Monday 2 May 2011

Tightrope - 625 Line Event

Spent a fascinating day at the 625 Line Cult TV event in Derby on Saturday at the QUAD media centre. Not so much a cinema as a sensory deprivation there from 9:30 am until the late afternoon without any real sense of time passing in the outside world. Watched the first episode of Richard Carpenter's Catweazle - I met Carpenter when he was promoting Robin of Sherwood in Sherwood Forest in 1984 and, to be honest, Robin Hood and Dick Turpin were certainly more my thing than Catweazle but I certainly watched it as a toddler; probably without really understanding it. Geoffrey Bayldon as Catweazle is both creepy and physically repulsive (!) and I'd have run a mile if I'd found the time-travelling weirdo hiding in my barn. It was fascinating to learn from the programme notes that Bayldon had turned down the role of Doctor Who. But once again...didn't really 'get' the concept of Catweazle. The organisers of the 625 Line event obviously had grandiose plans to have pretend commercial breaks between the ad caps for Catweazle - rather scuppered by the inexperienced projectionist who seemed to think that "end of Part 1" meant the end of the show. So yeah, I did see Catweazle episode 1 but with a big gap between the two parts in a 'mop up' session in the afternoon. The Phantom projectionist struck again during "Soldier and Me" - a show I've never heard of before a sort of 'grim up north children's spy thriller' and not particularly good - and part 2 of this show two was relegated to the afternoon too.

And talking of the afternoon, we had to sit through a couple of Avengers episodes before getting to the highlight of the whole day; an episode of the long unseen but legendary Children's TV show Tightrope introduced by star Spencer Banks, who is perhaps best remembered as Simon from Timeslip. Tightrope is really one of my earliest TV viewing memories - I recall an episode where someone is drugged - I think with a truth drug - and not even knowing what the word 'drugged' meant but finding it incredibly menacing. I've always identified perhaps most strongly with fictional characters with the same firstname as me (Martin Brody, Marty McFly) but I supsect this started with Tightrope's central character Martin Clifford - as played by Banks. Tightrope currently only exists as B&W telerecordings but was released by Network DVD earlier this year. Tightrope's other incarnation was as a comic strip in my favourite British comic TV Action. During one of the events all to brief breaks fans (that's me!) were able to get his autograph...I've whined before about people who are not famous charging for whine here. Spencer Banks' cult status would enable him to charge what he likes and I for one would've happily put some money into his pocket but, obviously too much the gent, he was happily signing programmes and Tightrope memorabilia (a pity that Tightrope DVDs were not on sale) - the only charge was if you wanted to buy a picture for him to sign. Anyways, I got him to sign the Tightrope page of a TV Action comic. Actually the same page was on display behind him as he signed by amazing'll see that he has signed it from 'Martin'!

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