Stargazing

David Hardy Interview 1979a.jpg
David Hardy Interview 1979b.jpg

I had the immense pleasure of interviewing my old friend Dave Hardy on Tuesday, with the footage (photographed by Chrissie Harper) to be divided between two separate programmes on Made in Birmingham TV. As I reminded him, the previous time I profiled Dave was way back in 1979, not long after I moved from the Walsall Observer to its sister title in Solihull (my home town, of course).

Down the Tube [4]

Birmingham News 2017-03-04 Inn screngrab.jpg

I’ve become somewhat of a regular fixture on Made in Birmingham TV of late, and Saturday saw my fifth report in a row for Birmingham News Weekend Magazine. The first two focussed upon the recent Blue Orange Theatre production of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the next two featured extracts from Adam Nevill’s appearance at the Birmingham Horror Group, and the latest concerned a local pub being honoured by Birmingham CAMRA. In due course, all five will be available via YouTube.

On the Air

Back in the autumn of 1993, I made several appearances on The Way Out, broadcast live on BBC Radio 5 each Friday night from Birmingham’s famous Pebble Mill studios. Shortly afterwards, Radio 5 was re-engineered beyond all recognition into 5 Live, ending my blossoming career as the show’s resident horror and science fiction pundit, whilst the studios were closed in 2004 and demolished the following year.

Anyhow, my rather busy Saturday began with a call from the regional station BBC Radio WM, so that morning presenter Mollie Green (no relation) could ask me about the Birmingham Horror Group, that evening’s guest appearance by Adam Nevill and plans for the first Birmingham FearFest. You can hear our conversation via the link above.

Strip Teaser [2]

I guess the first appearance of Chrissie’s and my comic strip ‘The Lighter Side’ didn’t prompt readers to march towards the Dark Side offices waving burning torches like a scene from the 1930s horror movies we lampooned, because the January issue features our second collaboration, this time a nod to a more recent British classic.

As previously mentioned, you can see more of Chrissie’s work at her own website, Chez Chrissie, and support her webcomics via Patreon.

It’s still early days, so any support from Dark Side readers is very welcome. You can contact the editor, Allan Bryce, via allan@thedarksidemagazine.com.

Saturday Night Fervour

Had a rather busy Saturday. Even as I was driving into Birmingham for the latest gathering of the Birmingham Horror Group at the Gunmakers Arms, Lee Bannister was introducing Chrissie’s and my report from the Blue Orange Theatre for Made in Birmingham TV’s Birmingham News Weekend Magazine.

Shortly afterwards, I was on stage with author Adam Nevill, discussing his influences, his new novel Under a Watchful Eye (a terrific read, by the way) and the impending movie adaptation of The Ritual, which had only been announced two days earlier. The conversation was filmed for use on two separate Made in Birmingham TV shows, the general material for Lee and the film-related footage for his colleague Carl Jones’ daily cinema slot. In addition, the interview will be transcribed for a forthcoming issue of the magazine Fear.

[Photograph above by Chrissie Harper]

Class Act [2]

The first of Chrissie’s and my reports from the Blue Orange Theatre on its latest production of Lady Chatterley’s Lover aired on Saturday, as part of Made in Birmingham TV’s Birmingham News Weekend Magazine. To my surprise, presenter Lee Bannister announced the second will be broadcast next weekend (I’d expected it to be held back until 18 February).

Above, you can see me in conversation with the play’s director, Tina Hofman; in the follow-up, I talk to actors Abi Castleton (Connie Chatterley) and Marcus Fernando (Oliver Mellors).

Class act

Paid another visit to Birmingham’s Blue Orange Theatre on Tuesday, to film an interview with Tina Hofman, director of the Theatre’s production of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, plus cast members Abi Castleton (Connie Chatterley) and Marcus Fernando (Oliver Mellors). As usual, Chrissie Harper shot the raw footage and will be handling the final edit.

The week-long in-house run began Thursday night, then it’s off on a month’s UK tour. Looking forward to catching a performance early next week.

[You can watch my conversation in September with Blue Orange Theatre trustee Mark Webster here.]

The Social Whirl

My colleague Chrissie Harper and I will be taking next Tuesday evening off, in order to join members of the Made In Birmingham TV team in celebrating the channel’s expansion onto Sky. We haven’t actually visited the company’s Walsall headquarters since my first appearance on The Big Picture six months ago, so it’ll be nice to have a little face-to-face contact with the presenters and studio crew.

With Stars In His Eyes

I learned yesterday that my old friend Peter Weston passed away on Thursday, aged 73. He’d been severely ill for several years and had consciously wound down a lifetime’s involvement in science fiction fandom in order to spend more time with his wife Eileen, their daughters and the wider family.

Next month would have been the fortieth anniversary of our first encounter, at the Birmingham Science Fiction Group, one which he quoted me recalling years later in his own memoir With Stars in my Eyes (NESFA Press, 2004). Later in 1977, he returned from Miami with news of the UK team he chaired having secured the 1979 Worldcon, the very first of those events I attended. His friendship, counsel and support was always welcome, such as when I headed up another worldcon bid, this time for 1989 (it eventually mutated into the successful 1987 bid, under more experienced hands).

My life would have been incalculably different and diminished had our paths not crossed, and I know this loss is shared by many, many people across the world. For now, my thoughts remain with his family.

Saturday Night at the Movies

As well as launching a new venue for its monthly meetings, Birmingham’s historic Gunmakers Arms, the Birmingham Horror Group held its first movie event on 7 January, when I got to introduce no fewer than 14 short films and a handful of trailers. Several of the directors sent along pre-recorded introductions, whilst local film-maker Carl Timms turned up to introduce his zombie comedy Still in person and discuss it with me afterwards on stage. The interview was filmed for Ghostwords TV, and Made In Birmingham TV wants to look at a three-minute extract for airing this Friday.

Update #1: Free tickets for the 4 February meeting are now available online.
Update #2: The extract was screened on 13 January as part of The Week with Carl Jones, and repeated twice during that weekend.