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Thursday, 25 October 2007

Local Papers victims of Spanner PR stunt

downthetubes has learnt that our story posted yesterday about a missing Dick Spanner puppet is pure hokum contrived by the PR company promoting the release of the new DVD - and many local papers across the country have been victims of it.

Chris Bentley of Fanderson told fans yesterday that he has spoken to Gerry Anderson about the reports and apeal for the return of the missing puppet published in many local papers "and it turns out it's all a lot of nonsense intended to promote the Dick Spanner DVD.

"Ben Titchmarsh [of Quite Great Publicity] is not Gerry's publicist at all," Chris reports. "He's a publicist for the DVD company - and was not speaking on Gerry's behalf in those articles. In fact, until I asked him about it, Gerry didn't know what this guy has been telling the newspapers and it certainly wasn't done with his permission.

"The truth is that Gerry doesn't have a large collection of puppets at home, or any collection at all come to that," Chris reveals. "He has a couple of the busts that were sculpted for New Captain Scarlet but that's all. Nor is he looking for the original Dick Spanner and is more than happy for whoever might have it to keep it, if it even still exists."

Apparently, the "Clive" person who allegedly owned the puppet is a figment of Mr Titchmarsh's imagination too.

Fans of Gerry Anderson are likely to be considerably aggrieved by this hoax, so you may want to mail Mr Titchmarsh ( and tell him what you think of his "PR".

I imagine many local newspapers won't be very happy at being taken in, either, which will perhaps make it all the more difficult for genuine appeals of this nature to get coverage in future (although given the content of most local newspapers these days, if ours are anything to go by, I doubt it!)

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Where's Clive?

Dick Spanner DVD Cover(Note: the "missing puppet" story that inspired our reporter Jeremy Briggs' research below was quickly revealed as a PR hoax, see follow up, but we have kept this item live for information purposes)

Gerry Anderson fans have a new game to play and it is called "Where's Clive?", although it has rather more to do with local newspapers than finding a real person.

Dick Spanner PI, Gerry Anderson's little known stop motion series from 1986 has been released on double DVD by One Media Publishing. Part of the publicity surrounding the release is a story that Gerry does not have an original Dick Spanner puppet in his personal collection and so is looking to track one down. At national level, in The Independent for instance, this was a general request to readers to look out for the puppet with the suggestion that it could be worth a lot of money.

However by the time the story time had filtered down to local paper level it had become much more specific, looking for a set assistant PA called "Clive" who might actually have the puppet. Indeed the Lancaster Evening Post put out the story suggesting that Clive might live in Preston.

However if you were reading the Western Daily Press in Bristol, you would see that they claim that Clive comes from the more general "West of England".

Now despite having the length of Wales between Preston and Bristol I can live with describing them both as the West of England. However I think that Cornwall is a bit of push, being in South West England or, more vaguely, the West Country as The Cornishman reports.

Those of you living on the south coast however should not feel left out as the Bournemouth Daily Echo puts him in Bournemouth while the Shropshire Star is a little more vague by just saying Shropshire.

Slightly less vague is the Coventry Telegraph which has Gerry "hunting all over Coventry and Warwickshire" for the puppet.

My current favourite however has to be this one. While Preston, Bournemouth, Coventry and the rest may not be that close together, at least they are all in England. Over in Northern Ireland, the Derry Journal reckons that Clive may live in Londonderry and that the puppet may be in "the Creggan, Brandywell or the Bog". That would be the Bogside, for those of you now worried that Clive might have flushed the puppet down the toilet as the ring of investigative steel from the local paper closed in on his hiding place.

More local reports on the whereabouts of the elusive Clive as we get them!

Update, 13:01 24/10/07: Meanwhile, in a quick update on this post here's a copy of the letter being sent out to local newspapers by the PR company, as published in the South Shields Gazette... It seems the wording letter might itself be causing the confusion among local newspaper editors...

Missing: Dick Spanner PI

WORK for a company currently representing Gerry Anderson, the legendary 'string-pulling' producer and creator of Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Joe 90 and cult TV show Dick Spanner PI, which first aired in 1986, about a robot private detective.

Gerry, who is now 78, has an incredible collection at his home of all the original figures from his hugely popular shows, but his Dick Spanner marionette, which he had hoped eventually to pass on to his family, is missing.

We have already contacted Channel 4's storeroom and prop team, but this has been so far fruitless.

All that Gerry can remember about last seeing the figure is that it was entrusted to a set assistant PA from your area called Clive when the show's last episode was filmed in 1987, but as yet all our efforts to track him or the figure down have been unsuccessful.

It would mean so much to Gerry to have a complete collection of his lifetime's work.

He is a true television legend, and he is willing to offer a reward to anyone who can find Dick Spanner. Perhaps it's in someone's attic?

Ben Titchmarsh,
Quite Great Publicity

• Have you spotted a Dick Spanner story in your local paper? Leave a comment!
• More about Dick Spanner PI
Buy the DVD from

The Hammer Story book launch

The launch of the new edition of Titan Books' The Hammer Story is being celebrated with a special one-day event at the Cine Lumiere in Queensberry Place, London SW7, this coming Saturday, 27th October. The event will include cinema screenings of Never Take Sweets From a Stranger and The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll, along with one other as yet unconfirmed film.

Guests will include actors Geoffrey Bayldon, Kenneth Cope, Brian Croucher, Janina Faye and others, all of who will be signing copies of the new book with authors Marcus Hearn and Alan Barnes.

The event will also present a rare opportunity to purchase copies of a strictly limited leatherbound edition of The Hammer Story, which will not be otherwise available in stores.

This new edition of The Hammer Story, packed with new pictures and more provides a film-by-film dissection of the history of Hammer Films, dripping with rare promotional material and previously unpublished photographs.

Most tickets for the event have already been sold, but a few are still available. Tickets for the event cost £25 and can be purchased by
calling organiser Don Fearney on 020 8806 6915.

Time: 27 October 2007, 10am til 6pm-ish. Coffee and teas available in cinema cafe.

Address: Ciné Lumiere 17 Queensberry Place, South Kensington, SW7 2DT

Dracula - back from the dead!

This Hallowe'en, a stunning new restoration of Hammer's classic Dracula will thrill audiences at over 70 cinemas across the UK thanks to the British Film Institute.

The Hammer studio's most celebrated film, Dracula stars Christopher Lee in his first ever outing as the vampire Count. This was also the first version of Bram Stoker's famous novel to be filmed in colour, lending greater emphasis than ever before to the physical aspects of horror.

"Of all Draculas," says horror aficionado Kevin Jackson, "Christopher Lee is the most truly frightening." But he is also suave, debonair and an accomplished seducer who awakens his female prey's desire before they offer themselves as victims.

With its skilful blend of the erotic and the horrific, Dracula offers a richly satisfying big-screen experience - from the first appearance of the black-cloaked Count at the top of a flight of stairs, to the film's breathtakingly choreographed finale.

Watch the trailer:


31 October Hallowe'en Previews

• Cineworld Cinema - For list of venues nationwide visit
IMAX, London - This screening will be introduced by Dracula screenwriter Jimmy Sangster
National Media Museum Bradford
Derby Quad
Watershed Bristol
Screen on the Green
Screen Reigate
Screen Oxted
Screen Winchester

Opens 2 November

BFI Southbank
Cineworld Cinema See full list of venues at
Irish Film Institute

Monday, 22 October 2007

Running Wild on BBC2

Comics artist Lee Sullivan, perhaps best known for his work on Doctor Who, Robocop and Transformers UK, has a secret he's about to share with the nation.

"I'm in a Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry tribute band called Roxy Magic," Lee reveals, "and in a bid for obscurity, we've managed to get ourselves onto the TV quiz show Eggheads which will be broadcast this Wednesday 24th October at 6.00pm on BBC2.

Sadly, we're not playing, but at least you'll get a chance to see what fine intellectuals the band are!"

Created by 12 Yards and hosted by Dermot Monaghan, in Eggheads five amateur quizzers take on five quiz professionals -- including Who Wants to be a Millionaire winner Judith Keppel, former Brain of Britain Chris Hughes, and World Quiz Champion Kevin Ashman -- in a big money quiz.

The record win is £75,000, won by a team of five Oxford Brookes University students called "Beer Today, Gone Tomorrow".

• Find out more about Roxy Magic at

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Drabbles added to Floods Comic charity project

Several writers have expressed an interest in contributing text stories for the Floods Comic charity project planned by Clown Press publisher Adam Grose, so Adam's suggested they submit 100 word 'drabbles' for the project.

"If you are a writer and you would like to create a drabble for this project then go for it," Adam says. "I know writers might have some difficulty finding an artist or would rather just write a short story of 100 words. The theme would be the same - FLOOD. I look forward to your contribution.

Send any drabble to Adam via

For more about Drabbles visit:

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