Sunday, 12 January 2020


HAPPY BIRTHDAY MICHAEL ASPEL! 😀😃 Here's a man who has such a well known face and reputation on UK television, that when he appears on the screen, it's almost like your favourite Uncle, has come to tea! Aspel's career has been a prolific to say the least! Starting in working as a reporter for the local press, by the early sixties, he had become one of four regular newsreaders on BBC national television, along with Richard Baker, Robert Dougall and Corbet Woodall. Then becoming a regular face presenting BBC flagship programming like 'Come Dancing', 'Crackerjack', 'Ask Aspel', and the Miss World beauty contest, which he covered 14 times.

IT WAS ON A EPISODE of his weekly children's tv show Ask Aspel, where children requested clips of their favourite tv shows, that Aspel first worked with Cushing on January 7th 1974. The next time would be quite 'unexpected' and yet quite an event! After a long spell fronting his own very popular ITV talk show and the horrendous 'never ending' afternoon programme 'Give Us A Clue' that Aspel took over fronting ITV's long running favourite, 'This Is your Life' when host Eamonn Andrews died in 1987 until its run ended in 2003.

ABOVE: ACTRESS JOANNA LUMLEY and actor FREDDIE JONES, both who appeared in Hammer films 'THE SATANIC RITES OF DRACULA' (1973) with Cushing! Freddie starred with Cushing in Hammer films, 'FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED' (1969) Lumley also starred with Cushing in the very first episode of 'THE NEW AVENGERS' called 'the Eagle's Nest' in 1976.

DURING THAT RUN, Aspel surprised Peter Cushing, with his 'Big Red Book' on 21st February 1990. Cushing's 'This Is your Life' episode almost didn't happen, when the secret cover of surprise was blown a few weeks before the recording. Cushing never let on he knew 'he was coming!' and Aspel did a great job steering Cushing, who at this time could be quite unpredictable during live recordings, through an army of guests who had worked with Peter over the years. One surprise guest was Ursula Andress, who had flown quite a journey to be there for Cushing's evening. When she was announced and grandly made her way onto the set to hug Peter, he welcomed her with hugs when she made a reference to the film they made together.. 'She' in 1965. 'She who must be obeyed!' said Andress. Cushing suggestively replied with glee, 'Oh and you still are darling...What would you like me to DO?' which got a big laugh.

I BELIEVE IT WAS quite a task for the 'This Is Your Life' team, after much research and study to decide on guests for the show. Guests had to be special, entertaining, engaging and guaranteed not to run away from Aspel when he shock surprised them with the book and the evening's planned recording before a live audience, of their lives shared with the public. Aspel had specially requested Peter Cushing be used in the series, several times. The start of preparation and plans were almost uncovered each time and the shows were cancelled. Eventually, Aspel got his wish and Peter Cushing had an evening he would never forget! Thank you for that Mr Aspel ...and a VERY Happy Birthday to YOU!

TWO PAGES from Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee's scripts. BOTH from Hammer Dracula films. Cushing's from 'The Satanic Rites of Dracula' (1973) and Lee's 'Taste the Blood of Dracula' (1970) BOTH films had a trying and difficult 'birthing' process . . I think for both Cushing and Lee, making a Hammer Dracula film, was a different experience. . . but it is now, both interesting and quite amusing how Lee and Cushing dealt with prep for the role, short-falls of the script, the detail, the dialogue... Cushing as we know, loaded his scripts with yards of notes, references, costume suggestions and anything that would aid him in doing his best on the screen.. he was quite meticulous.

LEE IN THIS INSTANCE, makes no secret of again being not at all happy with the contents of the page... or any page I would guess. Linda Hayden's Alice lines of 'Master, Master, you are back!' and her '(Whimpering Passionately: Love me! Love Me!) are given the short shrift note with ' Ridiculous Lines!' and another 'NO!' ... for Lee, it must have been extremely frustrating.

ABOVE AND BELOW : The PCASUK guide to 'Hammer's Dracula Franchise' PART ONE HERE and PART TWO HERE

I HAVE SHARED many times that personally I feel Hammer's Dracula's are 'films of moments' 😊😉 Some scenes are very good indeed. Others cringing. I am sure you have watched them all many over at the FACEBOOK PCASUK FAN PAGE I am asking, is there any scene, line of dialogue or sequence, that if you hand a magic wand, you would change today?? Marcus 


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