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July 13, 2008

The Trampoline of Attention

I'm a bit late for the John Leeson panel so here we go.

They are talking about the K-9 cartoon, and John drops the unlikely information that at one point Tom Baker was going to do the voice of K-9.  Can this be true?

John Dorney our host then asks John how he feels to be so hidden as an actor.  And John replies that he's quite happy hiding.  Ever since rep after drama school, John was always cast as old men and so got used to being covered in makeup, fake beards and generally being hidden away.  He has never been recognised in the street as K-9, mainly as John says because he isn't showing any signs of rust. 

John discusses The Invisible Enema (sic) and how he got the role.  A man knew that John used to be Bungle the Bear in Rainbow, and recommended him for the role.  He was offered two parts, as Neil says "a dog and a prawn".  John was concerned that the role of a virus might be a small part.

He mentions Billion Dollar Brain (Ken Russell) which featured a computer.  John admits he has a talent for creating the voice of a tin dog.  He also makes passing reference to the fact he's been a bit ill recently, so I'm sure we all wish him well in the future.  In John's day monsters were real rather than CGI, and he sounds like he regrets that a bit.  John Dorney agrees that he thinks real effects are more impressive and makes the good point that people like K-9 because he is a big, physical object.

For his recent appearance in Doctor Who, John only needed about 30 minutes in a sound studio, and this is contrasted with the old days where he would scurry around in rehearsals and be on set for all the recordings.

John Dorney moves on to John's actual appearance as Dugeen in The Power of Kroll.  John says it was nice to look an actor in the eye rather than the knee. He was also in Blake's 7 (Mission to Destiny and Gambit).  This results in the host spoiling the end of an episode.  If you can spoil a programme shown in 1978.

John Leeson tell the story about Troughton not working in the theatre because he doesn't like "shouting at night".

Question 1:  "Which Blake's 7 episode do you most prefer?" "Gambit"n  The phrase the "trampoline of attention" is used which is the first time I've heard that phrase.

We move onto Dad's Army (which John was in) and his later work with British Forces Broadcasting on the border of East and West Germany.  The German operatives were horrified at people laughing at the old men, but they loved the big boots in Jeux Sans Frontieres.

Question 2:  "How did K-9 feel about playing chess?" John tried his best with this question.  John Dorney sensibly brings up crosswords which John says were used as a good method of keeping Tom Baker out of trouble.  The Stones of Blood anecdote is told to rousing applause which was nice.

Question 3: "What are your memories of David Brierley?" John expresses his sadness at David's recent death, and tells of their first meeting at a poetry recital. Once at a convention they decided to concoct a fake rivalry, much to their amusement.

Question 4:  "What was it like doing the scene in the furnace in The Armageddon Factor?" John tries his best with this bizarre question.  At least it elicits John's backward spool K-9 noise which makes Damon shudder.

Question 5:  "How long have you been doing K-9's voice?" "More than three weeks ago."

Question 6:  "What's the daftest thing you've been called upon in your career/Doctor Who?"  A commercial for a furniture show in Earls Court.  He played a castaway on a raft with a dolly bird.  It was shot in November off Southend.  He was dosed with brandy.  He also found it hard to give autographs when dressed as Bungle Bear, especially when he had to sign a child's sticking plaster.

Question 7:  "How do you compare the differences between the different Marks of K-9?" John sensibly has the same sort of answer as the Tachyon TV team - "there is no difference they're the fucking same!!!"

Question 8:  "What was it like working with the Chuckle Brothers?" John is ambivalent about being asked this question.  "Very interesting"  The script was "approximate".  You had to be adaptable.  But they were lovely chaps  "it wasn't Radio 3" - The line of the day.

Question 9:  "Were you surprised that they did a spin-off and were you upset that it didn't continue?"  John wasn't expecting the spin-off.

The Tachyon team were fatally distracted from the rest of the panel by the sight of one fan in front of us whose arse is out and hanging over the back of the chair.  Sorry about that.

Question 10: "Tell us about your involvement with the K-9 theme tune?"  John was hauled to a recording studio and asked to repeat "K-9, K-9, etc...."

A nice panel from a lovely John Leeson, and John Dorney is the best interviewer of the weekend so far so well done to him.

Question 5


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