Monday, January 16, 2012


A little bit of self publicity here. My play about Patrick McGoohan is on at the wonderful Lass O'Gowrie in Manchester next Wed 25th and Thurs 26th Jan. I shall be performing a slightly re-written one man version running approx 50 minutes. Be seeing you!


The Story Of Patrick McGoohan - The Prisoner

(Press Release 06.12.11)

The Lass O’Gowrie, Charles Street, Manchester.

8.30pm Wed/Thurs 25th/26th January 2012

‘EVERYMAN: The Story Of Patrick McGoohan – The Prisoner’ written by BRIAN GORMAN, details the life of the theatre, television, and film star (who sadly died in 2009).

The play begins a mini tour of the UK, beginning with two performances at the ‘MidWinter LassFest’ at The Lass O’Gowrie pub, Charles Street, Manchester on Wed and Thurs 25th & 26th January. The play will be seen later in the year, across the UK, as part of a double bill with ‘A Passion For Evil’ by writer/actor John Burns (detailing the life of the infamous Aleister Crowley).

Manchester-based writer Brian Gorman, has played McGoohan and his character 'Number Six' on stage in Manchester, Chester, and Portmeirion (as a guest of Six Of One, The Prisoner appreciation society). A reading of the play by Gorman garnered a glowing review from Brian Watson for The Unmutual website (a major 'Prisoner' fan group):

"Brian achieved what no Number Two managed, that was to deconstruct the personality of the man and propose a very credible "what it's all about" of McGoohan's life and work.

The script of EVERYMAN is a joy: at turns witty, informative, dramatic, and wonderfully paced throughout. The author knows his subject thoroughly, tells the tale well and, while he refers to influences that surface later in The Prisoner, he never descends to quote-dropping for gratuitous effect”

Gorman believes that a theatrical tribute to the star of such cult tv favourites as ‘DANGER MAN’ and ‘THE PRISONER’ is long overdue:

"McGoohan was a brilliant actor. In common with the great Orson Welles, who he cited as a major influence, he was also a fiercely uncompromising individual who took real artistic chances, and divided the critics."

PATRICK McGOOHAN was born in New York, but spent less than a year there before his family relocated to their native Ireland. Several years later, they moved to England, where McGoohan caught the acting bug in Sheffield, and worked his way up to leading roles at the local professional repertory theatre. He was the first choice to play James Bond in 1962, but turned down the role of a lifetime due to his distaste for the depiction of gratuitous violence and casual sex. While Bond was smashing cinema box office records, McGoohan became an international television star as secret agent John Drake in ‘Danger Man’; who rarely used a gun and politely declined the numerous advances of beautiful women. After several hugely successful years, McGoohan tired of playing Drake, and persuaded legendary producer Lew Grade to back his new project, ‘The Prisoner’, and allow him full creative control. The series made McGoohan the highest paid actor on British tv when he played an un-named secret agent who attempts to resign his job, only to be kidnapped and imprisoned in a mysterious village from which there seems no escape. Everybody in The Village is assigned a number, and McGoohan is referred to as Number Six, but refuses to conform; spending each of the series’ seventeen episodes attempting to outwit his captors. The show became a massive cult hit with its flamboyant action, imaginative stories, and surreal style, and was recently remade for ITV with Sir Ian McKellen starring as the enigmatic and menacing ‘Number Two’. McGoohan also starred in a variety of successful films including ‘Silver Streak’, ‘Ice Station Zebra’, and Mel Gibson’s oscar-winning ‘Braveheart’. He won two Emmy awards for acting in the ‘Columbo’ tv series, and was even immortalised in an episode of ‘The Simpsons’.

BRIAN GORMAN is from Wigan, and is a writer, artist, and actor. He has designed posters and brochure illustrations for The Chester Gateway Theatre, and had work published in The Liverpool Daily Post, The Big Issue, and Green World (the magazine of The Green Party). His artwork has also been seen on television (ITV1’s ‘Martina Cole’s Lady Killers’), and he is currently working on a professional commission to produce a series of graphic novels on Manchester bands. As an actor he has played leading roles in corporate and educational dramas, music videos, and recently portrayed the notorious mass murderer Thomas Hamilton in television reconstruction of the 1996 Dunblane massacre. He has also played the main villain, Viktor Toxikoff, in award-winning director Chris Stone’s James Bond inspired music video ‘The Rebel’, for the band The Amateurs. Gorman also has an arts review blog at
Gorman first studied acting at Wigan College of Technology in the 1980s, and was fascinated to later discover that Sir Ian McKellen had grown up just yards from the college theatre:

"I wrote to Sir Ian several years ago when he agreed to allow me to use his likeness in my comic book, ‘Borderliners’ (as did another hero of mine, The Saint himself - Sir Roger Moore). He sent me a wonderful three page hand-written letter telling me about how he’d enjoyed his childhood in Wigan, and had even played on the same stage as I had. It’s a fascinating coincidence that he has recently starred in the remake of ‘The Prisoner’, and now here I am playing Patrick McGoohan! "

Onboard as the production’s official adviser is ROBERT FAIRCLOUGH. Robert is a freelance writer, designer and producer. His work on ‘The Prisoner’ includes the book ‘The Prisoner: The Official Companion to the Classic TV Series’, editing two volumes of ‘The Original Scripts’ for the classic series and graphic design work on the recent AMC remake. He is a broadcaster who has featured on BBC radio and ITV, written for the British Film Institute and 'SFX' magazine and produced documentaries for 2 Entertain's range of ‘Doctor Who’ DVDs.

There is a word of warning from Brian Gorman for anyone expecting a straight-forward story of McGoohan’s life:

"In keeping with McGoohan’s surreal work on ‘The Prisoner’, we will be playing around with time, as well as the character itself. ‘Patrick McGoohan’ will be a mix of the real man, and ‘Number Six’, and the whole piece will be presented in the style of an episode of ‘The Prisoner’."

Another Prisoner fan, STEPHEN FRY, has sent Brian his personal best wishes for the production.

Brian Gorman can be contacted at  Tel. 07510 591444

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


By Russell T Davies
The Lass O'Gowrie, Charles St., Manchester
Until Sunday 8th January 2012

‘Midnight’ was one of the darkest episodes of ‘Doctor Who’, and a personal triumph for Russell T Davies. The Manchester-based writer and creator of the controversial ‘Queer As Folk’ and ‘The Second Coming’ had revived the BBC’s classic sci-fi series rather spectacularly, and with David Tennant taking on the title role had managed to propel the show to new heights of popularity and critical acclaim. ‘Midnight’ was unusual for a Tennant episode, as we saw his normally unflappable and almost superhuman Doctor brought quite literally to his knees at the hands of a terrifying invisible enemy. Previous Davies stories had been hugely entertaining and thought-provoking, but had sometimes been criticised for being too upbeat, sentimental and overly optimistic about ‘the human condition’. ‘Midnight’ proved that RTD could take us into much darker and unsettling territory with a tale that reminded me of Nigel Kneale’s ‘Quatermass’ at its very best.

The story sees our hero join a small group of tourists on a giant space truck crossing a lifeless planet made of diamond. In no time at all, they find themselves in dire straits as the engines fail, the pilots are killed, and one of the passengers becomes possessed. To produce this story on the stage, rather than television, is a hell of a task, requiring a tight-knit group of top notch actors, and a director with a grip of steel. This production triumphs on every level, and is quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever seen in a theatre. Honestly, I am not exaggerating here. The tension was almost unbearable at times, and the whole experience was deeply unnerving. In fact, I had nightmares afterwards.

There is no mention of ‘The Doctor’ in this production, as the character remains the property of the BBC, and this is a not-for-profit presentation. Russell T Davies granted his permission for the project to go ahead, and so our title character is here named ‘Dr John Smith’. This works brilliantly, and proves that the story works perfectly well beyond the confines of a hugely familiar television series. 

Staged in a small room with space for around 30 audience members, the atmosphere was truly claustrophobic, with the actors just inches away from us. A white floor, black walls and a silver entrance door created our space truck, and gave us nowhere to hide. At just 50 minutes (the length of the original tv episode), there was no padding of the story; simply a tight, tense, nerve-jangling experience.

Mike Woodhead had the unenviable task of playing John Smith, and proved to be an inspired bit of casting. This was no simple imitation of David Tennant, but a beautifully realised interpretation of an iconic character who we all think we know. Apart from brandishing the sonic screwdriver a couple of times, Woodhead never once fell into the trap of replicating the familiar tics and body language of Tennant’s Time Lord. Zoe Matthews as Sky Sylvestry was outstanding as the heartbroken woman possessed by the alien invader, and gave an utterly remarkable performance. I happened to be sitting right by her through the most terrifying scenes, and I can tell you I was astonished. This is a part that any actress would be hard pressed to pull off; requiring the performer to regularly repeat the other characters’ dialogue and speech patterns, then proceed to speak their lines a fraction of a second before they do. In simple terms this means the actress playing Sky must learn nearly every line in the play, and time her interactions with the other actors to the split second. As I said, astonishing.

Phil Dennison and Paida Noel made a terrific double act as the condescending Professor Hobbes and his mousey assistant Dee-Dee, while Natalie Husdan, Matt Aistrup, and Michael Loftus as the bickering and dysfunctional Cane family provided sterling support. The family’s strained relationships were evident from the start, and the fact that the characters only bonded when deciding to commit an act of stomach-churning violence was pretty damn chilling.

Jane Leadbetter as The Hostess provided the few comic moments, with a character whose brittle and artificial surface soon cracked when faced with any interruption to her work routine. Her finest moment will surprise anyone unfamiliar with the story from the television episode, but is still a fabulous emotional jolt for the audience.

Director Brainne Edge has done a fantastic job of marshalling her actors in a confined performance space, and should be congratulated on a wonderful adaptation of one of Dr Who’s best ever episodes. Produced by The Lass O’Gowrie’s Gareth Kavanagh and Lisa Connor, ‘Midnight’ is simply a breath-taking, audacious piece of theatre.


The Lass O'Gowrie, Charles St., Manchester
Until Saturday 7th January

Theatre Review

I had no idea what to expect from this production. After all, Alan Moore and Ian Gibson’s comic book space opera has a multitude of incredible characters, and an epic sweep. Well, The Lass O’Gowrie in association with Scytheplays has pulled it off. Comics genius Alan Moore, he of ‘Watchmen’ and ‘V For Vendetta’ fame, created ‘The Ballad Of Halo Jones’ for the 2000AD weekly comic in the 1980s and it became an instant cult success. Moore and artist Ian Gibson wanted to create a fully-rounded female character, as they were getting fed up of the dispiritingly one-dimensional presentations of women in comic books. Halo Jones would break the mould.

Set in the 50th century, mass unemployment has resulted in the creation of The Hoop, a massive ghetto for no-hopers. These abandoned people are fed a daily diet of soap operas and celebrity gossip, and encouraged to simply accept their lot in life. Halo Jones is an ordinary young woman growing increasingly irritated by her friends’ inability to see anything beyond The Hoop, and through a series of bizarre events manages to see a way out.

There is little in the way of set in this production, and so we have only the actors to bring to life what at first seems unstageable. I admit I was a little lost for the first 10 minutes, as I have not read the original series of stories, and was completely unfamiliar with the confusing slang many of the characters speak in. But, I was soon mesmerised by the performances, and my ears adjusted accordingly.

Louise Hamer was simply perfect as Halo, and gave a genuinely affecting performance as the disadvantaged ‘everywoman’, battling against prejudice and hopelessness. A sweet mixture of innocence and steely determination, that had the audience taking her to their collective hearts. Superbly supported by the hyper active Claire Dean as the hard as nails Rodice, the two had great chemistry, and the characters’ deep friendship shone through. Paida Noel broke our hearts as the tragic Ludy, providing the catalyst for Halo’s escape. Benjamin Patterson was hilarious and terrifying as the robot dog, Toby; in this adaptation looking like a Cylon warrior in a hoodie (part man, part animal, part machine), and with a gruff Northern Irish accent adding an aura of contained menace. The scene where he rips a character to pieces was performed to perfection. Zoe Iqbal shone as the flamboyant tv presenter ‘Swifty Frisco’, providing regular updates on the relentless celebrity gossip, soap opera previews, and fashion tips; every brief appearance had the audience in stitches. An outstanding contribution came from Danny Wallace as ‘The Glyph’, a truly unsettling yet hilarious character revealed to be an actual non-entity due to an endless series of sex change operations that left him/her without a personality. There were so many weird and offbeat characters on display, that if one failed to amuse and entertain, there was another one along at any given moment. The wonderfully-named Marlon Solomon made me chuckle as the slimeball President, and again as the ineffectual Mix Ninegold. Gerard Thompson excelled as a fabulously leery Scotsman desperately trying to chat up Laura Cope’s icy sex kitten Toy Molto, and again eliciting belly laughs as a fashion conscious tosser. Michelle Ashton gave us a hard-faced and ridiculously amusing customs officer, and Alastair Gillies was brilliantly funny as an unintelligible workman, and slow-witted security guard. Terry Naylor’s Proximen and bartender stole every scene he was in with the minimum of dialogue. Phil Dennison’s weasel-like terrorist was a great character, and Will Hutchby had a lovely little scene waltzing with Halo as the enigmatic Lux.

Faced with performing in a very awkward space (the main bar area), the actors were remarkable in bringing to life a hugely ambitious story, and I was amazed at the atmosphere they created. I loved every minute, and felt as though I’d been in the company of some rather special friends.

Top marks to directors Daniel Thackeray and Ross Kelly (who also adapted the original comic strips), and producer Gareth Kavanagh. The Lass O’Gowrie is getting quite a reputation for adapting cult tv drama and comedy, and this fantastic production of a much-loved comic strip is yet another triumph.