SPOKEN WORD
Cult Conversations
Volume One

Presenter: Dexter O'Neill
Fantom Films
RRP: 11.99
Available 02 April 2007


The first volume of this audio CD series features interviews with Gareth David-Lloyd, who is currently gearing up towards his second series as Ianto Jones in the BBC 3 smash hit Torchwood, Phil Willmott, who chalked up an impressive 150 episodes as science officer Finbow Lewis in the satellite television sci-fi soap Jupiter Moon, and Deborah Watling, who remains best remembered for her role as Victoria Waterfield alongside Patrick Troughton in Doctor Who...

First up is Gareth David-Lloyd, though apparently his was not actually the first segment to be recorded - interviewer Dexter O'Neill opens it by saying, "Hello and welcome to another edition of Cult Conversations..." I theorise that the folks at Fantom Films decided to go for a reverse-chronological running order after the interviews had been conducted. The CD kicks off with 21st-century star David-Lloyd, before moving back to the 1990s with Phil Willmott and then to the '60s with Deborah Watling.

David-Lloyd betrays his relative youth and inexperience by stammering a little during an interview that won't raise many eyebrows, even when the discussion turns towards the sexuality of his character and the nature of his relationship with Captain Jack. The actor responds to some rumours about the series and touches upon the connection with Mine All Mine, the Russell T Davies scripted comedy/drama in which he played a character called Yanto Jones. About the most surprising revelation is that the ghastly Countrycide is his favourite episode of Torchwood.

The interview with Phil Willmott makes for a good contrast. He speaks in a forthright and in-your-face manner about all aspects of his life and profession, including his own sexuality. Whereas the success of Torchwood has come at an early point in Gareth David-Lloyd's acting career, Jupiter Moon marked the end of Willmott's. Not in a bad way, as he explains - it just so happened that at this point his vocation shifted towards writing (which he took up in order to pass the time during recording breaks) and ultimately directing. Willmott is now Artistic Director of his own multi-award-winning theatre company The Steam Industry and an Associate Director of The Kings Head Theatre. He also discusses the punishing production schedule of Jupiter Moon, which reminds me somewhat of the non-stop rehearsal/recording routine of '60s Who.

Which brings us rather neatly to Deborah Watling, who, though best known for her role as Victoria, has enjoyed an extensive acting career on stage, film and television. As she recalls here, she started early, with child roles in William Tell and The Invisible Man before hitting the big time (with her face on the front cover of Radio Times) as Alice in The Life of Lewis Carroll. Her post-Who work has included The Newcomers on television and That'll Be the Day (with David Essex) on film. Watling's recollections are full of funny anecdotes and observations about her own bad behaviour - as a juvenile actress hiding from her chaperones and generally driving them round the bend - and as well as that of her mischievous co-stars, including Keith Moon and Adam Faith.

All in all, this CD is a mixed bag. I can see the value of variety in combining three very different interviewees, but perhaps they should all have been chosen from the same series. What if (like me) the listener or potential purchaser isn't all that interested in one or more of the shows (in my case, Jupiter Moon)?

In its favour, in addition to its 65-minute running time as a standard CD, the disc offers two hours of uncut interview material in MP3 format. Unfortunately for me, I have been unable to access these extra tracks, despite usually being able to play MP3 files on my computer. Hopefully other listeners will have better luck.

Richard McGinlay