2000 Friends & Counting

2000 friends might not seem much cop compared to some YouTube superstars, but it does mean a lot to me. To celebrate this most momentous moment in motion picture history, here is a rare showing of the first microfilum ever broadcast. It’s called Random. And, well … the title is completely accurate.

Not many people got to see Random first time round, but it remains one of my favourite scripts filmed so far. Check out the script here (Random, pdf)

And the movie below …

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Evil Barbie Laughing Does 6000!

6000 views and rising! Un-be-lievable.

Hey, are these things real? Only they feel a little plastic …


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Celebrity Deathwatch – The Italian Job

It features some of the most iconic stunts committed to film. A theme tune by Quincy Jones. And where else could you find Noel Coward, Benny Hill and Michael Caine rubbing shoulders in the same cast list?

Time has been kind to ‘The Italian Job‘, raising it from a low-budget caper frollic, to a full-blown cult legend.

Sadly, the years have not been so forgiving to many of the actors and crew involved.

This is how they died …

Noel CowardMr. Bridger – Blue Harbor, Jamaica, 26 March 1973, aged 73. By the late 60s the Playboy of the West End World’s health was failing. Struggling with memory loss he relied heavily on his real-life partner Graham Payn, who played his right-hand man Keats in the film. Heart failure.

Benny HillProfessor Simon Peach  – Teddington, Middlesex, 20 April 1992, aged 68. Found dead, sitting in his favourite armchair, watching TV. Earned $5m at his peak, but never owned a car, and left all his money to his parents, who were already dead. Heart attack.

Raf ValloneAltabani – Rome, Italy, 31 October 2002, aged 86. Most popular male actor in Italy in the late 1940s and early 50s. Later played the Pope in Godfather III. Natural causes.

Tony BeckleyCamp Freddie – Los Angeles, CA, 18 April 1980, aged 52. Debuted in Orson Wells’ Chimes At Midnight.  Also appeared in Doctor Who ‘The Seeds of Doom’. Cancer.

Rossano BrazziBeckerman – Rome, Italy, 24 December 1994, aged 78. Once arrested for arms smuggling, but cleared. Neural virus.

Irene HandlMiss Peach – London, England, 29 November 1987, aged 85. Didn’t start acting until 36. While mostly playing mothers, cooks, and landladies, Irene was a supreme comic actress, who also wrote two successful novels. Natural causes.

John Le MesurierGovernor – Ramsgate, Kent, 15 November 1983, aged 71. Appeared in over 100 films. Once openly smoked an enormous joint at the BAFTAs. See earlier entryCirrhosis of the liver.

Fred EmneyBirkinshaw – Bognor Regis, England, 25 December 1980, aged 80. Unforgettable character actor and musical hall turn, who had a massive stage hit with ‘Blue for a Boy‘ in the early 1950s. Also worked as straight man to Pinky and Perky. Check him out flogging Texaco oil with James Hunt here. Heart attack.

Graham PaynKeats – Les Avants, Switzerland, 4 November 2005, aged 87. Graham was Noel Coward’s companion, although Coward once dismissed him as: ‘a born drifter … He sleeps and sleeps, and the days go by. I love him dearly and for ever, but this lack of drive in any direction is a bad augury for the future.’ However, after Coward’s death Payn devoted himself to administering his lover’s estate
Natural causes.

Peter CollinsonDirector – Los Angeles, CA, 16 December 1980, aged 44. When his parents divorced, the young Collinson was sent to the Actors’ Orphanage in Chertsey, Surrey, where he was he appeared in a number of plays, coming to the notice of the Orphanage’s President, a certain Noel Coward, who became his godfather. Cancer.

Troy Kennedy-MartinScreenwriter – Ditchling, England, 15 September 2009, aged 77. Best-known for the Italian Job, Kennedy-Martin also scripted Kelly’s Heroes, and the BBC conspiracy thriller Edge of Darkness. Apparently, he nicked the idea for The Italian Job from his brother Ian, who originally envisioned the robbery set in a London traffic jam. Ian went on to create The SweeneyLiver cancer.

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S.J. Rozan – An Old Friend I Never Knew I Had

Strange how sometimes you start reading a book and know within a few sentences that it’s going to be good.  ‘Trail of Blood’ by S.J. Rozan is one of those books. This is the story:

Detective Lydia Chin has been hired by her mentor Joel Pilarsky on a seemingly straightforward case. But within a day of starting their investigation, Joel is shot dead. The police think it was a robbery gone wrong, but Lydia is convinced it’s connected to the missing Holocaust assets they were investigating …

And here’s the first page:

‘I’m back.’

I dropped my suitcase, slipped off my shoes, and listened to familiar Chinatown sounds spill in the windows. Horns honked, delivery vans rumbled. Mr. Hu’s songbird trilled from the roof next door. I heard a child squeal with laughter and her grandmother scold in Cantonese: Hold my hand, you bad girl, or that fish truck will squash you flat.

And speaking of scolding in Cantonese, here came my mother.

‘Who are you?’ She shuffled from the kitchen and peered at me. ‘You look like my daughter, Ling Wan-ju, but I haven’t seen her in a long time. She went to California. She sid she’d be back soon, but she stayed. I’m happy she’s having fun.’

My mother’s sarcasm could cut diamonds.

‘Two extra weeks, Ma. And they’re your cousins.’ I kissed her papery cheek, which she grudgingly allowed. ‘Have a good time while I was gone?’

‘Your brother’s children are very noisy.’ I have four brothers, but my mother rarely uses their names when she talks to me; I’m supposed to know which one she means. This time I did: Ted, the oldest. She’d stayed at his place in Queens while I was away …

She what I mean? It’s like meeting someone new you feel you’ve known your whole life. Someone you trust.

However, some of the reviewers on amazon disagree …

If this book were a river it would be one that flows slowly, even sluggishly, towards the sea meandering this way and that seeming to go nowhere fast.

And that’s true, the book does take its time to get going, not helped by a series of diary entries by a young Jewish girl fleeing to Shanghai in 1938. Yet those same entries gradually create a gripping story within a story, and generate an extraordinary amount of emotion. That’s unusual – and refreshing – in a murder mystery. Can’t wait to dig out the next one.

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Intergalactic Space Babes – Jennifer Hetrick

A lot of people HATE the Star Trek (TNG) episodes ‘Captain’s Holiday’ and ‘Qpid’. Take these remarks from the usually reliable Jammer’s Reviews:

The weak and boring ‘Captain’s Holiday’ can’t release itself from its sci-fi machinations long enough to be a fun romp. Meanwhile, the sci-fi machinations are too perfunctory (and absurd) to be taken the least bit seriously on their own.

and …

Qpid’ is stupid (even dumber than that rhyme) — amazingly even worse than “Captain’s Holiday,” featuring an even more transparent sense of going through the clunky motions of laborious action/comedy. About a minute after Q snapped his fingers and sent the entire crew into Sherwood Forest, I was ready to check out.


Both episodes are great fun, and break up the standard Star Trek alien of the week format nicely. More importantly, both episodes star the gorgeous Jennifer Hetrick as Vash – love interest for dusty old Captain Jean Luc Picard.

As Worf says:

Nice legs … for a human …

Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Apparently, the ‘Captain’s Holiday’ story grew out of Patrick Stewart’s desire for more’sex and shooting’. Presumably for Picard, not for himself. According to script writer Ira Steven Behr, the character of Vash ‘was an attempt to bring in a ballsy woman who’s not your typical Star Trek woman, a clear thinker both in terms of what she did in her own life and sex and the whole bit.’

Whatever the backstory, Jennifer Hetrick nailed the character perfectly with an irresistable lightness of touch, and arch sexuality. After Qpid she recreated the character just once more in the Deep Space Nine episode Q-Less, which even I admit didn’t work, before leaving the Trek universe to guest on Diagnosis Murder, LA Law, X Files, and Alias, among many more.

Today is Jennifer’s 53rd birthday. Many happy returns you beautiful, unethical space archeologist you. Why don’t I ever meet girls like you on holiday? Must be hanging out on the wrong planets …

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Douglas Adams Anniversary

It’s ten years today since my hero Douglas Adams died.

He was such a huge influence on so many people, me included. Although, strangely enough, I’ve never been that keen on the novels. Or the TV series. And I didn’t bother to see the recent film. As for the various Dirk Maggs adaptations … shudder

For me, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy is, and always has been, about the original two radio series, the Primary and Secondary Phase – and Christmas special. To this day I haven’t heard anything funnier. Not on the radio anyway.

Like most people I think I just wanted to meet the guy who came up with phrases like: ‘No Sex Please We’re Amoeboid Zingatularians’, or who decided that since the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is 42, the question has to be ‘what’s 5×9?’ Obviously.

So here’s a crazy interview with Adams, not dealing with Hitchhikers for once, but recounting 24 hours in his life as script editor on Doctor Who:

“An interesting thing actually happened during the making of ‘City of Death’, because although I’d written it to be in Paris I was the only member of the team who didn’t get to go to Paris! So I was rather upset about this, I was sitting in my office at the BBC feeling a little miffed, because everyone else was gallivanting off in Paris and I was by myself, and this wild Scottish ex-hippie came into the office and said ‘Where is everybody?’, and I said ‘They’re in Paris’, he said ‘Well I need to talk to the producer’, I said ‘Why’s that?’, he said ‘I’m directing the next show, the Dalek story, and there are some problems I want to talk about’. This was [director] Ken Grieve, who is one of the world’s most stupendous and marvellous piss artists, and I said ‘Well you can’t talk to them, they’re in Paris’, he said ‘And you’re here all by yourself?’, I said rather bitterly ‘Yes’, he said ‘Why don’t we go to Paris?’, I said ‘Don’t be stupid’.

“So we got our passports, went down to the airport, jumped on a plane, got into Paris, arrived at the hotel we knew they were staying in. They were all looking tired after a long day’s shooting, other than Tom, and we said ‘Hey, bet you’re pleased to see us’, of course they weren’t. We said ‘Let’s go out and have fun’, but they’d had a long day, they said ‘You go out and have fun’. At that point, Ken and I sort of looked at each other, and gradually the realisation dawned on us that if we’d really planned this trip at all, well (a) we wouldn’t have made it, and (b) we’d have brought someone prettier than the other one.

“But we thought we’d better make the best of a bad job, and went off into the night, found a nice restaurant, had a nice meal, drank quite a lot of wine, went to a bar and stayed there drinking until the bar closed. We found another bar, stayed until that one closed, then we went to another bar, sat there and drank for a while until it closed and they threw us out. So now it was pretty late at night, we were in the Montmartre district and we couldn’t find another bar that was open at this point, so Ken said ‘Look, I do know for sure one bar that’s definitely open, do you want to go?’, I said ‘Yes, where is it?’, he said ‘West Berlin’. We phone the airport, unfortunately there were no imminent flight to West Berlin. Eventually we discovered another bar that was open, and we get going until about 5am, when it became apparent to me that Ken was quite drunk at this point, because whenever I managed to find him, which was quite tricky because he was about three feet away, he was doing things and saying things that I couldn’t understand.

“We called a cab, arrived at the airport, I got out of the cab, Ken fell out, cut his face open rather badly, by the eye, and we had to take him to the doctor at the airport, who stitched him up. We got him on the airplane, and British Caledonian were wonderfully sympathetic. We arrived back at Television Centre at 9am, feeling a little worse the wear, and Ken was further gone than anyone I’ve ever seen before, and he discovered he had to go to the basement and watch six episodes of ‘Genesis of the Daleks’, which he wasn’t quite certain if he could face but he went off to do it bravely. I spent the morning in the office, I didn’t go home, and I went to the bar at lunchtime and I knew somebody would be there and somebody said ‘How are you, do anything interesting last night?’, and I said ‘Oh, it was one of those nights, 4am you start wondering how you’re going to get back to England’.

Check out the full interview, and many more, at the wonderful drwhointerviews blog here.

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Celebrity Deathwatch – Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)

Ironic isn’t it? TV devours Tea Party Queen Christine O’Donnell for dabbling in witchcraft when so many of its own big money-makers are firmly rooted in witchery, black magic, the living dead, and psychics. And that’s just Fox News.

RANDALL & HOPKIRK (DECEASED) is a fine example of occultism on British TV. The pilot MY LATE LAMENTED FRIEND AND PARTNER, first broadcast on ITV in 1969, neatly sets up the premise:

Before the sun shall arise anew, each ghost unto his grave must go. Cursed be the ghost who dared to stay and face the awful light of day. He shall not to the grave return, until a hundred years be gone.

Only his pal Jeff can see or hear Marty, but Jeff comes to realise that having a ghost for a sidekick does have its uses. Particularly for a private detective.

The series only ran for one season, and in truth it is patchy. But the best episodes are superb, and, because ITV shows tended to have bigger budgets than their BBC rivals, some wonderful location shots bring not-so-swinging London to life in a way few other contemporary shows manage.

The real irony is that while many of the original cast now know all about death first-hand, the original ghost Mr. Marty ‘White Suit’ Hopkirk – who reputedly wore his black wig the wrong way round for the first few episodes – is still going strong.

This is how they died …

Mike PrattJeff Randall – 10 July 1976, aged 45. Was a successful song-writer who wrote for Tommy Steele. Pratt also wrote scripts and co-wrote one of the best Randall & Hopkirk episodes – ‘A Disturbing Case’. Lung cancer.

Dennis Spooner – co-creater/writer – 20 September 1986, aged 53. Prolific writer who also scripted for THUNDERBIRDS, STINGRAY, DOCTOR WHO, THE CHAMPIONS, DEPARTMENT S, and JASON KING. Once played professional football for Leyton Orient! Heart attack.

Monty Berman – co-creator/producer – 14 June 2006, aged 101. Former camera assistant turned producer, Monty went on to secure the rights for THE SAINT before forming Scoton Productions with Dennis Spooner. Natural causes.

And a selection of the guest stars …

David HealyBugsy Spanio in ‘Murder Ain’t What it Used to Be’ – 25 October 1995, aged 66. Wonderful, hugely underrated, this American born actor who starred in UFO and provided the voice of Shane Weston in Joe 90. Complications following a heart operation.

Ronald LaceyBeatnik in ‘My Late Lamented Friend and Partner’ – 15 May 1991, aged 55. The best leer in the business; had to have his lower intestines removed in his 20s. Liver failure.

Gerald FloodDr. Lambert in ‘A Disturbing Case’ – 12 April 1989, aged 61. Also voiced Kamelion in DOCTOR WHO. Grandfather of current English rugby no.10. Heart attack.

Peter JonesFrederick P. Waller in ‘The House on Haunted Hill’ – 10 April 2000, aged 79. Most famously voice of the Book in the radio and TV versions of THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. Natural causes.

Arthur BroughSnowy in ‘That’s How Murder Snowballs’ – 28 May 1978, aged 73. Went on to star as Mr. Grainger in ARE YOU BEING SERVED. Natural causes.

Patricia HainesMartha in ‘Somebody Just Walked Over My Grave’ – 25 February 1977, aged 45. Michael Caine’s first wife. Lung cancer.

Roger DelgadoTapiro in ‘The Ghost Who Saved the Bank at Monte Carlo’ – 18 June 1973, aged 55. Went on to BE the Master in DOCTOR WHO. Car crash.

Lois MaxwellKim Wentworth in ‘For the Girl who has Everything’ – 29 September 2007, aged 80. Reckoned to have spoken fewer than 200 words in the 14 BOND films she starred in as Miss Moneypenny. Bowel cancer.

Nicholas CourtneyMax in ‘The Ghost Who Saved the Bank at Monte Carlo’ – 22 February 2011, aged 81. Yet another cast member with links to DOCTOR WHO, Nicholas nailed the part of the unflappable head of UNIT (United nations Intelligence Taskforce). Five rounds rapid! Cancer.

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Barbie Gets a Lapdance Joins the 3000 Club

3000 views and still going strong.

Check out the script here (pdf).

And the flick below. That fantastic music is the theme tune for UFO.

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Sad update to Doctor Who Celebrity Deathwatch


The internet mourns.


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Evil Barbie Laughing Hits 5500


43 ‘likes’ and 4 ‘thumbs down’.

Not bad for a movie about Barbis watching a guy scalding himself.

Check it out the script here: Evil_Barbie_Laughing (pdf).

And the movie in all its squeaky glory below:

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