New post: ‘Writers and writing: Jason Arnopp’

Check out my interview with writer Jason Arnopp for the Daily Waffle. Jason’s novel The Last Days of Jack Sparks was recently released to great acclaim.  Read the interview here


What’s new?

Hi guys! So what’s new with you? OK I’ll talk about me for a bit. I’ve just been doing stuff and haven’t really had the time or motivation to update this blog that nobody reads.

Work-wise I have been working since April as a volunteer for Pembrokeshire Citizens Advice, doing a mix of admin, Digital Inclusion and gateway work. So far it has proved a very rewarding and fulfilling use of my time, and I’ve been enjoying working and interacting with other people. Just the other week I represented Pembrokeshire CAB at a stall in Haverfordwest, as part of the town’s recent festival events promoting twenty-five years of the Haverfordwest Riverside Market and the town’s local initiatives.

Here I am, manning the stall! No autographs, please.



Professionally, I’ve been pitching my services as a copywriting gunslinger for hire, which so far has resulted in writing press releases for a Cardiff-based PR agency, researching and writing a blog on digital marketing for another company, and curating social media content for clients of another digital marketing agency. It’s early days, but a good sign towards me eventually going self-employed as a freelancer.

If you’re interested, you can read my guest blog for The Digital Formula on digital marketing here 

In the world of blogging, my tribute to Robin Hardy, director and co-creator of The Wicker Man, appeared on the Malcontent last month, which you can read here 

The Malcontent also recently posted a feature where I wrote about Seasons Of War, a Doctor Who charity anthology that was recently published. Clicky linky!

Over on the blogging network Daily Waffle, I have a regular feature, ‘Writers and Writing’, in which I interview published writers from different backgrounds, and so far each feature has resulted in some very interesting and readable discourses, if I say so myself. In the past two months, I have covered writers of thrillers, dark fantasy, romance and erotica, comedic science fiction, short story collections and plays. In case you’ve missed them, here is the back catalogue! Have a good catch up!

The seed of the ‘writers and writing’ project was a chat I had, also for Daily Waffle, with the poet and novelist Ange Chan. We had connected due to our mutual love of David Bowie and Doctor Who, and I really enjoyed discovering her poetry collections and her first novel. In case you missed it, here’s my interview with Ange Chan from back in March. It definitely inspired this series – as a creative, I find it fascinating to learn about other writers’ journeys. I have several more interviews “in the can”, so stay tuned.

My latest news is that I am creating a new website, which will be devoted to all things cult – films, books, TV and music – and feature regular news, reviews and articles. I’ll be running and editing the site, and alongside my own writing, it will boast a range of new and experienced writers. So that’s very exciting! I have a big launch planned for September, complete with a social media strategy.

I’m also still in the process of editing Me And The Starman, the Bowie tribute anthology for charity. Blogger and convention organiser Kara Dennison recently gave the project a signal boost which you can check out here 

For those of you following my adventures, I hope to bring more news soon, but do keep checking back in for my latest posts.

What’s new?

Just before Christmas, I found myself newly unemployed, so I’ve been focusing my efforts on freelance writing, which is my passion.


The year started off on a sombre note, when I wrote a painstakingly personal essay on what David Bowie meant to me, timed to coincide with the release of his album Blackstar. It was published by The Malcontent, a new voice for current affairs and media, but sadly doubled as a requiem, when the news of Bowie’s death broke in the early hours of Monday, 11 January.


I decided to pay my own personal tribute to the man who sold the world, by heading down to London the following weekend, to pay my respects at three major sites: Heddon Street, where the ‘Ziggy Stardust’ album cover was photographed, the now famous Bowie memorial at Windrush Square directly opposite Brixton station, and the house in which he was born, on Stansfield Road, Brixton.


During that weekend visit, I got to meet fellow creatives, including blogger Jasmine Storm, writer Paul Ebbs, and poet and novelist Ange Chan, and I danced till dawn at Duckie’s Bowie tribute night at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, where I also got to say hello to online friends, Paul Burston and Lucie Tobin, who loved Bowie just as much as I did.


The end of that sad month saw me marking my fortieth birthday, where I got to see my name in print within the pages of Celestial Toyroom, the Doctor Who Appreciation Society’s long running fan magazine. It was an essay that I’d sat on for some time, and it was nice to finally see it given some justice, thanks to editor John Davies.


February was a quiet month as I struggled with a chest infection and rib pains, but I resolved to reconnect with blogging network Daily Waffle, who had aired my work in the past, and endeavoured to expand upon other connections in the pursuit of more writing exposure.


Inspired by the outpouring of grief and affection that followed Bowie’s death, in conjunction with J.R. Southall and Jon Arnold, “Me and the Starman” was launched – an opportunity for fans to pay tribute to the different ways in which Bowie had connected with them on a personal level. So far, we have recieved tributes from not only fans but also musicians, and the finished result should be something really special.


March opened up with an essay peering behind the scenes of Absolute Beginners, the late, great, David Bowie’s last major hit single, which received a lot of positive attention and a goodly number of hits and retweets, not to mention some great feedback.


Keen to keep flexing my writing muscles, I’ve been providing Daily Waffle with regular features, reviewing and commenting upon new creative projects that interest me personally but deserve a wider audience, from Ange Chan’s poetry trilogy, and Obverse Books’ new range The Black Archive, to Tim Worthington’s mammoth discography of BBC Records, and forthcoming pieces on former Python Terry Jones’ documentary about the global economic crisis, Alan Clarke’s acclaimed BBC documentaries, and Barnaby Eaton-Jones’ revival of 1960s radio show I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again.


I’ve experimented in diversity by, for example, providing product reviews for multiple award winner Cara Sutra, book reviews for Emily Dubberley’s well established feminist-friendly adult website Cliterati, and a well-received guest blog for social media and online marketing agency Nick Lewis Communications.  I also have articles lined up for a tribute to Douglas Adams


I continue to prepare guest blogs for Daily Waffle, maintain an online presence with this very blog site and my twitter feed @jamesgentwrites, have some niche material in the pipeline for fellow Doctor Who obsessives, and continue to look for broader opportunities both inprint and online, as well as continuing work on my massive biography of Monty Python, which I began researching in great detail five years ago.

Please, stay tuned for further developments!



New post: ‘Doctor Who’s Black Archive: The unfolding text’

Just up on The Daily Waffle, my feature on the new range of critical studies of select Doctor Who books, The Black Archive. I spoke to publisher Stuart Douglas, range editor Philip Purser-Hallard and writer Jon Arnold to get the inside track on this exciting new line of criticism. Read it here!

The Unknown Soldiers: Ten of the best Doctor Who walk-on parts.

Originally posted on The Fan Can, 20 June 2012

You don’t have to be Toby Hadoke to know your Michael Sheard from your Cyril Shaps. It’s just part of fandom’s sweetly obsessive nature that we file and digest the names of Who’s guest actors. But spare a thought for the jobbing ‘supporting artists’ (that’s extras in old money), famous for 15 seconds and for whom roller caption credits were rarely due…

Constance Carling in Spearhead from Space

One of the first clues that all is not as it appears at Auto Plastics is the wax-faced, expressionless secretary played by Constance Carling. As wife of BBC producer Alan J W Bell, Carling racked up uncredited walk-ons in numerous episodes of Z Cars and Last of the Summer Wine. Eagle-eyed Monty Python fans may recognise her as the Crunchy Frog-scoffing theatregoer sat next to Eric Idle in the series one sketch, ‘Red Indian at the Theatre.’

Harry Fielder, The Face of Evil, et al

Harry ‘Aitch’ Fielder is the Zelig of ’70s and ’80s British telly, having turned up as an uncredited tough guy in pretty much everything. His IMDB page credits him with almost 300 film and TV appearances from Yes Minister to Minder, including (count ’em) 13 Doctor Whos and ten Blake’s 7s. Listen out for ‘Aitch”s brief appearance on the commentary of The Face of Evil DVD where he livens up the proceedings considerably.

Derek Ware in The Ambassadors of Death, Inferno, Claws of Axos, et al

HAVOC (as in ‘Action by’) head honcho, Derek Ware, cornered the market in stuntman antics back in the day. Notable Who bit parts include a Stan Laurel lookalike who gets bumped off in The Ambassadors of Death’s comically inept warehouse fight scene, only to regenerate in a later episode. There’s also a two-for-one in Inferno where he not only plays half-Primord Officer Wyatt, but also doubles as the guy he knocks off the tower in a spectacular stunt fall. His golden moment though is as everyone’s favourite pushbike-stealing, gibberish-grunting tramp, Pigbin Josh, in The Claws of Axos. Oo, and furthermore, arr.

Sian Pattenden, Mawdryn Undead

In episode four of Mawdryn Undead, poor old Nyssa and Tegan are de-aged by the titular, noodle-bonced weirdo. Young Nyssa was played by Lucy Benjamin, aka EastEnders’ Lisa Fowler and one-time real life squeeze of onscreen boyf Phil ‘Sontaran’ McFadden. More interestingly, appearing beside her is Sian Pattenden as young Tegan, who later made her name as one of Smash Hits’ best writers during its heyday before graduating on to the NME, The Face and The Guardian. Pattenden blogged about her memories of appearing in the serial on The Guardian website (have a gander here) and gamely attended 10th Planet’s signing event for the Black Guardian trilogy DVD release.

Trevor Ray in Doctor Who and the Silurians

Assistant script editor on the series at the time, Ray (and several other members of the production team) gave the middle finger to Equity by swelling up the ranks for the scenes of the Silurian plague hitting London – he appears as the ticket collector. Ray was no better off credit-wise behind the camera, as his production role was uncredited. Ray also wrote techno-pagan HTV classic Children of the Stones and appeared in the classic Play For Today, The Flipside of Dominick Hide as bisexual Alaric.

Not Harold Pinter, The Abominable Snowmen

A long-running, urban myth in Who fandom was that the late playwright Harold Pinter played Tibetan monk, Ralpachan, in The Abominable Snowman, credited under his acting alias of David Baron. The notion of an acclaimed writer riding high on the success of The Birthday Party and The Homecoming slumming it for a bit part in a cheap and cheerful kids show is a delicious one, but sadly the myth is a load of Yeti balls. The more prosaic truth is that at the time Pinter was writing The Basement, and the character was played by an actor of the same moniker. Ho (pause) hum.

Timothy Blackstone, Genesis of the Daleks

One of the Thal soldiers in Nerry Nation’s masterpiece had a colourful history that would have had Mary Whitehouse and Jean Rook reaching for the smelling salts if they’d known about the kind of undesirables infiltrating their least favourite teatime show. Timothy Blackstone was, simultaneously, one of Britain’s few hardcore porn stars. His credits include the bizarre Diversions, where he’s rogered senseless by smut starlet, Heather Deeley, who proceeds to chop off ‘little Timmy’ and fellate the dismembered member. Brother of MP Baroness Blackstone, he hit the headlines in 2003 when he was fined on two charges of insider dealing.

Terry Walsh, Planet of the Spiders

When Lupton zaps a hapless hovercraft owner during Planet of the Spiders’ interminable chase scene, the poor bloke meets his maker with a beaming smile akin to someone who’s just caught the punchline to a particularly ribald joke. It’s stuntman, Terry Walsh, and he’s visibly overjoyed at having been given a speaking part for once.

John Levene as a Cyberman in The Moonbase

Our very own Nicholas ‘masterclass’ Craig, John Levene’s first encounter of the Who kind was as a Cyberman in The Moonbase. But such was his raw, primal energy as third Yeti to the left in The Web of Fear that the Who team could no longer ignore this young promising actor’s star quality and it was only a matter of time that fame and fortune came beckoning as Sarge Benton in the UNIT years.

Christien Anholt, The Curse of Fenric

A credited, speaking part so not an extra per se. Young Christien Anholt makes an early TV appearance as Corporal Perkins in The Curse of Fenric, a story set in a parallel universe where WWII soldiers appear to be entirely casted by gay porn franchise, Bel Ami. I blame the producer. Anholt’s father was Tony Anholt, best known by cult TV spods as Verdeschi in Space: 1999 and Charles Frere in Howards Way where his co-star was his second wife, Tracey (Fires of Pompeii) Childs. Anholt Junior enjoyed C-list success playing second fiddle to Tia Carrere (of Wayne’s World fame) in schedule-filler, Relic Hunter, although his career high remains having Georgina ‘T Bag’ Hale sticking a butt plug up his ass in Preaching to the Perverted.

Original post here