a chance for all the guests to be photographed together with myself and chairman Morris Bright.
After an interval and a time for attendees to meet the guests and get items signed, was a 'behind the camera panel'. Tony Sloman, who worked as librarian on 'The Prisoner' and dubbing editor on 'Strange Report' had with him many of his original scripts, which were shown to gasps from the audience and told stories of working on both series and with great actors such as Patrick McGoohan and Anthony Quayle.
Joining Tony at his first event was Derek Wells, who worked across the road at MGM Studies in the art department. How interesting and moving it was to hear from Derek about life in the art department at a time when MGM Studios was shutting down, and as with all the other guests I am only sorry that we could not talk for longer. It was also great to hear from Ian Rakoff from the audience regarding his 'McGoohan memories'. Ian and Tony (and John Hough) have attended all three of TUW's Evenets and I am very grateful for their support of them.
Last up was a chance for me to interview two of my personal heroes from my childhood. Ian Ogilvy, and Jenny Hanley. Ian of course is no stranger to fans of ITC from his years as Simon Templar on 'Return of the Saint' and it was a real treat for everyone, including myself, to hear Ian talk about his time on the series, and also his other work, his books, films, and appearances. Jenny appeared in several ITC shows and fondly recalled working on them all, with the exception of 'Shirley's World' which was not as much fun, and was a delight to listen to.
Throughout the evening the audience were invited to ask questions, and this panel was no exception, with stories regarding Ian's 007 experience and the classic 'Ripping Yarns' the highlight. A clip was then shown of everyone's favourite children's show 'Magpie' which Jenny had lovely stories to tell regarding. Nick Briggs of Big Finish then, from the audience, discussed his love for ITC shows, having covered several as audio re-imaginings over the years. Thanks for supporting the event, Nick!
The night ended with a special screening of Ian's recreation of a moment from the TV series 'I'm Alan Partridge', to cheers and applause.
Thanks again to everyone who attended. It was a wonderful evening which will live long in the memory of most, and in mine until the end of my days. Thank you all.
"What a wonderful event . The whole atmosphere was so friendly, everyone was happy to be there and boy! had you done your research . It's such a complement if the person interviewing you obviously has taken time to know a bit about you ~ and you were SO lovely. Thank you."
"Splendid evening last night at Elstree Film Studios to celebrate ITC's contribution to the "Golden Age of Television".
Ian Ogilvy, Jenny Hanley, Madeline Smith and many more including myself shared memories of Space, Return of the Saint and The Protectors. Very interesting too, to hear the recollections of those who remembered the retreat of MGM from Elstree to Paris and the suspension of film-making in this country for the next 30 years. Very ably MC'd by Rick Davy in aid of Ty Gobaith Children's Hospice. A wonderful evening."
"Thanks for a great on on Saturday, I really enjoyed meeting everyone, you made us all feel comfortable and relaxed.
I spoke to John Hough today and we agreed we both had a great time and I would love to join you on any show you put together."
I thoroughly enjoyed the evening...
you hosted the evening extremely well, kept it moving & flowing so the interviews were kept interesting."
"I had a fine time."
We all had a great time."
The Hough Family
"We were both delighted with the evening and the warmth and informality of it all.
Thank you so much for inviting Shane - we enjoyed the video show of all the artists - great fun.
We did do a roaring trade with books and photos and chats with fans etc: and lots of selfies with Shane!"
Sheila and Shane Rimmer
It all seemed to go well, and was a nice crowd, so thanks for having me along."
hope every one know how much work you put into this great evening . It should be recorded by everyone of us that your presence and presentation of the event was amazing big thank you."
"Thank you so much for inviting me."
"Thanks for such a smashing evening last night! It was so well organised and so interesting to hear all those stories! You did a terrific job on the microphone too!"
" Just a quick note to say how much we enjoyed last night's event! It was tremendous fun as always. Congratulations on putting it together so well."
"I just wanted to say thanks for a fantastic event on Saturday. It was a privilege to be able to visit Elstree and be in the company of some of the people who have provided so much great entertainment to me over the last 50 years."
"I attended the ITC Celebration Event on Saturday and I would like to say how much I enjoyed it. The guests were very entertaining and it was great to meet them. I think the organisers did an amazing job and I would like to thank them. I was also impressed with the vehicles on display and the guys who restored did a fantastic job. It was a thoroughly enjoyable event and I hope there will be more."
"Just wanted to say a huge cheers for putting that event on, it was an absolutely superb evening, all the celebrities were fantastic and everything about the night was great. Cheers!"
" Hi Rick, once again, many thanks for a job excellently done in presenting A Celebration Of ITC, although I know you'll be the first to say that others deserve thanks too."
"Great evening compered very well by you."
"I had a fabulous time on Saturday night. I probably say this every time but it really was your best one yet. The guests were great and it was a real thrill to meet Ian Ogilvy - not only does he resemble Roger Moore, he could rival him as being the nicest man in showbusiness. Nothing was too much trouble for him."
" Just to say what a fantastic evening was had."
"As usual, it was a superb event."
"I would just like to say how much I enjoyed this event. The enthusiasm and passion of the guests and attendees alike was amazing. I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening and I can't wait for the next one!"
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