The Unmutual Photo Report: A CELEBRATION OF ITC 2
Report by Rick Davy. Photos: Alys Hayes, Rick Davy, Stuart Render, Crispin Hodges, Cliff Harris. Not to be reproduced without permission.
On October 19 th 2019, for the fourth time in less than two years, The Studio Suite at the iconic Elstree Studios, home to ‘Star Wars', the Indiana Jones movies, ‘The Crown', ‘Strictly Come Dancing', and countless ITC classic TV series, came alive to the sounds of an exciting event, co-organised by Quoit Media Limited and The Unmutual Website.
‘A Celebration of ITC 2' was a follow up to the very successful ‘A Celebration of ITC' event, held in November 2018. Both events were sell-outs of 240 people, and both held in aid of Ty Gobaith Hospice for terminally-ill children.
As well as being a celebration of all ITC series, including of course both ‘Danger Man' and ‘The Prisoner', this year's event was celebrating two very special 50 th anniversaries – ‘Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)', and ‘Strange Report'.
As well as screenings, on-stage Q&As, star guests, signing sessions, and other activities, there was also an outdoor attraction, in the form of a line-up of ITC-related vehicles!
The Jeep famously seen in the series ‘UFO' sat alongside not one, but two, vehicles related to ‘Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)' – an original motorbike seen in an episode, and a replica of Jeff Randall's Vauxhall Victor from the series! And last, but not least, in a nod to ‘The Prisoner' series, a Caterham 7 car.
After a chance to meet, chat to, have photos with, and get stuff signed from our special guests, or browse the books and merchandise area, it was time for the event to begin, with David Mackenzie's regular ‘opening montage' film, showing all the guests in action during various ITC shows. After a rapturous round of applause, it was time for Elstree Studios chairman Morris Bright to open the event in his usual amusing and inimitable style.
As event host I then took to the stage to welcome everyone, and send apologies for those who could not be there, as well as welcome the special guests, and also family members of deceased ITC alumni, and folk who could not be present.
First up was our first screening of the evening, a specially recorded greeting and selection of memories of Elstree Studios and ‘Randall and Hopkirk', from legendary director Ray Austin. Next up was the first celebrity panel of the evening: Annette Andre, Valerie Leon, and Carol Cleveland, and what a fascinating panel it was! The three ladies had several ITC series in common, including ‘The Saint', ‘The Persuaders', and ‘Randall and Hopkirk' and there were countless memories from those shows, and others. There are too many stories from the 30-minute Q&A session to recount them all here (wait for the DVD, it will all be included), but a few highlights… Valerie recalled a particularly amusing un-scripted kiss from Roger Moore, which did not make the cutting room floor, on ‘The Persuaders', Annette Andre ending up with a bottom full of splinters in ‘The Baron', and Carol Cleveland having to cry multiple times for ‘Randall and Hopkirk'! All three ladies were a delight to talk to, and as with all of the Q&A sessions throughout the evening, if only we'd have had much time to talk for longer!
‘The Prisoner' of course got a mention by Annette, who has never been backwards in coming forwards about her dislike of the way Patrick McGoohan behaved behind-the-scenes on the episode. However, she did also state that this ‘spark' between the two of them meant that the scenes had a great sense of tension, needed for the episode, and that she had viewed the episode again reasonably and was happy with how it turned out.
Continuing the ‘Randall and Hopkirk' content, next up was a recorded telephone interview (conducted by myself the week before the event) with Kenneth Cope. The audience were visibly moved by him thanking everyone for coming, and ‘thank you all for remembering it – I had such a good time on that show!'
Next up was our second Q&A of the evening. Stunt man and stunt arranger Paul Weston, and actresses Caron Gardner and Aimi Macdonald. Again, another fascinating Q&A. Both Caron and Paul had worked with Patrick McGoohan, so it was interesting to get the perspectives of two other people who also worked with the actor. Caron Gardner felt he was very shy, when she worked with him on ‘Danger Man', but broke the ice and they got on very well. She played the part of an army lietenant, and McGoohan had apparently approached her on the first day of filming and noted “I love a woman in uniform!” Paul, who worked on both ‘Danger Man' and ‘The Prisoner', felt that it was very random as to what mood he was going to be in each day!
Paul continued by saying that he felt ‘The Prisoner' particularly was a great series and he would have loved to have been able to work on further episodes and series' of the series. Alas, as we know, it was not to be.
There then followed great discussions about stunt work, as Aimi Macdonald recalled her time on ‘The Saint' and drawing blood whilst doing her own stunt. There were also very interesting discussions on subjects such as the ITC show ‘Shirley's World', working with Roger Moore, and the arrogance of Kevin Costner! Again, the guests were great company and we could have talked all night (and Aimi very nearly did, bless her!)
It was then interval time, and the chance for the ticket holders to again get items signed from the various guests (many of whom had photos available for sale, along with copies of the memoirs etc).
First up for the second half was another screening, a lovely selection of interview clips of the late, great Dennis Spooner, who of course created so many ITC shows, provided by his daughter Elaine, who has kindly supported all four of my events at Elstree Studios.
Next up was the next Q&A session, this time dedicated to the ITC shows made by Gerry Anderson. Joining Gerry's son Jamie on stage was ‘Thunderbirds' voice artist Matt ‘Alan Tracy' Zimmerman, and ‘Space 1999' actress Laraine Humphrys. Another fascinating discussion, Matt talked about a typical recording day for the series, and his love of comedy, and a highly amusing tale of his first audition. Laraine remembered little about her time on her ITC shows, but shall we say it was very much down to Martin Landau personally that she got to be in so many episodes! Another bonus in this Q&A was to hear from attendee Adam Hardwick, who is head of TV at the Forces TV television channel, who have screened many Gerry Anderson shows in recent years, who talked about the success of the shows. Forces TV, under its previous guise of ‘The British Forces Broadcasting Service', showed ‘The Prisoner' back in the early 2000s, of course!
Next up was the lovely Anneke Wills, who chatted very lovingly about ‘Strange Report' in which she starred, and which was celebrating its 50 th anniversary. Anneke was a delight to meet, and we also took time to discuss her very moving two autobiographies. Also in the audience was Tony Sloman, film librarian on ‘The Prisoner', who worked on ‘Strange Report' as a dubbing editor, who had with him his original door sign and scripts from the series. Anneke also chatted about working on ‘The Saint', ‘Doctor Who', and was then joined by Tim Beddows, managing director of Network Distributing, who of course have released so many ITC shows, including ‘The Prisoner' and ‘Danger Man', on DVD. Tim talked about what was coming soon from the company, and also took a straw poll of the audience as to what ITC shows they would like to see next.
There then followed a fascinating presentation by restoration colourist Jonathan Wood, responsible for HD restoring so many shows. He started by describing how much work is involved in preparing, finding, and restoring all the original film elements when it comes to restoring HD shows for DVD and BluRay. Jonathan then provided a second film, which illustrated the strides that have been made in the industry.
Displaying the same clip from ‘The Persuaders' four times brilliantly outlines to the audience the differences between: original broadcast quality, VHS video, DVD, and then BluRay.
Last, but not least, our final Q&A. Actress Jennie Linden, and actor Derek Fowlds. Although these two guests had been waiting several hours, and their Q&A began nearly 60 minutes late, such was the enjoyment and details provided during the earlier events and Q&S during the evening, this did not detract from an incredibly amusing, interesting, and heartfelt discussion. It began, of course, with discussion of shows such as ‘Gideon's Way' and ‘Thriller' in which Derek had appeared, and ‘The Champions' and ‘The Persuaders' and others in which Jennie appeared, the discussion turned to their careers as a whole, with Jennie's memories of folk like Peter Cushing and Kenneth Williams fascinating, and Derek's memories of ‘Yes Minister', ‘Hartbeat', and ‘The Basil Brush Show' wonderful to hear. Close to tears at the love shown to him by the audience, and also the public throughout his career, this Q&A was a very apt end to what had been a wonderful evening.
Thank you so much to everyone who attended and supported the event. I very much hope that these events can continue into the future.
A full list of thankyous can be found in the event programme. Feedback from the event can be found below.
Thank you for a great evening. I hope it went well for you and raised money for the charity."
Anneke Wills and Matt
"You really did a terrific job, particularly with the clips & Ken's talk & that Ray did is thing. I must say I was telly touched by the genuine affection for R&H by you and fans & so happy that I was there to be a part of it all. I will call Ken this week to tell him about it, he'll be chuffed."
"What a great event it was, thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish and all the guest enjoyed themselves too. You put on great events Rick and you are wonderful to work with."
Pete Sims, agent to Matt Zimmerman, Aimi Macdonald, Jennie Linden, Larane Humphrys, Derek Fowlds.
"A GREAT evening Pete. Both Aimi and I enjoyed the event. Catch up soon. Super photo's. All the very best.... Michael & Aimi xxx"
Aimi Macdonald & Michael
"Fantastic evening, I didn't think the bike would be so popular."
Bruce Honey, owner of Randall and Hopkirk Motorcycle
"Thank you so much for putting on the event on Saturday and for inviting me and Phil. Everyone seemed to have a fantastic time – and people are already talking about ITC 3!"
"Great event last night Rick. Well done..packed house and wonderful atmosphere.
A lot of effort went on to that I could see that Very impressive."
Morris Bright, Chairman Elstree Studios.
"It was a really fascinating and enjoyable evening, and so lovely to see it so packed - a testament to all the hard work you no doubt put into the event. Hope you can have now put your feet up for at least a while! Great to meet you."
Richard James (The Gerry Anderson Podcast)
"Had an amazing night!!!!
Was updating grandad on how the night was going."
"Thank you all for organising a fantastic fun evening Saturday Well done all of you was a privilege to attend and meet so many like minded people."
"Well done to young Davy for a great evening . it is a pity they cannot be more often."
Paul Welsh MBE
"My pals and I had the best time. Great event, nice organisation, guests superb and brilliantly handled on-stage too. Been involved in similar events myself over the years so know how hard it can all be to manage but for me I thought is ran smooth and with little or no issue Thanks again."
"Another fabulous night. Just like last year, every guest was genuinely interesting and entertaining. And you knocked it out of the park, Rick!"
"Rick, you did a marvellous job. There were a few unscripted ‘noises off' but you smashed it with your smooth presentation skills. Thanks for an entertaining evening."
"Just a brief note to say personally thank you very much for putting on tonight's wonderful evening's entertainment."
Thank you for arranging a superb evening which I throughly enjoyed. You were just brilliant interviewing all the celebrities.and importantly the conversation flowed so well. I loved the inside stories that they told. Just a brilliant evening.
"Fabulous evening at Elstree Studios for Rick Davy's marvellous A Celebration of ITC 2 event. It was a pleasure to spend time and catch up with so many friends and the event itself was spectacular. Still buzzing."
"Another fantastic evening with the proceeds going to Ty Gobaith Children's Hospice. What's not to like!"
"Congratulations Rick Davy on a superb evening as usual!"
"Fabulous evening thank you."
"We really had a great time. Thank you for organising it."
"Wonderful event, great guests, lovely atmosphere. Well done to Rick Davy and all involved."
"Absolutely smashing evening at Elstree Studios for A Celebration of ITC 2. Wonderful stories from guests and a lovely atmosphere. Great to celebrate some ITC anniversary years too. Well done."
"Such a fascinating night.
Hearing about the shows and seeing clips has made want to get some of the shows now. Made me have more and alot of affection for them."
"Thanks for all that Rick - we had a great night."
"A belated congratulations on the ITC 2 event, which was extremely impressive. I know a lot of people who attended and they share my opinion."
"I'd just like to say how much I enjoyed the ITC event last Saturday. It was great seeing the various guests talking about their experiences on these wonderful shows. It was also an absolute pleasure to meet and talk to these entertaining people. Everyone involved in bringing this event to us fans deserves a big thank you. I attended last year's event and I enjoyed this event just as much, if not more. I really hope there is going to be an ITC 3 at Elstree next year and I also look forward to the DVD when it comes out."
"Huge thanks to you Rick and all at Quoit Media/Unmutual for making this event happen. It was an absolutely amazing evening, everything about it was great. All the guests were lovely, really friendly and great to chat to and get photos with (I'm so starstruck when I meet these people!) and the Q&As were all really interesting and superbly conducted. And all for such a great cause too .. fantastic stuff."
"That was a brilliant evening!"
"A superb event, well organised. Speaking with the actors they commented that the event was significantly more relaxed and enjoyable than other fan events. Well done to all the team!"
"Just wanted to say thank you for the cracking ITC event you put on last Saturday night.
Great interviewing on stage too, it was a fantastic night, congratulations mate.
May not be the best time to say it (you must be exhausted) but dare I say roll on ITC 3."
"Great night had by all, hope you do many more of these."
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