Sunday the 26th of May: Sitting outside The Chancellors pub having a pint (or a ‘scoop‘ as one of my mother’s husbands always said.) with Paul Winter, who’s organised a Dr Who gathering in the Riverside Studios opposite. It’s a very sunny day!
Then Karen, who’s helping out on the day, comes over. She’s going to interview me during the Question and Answer session after the showing of Daleks Invasion of Earth in which I, an extremely young version of the slob sitting outside The Chancellors supping beer, appear.
Five minutes on, we go into the foyer of the Studio, where a table is laid out with piles of photo’s of the very young me in various productions including pictures of the perennial bowler hatted Mr Benn. I put dow a few copies of my autobiography ( ever hopeful ) on the table.
People come up, I sign photos, some want have pictures taken of me with them, I oblige, then miracle of miracles, I sell THREE books. Bingo!
The film starts but Karen and I still sit at the table twiddling our thumbs. I’m tempted to shoot off to the pub for another ‘livener‘ but resist. Anyway we talk. She has worked in fitness clubs, does Panto’s in Norwich, used to have MGB, doesn’t drink or smoke, and me, who has never crossed the threshold of a fitness club and never intends to, listens to the whippet framed athlete in awe. In between the list of lifting weights and healthy diets, she asks me about the things I’ve done. Obviously needing to bone up for the Q and A session.
‘We need to go up to the cinema in a few minutes the film’ll be over soon.‘ she says. ‘There’s quite a few stairs to climb but there’s a lift you can use if.’ ...‘Don’t be daft.‘ I laugh.‘I’ll use the stairs too.’
She goes up three at a time, I manage just one. In the cinema, standing at the back, the film is coming to an end, Daleks tumbling down shafts and finally the Space ship blows up. The House lights come up, ‘I’ll go down first and introduce you.‘ She zooms down the stairs to the stage. ‘Ladies and gentleman, please welcome Ray Brooks.‘ Applause, applause.
I go down to the stage slowly, the stairs are steep, hoping that the applause will last until I arrive. It does. The Q and A starts. It’s rolling along quite well. I can’t help thinking back to my pub function room experiences, when there were never more than ten people present, they were a struggle. Here there are 200. Questions are asked about Big Deal, EastEnders, Cathy Come Home, Mr Benn etc.
Then Karen said, I think. ‘Say that famous line.‘ So I said. ‘Suddenly as if by magic...‘ The reaction was extraordinary, to my ears anyway. So I continued. ‘Maybe I should go round the country doing the shortest show in the world, just go on the stage and say “Suddenly as if... “ ‘ From the noise they made it seemed that they thought it was a good idea. Then I cut the 100th Anniversary cake for Peter Cushing. This was followed by the trailer for the the film, made by Kevin Davies, which included out takes. ‘You could see yourself dubbed into Spanish‘ he told me.
|the 2nd most famous Mr Benn|
Later downstairs for more signings and photos taken plus I sold FIVE more books! Good old Dr Who.
Eventually I leave. In the taxi home, the driver suddenly turns round and says. ‘Your voice is very familiar. Aren’t you Mr Benn?’ That little man pops up again. Twice in one day? Could this be the Eureka moment?
I’ve done 4 Dr Who jamborees and 1 Carry On, they’ve all been well attended, the glitter dust of those titles worked.
Could the glitter dust of Mr Benn work for me? Could I go out and talk about Mr Benn?
Yes, a Mr Benn evening, show an episode or two, talk about the background, a few anecdotes, a couple of jokes and conclude with the hit song ‘Suddenly as if by Magic’.
It might work.
Mark(Wednesday, June 05 13 11:08 pm BST)
Excellent news Ray! I think I said not so long back that the Who fan circuit is usually very friendly and could be very successful. So glad to hear that's the case.
Mick Kedian(Sunday, June 16 13 01:53 pm BST)
Double pleased for you Ray... deserved recognition I sincerely hope this leads somewhere.
Valerie Blackwood(Sunday, June 23 13 04:11 am BST)
Lovely to read your blog.