Brian Klein hits Top Gear at Great Northern Creative Festival

Ex-Top Gear director Brian Klein takes us on a Grand Tour of his career highlights at this year’s Great Northern Creative Festival, and tells us why he feels the new Top Gear is failing.

Brian Klein is one of the UK’s most sought after television directors.  With almost 30 years’ worth of experience in the business.  He has a number of impressive directing credits on his CV.  He also boasts a number of famous friends and collaborators:

“I can’t tell you what Freddie Flintoff puts in our WhatsApp group chat” Brian exclaims, whilst recalling his time directing the A League of Their Own USA road trip.  “You’ve got him, Jamie Redknapp, Jack Whitehall and James Cordon.  It’s my favourite few weeks of the year.  You go out for dinner with them every night and you’re spending company with these guys who become your friends.  It’s a real privilege of the job”.

As well as the League of Their Own lads, Brian has also developed a strong bond over the years with Top Gear’s most prominent presenting trio. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May.  He worked with the trio between 2002 and 2015 on the show whilst he was director.  Brian has a particularly good relationship with Clarkson, who he first worked with back in the mid-90’s, and was heavily involved in the early stages of developing Top Gear:

“Jeremy came up with the idea and it was called ‘Carmageddon’, and I remember having lunch with him in 2001 and him saying I’ve got this new show and I want you to direct it. When I asked what it was he said “Well we’re going to have a racing driver called ‘The Gimp’, and he’s going to be in black leather in a cage and we’ll throw meat at him when we want him to drive”

Brian went on to explain that the Gimp name had to be dropped, as the BBC feared that they may be sued by Quentin Tarantino, who had a character of the same name in his hit film Pulp Fiction.  One slight name change later, The Stig was born.

He also was not surprised by Top Gear’s decline following the departures of Clarkson, Hammond and May:

“I think it’s a bit like Friends, I said to the executives at the BBC, which was probably as big as Top Gear.  Imagine if they all leave.  Then Friends comes back: same theme tune and the same layout, but with different actors.  Meanwhile the original cast goes off to make the same programme but with a different name.  What are the public going to watch?  Whoever took over Top Gear, you couldn’t make it a success”

Brian still works with Clarkson, May and Hammond today, on The Grand Tour where he is studio director.  The second series of the Amazon Prime exclusive show becomes available to watch from the 8th of December.

Words by Daniel James Morris

John Thomson: The man behind the name

“The actors got on me nerves”. A strange comment you might think from a man who has made a living appearing on our screens in some of the best-loved TV dramas.

Addressing myself and a full crowd at The Great Northern Creative Festival, John took his engrossed listeners on a journey through his career, highlighting the highs and lows of being a working actor, trying to make his way in the ever-competitive industry.

John’s passion for acting originated at what was then known as Manchester Polytechnic Theatre. Having a passion for film and TV, he took it upon himself to make friends with as many people in the creative department as possible. Spending his early college days being a typical student and enjoying most of his evenings in a pub, John managed to immerse himself in to a group of people who would cast him in their college productions, helping to ignite his passion for TV acting even further.

Despite this though John did pay gratitude to the amateur dramatics scene in Preston, in particular Preston Musical Comedy Amateur Dramatics Group, saying it helped him realise he would rather have friends in the industry than push his way ruthlessly to the top but end up with no one to support him. “You’ve got to have ambition’ he said, ‘There’s quiet ambition which I have… I have no time for ruthless ambition”.

It may be this sense of subtle self-assurance that helped him to achieve his role in Coronation Street. Despite already having a cameo part in the early 90’s, John returned to the soap in 2008, cast as Jesse Chadwick, a children’s entertainer and Electrician. The role, was perfect for John who said convincingly “I just love the sound of laughter and I love to make people laugh” (something that was obvious form his enthusiastic demeanour at the festival).

He also explained how his time on the famous street often saw him overcome with a term coined as ‘Rover-phobia’. This was known amongst the cast as being the overwhelming sensation of being stood in Coronation Street’s iconic pub, the Rovers Return. John explained how such feelings of utter disbelief would often lead to actors forgetting their lines.

“People go to pieces, its called Rover-phobia and I got it a bit, it was quite scary” said John with a reminiscent look across his face.

Before his role on the cobbles, John played Pete Gifford, an insensitive husband who had a glass half-empty outlook on every aspect of his life. The TV show was a hit and alongside his co-stars, including James Nesbitt and Fay Ripley, John’s career was at its prime. The show then returned to our screens in 2016, much to the excitement of the cast and viewers. John was given a more challenging role this time after Pete was diagnosed with depression.

John says he was able to draw on experiences in his own life to help him portray his character in a sensitive but truthful way. He explained how 2012 and 2013 were particularly hard years and after spending time in Los Angeles but with not a single audition to go to, he found himself and fellow actor Bradley Walsh, helping each other out as they both struggled to crack the industry in America. “Me and Bradley saved each other’s mental bacon” said John.

While his acting career had hit a quieter patch during 2012, John continued with his other love for doing stand up and impressions. He treated us to some hilarious examples, with the room in hysterics especially over his very convincing take on Bill Clinton. Now clearly feeling at ease with his audience, John even shared with us the little secret that he auditioned to be the voice of Shrek in the early 2000’s and after hearing how he would have portrayed the lovable ogre, I personally was left puzzled as to why he was not cast. John put it down to the fact that he was not famous enough to star alongside Mike Myers and Cameron Diaz.

Nevertheless, ogres and Hollywood stars aside, John is now focusing on the future.

He has recently been helping musical theatre students form the University of Central Lancashire put on a 45 minute musical in order to raise proceeds for Children in Need. The event has been scripted rehearsed and performed all in the space of five days and John’s experience of performing both on stage and in front of the camera has been invaluable.

His career has also been looking up after the return of Cold Feet. A six part series coming out next year means Pete Gifford will once again be gracing our screens and with John having co-written the next series it is sure to be a funny one.

John will also be starring in a short film out next year called ‘Talking of Dangers’ and you can catch him in this year’s Christmas special of ‘Trollied’.

Words by Eleanor Beth Cutts

The Visitor and the madness of cult films

What makes a great cult film? A fascinating host of characters who you can dress up as at a yearly convention? A complicated plot that takes a number of viewings to understand? Or is it seeing a faker than fake bird produce a hidden blade from its beak and stab Lance Henrikson in the neck?

Cult films are something of a phenomenon, as Ovidio G. Assonitis explained when he spoke at the Great Northern Creative Festival. 

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, cult films should have “enduring appeal to a relatively small audience”, and be “non-mainstream”, but it isn’t as simple as that really.

There are generally two sorts of cult film. The first sort is genuinely good films which, for whatever reason, were misunderstood upon release and didn’t do well at the box office. Films that fall into this category include The Rocky Horror Picture Show, A Clockwork Orange and Donnie Darko.

The second, and much more baffling types of cult film are those truly terrible films, which by some minor miracle get latched onto by a small group of rabid fans.  The kind of people who see through a films many flaws and find a real charm and ‘so-bad-its-good’ appeal.

The Visitor,  based on a story written by Assonitis, is a cult film that sits firmly in that second category.  The 1979 sci-fi horror flick is a true cinematic experience. Despite its plot leaning heavily on other, more successful 70’s horror films, it’s a truly unique spectacle.

The film is directed by Giulio Paradisi (credited as Michael J. Paradise so as to appeal to American audiences more). He is best known for his numerous B-movies which tended to blatantly rip off major films of the time.  An example of this would be his 1977 production, Tentacles.  Which essentially took everything from Steven Spielberg’s box-office smash Jaws, but replaced the titular shark with a giant octopus.  Already you can see why this film has garnered such cult status.

Unlike many of Assonitis’s projects at the time, The Visitor actually boasted a cast featuring some reasonably notable names, including the aforementioned Lance Henrikson, who would go on to feature in many of James Cameron’s biggest films. Legendary director John Huston, whose films include cinematic classics The Maltese Falcon and The Man Who Would Be King, also features prominently. Lord knows why.

This film is made (or ruined some would argue) by the utter madness that is the films plot… The Visitor is essentially a story of an ancient warrior from a distant world, who comes to earth to prevent the evil Sateen (who’s definitely not any relation to Satan), from spreading his evil across the world.  Sateen has taken the form of an eight-year old girl Katy, and his plot involves getting Katy’s mother pregnant so she can deliver a devilish baby boy in Sateen’s image.

As you can imagine this leads to some utterly cringe worthy dialogue, a staple of any good cult film, where Katy says to her mother’s potential suitor “You and momma could make love and give me a baby-brother.”, but that can be forgiven for sheer amount of wild wacky moments this films throws at you.

To be clear this is in no way a good film, it’s awful.  But whether it’s intentional or not, The Visitor is just so entertaining.  There’s such a charm to its madcap, randomly put together plot.  One minute you’re at a basketball game where the ball explodes in actual Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s hands, the next we’re at a child’s birthday where the mother is ‘accidentally’ shot in the back and lest we forget Lance Henrikson’s death scene.  He meets his maker by way of a switchblade wielding bird and not just any bird, but literally the fakest bird ever seen on screen. That is no exaggeration.

It really is a fascinating piece of film.  You can’t take your eyes off the screen because there’s literally no way of knowing what’s going to happen in the next scene.  Say want you want about the film, but you can’t deny that the team behind it are doing all they can to entertain you.

The Visitor could possibly be the cult film to end all cult films. It certainly ticks all the cult boxes.  You need to go out of your way to see this film.  You’re guaranteed to see something you’ve never seen in film before and you’ll probably never see again!

Words by Daniel James Morris

Lancashire Stuntman stars in Zombie Apocalypse Film

With 17 years of experience under his belt, stuntman, producer, actor and writer, Mark Strange has travelled the world and worked with some of the biggest names in the films industry.

He appeared at the Great Northern Creative Festival to talk about his new role in a zombie apocalypse war film.

Redcon-1 is a collaboration between some huge names from across the pond including Carlos Gallardo, frequent collaborator of director Robert Rodriguez and Kevin Eastwood, creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comic book

From a young age, Strange was interested in all the big action movies, like RamboRocky and Predator.  Mark Strange was very focused on being like his idols and emphasised the need for “a childhood hero or a goal to work towards”.

Mr Strange has worked across the globe in all markets from the UK scene to even spending three months in Hong Kong where he fulfilled a major dream by working with industry legend Jackie Chan on The Medallion and Twin Effect, which was directed by Star Wars Rogue One actor, Donnie Yen.

Mark Strange looks back fondly on his time with Jackie Chan and he even said“The Jackie Chan experience was a massive thing for me at the time because I was such a big fan growing up and he was such a big influence in my career and again working with him closely in an action sequence, I learnt so much from him.”

As part of the back to back shoots for Twin Effect and The Medallion, Strange was attached to the front of an ambulance which rammed him into a chain link fence and Mark said: “It was my best acting ever that unfortunately wasn’t used in the final film.”

Back in the UK, he was a major driving force in creating a brutal and realistic fighting film known as 12 (although in some countries it was known as Underground) which was a pure action movie that did not even have a script when they started shooting but instead had a major focus on fight scenes.

Mark Strange said: “We shot four fights over five days which was hard work,” but he later added that it was worth it as the film was then funded based on the fight scenes alone and went onto be a big hit globally for him.

Strange has not restricted himself to the silver screen though as he has worked on everything from Stan Lee’s Lucky Man to Coronation Street as their fight planner. Talking about his time on Lucky Man, he talked about how nice James Nesbitt was throughout the filming process and his constant applause between takes being a real highlight.

Most actors fear being typecasted in certain roles throughout their careers but Mark said:” I love the assassin and solider parts and all that sort of stuff and I keep getting those parts.”

When asked how to get into the industry Mark said: “I’d say just go out and do it and meet as many people as possible,” he added: “You’ve got to put the work in.”

Words by Daniel Culkin

The Poetic Impulse: Where do poets get their inspiration?

The Poetic Impulse event took place on November 15th and aimed to take an exploration into the drivers of poetical creativity by four different poets from the North of England: Martin Domleo, Vince Smith, Nick Williams and Gordon Aindow.

The first to speak was Martin Domleo.

He began by explaining how he believed the barrier between science and the arts was blurred and that lots of poets get inspired by science. His confidence was knocked when a school teacher accused him of copying his own poem from someone else after writing a Christmas card.

A lot of Martin’s inspiration was drawn from the Peak District, as he only lived a bicycle ride away from it and spent a lot of time there.He said that he was a painter as well as a novelist and he understood that imagery has a large part to play within poetry. He proceeded to tell us about a place in Morecambe bay called the Sunderland Point and that it was a inspirational setting for poetry.

Next up was Vincent Smith, whose writing includes a novel and an unpublished travellers’ guide to English architectural heritage.Vincent became interested in poetry at the tender age of 9, when he began reading some out of curiosity. He said he got an immediate interest in ‘abstract poetry’ because, even though he didn’t understand it, he felt emotionally involved in the texts.

When he presented his work to publishers later on in life, they told him to ‘drag himself out of the nineteenth century’ adding that poets didn’t write like ‘that’ anymore. However, he said that those comments never made him lose his love for writing.

He believes his best writing came at 21, after he experienced his first love. Yet, it was only when he got heartbroken that he felt an urge to write about it: “I had a desire to prolong it. It’s not quite over when you write about it. You preserve it.”

Vincent ended his talk by mentioning how his mother’s death became the first time he felt an urge to write about someone else’s death. He left the audience with a reading of his sonnet inspired by it, called “Speaking to Mother”.

When Nick Williams gave a talk, he stated that he was a new age traveller.The former art and design student explained it was then he started to realise that in terms of creativity writing could be a happy medium.

His first poem was about Easter Island because he found the whole mystery around it as a focus point.He stated that “it takes time” to write poetry.

“Those ideas of being a voice are intensely in me”, Nick said of his love for expressing himself .Lastly came Preston based poet Gordon Aindow, who has been writing poems and short stories for five years.

Gordon spoke of how his physical longing to a past memory deriving from nostalgia is the main source of inspiration for his writing, but admitted that sometimes translating that feeling into words proves a challenge. He goes through a process of “interrogating the facts and gathering evidence” in the hopes this logical approach will translate his feelings into their truest meaning possible.

He finishes off his talk by going over his last step of his writing process: “I ask myself: does it read, sound and feel true to you? Anyone else feeling what I feel is a bonus.”

Words by Emily Vass and Amy Vieira

Ovidio Assonitis discusses his career with Bill McCoid

Ovidio Assonitis has worked with mega film stars such as Al Pacino and James Cameron. Among films he’s worked on include “Scent Of A Woman” and “Beyond The Door”. Speaking at an event at the Great Northern Creative Festival, the tycoon details his journey from a small time film distributor to a multi award winning film producer.

Born in Egypt, raised in Italy with Greek parents, it’s fair to say Ovidio Assonitis is truly an international film producer but a very successful operator in such a saturated field who unsurprisingly speaks four languages.

Back in 1974, his film “Beyond The Door” at the time was the highest grossing independent film. It’s no small feat taking into consideration that at the time, Ovidio had only been in film production for a mere two years. Such major feats early on ultimately paved the way to a highly illustrious career.

He’s got an impressive roster to show off too. Just to name only a couple, he has worked with the likes of Al Pacino and James Cameron.

Ovidio’s career in film began in the 1960’s, but albeit in a slightly different area. He started a distribution company in South East Asia, with multiple offices in locations such as South Korea and Bangkok. His partners included the brother of the King of Thailand.

This venture was going well but his desire lead him to go into film production.

He fondly visualises the distant past and draws a distinction between film production and distribution. “I had the chance to see the meaning behind the pictures distributed”.

It’s not all been glitz and glamour on the way, his most impactful movie to date, “Scent Of A Woman”, was testament to his relentless drive and determination was tested to the limits.

In Ovidio’s eyes, the film would be a success. So, he went along a bought the rights to it. However, it was only he who saw potential in the idea. The supposed crew who were in place to work on his next film disagreed.

He said: “One day they would say yes we can do this and then the next, they would revert back to no it won’t work”.

He spent a whopping 10 years to convince people it would be a good movie to produce. Yes, 10 years. He also realised the need for a star to lead, he aimed for the cream of the crop and by God did it work. Jack Nicholson was heavily interested in playing the main role but was already tied up into a contract.

So, Ovidio just went and casually landed an actor called Al Pacino to play the role. He candidly describes him as “a nice but strange guy”. The movie proved to be a hit, generating £130 million worldwide and holds an impressive 88% on Rotten Tomatoes.

He also takes pride in discovering and promoting young talent, somehow, he convinced the prolific movie star Chuck Norris to make a transition to television. This resulted in Norris starring in Walker Texas Ranger, an iconic TV series adored by households worldwide. It also can’t be forgotten he gave Al Pacino his big break in the previously mentioned “Scent Of A Woman”.

Ovidio is also not afraid of making executive decisions. He notoriously fell out with the world renowned film director James Cameron. He says of the relationship that they “never really got on from the first day”. This culminated in firing Cameron after just one week of shooting on Piranha’s 2. He admitted that Cameron had a great vision and all the elements of being a great.

The famed producer is also not afraid to turn future stars away. Among a varied list, he declined Sharon Stone a role in a movie. She went on to a very successful career, starring in films such as Total Recall and Casino.

When it comes to giving advice to aspiring film producers, his passion for the field evidently comes across. He venomously reminds the audience “you need to have passion, it’s a difficult job. You are not selling goods, you are selling dreams”. He also explained why he works in such a competitive field: “You do it to communicate to the world your dreams and to express yourself. It’s an addiction.”

Words by Issan Khan

UCLan thespians take advice from screen star George Costigan

The actor came to Preston to officially open Great Northern Creative Festival!

An actor with more than 40 years’ experience in the industry has shared vital tricks of the trade with students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Television, screen and theatre star George Costigan spoke to students about breaking into the business and his varied career, which includes a starring role in Rita Sue and Bob Too, appearing in Calendar Girls, Shirley Valentine and Sally Wainwright’s Happy Valley to name a few, and writing for the small screen and stage before his debut novel The Single Soldier.

The actor was at the University to officially open the annual Great Northern Creative Festival, which aims to showcase the creative talent in media, film, photography, journalism and performance at the University.  George was able to spend time with students ahead of his ‘An Audience with’ style public event on campus.

“I see passing on my knowledge as my duty to the next generation; it’s a contradictory profession and actors need to be aware of this going into it.”

Advising the students George said: “There are no set rules in this business.  Every piece of material requires a different approach and every actor approaches things differently.  I see passing on my knowledge as my duty to the next generation; it’s a contradictory profession and actors need to be aware of this going into it.”

Final year acting student Channique Sterling-Brown commented: “George is unapologetically himself and reminded us that we don’t want to lose what makes us tick.”

Fellow acting student Duncan Butcher said: “George is very inspirational.  He’s done so much in his career so it was a great opportunity to learn from someone with so much experience.”

An Audience with George Costigan opened the six-day programme of events. 

2017 Programme Launch

The full programme of events for The Great Northern Creative Festival has been unveiled.

The programme for The Great Northern Creative Festival, in partnership with its principal sponsor Arriva Rail North, has launched presenting this year’s diverse selection of special guests, films and events.

The Festival will screen an array of fiction and documentary features, including the British premiere of Christopher Sykes’ award-winning documentary Golan: A Farewell to Mr Cinema and a special preview screening of SOLO!. There will also be screenings of short films, including documentary, live action and animated works.

The 2017 festival features a stellar line-up of directors, cast and crew to take part in career interviews, Screen Talks, Q&As and Industry Talks, including George Costigan (Shirley Valentine; Rita, Sue and Bob Too), Henry Normal (PhilomenaRed Dwarf) John Thomson (Cold FeetThe Curse of the Were-Rabbit) & Ovidio Assonitis (Piranha Part Two: The Spawning; Beyond the Door).

Taking place over 6 days, the Festival’s screenings are at venues across Preston, including UCLan’s state of the art Media Factory.

We round off The Great Northern Creative Festival with the Arriva Rail Festival Awards. Various prizes will be handed out on the evening including TGNCF Outstanding Award 2017 and TGNCF Lifetime Achievement Award.

UCLan’s Bill McCoid is ‘happy not to be famous,’ as he works with celebrity names

Whilst Bill McCoid has spent half of his career chasing fame, he has never wanted to be famous himself. He admits: “I’m happy not to be famous. Fame is something you have to deal with and it is not what people imagine it to be. Some deal with it very well, but for others, it can change them.”

But that has not stopped the 60-year-old, who teaches screen writing for film and TV at UCLan, using his journalistic instincts to pursue up-coming celebrities. Proving he had a good nose for talent, he was the first person to interview comedians Eddie Izzard and Paul Merton and had caught up with Rory Bremner in his early days.

Bill says: “I have always been into writing. I soon found out that if you wrote things people would pay you. If I went out to a gig, I would write a review. If I saw a famous person I would interview them.

“I started to earn money from that. I was the first journalist to interview Eddie Izzard and Paul Merton as I saw them in clubs in London. I was also one of the early journalists to interview Rory Bremner. “I started off writing for Melody Maker, which no longer exists, and Stage, which is a newspaper for actors. I worked for other papers, such as Manchester Evening News and national Sunday papers as a freelance journalist.

“One of my most interesting articles for the MEN was with Alistair Taylor, music producer Brian Epstein’s right-hand man. He gave me the inside story on The Beatles as he was there all the way through their journey.” Bill’s dedication and enthusiasm enabled him to land a job at Granada TV in the 1990s.

He says: “In the 1990s I got a break at Granada TV as a researcher and in production. I met some amazing people – some famous people and people with stories to tell. I had incredible access to people. I got to spend the day with George Best as he was on one of our shows. He had a reputation for being naughty and disappearing. So I had to keep track of him and make sure I knew where he was. “He had been a hero of mine as a child as he was such a good footballer. I was hanging out with him – and I got paid for it. He was such a lovely guy and for a day I was his buddy.”

Working at Granada enabled Bill to delve into important issues and even raise awareness about social injustices. He worked on a documentary featuring Alex Alexandrowicz, who was arrested for aggravated burglary and was given two life sentences and spent 22 years in prison.

Alex had ran away from his violent family to live in Preston, breaking into houses to steal food and sleeping rough in coal cellars. One break-in led to a year in a young person’s prison for aggravated burglary, after a woman opened a front door as he tried to use a pen-knife.

This time, however, he was handed two discretionary life sentences for aggravated burglary and grievous bodily harm, and given Category A security classification. He was unfairly treated because the authorities believed he was a Soviet spy. The father-of-two adds: “The great thing about working there is that if you had a passion or issue, you would put it out there on TV and reach millions of people. “One of the greatest things I did was make a documentary about a man who was stuck in prison and should not have been. He had lived in Preston and his story featured in the Lancashire Evening Post at the time. I went to the paper’s offices to research the story on microfiche. “Our documentary pressure in the Home Office in 1993 and a year later he was released. It is great doing these things and knowing I can make a difference to someone’s life.”

Bill also claims he was involved in THAT Michael Howard interview in 1997 where Jeremy Paxman asked him the same question – ‘did you threaten to over rule him?’ 12 times.

He says: “I had been working with investigative journalist and television editor Ray Fitzwalter for a few years. “There was a famous interview where Jeremy Paxman was talking to Michael Howard about the possible dismissal of the governor of Parkhurst Prison, John Marriott. Howard was asked by Paxman the same question over and over again, but he would not answer it. “The interview was based on a programme I researched about the prison service.

“I was also the first person to put Harry Hill on a TV show on Granada in 1997. I saw him in a club in London and it went on from there.” Now a lecturer at UCLan, Bill admitted he never envisaged teaching others. He adds: “It was never an ambition of mine. “While at Granada I wanted to spent more time writing, so I applied to lecture part-time at Salford University. I never expected to get the job, but I did and I really enjoyed it. “It was always my ambition to run a small TV channel and I was involved in Channel M with the students. That then became a full time job. “After Salford, I joined UCLan 10 years ago.”

Bill’s talent doesn’t end there, as he has been in a band and rubbed shoulders with likes of Caroline Aherne, Steve Coogan and Dave Gorman in the early days of their career. He adds: “When I was studying at Edgehill University I was in a band called The Nice Men. We did some gigs and brought some singles out. It started as a laugh and we managed to take it a bit further. “One of our songs, Nuclear Summer, will be reissued on a compilation album by Cherry Red Records. The company is bringing out songs which did well in the indie charts. That song came in at number 2 in the indie charts in 1980. “During some of our gigs we were on the bill with people who later became famous, such as Everything But the Girl, Teardrop Explodes and A Flock of Seagulls.”

Bill, who lives in Southport, has also written several plays, including Mourning TV, which was nominated Best New Play by the Manchester Evening News in 1992. At the age of 23 he wrote and directed Speech Therapy, which was the winner of Most Original Play, in the Liverpool Centenary Festival. He is now working on a series of children’s books, as well as a short film, with his daughter Lorna, 19, who works for a film company in London.

He adds: “In November I intend to publish a children’s book – Herbert to the Rescue. I have a series of books for children aged seven to nine written about Albert Snodgrass who is half man, half lizard. He is a bad character. The pictures are drawn by my daughter Lorna. “I am also working on a short film with Lorna – The Art Collector – where artificial intelligence takes over humans. I hope to get it finished in September and I intend to submit it to the BAFTAs. “I was recently in Berlin with my UCLan students making some films to put into The Great Northern Creative Festival.”

With such a varied career, Bill is certainly never bored. He admits: “I love all of it. I would not want to cut any of these things out. I love doing music; I love writing about people. “I also love teaching. It is a great privilege if you can persuade people that they can do something when they doubt themselves. “I feel very proud when I see the name of one of my previous students on the credits of a programme.”