The Unregenerate: On Making FANZ (part 2)

21 08 2008

Previously on ‘An Evening with FANZ’
    “I remember standing behind the door of Stuart’s house and pretending I was behind a window.”
    “Big stripey tank tops.”

If you missed the first half then you’d best go have a look. It has a proper introduction.
[LINK TO PART ONE]

And now, the continuation…

[Be warned – there is some more bad language and sexual innuendo.]

>9. When you started in 2000 did you think you’d still be doing it in 2008?
STEVE: Personally, I probably didn’t think it’d last this long. I’m glad it has coz it’s a hell of a lot of fun. And every time you [Stuart] phone up and say, ‘oh we’ve got a new script’ I’m like ‘Yay’. Coz it is horrendously good fun. Season 27 lasted up until FANZ started, when I jumped ship. [laughs ] I had a better offer.
JAMES: If you’d have asked me back in 2000 whether I thought I’d be doing it in 2008. I’d have thought possibly we were, but might have hoped that we’d done a few more by now. [chuckles ] Yeah, well, post production does take a while.
STEVE: You never did finish that last Season 27 one did you.
JAMES: No. It’s true. I do still have all the master recordings for ‘Flesh of the Damned’.
STEVE: That’s what happened to Season 27!
JAMES: Yes, I just didn’t do it.
SAM: We had an insider.
DUNCAN: Take ‘em down James.
JAMES: Now you know the truth. Flesh of the Damned does exist. And it’s in my cupboard.
STEVE: Who’s been putting FANZ in it?
JAMES: There was actually a scene in Campaign of Fear that was going to use material recorded for Flesh of the Damned. Which had Steve as The Doctor, and Jeff would have been cut in to replace Monica, the companion. But that scene was dropped because there weren’t any gags in it, and it made the whole thing run too long.
SAM: I didn’t think it would because I don’t think that far ahead for a start. Also I think the original plan was we’ll do three a year. That obviously never happened, and here we are still doing it. But as everyone else has said, it has been great fun. We’ve got it down to a fine art now. We can do it in a few hours and then we just get pissed and have pizza.
MARTIN: I never thought it would go on for as long as it did as at the time there was a lot of fan related material out there.
JOHN: Hmm. We planned three seasons but I don’t think anyone realised how their lives would change and the amount of work that would be involved to the extent that any production schedule inevitably went out of the window. So I suppose the answer is no.

>10. What’s your most memorable or standout moment from the series? (either on or off ‘air’)
SAM: On air, I think my favourite one is shoving Duncan out in the porch. [breaks into giggles ]
STUART: You even forgot his name. That’s in the bloopers. You called him thing.
DUNCAN: I was new to the group.
SAM: And, I’m most impressed by Alistair Lock, when he came down.
STUART: You’re nicking my anecdote.
SAM: Sorry.
DUNCAN: You can have the same favourite moment.
SAM: I was just so awed and impressed by Alistair’s talent. It was unbelievable. All the different voices in one taking, almost. It was absolutely amazing.
STUART: We’ve got somebody with talent! Don’t let him out. Stick him in the shed.
SAM: And off air there’s just too many to mention. And most of them I can’t mention. One of my other favourite moments is, do you remember when we did the convention? And somebody said ‘can I take a photo of you’. So we all grouped up, but all of a sudden we had a crowd of people with cameras around, and within seconds it was like paparazzi everywhere.
STUART: That has got to be with Jason [Haigh Ellery] and Rob Shearman, and even today I still replay those scenes and think I can’t believe they did that. One of my favourite moments, which probably isn’t Duncans. We were recording Coach Potatoes. He’d come up with this strange new drink absinthe, and it involved burning sugar in a spoon, and we’d just had a new carpet, and it went horribly wrong. It dripped on the carpet and his hand was getting scolded because he couldn’t put this flaming spoon down, getting hotter and hotter by the second. I was on the floor laughing my tits off. We’d had this new carpet put down and he’d burnt it, and to add to that he’d said, ‘Oh My fingers! I’ve got a huge blister.’
JAMES: It’s the fact that he was complaining about his fingers, yet his crotch was on fire.
DUNCAN: I’d been making absinthe with beet sugar and Stuart had cane sugar, which burnt a lovely bright blue. And it started dripping onto this carpet. I’m stamping it with my sock, and it’s dripping on my trousers. It was my other hand that I’d washed the spoon with, because it was a blue flame I couldn’t feel anything. Martin was, ‘Duncan – your finger’s on fire.’ And it’s literally aflame like a British Gas symbol.
    On air, there’s a few favourite ones. From ‘Campaign’, when we were doing the anime stadium, and Steve was hilarious – “Hooow can this beeee!” It was the most mental thing, turned out even more mental in post production. It was just the most fun thing. Also, in one of the first scripts, adding the “Shada” thing from the Tom Baker video onto Kris’ demise.
    Off air, there’s quite a few. I remember staying round Stuart’s and Sam’s, going upstairs thinking Ebbsy [Paul Ebbs] had driven home, and opening the door to find a pair of blue Y-fronts on a fat arse staring at me. I had one where I was staying round, and he decided to come in while I was sleeping, turn the lights on in the middle of the night, and try to scare the bejeezers out of me. Going ‘Bah!’ and flashing his hands at me.
    Actually, my favourite moment has to be – we’d all had a fair bit to drunk [sic ], and our beloved leader had entered the room wearing a big shirt. [Stuart groans in the background ] And said, ‘Does anyone mind if I take my trousers off?’ Said ‘well, no?’ And he went, ‘Well I am.’ And just dropped them. And with a flourish likes of which a new romantic ‘There!’ A Byronic wave of hand. Fortunately for this long 18th century shirt covering his modesty. The style; if you’re gonna drop your trousers at least do it with panache, and I’ll give Robinson that.
JAMES: The bits I like are actually where we go beyond being a sketchy comedy show, and treat the characters as characters and give them something a bit more to do. There’s some very nice depth of character moments in it.
    In terms of memories, going up to Coventry was fun, and doing Battlefield and having a stall there.
DUNCAN: Oh yes, Coventry. Coming back from, I’d just gone to get a drink or something. Sylvester McCoy said how much he liked my artwork. I think that was one of the great things.
JAMES: There was a guy who turned up at the convention looking like Kris Krump, which was kind of scary. There was also a small boy who turned up looking like a whale.
DUNCAN: Crashed into the BBC.
JAMES: Yes. He had so much inertia he couldn’t help crashing into all the stands, as he ran around in excitement. I’m sure Bill Baggs took a little webcam shot of him and used him in ‘Have You Got A License?’ Not necessarily a head in a jar…
DUNCAN: An adipose. [laughing in mockery ]
JAMES: [unconvinced ] Yes, whale boy became an adipose.
    I remember Paul Ebbs being so heavy that when he stood on my mini disc recorder, he actually crushed the battery compartment to the extent that I can’t take the battery out. He’s a man mountain, and he crushed my equipment.
STEVE: My big over-riding one was the Christmas thing that we did. When we were pissed off our heads, and we were trying to do that improv. Well, it was scripted but we were kind of improvising. That was so much fun, I really want to do another one like that.
    The monkey, was it, Pablo?
DUNCAN: Yeah, the monkey that never came.
STEVE: Didn’t he ever?
DUNCAN: No. He never turned up.
STEVE: Ah, There was a little monkey and he [Duncan] did a lovely voice for it. It was bizarrely outrageous, but the character came out of something you were just improvising in the evening. He’s got a lovely spectrum to his voice.
JAMES: I do remember the recording of Coach Potatoes of Doom. Luke Curtis, our one time associate. His wife wanted to come to the recording, and she sat through the whole recording bless her. And she fell asleep. She sat there snoring and we had to prod her awake because it was carrying onto the mic. We record in Stuart’s household. We have to look out for all sorts of things like creaking floorboards, traffic, buzzsaws, vultures, trains, police raids, low flying aircraft. There was an alien abduction. There was rectal probing.
MARTIN: I think for me the scene with Cindy with me playing the evil Djinn, as it was nice to have minor character role that was a total departure from Gary.
JOHN: This one is difficult. Probably Steve again either the way he says the line “Used & dirty” in Couch Potatoes (not one of my lines) or the way he was Dancing with a former DWM editor at a convention. Through Fanz I have met some great people and have had many good times, I’m sad to see it go.

>11. There were plans for another series of FANZ. What happened? and what would have happened?
[Warning – there are spoilers in here]
STUART: We always said we would only do three series and that was it. So we mapped out three series, and I said at the end of series one I want to kill somebody. James, probably quite rightly, didn’t like this idea. He said, ‘every series I’ve seen where they’ve done something like that, it kills the series.’ We were kicking this around, and it might have been a while before that that we’d both read Campaign, and thought it was really good. We knew we wanted to do something based on Campaign. At that point I’d decided it was going to be Jeff because he was the least significant character. As I said earlier, he was the character we wheeled on and off again. That was the original plan anyway. It was gonna be Jeff. Let’s kill him off in the final story, and then at the start of series 2 we’ll take every major character comeback that’s been done. Do the whole thing – he wakes up he’s in the shower, parallel worlds, throw it all in. That was supposed to be series 2. What happened is basically people have lives. We could only turn around a certain amount of scripts.
DUNCAN: I was trying to work on a script, which sadly isn’t being made. I kind of like some of the things I did. I think I was going to end up being introduced as a character, which me and James wanted to be a Planet of the Apes monkey. His thing was to bug everyone from FANZ because he loved and thought the Peter Cushing movies were canon.
JAMES: Bernard Cribbins is canon now.
DUNCAN: He was supposed to be a student and I did try and learn some Latin American Spanish for this part I never played. It’s just a laugh. I did work on what was going to happen to Kris. He was going to get burnt in a fire so he ended up looking like The Master from Deadly Assassin. And he had this cat called Kronos. But that didn’t happen yet. Or will it?
JAMES: No.
DUNCAN: Or will it?
JAMES: Duncan’s referring to Pablo. The monkey boy character. He looked like the bloke from Supergrass. I dare say some of the concept art might end up on the website, along with edits of the script.
    I was inspired to write a script, which was FANZ doing Blakes7. Purely on the basis of Steve’s Paul Darrow impersonation. Stuart wasn’t keen on the idea.
    All the stories in series one end ‘of Doom’, all the stories in series two were gonna end ‘of Fear’. Then series three was going to be ‘of the Daleks’. Gareth Preston was writing a script for series two. A very interesting script, Zeitgeist of Fear, about a rival programme to Doctor Who. Had some lovely stuff where Kate and Gary had to pretend to be in a relationship for the benefit of Kate’s father. To be fair to Gareth, we didn’t get back to him for ages every time he sent a draft of it. But it was looking very funny.
    The climax of Anti-Climax was rewritten quite a bit. It would have had a lot more Kris stuff in it, and revealed that he was the main driving force behind a lot of series ones stories. We would have then done The Enemy Within of Fear, which would have been the climax of series 2. In which he plants a replica of Tom within the group to spread dissent, and they all start fighting each other, whilst he tried to get Tom on his side. This was discussed, no more than that. It would have ended with The Grapes blowing up, which is where the idea of the burnt Kris comes from for series three.
   We wanted to explore Kate’s daytime job as a vasectomy nurse. Balls of the Daleks or something. Also Jonathan temporarily becoming really alpha male and pulling. There was some idea as well, it’s hinted at in the Maltese Video, ‘You all have a great destiny ahead of you.’ At the end of it all, it would turn out that these geeky, horrible individuals turned out to be lords of the universe or something. There are all sorts of ideas planted in there that have not been realised.
    That’s what would have happened, and quite a lot of it might well have been rubbish.

12. Outside of FANZ what other creative credits or projects do you have to your name?
STUART: I’ve done some work for radio on the BBC. Parsons and Naylor and Dead Ringers, and a pilot for a show that didn’t actually get made called Revolver. And short stories – The Tainted, The All, and something else.
DUNCAN: We were talking about Battlefield. I had a chat with Bill Baggs, who asked me to do the cover for Richard Franklin’s The Killing Stone. It was a really fun project. I tried to draw it in the style of the Star Wars Animated series. Following that Bill asked me to do some sketches for a notebook in Zygon, which Alistair Lock managed to make look really nice. I did this, and didn’t ask Bill for anything coz I was well, I don’t know if he’s happy with them. Then I get a text from one of my mates going, ‘Is that your artwork on the back of DWM?’ And it was indeed, although I didn’t get any on screen credit. Very nice to have on there anyway. I didn’t care. Hurrah!
JAMES: Here we go. List all of my fanfic. Like Stuart, I contributed to the over familiar and infamous fan fiction anthology Tales of the Solar System. He did Mercury. I did Cassius, I think. It was the last one anyway. I did the second Doctor. He did the sixth. Following that I had stories in Missing Pieces, and the one by J Eales [Walking in Eternity], and The 13 Crimes of Doctor Who. Also Stuart and I wrote a couple of audio plays for the first two Stranger DVD releases by BBV. Little five / ten minute pieces supposed to compliment the existing storyline. Dare I say improve them. That was fun as well.
[calls from the back of ‘what about the acting?’ ]
JAMES: I started doing amateur theatrics in 2004. I’ve been in many plays since then, and been nominated for awards, and won awards, and I am very good. [Fails to maintain a serious voice. Bursts of laughter ]
STEVE: It all started a long time ago.
[The unruly unregenerates make wibbly wobbly dream noises ]
STEVE: I like that noise. It all started years and years ago when I was in a band with Ebbsy. Six years in a band called Carnival. Ebbsy being lyricist and vocalist, and me being bass player, keyboard player, and backing vocalist. Then we had a really shit gig, and that’s when we decided to kick off Season 27. With Ebbsy writing and me doing post production, and playing The Doctor. Too much like trying to do it like Colin Baker. Looking back I’d have done it differently now. But three good stories and one in post production. The eternity of post production. Through Season 27 I met Bill Baggs and initially designed the K-9 for his K-9 series, and ended up doing about 30 covers for him. Then Gary Russell asked me to do some covers for the McGann series. So I’m officially a BIG Finish Doctor Who artist. [everybody goes ‘ooooooo’ in mock admiration ] What else? Getting involved in some BBV audios – post production with ‘Punchline’, acting with ‘Race Memory’. I did the video effects on Cyberon and Do You Have a License to Save this Planet? Greatest Shop in the Galaxy, did the editing on that with a bit of touching up from Alistair Lock. Oh, and I’ve been on a couple of really shit TV shows.
SAM: Oh yeah, Bargain Hunt or something!
STEVE: [with a withering voice ] Bargain Hunt, Car Booty, and I still haven’t seen it. Stuffing meself with a hotdog, saying how great the Essex boot sale scene is.
JOHN: None at all. I enjoy acting, writing and other creative activities but am sadly rubbish at all of them. The only thing in my jeans are my legs.
MARTIN: Outside of Fanz I have only one short story written years ago and a couple small sketch like pieces for a fan magazine.

13. Is there no love for The Time Monster?
STUART: No.
SAM: No.
JAMES: It’s not my favourite story. I’d probably rate it immediately above The Mutants, Colony in Space, The Monster of Peladon, Warriors of the Deep, and Four to Doomsday.
[a mini discussion about James’ choices breaks out ]
DUNCAN: Even Time Flight?!
JAMES: Time Flight is directly above The Time Monster.
STUART: Leave Time Flight alone.
JAMES: Stuart’s the only person I know who defends Time Flight. Bless him. Stuart likes Four to Doomsday as well. He finds it great to fall asleep to.
STEVE: I was watching a youtube clip of The Time Monster the other day, and thought I fancy watching that again. How long is it? [reply of six episodes ] Six? Can’t someone edit it down to 45 minutes?
DUNCAN: One of the perverse ironies about my character is I do actually have a perverse liking for The Time Monster. It’s just fun. It’s got The Master, a man in a white dressing gown flapping his arms wearing a papier mache hat, a woman with very nice breasts, and Benton in a nappy. What more could you want?
MARTIN: It’s an ok story but certainly not the best ever written.
JOHN: Pah Time-flight rules!!!!!!!!!!!

>14. Obligatory question – favourite Doctor and why?
SAM: After various different likings of different Doctors, I would have to say David Tennant. He’s just fabulous.
STUART: I don’t think it’s fair to compare the new series Doctors to the old series Doctors. So I’m gonna cut mine in two. Favourite new series Doctor. Up until the start of 2008 I would have said Eccleston, but now I have to say Tennant. Old series, I have two really.
STEVE: Oh for goodness sake, you can’t mention all of them.
STUART: Shut Up. There’s a Doctor you grew up with and I think it would be churlish to throw that Doctor away. So I’m gonna say Patrick Troughton and Peter Davison.
DUNCAN: Favourite Doctor is a tough one. I kind of became a Doctor Who fan proper in the wilderness years, and not really watching anything past Dav-O. Baker and Dav-O, Tom Baker used to be, but hmmmmm [deep thought ]. It’s a close call between Tom Baker and David Tennant. I might cop out and do a Stuart. They’re both really good in similar but different ways. Tom Baker I like the fact that he had a different range in the early part of his era to the later. The Hinchcliffe era and the Douglas Adams influence, the mad, weird, over the top ad-libbing, which I do like.
JAMES: I’ve come to the conclusion that I like all of them. I certainly don’t dislike any of them. Including Peter Cushing.
DUNCAN: I though we had to choose one.
JAMES: Well, as a kid my favourite was always Colin Baker. [uproar from the others ] That’s my era. When I was young it was Dav-O, and I wasn’t actually old enough to appreciate what he did. But growing up my Doctor was Colin Baker, and there was a lot of stuff about his character that I really liked. And when I used to write fanfic he was the Doctor I always liked writing for most. Him and Peri is the companion and Doctor combination that I grew up with, from the point when I really understood what was going on.
STUART: I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.
JAMES: I pretty much like them all equally. Pertwee’s Doctor doesn’t do a great deal for me, but there’s moments where he’s really good. My favourite Pertwee moment is in Day of the Daleks, when he flips that guy and then calmly has a sip of wine. It’s sheer class. You can say what you like about Pertwee, but that bit’s brilliant. They all have moments. Hartnell in The Crusade is utterly brilliant. He’s great at put downs, and being morally angry, which no other Doctor, not even Eccleston comes close to.
STEVE: As much as I loved Tom Baker when I was growing up, I don’t think I’ve ever been as excited about Doctor Who as I am now. So I have to say David Tennant all the way. He has become my favourite Doctor. To start with I was like, ‘he’s good but Tom Baker’s still better’, but [now] he is out and out my favourite. I love everything about the new series. That is why I was so shocked last week [referring to the broadcast of The Stolen Earth ]. I was so traumatized.
MARTIN: Tom Baker and because he was mainly my Doctor when I was young plus his portrayal was the most interesting as he seemed to play it more as an alien with alien values.
JOHN: Fifth! Odd for my age(43) but Peter Davison was The Doctor when I got into Fandom. I wanted to hide from reality at that time as well, who needs girls! and I have a thing for Sarah Sutton.

>15. What’s next for The Unregenerate and it’s members? More audio plays, something else, early retirement?
SAM: I work in a shop until Friday, and then I’m leaving work. I’m going to be a lady who lunches. I’m going to grow vegetables and make my craft things. My mates have already started calling me Barbara, as in off The Good Life, because I wander around in my wellies.
STUART: I’ve got no idea. More audio plays? Unless anybody else has any ideas, doubtful. FANZ is moving to a more professional footing, so that’s no longer an Unregenerate production. Probably just dying on it’s arse. I mean, what more do you want? We brought Doctor Who back. Job done. QED.
DUNCAN: Who knows. When I joined the group back in ’99. It was about three times the size of what it is now. I’m not really the creative drive. I’m just the guy who rides on the coat tails of other people’s talent. So if Stuart goes ‘we’ve got this great idea about making Jon Pertwee’s face out of jam’ or something like that. As for The Unregenerate we shall continue to meet down the pub and have a good laugh.
JAMES: As has already been pointed out, there’s probably not much in the future, apart from still getting together and discussing latest Doctor Who episodes way into the future. I’ve written a few projects with Stuart that we’ve tried to get made in a more professional capacity. There may be more of that. I’ve no idea. It depends whether he sobers up.
MARTIN: Only time will tell on that one.
JOHN: Who knows I hear you say. Given our average age will soon be over forty, early retirement is a possibility, or put out to stud. More likely a one way visit to the glue factory. I know that Stuart has found a way to make his unique idea mainstream and I fully expect to tune into a sitcom one day with the credit written and created by Stuart Robinson. James has more talents than are fair and will go far, perhaps Brisbane. Duncan is a multi talented enigma and Martin well that’s a whole other story but I think I mentioned that, but he’s also a good bloke. Sam is the groups substitute mother and held in high regard by us all having something in common with the favourite in the 3.10 at Chepstow in a non equine sense that is. Steve is someone who I hold in high regard but that may have a lot to do with one night in Coventry. Carol frightens me but that’s probably the blurring between fact and fiction. All of these are fine people and I am very fond of them. I am proud to have been involved with Fanz & it is privilege to know them.
STEVE: So, being a member of The Unregenerate now, I think there’s gonna be two movies by 2010, world distribution, and then I shall be buying a small Mediterranean island, and I’m going to go in search of Pablo.

And that just leaves me the task of thanking everyone for giving their time to answer these questions and bathe their egos for an evening. May all your Sontars be HA!

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