Visit the official Doctor Who website

Visit the official Doctor Who website
Look to the future

Asylum seekers...

Asylum seekers...
Refuge of the Daleks

Doctor Who picture resource

Doctor Who picture resource
Roam the space lanes!

Explore the Doctor Who classic series website

Explore the Doctor Who classic series website
Step back in time

Infiltrate The Hub of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood

Infiltrate The Hub of Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood
Armed and extremely dangerous

Investigate The Sarah Jane Adventures

Investigate The Sarah Jane Adventures
Fearless in the face of adversity

Call on Dani’s House

Call on Dani’s House
Harmer’s a charmer

Intercept the UFO fabsite

Intercept the UFO fabsite
Defending the Earth against alien invaders!

Uncover the secrets of the Dollhouse

Uncover the secrets of the Dollhouse
Programmable agent Echo exposed!

Hell’s belles

Hell’s belles
Naughty but nice

Love Exposure

Love Exposure
Flash photography!

Primeval portal

Primeval portal
Dressed to kill or damsels in distress?

Charmed, to be sure!

Charmed, to be sure!
The witches of San Francisco

Take on t.A.T.u.

Take on t.A.T.u.
All the way from Moscow

Proceed to the Luther website

Proceed to the Luther website
John and Jenny discuss their next move

DCI Banks is on the case

DCI Banks is on the case
You can bet on it!

On The Grid with Spooks

On The Grid with Spooks
Secret agents of Section D

Bridge to Hustle

Bridge to Hustle
Shady characters

Life on Ashes To Ashes

Life on Ashes To Ashes
Coppers with a chequered past

Claire’s no Exile

Claire’s no Exile
Goose steps

Vexed is back on the beat!

Vexed is back on the beat!
Mismatched DI Armstrong and bright fast-tracker Georgina Dixon

Medium, both super and natural

Medium, both super and natural
Open the door to your dreams

Who’s that girl? (350-picture Slideshow)

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Far Beyond the Pale Horizon

There’s an excellent new rock-documentary series, in seven parts, currently running on BBC Two, on Saturday evenings, appropriately entitled “Seven Ages of Rock”! Last weekend, it’s repeated on Sundays on BBC One, the second instalment moved forward from the rhythm and blues of the Sixties, featured in the first programme, to the era of glam and progressive rock under the title “White Light, White Heat: Art Rock”. It essentially covered the work of five acts, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Velvet Underground, David Bowie and Roxy Music, exploring the links, as the episode-title suggests, between art and rock! Bryan Ferry read Fine Art at Newcastle University, for example, while Andy Warhol managed Lou Reed’s band, the Velvets, in the States. During the Peter Gabriel era of Genesis the movement became increasingly surreal as Gabriel donned a red dress and the head of a fox!! This harked back to the days when Pink Floyd boasted Syd Barrett as their lead singer, detailing the release of their first single, “Arnold Layne”, about a transvestite stealing women’s underwear from washing lines!!! Controversial, for the time, whereas today he could just pop into Primark’s!

Keeping a sharp eye, and ear, on the career of Syd was a young man named David Jones who, after changing his surname to Bowie, picked up where Barrett left off, scoring a novelty hit in the late Sixties with a song called “Space Oddity”. It wasn’t until 1972 that Bowie became a major player, however, with the release of hit single “Starman” from the album “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”. He would later cover Floyd’s second single, the exceptional “See Emily Play”, on his album “Pinups”. Supporting Bowie on a couple of major concert dates in London was an up-and-coming glam-rock outfit called Roxy Music. Again in 1972, they released what became a seminal rock single based on one of Bryan’s paintings, “Virginia Plain”. In my opinion, there hasn’t been a single to top the inventiveness of this recording in the last 35 years. Its strengths lie in the instrumentation and sonority of the track rather than melody and harmony. Chromatic bass line, synthesiser treatments, oboe ostinato coupled with Ferry’s voice and lyric, pulling together an extraordinary list of references, make this song unique in the annals of rock. Programme three, next weekend, documents the rise of Punk in the late Seventies!

Monday, 28 May 2007

To Serve Them All My Days

Season three of new “Doctor Who” reaches its middle two-part story, that portion of a series, previously established initially with “The Empty Child” and latterly with “The Impossible Planet”, containing most substance! This year seems to be no exception judging from the opening episode, “Human Nature”. It’s a more interesting and complex tale than writer Paul Cornell’s previous offering two years ago, in the opening season’s “Father’s Day”, which I enjoyed on first viewing but disliked thereafter. “Human Nature” actually predates that Christopher Eccleston episode, originally appearing as a Seventh Doctor novel in the mid-Nineties, now updated by its original author to accommodate the current Doctor and latest companion. Speaking of Martha, and as I indicated in a comment posted on Old Cheeser’s blog before the recent report published in “The Sun”, I’m beginning to wonder if she will survive beyond this season? I haven’t heard that she’s had her contract renewed for next year! And, I’m pondering whether or not Kylie Minogue might fill the part of stopgap-companion, as did Catherine Tate, in the forthcoming Christmas special?

As good as “Human Nature” undoubtedly is, there’s one gaping plot hole that occurred to me on second viewing. Why on earth was something as important as the Doctor’s fob watch left lying about on the mantelpiece for all to peruse? It’s quite possible the Doctor as John Smith would open it himself, having no recollection of its function. Or, maybe Joan might’ve become curious and taken a peek. It’s essentially a homing device for the Family of Blood, for goodness sake, and would’ve surely been better concealed, undisturbed, on Martha’s person! As it is, my namesake Tim is the one who eventually unlocks the device which could bring about the possible demise of the man he has hitherto regarded as his teacher. The Family need to trace the Doctor in order to extend their own lives beyond a month. Regarding the Scarecrows, do any fans of the original series find their lollop reminiscent of the Marshmen in “Full Circle”?!! And, finally, what is it with the current production team and wedding dresses?!! Two dummies, wearing them, attack Jackie in “Rose”. Then, two weddings feature in “Father’s Day”. Last December, Catherine Tate donned one, appropriately enough, in “The Runaway Bride”! And, next week, Joan will appear in one in the concluding episode, “The Family of Blood”!! Stay tuned…

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Absolute Garbage

You might think that with a Post-title such as “Absolute Garbage” I’d be writing about government plans to ensure we spend the rest of our lives separating card from the rest of the rubbish! At least five different-colour bins should keep kids happy and a £20-fine if we so much as throw out one Mars bar-wrapper too many!! Then there’s the news that the public may be charged for the use of roads, a sample cost being that a single journey from Bristol to London will come in at £160.80!!! And, what about the new forms to fill in before you can sell your house at between a hefty £400 to £700?!! Film director and former “Monty Python” animator, Terry Gilliam was right in “Brazil”, almost a quarter of a century ago, when he suggested that one day we would be paying to breathe fresh air!!! I don’t know about you but I don’t believe politicians “breathe the same air” as I do. Anyway, enough of this twaddle on trash! This piece isn’t about waste disposal, throwing out the junk, refusing to collect the refuse, it’s about the imminent release of the greatest hits collection of that super-charged Anglo-American beat combo known as Garbage!! Absolutely!!!

More specifically, I’m writing to let you know that the new single and video, recorded especially for inclusion on “Absolute Garbage”, will be aired twice this coming Bank Holiday Monday (technically on Tuesday morning) just after midnight on Channel 4. It’s called “Tell Me Where It Hurts” to which I would answer “in the pocket” if all the complaints of the previous paragraph come to fruition! Garbage are a four-piece, the lead singer, Shirley Manson, hailing from Scotland while the three guys, Duke Erikson, Steve Marker and Butch Vig, originate from Madison, Wisconsin, in the USA. They’ve been in existence since 1994 and have produced four studio albums that have yielded a string of hit singles. Most of them appear on their new compilation, the release date for which is uncertain though possibly June 4th. I’m thinking the title, “Absolute Garbage”, is post-modern irony because were Westlife to release a “Best of” collection it would, quite blatantly, be a lie! So, I assume “Absolute Garbage” is anything but that which the title literally suggests!! Perhaps the band are simply being honest in that anyone remotely cultured knows that, even though one may enjoy it, all pop music is absolute garbage!!! However you view it, here’s the track-listing…

Only Happy When It Rains
Stupid Girl
#1 Crush
Push It
I Think I’m Paranoid
When I Grow Up
You Look So Fine
The World is Not Enough
Cherry Lips
Shut Your Mouth
Why Do You Love Me
Bleed Like Me
Tell Me Where It Hurts
It’s All Over But The Crying

Thursday, 24 May 2007

A living nightmare of black magic… and unspeakable evil!

You may well have noticed in my recent list of top ten movies a distinctly British feel to the compilation and that’s because, these days, I have some difficulty equating the American way of life with my own, despite both nations speaking the same language! At least, we speak the same language to a certain extent but the connection between the two countries doesn’t really go any further than that. Even in my choices involving US participation, such as “Alien”, there is also a strong British contingent. “Alien” has a British director in Ridley Scott, who almost designed the Daleks whilst at the BBC in the early Sixties, as well as a couple of Brits in the cast alongside the five Americans. “Lifeforce” may have been directed by an American but it is set predominantly in London with a mainly British cast.

In the Nineties, in the absence of any new British science fiction or fantasy series, with the exception of “Bugs” (curiously broadcast at the same time of year, on the same channel and evening, and in the same timeslot as new “Doctor Who” is now), I watched a fair amount of American television, predominantly the various spin-offs of “Star Trek” and “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer”, together with its spin-off “Angel”. How times change! I no longer watch any US telly. I’ve seen but a few minutes of “Battlestar Galactica”, never watched “Ugly Betty”, and not even a few minutes of Englishman Hugh Laurie, playing American, in “House”. For the most part, when Brit actors work in the States they tend to produce inferior work. I best remember Alan Rickman as Slope in “The Barchester Chronicles”, for example, rather than the baddie in “Die Hard” or as the Sheriff of Nottingham!

The behaviour of Americans does at times seem, to me, to be extreme and excessive. From twenty years ago, I remember an American character in the second series of “A Very Peculiar Practice” describing the UK as a “pissant little swamp”! This was, of course, writer Andrew Davies telling his audience the way he thinks the citizens of the US see us and so is, perhaps, something of a generalisation. My father has worked with Americans, though, and has told me they sometimes commented on the smallness of everything over here! Does bigger automatically mean better, then? I think the marketing machine of Hollywood, representing its country both at home and abroad, would have us believe that it does! Many, if not most, people nowadays derive their viewing pleasure from films, nay movies, made from wads of cash thrown at each project, the result of which is usually nowt more than forgettable throwaway fluff.

I dare you to watch the opening three-and-a-half minutes of Seventies’ horror film “Blood on Satan’s Claw” and not be hooked by the cliff-hanger! Wallow in the Britishness of its direction and creative use of camera angle. Listen to the haunting score by Marc Wilkinson with its inclusion of one of Stravinsky’s favourite instruments the cimbalom, an east-European instrument a little like a piano, but played with various types of mallet. Enjoy the initial appearances of Barry Andrews, as Ralph Gower, who a few years earlier had appeared in “Dracula Has Risen from the Grave”, and Wendy Padbury, as Cathy Vespers. She well-and-truly leaves “Doctor Who” behind her in this film. Then, there is our beautiful English countryside to gaze upon. Yes, the pace is slow. It’s so slow you can even read the credits! But, as when listening to Bach, you appreciate with a cleansed soul, free from the Romantic syrup of Rachmaninov!!

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Sun Probe

“Doctor Who” has no internal logic! In “42”, Francine Jones remarks upon the fact that she has received three calls from her daughter in one day, the implication being that she’s usually lucky to hear from her at all. Yet, it was established right at the beginning of this series that the Jones family are always on the phone to one another! Martha’s Mum could only feel this way if a great deal of time has elapsed, between the end of the events of “The Lazarus Experiment” and the start of the deep space epic that is “42”, during which the Doctor’s new companion hasn’t phoned home at all. Up to the beginning of “The Lazarus Experiment”, despite experiencing four adventures over five episodes, we know Martha has only been away from home for about twelve hours. Her life during this period has therefore been greatly elongated compared with the passage of time on Earth. All of a sudden, in the latest story, it seems that new rules apply. From her mother’s remark, it can now be assumed that time is running concurrently between home and abroad! To be even more precise than Chris Chibnall’s script, Francine has actually received three calls in the space of three-quarters of an hour!!

Then, there’s the space freighter’s illogical computer in “42”. During the countdown to “impact” with the Sun, it periodically tells us how long is left before (total!) destruction, not on the minute or half-minute, as you might expect, but at all sorts of random times probably when best-needed to punctuate the drama! “Impact” is impossible, of course, a Sun being a gaseous body!! In “The End of the World”, two years ago, a great deal was made of having Sun shields on the space station as part of a plot device putting characters in peril. Protection from extreme light and heat no longer seems to be an issue as the Doctor, minutes from zero-time, opens an airlock to operate a fail-safe device situated on the outside of the spaceship!!! There are also twenty-nine password-sealed doors between the bridge and the engine room. I would like to know what idiot designed this vehicle? And, why are human beings possessed or killed for what the Captain has done when they’re all about to die anyway? Even dafter, I actually enjoyed this nonsense!! I must have disengaged my brain for the duration as it is all well-and-good being true to the emotion of a piece but not when it defies commonsense!!!

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Burn Baby Burn

Former “EastEnders” star Michelle Collins tells “BBC Breakfast” about working on the latest “Doctor Who” adventure “42”, illustrated by a further two preview clips! At this rate, I’ll soon have the entire episode posted!! You can see all 42 minutes of “42” tonight at 7.15pm on BBC One!!!

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Next Time is the Best Time

This is the next time trailer for “42” which would have appeared at the end of “The Lazarus Experiment” had it not been replaced by the coming up sequence purportedly created to carry fans over the one week hiatus! I wonder which ending will find its way onto the DVD release, the one shown or this one, as originally intended?

Both Eyes Burning!

This short extract from “42”, lasting just over three-quarters of a minute, was shown at the end of the most recent edition of “Totally Doctor Who”. Designed to give you the collywobbles, it is slightly undermined by Martha’s mobile conversation with her Mother in which Elvis appears to be a password! It suggests the Doctor has tweaked his new companion’s phone, the way he did Rose’s in “The End of the World”!! Hopefully, this won’t dominate the episode but tension and claustrophobia will!!!

The Heat is On…

This excerpt from “42”, running a little over a minute and a quarter and starting eighteen seconds into the clip, was shown during an interview with David Tennant on “Parkinson” and broadcast later the same evening as “The Lazarus Experiment”. The sequence certainly sends a chill down the spine as Martha becomes irrevocably separated from the Doctor! I thought it better than anything seen in the complete episode aired earlier that night!! I’m not biased or anything but “42” is directed by Graeme Harper!!!

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Manic Street Preachers ft Nina Persson - Your Love Alone is Not Enough

I’ve never been a fan of the Manic Street Preachers but, much like U2, I don’t dislike them either! I think it’s because I’m attracted more to pop songs with unusual chord progressions rather than the usual bog-standard three or four. But, it hasn’t stopped Bob Dylan from being a revered songwriter and, like Mr Zimmerman, I think the point of the Manics is their politics. I presume the song that springs to most people’s minds, that best represents their ideology, is “If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next”.

Having long been a fan of The Cardigans, however, I was curious to discover how the duet turned out between their lead singer Nina Persson and James Dean Bradfield, lead singer of the Manics. There’s some dodgy word setting but the English language is notoriously difficult to set to music. German is much easier! But Nina’s looking good, not that that has anything to do with how it sounds, and it’s a fun video, in which the two stages are joined together in a show of unity, so I’ve posted “Your Love Alone is Not Enough”, the first single from the Manic Street Preachers’ new album “Send Away the Tigers”, for you to make up your own minds!

Your love alone – is not enough, not enough, not enough
When times get tough – they get tough, they get tough, they get tough

Trade all your heroes in for ghosts, in for ghosts, in for ghosts
They’re always the one’s that love you most, love you most, love you most

Your love alone – is not enough, not enough, not enough
It’s what you felt – it’s what you said, what you said, what you said

You said the sky would fall on you, fall on you, fall on you
Through all the pain your eyes stayed blue – they stayed blue, baby blue

But your love alone won’t save the world
You knew the secret of the universe
Despite it all, you made it worse
It left you lonely, it left you cursed

You stole the sun – straight from my heart, from my heart, from my heart
With no excuses – just fell apart, fell apart, fell apart

No, you won’t make a mess of me, mess of me, mess of me
For you’re as blind as a man can be, man can be, man can be

I could have seen for miles and miles
I could have made you feel alive
I could have placed us in exile
– I could have written all your lines –
I could have shown you – I could have shown you – how to cry

Your love alone is not enough
Your love alone is not enough

La, la, la, la – la, la, la, la–a–a
I could have shown you, shown you how to cry

Your love alone is not enough
Your love alone

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Who would you like to see?

On “Parkinson”, a week ago, appearing alongside David Tennant, actress Amanda Holden made the remark that all her friends have appeared in “Doctor Who” except her and that she would like to appear in the programme. I suspect “all her friends” was a bit of an exaggeration and that she was actually referring to Sarah (Empress of the Racnoss) Parish with whom she worked on Debbie Horsfield’s “Cutting It”. Amanda’s an ok actress, and I enjoyed her as schoolteacher Miss Titley in “The Grimleys” to a certain extent, but there are better actresses out there who have yet to appear in the programme. I don’t think Kylie is one of them! However, it’s just been confirmed that Miss Minogue will be appearing in the Christmas Special, despite Russell T Davies’ recent denial, but not as a baddie. So, Kylie’s not booked up for the next two years as the Executive Producer of “Doctor Who” would have us believe! As filming special-guest roles often requires just two-to-three days work, I didn’t think for a minute that the Aussie songstress wouldn’t be able to fit an appearance into her busy schedule. Oh, and Russell, I don’t believe a word you say about anything!

With more stunt casting to look forward to, and with the ratings’ continued decline being the real reason behind the decision to take a week’s hiatus before relaunching with “42”, it’s reassuring to know that Russell ploughs on, regardless, with more of the same! “42” is on at 7:15pm this coming Saturday. There was no reason why it couldn’t have been on last night, at that same time, with “The Eurovision” at 8pm! But, in their infinite wisdom, the BBC, despite having a three-and-a-quarter hour “Song Contest” to wade through, chose to run with “Any Dream Will Do” for a further third of that time giving us a grand total of four hours and twenty minutes of something purporting to be music! Who said variety is dead? The very fact that “Neighbours” has been on our screens for more than twenty years, five days a week and in the same time slot, not to mention twice a day, proves the powers that be aren’t remotely interested in providing a little variety. Interminable waffle about superficial relationships for brain-dead dumb heads is, about, what it all boils down to. And, talking about this most-popular of Aussie soaps brings us neatly back to Kylie. So, if not her, which actors and actresses would you rather see making a guest appearance in “Doctor Who”?

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Turn Back Time

The latest episode of “Doctor Who”, “The Lazarus Experiment”, seemed to take its ideas from just about every horror film ever made so, not surprisingly, failed to come up with anything new! Everybody was dressed very smartly, no doubt reusing the tuxedos from last year’s “Rise of the Cybermen” as well as the Sycorax’s big red button from “The Christmas Invasion”, but it couldn’t disguise the derivative nature of the story. David Cronenberg’s remake of “The Fly” starring Jeff Goldblum; “The Quatermass Experiment”; one of the films chosen in my previous post, “Lifeforce”; the conclusion of Tim Burton’s take on “Batman” which itself referenced Charles Laughton in “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”; these were just a few of the sources from which “The Lazarus Experiment” borrowed. It even plagiarised “Doctor Who” itself for its resolution! As recently as “The Runaway Bride”, in fact, amplified sound has been used to defeat an enemy. But before overcoming Santas last Christmas, the Doctor, in his second incarnation, defeated seaweed creatures through amplifying companion Victoria’s scream in “Fury from the Deep”!

“Fury from the Deep” happens to be my all-time favourite “Doctor Who” story but it has a lot to answer for! It was the tale which introduced the sonic screwdriver but in Victor Pemberton’s story was actually used to sonically undo the screws of a gas pipeline, believe it or not, and wasn’t the multi-multi-purpose gadget it has become in new “Who”. I’ve never been keen on K-9’s use as a cure-all in the latter Tom Baker seasons but I don’t recall the computer dog ever being as overused as the sonic screwdriver is now. I recommend rewatching “Gridlock” in order to count the number of times the Doctor gets it out and puts it away when moving between vehicles! Then there’s the psychic paper, used again last week in “Evolution of the Daleks”, which is another gimmick too far. Ever heard of getting into a building using a fake pass, a much more plausible method of achieving the same result in a story? But, when the Doctor whipped out his sonic thingy in the confined space of the Professor’s machine, this week, and Martha asked him what he was going to do with it, I was ready with a few suggestions!

I believe Russell achieved another first with “Lazarus”, too, but I may be wrong. Has the Doctor ever had sisters as companions for a story before, I wonder? He could go one further and try twins next! How about the Cheeky Girls? They have experience, so to speak, in the pop world to commend them, just like our very own Lil Bill, so they must be good!! Anyway, it was strange how, in “Smith and Jones”, Tish didn’t even mention her new job to Martha and yet they are supposed to be really close! And, also in the girls’ debut story, how did Tish manage to get so much time off work to go visit her sister at the hospital, then spend the evening celebrating brother Leo’s birthday, when just twelve hours later, as specifically mentioned in the current story, she is supposed to be organising Richard Lazarus’s demonstration!!! Can’t they even get continuity right within a single season? And, finally, to add insult to injury, the possibility of the Doctor one day meeting Beethoven was discarded with a cheap throwaway line when there is a really good story waiting to be written about the pair of them!

Friday, 4 May 2007

Picture This

Coming up with a list of my all-time favourite movies, as requested by the cheerfully-youthful “Old Cheeser” Simon, was trickier than expected! It is always more interesting for the reader if top tens, such as these, contain a little variety. A number of my favourites, though, have equally good sequels. Some sequels are even preferable to the original, though not often. If several films from a series were to be included, it would make the list a little obvious even though I might choose to watch them in preference to some of those I’ve actually selected. With this in mind, it’s more of “A Top Ten” as opposed to “The Top Ten” but that doesn’t make it any-the-less valid because you might re-evaluate the list at some point anyway. So, without further ado, and in no particular order of preference, I present “My Top Ten Favourite Movies”…

1: “Taste the Blood of Dracula” (1970) Director: Peter Sasdy

I love Hammer Horror! I did at one time know more about this studio’s films than I did “Doctor Who” simply because they were oft-repeated while I was growing up. I especially love their vampire movies and “Taste the Blood of Dracula” is the fourth in their seven-film “Dracula” series. It does of course star Christopher Lee as Dracula although he doesn’t get to say much, except count the number of his victims, but boy is this film sensually erotic. It concerns three bored hypocritical aristocrats, including Geoffrey Keen from the “James Bond” films and Peter Sallis from long running sitcom “Last of the Summer Wine”, seeking ever-extreme thrills until, one night, they take on more than they bargained for in the crypt of a church. Plenty of heaving bosoms but little nudity, it is in fact James Bernard’s music score which delivers the romance with such beautifully-orchestrated melodic punch. Linda Hayden, as Alice Hargood, is the heroine to die for. I’d quite happily be bitten by her, anytime!

2: “Blood on Satan’s Claw” (1971) Director: Piers Haggard

Another horror, this time not from Hammer but from Tigon although it also stars Linda Hayden. “Blood on Satan’s Claw” is about witchcraft and superstitions. Unlike in Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”, with which it has much in common, the fears of local villagers are well-founded as Linda, playing temptress Angel Blake, attempts to seduce the Master himself! Yes, Anthony Ainley appears as a preacher, the Reverend Fallowfield, who gives into her naked charms inside his very church. A whole host of famous faces appear in this film. Wendy Padbury, as Cathy Vespers, is ritualistically raped. Simon Williams dons 17th century period costume while Michele Dotrice gets away from Frank Spencer! Like the Dracula film, it is extremely seductive owing, in no small part, to the direction of Piers Haggard. He is the great grand-nephew of author H. Rider Haggard, though equally famous, in his own right, as the director of Dennis Potter’s much acclaimed television serial, with musical numbers, “Pennies From Heaven”.

3: “Twins of Evil” (1971) Director: John Hough

A second Hammer Horror and, yes, another vampire movie although with “Twins of Evil” the inspiration isn’t from the pen of Bram Stoker but J Sheridan Le Fanu, albeit interpreted rather loosely. It’s one of a trilogy of films centring on the legend of the Countess Mircalla and my favourite movie to feature the much-missed Peter Cushing. Here, though, he isn’t playing Van Helsing but a witch hunter called Gustav Weil, rather in the mould of the “Witchfinder General”. The beauty of this film is in the blurring of the lines between who is the hunter and who the hunted. Good and evil are Twins of the same coin when both lead to the deaths of innocent young women (if there is such a thing!). The title, taken more literally, stars real life twins and “Playboy” playmates Mary and Madeleine Collinson, as Maria and Frieda Gellhorn, who, while undoubtedly beautiful, aren’t exactly the world’s finest actresses. The incidental music strangely makes the film feel like a western at times and, amongst the many delights on offer, concludes with the gruesome decapitation of one of the sisters! But, which one?

4: “The Railway Children” (1970) Director: Lionel Jeffries

Another film about siblings though slightly different from the last! “The Railway Children” is usually billed in the “Radio Times” as the best British children’s film ever made. I think that’s an understatement. It is the best children’s film ever made, British or otherwise, and is a contender for best British film too, children’s or otherwise. It stars the gorgeous Miss Jenny Agutter, as Roberta Waterbury, with whom I am still in love! The eldest of three children who move to the country with their mother, after their father is wrongfully arrested and imprisoned, Roberta shoulders much of the familial responsibility as the trio become friends with the railway. I’m not ashamed to say that the appearance of Bobbie’s father Charles, played by Mr. Iain Cuthbertson, on the platform through the engine smoke, returned to his family at the film’s conclusion, coupled with Jenny’s plaintive cry of “Daddy, my Daddy”, still has the same effect on me now as it did when I was a boy. But, there is much fun to be had before the heartrending finale, especially with Mr. Bernard Cribbins, as porter Albert Perks, at Oakworth Railway Station!

5: “Walkabout” (1971) Director: Nicolas Roeg

In “Walkabout”, Jenny Agutter stars as a schoolgirl stranded in the Australian outback with her younger brother after their father takes them on a picnic, in order to do away with them, where he ends up committing suicide. They are befriended by an aboriginal who helps them return to civilisation. But, where is real civilisation to be found? Is it in an alienating city where no-one communicates or with someone who doesn’t speak the English language but teaches the skills of survival? I’ve seen most, if not all, of director Nicolas Roeg’s movies and this is one of the finest together with the David Bowie-vehicle “The Man Who Fell to Earth”. Roeg often works with his wife, actress Theresa Russell. Especially intriguing is their collaboration on the Dennis Potter-scripted “Track 29” as both director and writer are equally interested in a non-linear approach to narrative. It’s perhaps no coincidence that both “Walkabout” and Dennis Potter, in his “Play for Today” entitled “Blue Remembered Hills”, quote the same lines from A. E. Housman’s 1896 poem “A Shropshire Lad”: Into my heart an air that kills, From yon far country blows, What are those blue remembered hills, What spires, what farms are those? That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain, The happy highways where I went And cannot come again.

6: “Logan’s Run” (1976) Director: Michael Anderson

Never has an actress looked more stunning in a movie than Jenny Agutter does in “Logan’s Run”! Michael York stars as Sandman-cop Logan 5, assassin of those who choose to evade Renewal on Carousel and try to escape a premature death, known as Last Day, by becoming Runners. Computer instructs our anti-hero to seek Sanctuary, believed to be the destination of Runners, outside the dome-enclosed city and alters Logan’s life-clock crystal, embedded in the palm of his hand, accordingly. Seeking the truth concerning an object recovered from a Runner, Logan comes into contact with Jenny’s character Jessica 6 but, in their quest, inadvertently cause the death of one of “Charlie’s Angels”! Outside they meet Old Man Peter Ustinov with a penchant for cats and T. S. Eliot but, don’t worry, there’s no sign of Andrew Lloyd Webber! High in concept, “Logan’s Run” uses many of the ideas that would later find their way into Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” and James Cameron’s “The Terminator”, as well as the latter’s sequels.

7: “Alien” (1979) Director: Ridley Scott

And speaking of Ridley Scott, I come to the ultimate science fiction/horror movie of them all, “Alien”. Whereas the equally exhilarating sequel “Aliens” is a work of Symphonic proportions, its forerunner is a piece of carefully-constructed chamber music, a string septet if you like! The small cast of seven actors, two of whom are women, and including Brits John Hurt and Ian Holm, struggle to survive aboard the space freighter Nostromo as they are picked off one-by-one by a constantly evolving entity that drips acid for blood. Veronica Cartwright is one of the crew who, as a child, had appeared in Hitchcock’s “The Birds”. Yes, “Alien” is a haunted house story set in space, it was even unfairly called “Jaws” in space at the time of its release, but it has never been bettered as a roller coaster ride of unimaginable terror. It’s as visually stunning as the director’s next film, the truly-groundbreaking “Blade Runner”, and thus a genre to which I wish Ridley would return.

8: “Lifeforce” (1985) Director: Tobe Hooper

Like “Alien” before it, the screenplay for “Lifeforce” was written by Dan O’Bannon. It is very loosely based on a novel by criminologist Colin Wilson called “The Space Vampires”. It was directed by Tobe Hooper, much better known for “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and the Steven Spielberg produced “Poltergeist”. The film is often likened to “Quatermass” and owes a great deal to Hammer Horror. It checks all the right boxes for me being a mix of science fiction, horror, and vampire story, though on this occasion without the fangs! “Lifeforce” has often been criticised for much laughable dialogue but it really does move along at an incredible pace. Alongside Space Girl Mathilda May, naked for much of the film, are a whole host of British actors including Peter Firth, Harry Pearce in “Spooks”, as the spirited hero Caine; Frank Finlay, best known for “Bouquet of Barbed Wire”, as Fallada; Patrick Stewart, from “Star Trek: The Next Generation”, as Dr. Armstrong; and Aubrey Morris, the B-Ark Captain from “The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy”, as Sir Percy. The latter has one of the best of those unintentionally-hilarious lines as he welcomes his visitors to the asylum with, “Hello, gentlemen, and welcome to the home for the criminally insane!”

9: “The Bounty” (1984) Director: Roger Donaldson

I have been completely fascinated with the story of “The Bounty” for the whole of my life. Three film versions of the most famous mutiny in maritime history have been made and they are all excellent! My Dad would choose the 1935 black and white rendering of “Mutiny on the Bounty”, starring Charles Laughton and Clark Gable, as his favourite while I grew up repeatedly-watching the 1962 interpretation starring Trevor Howard and Marlon Brando. But, it is the third darkest-reading of “The Bounty” that, as an adult, completely captures my imagination. Anthony Hopkins plays Lieutenant William Bligh (“Oh, there are rumblings, are there?”) usurped from his position by Mel Gibson in the role of Fletcher Christian, Master’s Mate. Like “Blade Runner” and “Chariots of Fire”, the action is superbly accompanied with an electronic music score by Greek composer Vangelis. And, as does my previous choice “Lifeforce”, so too does “The Bounty” boast a supporting cast of many British household names including Bernard Hill, Daniel Day-Lewis, Liam Neeson, John Sessions, Philip Davis, Edward Fox, Laurence Olivier and even a young Neil Morrissey, before becoming one of those “Men Behaving Badly”!

10: “Brassed Off” (1996) Director: Mark Herman

“Brassed Off” challenges “The Railway Children” as the best British film ever made. It, surprisingly, has a lot in common with that earlier film, interspersing its darker themes with much fun and good humour over its course. Unemployment is rife in Thatcher’s Britain and the closing of the colliery could spell the end of its associated brass band. Pete Postlethwaite plays Danny, the band’s conductor, whose sole ambition is to get his group of disparate musicians to the final of the Battle of the Bands competition at the Royal Albert Hall. He is ably helped by his son Phil, Stephen Tompkinson, when not playing the clown, and Jim Carter, who takes over the conducting chores when Danny is hospitalised. Ewan McGregor renews his acquaintance with Tara Fitzgerald, as Gloria, when she joins the men as the only female in their ensemble. It’s no wonder they’re not willing to give up their positions! By turns, desperately sad and achingly funny… not least when Danny boy suggests they rehearse Rodrigo’s “Concerto de Orange Juice”!!!

As you can see, even with a preference for science fiction and horror, there are other threads running through this list such as a fondness for directors Ridley Scott and, in particular, Nicolas Roeg. The eagle-eyed amongst you will have numbered no less than three Jenny Agutter films in the countdown as well as a couple of Linda Hayden movies. I don’t know how much should be read into this as I wouldn’t touch the “Confessions” series, in which Linda also appears, with a bargepole! I’m also a fan, as far as these things go, of Judy Geeson, but she doesn’t feature at all in the chosen ten. Director Alfred Hitchcock is also missing even though much pleasure can be had from rewatching “Psycho”, “The Birds” and “Vertigo”. What I’m attempting to say is, fun though they are, such lists are but a snapshot!