In the Spotlight with.. James from London

Ome

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Up in the spotlight this week is


@James from London
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Telly Talk Member 22​



James, or JFL (depending your mood) joined the forums way back in 2000, I think, or was it a year before/after? Not that it matters.

Like many of our members, James has contributed a hell of a lot to the forums and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was well-known in the net outside Telly Talk. Famous for his thoughtful and often hilarious views on some of the biggest soaps are forums are dedicated to, I believe lots of members have downloaded some of his review threads in case we lost them like we did in the crash of 2016. So much was lost back then and I recall feeling very miserable for the loss of James' work on Soap Chat.

An actor with many tales to tell, many famous people James has worked alongside, or just stumbled upon doing his daily job.

But what else do we know about James, and what don’t we know?

Please take this week to ask as many, or little questions you have for James including any follow-up questions that might arise during the week.

Enjoy your week in the spotlight.

I will start with one question that intrigues me with everyone.

James, if you were to take part in Mastermind (a quiz show) what would be your specialist subject?

I genuinely have no idea if you would be able to pick one subject, your knowledge on many things across TV and music is incredible, I’m sure you’ll prove that with quite a few options.
 

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Hey @James from London, enjoy your week with the limelight shining on you. I have a few questions, if I may.
  1. Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the acting profession, how has it been for you and what work have you been able to work during this period?
  2. What are you looking forward to doing most when the pandemic is behind us and we can return to a life more normal?
  3. Has living through this period enabled you to discover anything about yourself that you previously didn't think about or has it changed you in any way?
  4. What do you think has been the best and the worst things about living through this pandemic?
 
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Julia's Gun

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Hi James, with your wealth of knowledge on the soaps have you ever thought of writing a book on the 80s prime time soaps? I mean not just a fan history, but reflections on the genre and how it changed TV? Your re-watching threads were so knowledgable and full of intriguing comparisons, I think it would be worthy of being published if you could edit them into a book, and maybe get some cast/crew interviews in there.

Also, who was your favourite cast member to interview from each show, and favourite writer/producer? I remember a really funny one you did with Michael Filerman, and all the Knots cast ones were good to read.

Finally, which of the big 4: Dallas, Dynasty, Knots and FC, was the most enjoyable when re-watching them all back-to-back for so long, and which was the most annoying/tiresome to sit through?

Thanks!
 

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Hi @James from London! Glad to have you in my show (please Miss Piggy give me a break!) in this Spotlight thingie!

1) If you had to play an 80s supersoap character, which one would you choose and why?
2) What was your least favorite plot or subplot perpetrated by the "brilliant minds" behind TNT Dallas?
3) Picture this: you are on a desert island, and you see a magic lamp, a basket full of muffins and a big box with a sign that reads "Dharma". You can only have one and don´t know if it´s your last day on Earth. What would you do?
4) I guess that being an actor, sometimes it has occurred to you what you would say if you were given an award (or maybe you already did?). In any case, what would your speech be?
5) Have you ever dreamed about a supersoap/soap character? Was it fun or horrifying (as in "Frankie Colby" horrifying")?

Miss Piggy kindly asks:
"Hi Jimmy Jimmy!
If we could go back in time and do something as productive and meaningful as revamping the original "Muppet Show", and you were invited to guest star, what routines would you do, would you sing, and what kind of love scene would you do with moi?

Sexily Yours,
Miss Piggy"

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"...And tonight´s guest star is...Soapchat-famous James from London!!!!!"​
 

James from London

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James, or JFL (depending your mood) joined the forums way back in 2000, I think, or was it a year before/after? Not that it matters.

Like many of our members, James has contributed a hell of a lot to the forums and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was well-known in the net outside Telly Talk.
Thank-you, Ome -- you're very generous, as always! Actually, outside of Soap Telly Wentworth Global Talk Chat, I mostly keep my trap shut on the internet. I do like to lurk here and there though.
James, if you were to take part in Mastermind (a quiz show) what would be your specialist subject?
Hmm, TV-wise, I probably know the most about Dallas, Knots and EastEnders. I didn't see it, but I know someone did pick Dallas on the real Mastermind and apparently the questions were dead easy, so I think Knots would probably be the safest bet - so long as they don't ask, "What exactly was Empire Valley?"
I genuinely have no idea if you would be able to pick one subject, your knowledge on many things across TV and music is incredible, I’m sure you’ll prove that with quite a few options.
Ah, bless yer! Music-wise, I know a little about a lot, but if you were to put me up against a specialist in one of those areas, I'd probably come a cropper. But it's the general knowledge round where I'd really come unstuck - when it comes to stuff like geography and history, I'm pig thick!

I quite like a pub quiz though. In fact, let me ask you my favourite pub quiz-type question (unless I've asked it before in which case just ignore me): What hugely successful 1970s UK Number 1 single that everybody in the world knows doesn't mention its own title in the lyrics, but does mention the title of the song that replaced it at Number 1 - a song which is also hugely successful and known by everyone in the world?
 

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Hey @James from London, enjoy your week with the limelight shining on you
Thanks, Angela!
Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on the acting profession, how has it been for you
I think it's probably been most devastating for actors who are used to working all the time. Being out of work for months on end isn't that unusual for me, and the fact that there isn't much work around anyway means I'm not suffering from FOMO as much as I might be otherwise! I did have a few jobs lined up for this year, which have obviously had to be put on hold, but hopefully, they'll happen eventually.
what work have you been able to work during this period?
Between lockdowns, I did a play reading for a friend, but I saw it as an excuse to see people as much as anything else, so I haven't had the heart to invoice him for it!
Oh, and I did a little monologue thing on YouTube as this character I've played before who's obsessed with EastEnders and who was trying to cope with the fact that the amount of episodes per week had been reduced cos of the pandemic (this was before they took it off the air altogether), but that seems like years ago now.
What are you looking forward to doing most when the pandemic is behind us and we can return to a life more normal?
To be honest, I'm trying not to think too far ahead, but apart from obvious things like seeing people and (hopefully) being able to walk back into a rehearsal room again one day, it would be nice to see a play in the theatre again. I tend to favour small, intimate venues where the audience and the actors are really close together so obviously we're a long way from that!
Has living through this period enabled you to discover anything about yourself that you previously didn't think about or has it changed you in any way?
Hmm, I don't know ... I did struggle with lockdown a bit at first, like everyone else, but when the gyms reopened, I was able to get a bit of structure and a bit of human interaction back into my life, and I've been strangely content since then. Even though the gyms have closed again, I've got a trainer who I still see three times a week outside, and I'm really quite happy in my small little world! It would be nice to think I could retain that baseline of contentment when things pick up again, but I'm not sure if human nature (or at least my human nature!) really works like that.

A few months ago, because, as you say, the acting profession has been devastated by the pandemic, I did start thinking that maybe it would be realistic to start thinking of myself as someone who used to act -- and to view any work that comes along in the future as a kind of bonus. It was quite nice to look back and think, "Well, I had a fair crack of the whip and I've been luckier than a lot of actors." It's very hard to think like that when you're always actively wanting stuff to happen, so it was nice. But then recently my agent got me a couple of auditions -- the first I've had since it all began -- and working on those made me feel like an actor again, and before you know it, you've find got the taste for it again (which reminds me of an old Sheila Grant line from Brookside: "When you can have things, you start to want them.")
What do you think has been the best and the worst things about living through this pandemic?
Well, I've had it so much easier than most people, so to keep things superficial, the worst thing was getting really fat during the first lockdown - I looked proper pregnant for a while - and the best thing has been getting back into shape. In fact, I'm probably in better nick now than when the whole thing started!
 
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Sarah

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Hi James

1)As an actor, did you study in London, if so which drama school/college did you go to, or are you just a natural talent?

2) How much time does it take you to work on the 'Who called who what' thread? It's brilliant :)

3) Do you still keep in touch with Colin?

4) Why did you never attend any of the anniversary events for Dallas?

Thanks! :)
 

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Hi James, with your wealth of knowledge on the soaps have you ever thought of writing a book on the 80s prime time soaps? I mean not just a fan history, but reflections on the genre and how it changed TV? Your re-watching threads were so knowledgable and full of intriguing comparisons, I think it would be worthy of being published if you could edit them into a book, and maybe get some cast/crew interviews in there.
Aw, thanks, but I think it's quite a niche subject! When I started re-watching all the soaps together chronologically, as well as being an excuse to see them all again, it was kind of an experiment to see if you could chart the development of a genre, but I kind of wanted to stay open-minded and not worry about reaching conclusions. But I think people like conclusions, especially when they've paid good money to read something! Obviously, if someone from the world of books said, "Let's work on this and turn it into something concrete," that would be great, but it wasn't my intention.
Also, who was your favourite cast member to interview from each show, and favourite writer/producer? I remember a really funny one you did with Michael Filerman, and all the Knots cast ones were good to read.
Oh yes, Michael Filerman was really good fun! I was a bit nervous when we first started doing the interviews - I hate talking on the phone at the best of times, let alone to famouses on the other side of the world - so it was mainly Sunshineboyuk asking the questions when we did Kenny and Ginger. I got more involved when we did Filerman, David Jacobs and Val. So my favourite of the Knots cast has to be Val as she was the only one I properly talked to! But she was lovely.

The only Dallas interview I did was with Sue Ellen, in person, and she was very gracious and gave us a lot more of her time than had originally been arranged and she was in the middle of a tour and it was her only day off that week - I still feel guilty about that!

The one interview I did completely on my own was with David Pauslen and that was probably my favourite. He was so nice and helpful and so interesting, and he was very touched and surprised that his season of Dynasty was held in such regard. I think the "mistake" I/we made in a lot of the interviews is that we ended up telling rather than asking the interviewees about their work, wanting to impress them with our insights rather than the other way round -- and in fairness, I think they were impressed! But Paulsen had done so much and hadn't really been interviewed before, so I think he was eager to talk about stuff.
Finally, which of the big 4: Dallas, Dynasty, Knots and FC, was the most enjoyable when re-watching them all back-to-back for so long, and which was the most annoying/tiresome to sit through?
It's hard to pick just one. I think my decision to try and watch them all with an open mind enhanced my enjoyment of Dynasty the most. It was always the first of the chronological week and such a fun way to kick it off. On the weeks that it didn't air, (which meant, according to my own rules :rolleyes:, I wasn't "allowed" to watch it), I would actually feel a little deprived!

Most exciting was the 79/80 and 80/81 seasons of Dallas - they were the Holy Grail of episodes when I started collecting the series on video back in the day and it took me about ten years to get a hold of them, so they always still feel kind of "new" to me. Also, The Yellow Rose was a really brilliant discovery.

The only time I got bored was towards the end of Kim Novak's storyline on Falcon Crest - there was a whodunnit murder storyline, and I realised I just didn't care who had done what. And obviously, Melissa going all wacky and mental made me swear violently at the TV.

As for the C21st soaps, re-watching New Dallas has been as momentous and thrilling as it was the first time around. Conversely, re-watching New Dynasty is often a bit of a chore. I mostly enjoyed it the first time, but it's not really made to be analysed (and, in fairness, it's not that long since I last watched it). Empire's great though -- it's much closer to being a new improved Dynasty than New Dynasty is.
 
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Willie Oleson

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What hugely successful 1970s UK Number 1 single that everybody in the world knows doesn't mention its own title in the lyrics, but does mention the title of the song that replaced it at Number 1 - a song which is also hugely successful and known by everyone in the world?
 

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The only time I got bored was towards the end of Kim Novak's storyline on Falcon Crest - there was a whodunnit murder storyline, and I realised just didn't care who had done what. And obviously, Melissa going all wacky and mental made me swear violently at the TV.

I have to agree, Seasons 1-3 are still great to re-watch, even Season 4 I just recently sat through again was more entertaining than I remembered, but the tail end of S6 and S7-S8 are really a disgrace to the field of entertainment - and not just because I was banished back to that damn convent!!!

Your Val interview is lovely, just had a re-read of that earlier, and don't rule out that book idea - those re-watching threads are fab and a real treat for all of us crazily dedicated 80s nostalgia fans still out there - i'm sure a market exists both here and on facebook, etc - we're here just waiting to get our pre-orders in!
 

James from London

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If you had to play an 80s supersoap character, which one would you choose and why?
Well, the ultimate role would be Digger Barnes. Failing that, Alf Brindle, the boozy old roughneck who the Ewing boys brought to Cliff's apartment to badmouth Digger and Jason only for him to produce Digger's copy of the document splitting Ewing Oil into thirds, or the mad bomb guy who Angelica Nero paid to blow up Jack's car, or Brian Dennehy's dumb sidekick in Winds of Vengeance. Drunk, mental or moronic, or some combination thereof -- those are the fun parts!
What was your least favorite plot or subplot perpetrated by the "brilliant minds" behind TNT Dallas?
I'm currently on Season 3, Episode 2 and there's nothing I'd change so far. I think they really are brilliant.
Picture this: you are on a desert island, and you see a magic lamp, a basket full of muffins and a big box with a sign that reads "Dharma". You can only have one and don´t know if it´s your last day on Earth. What would you do?
Muffins are a bit rubbish and a box could contain anything, but a magic lamp's magic so magic lamp, please.
I guess that being an actor, sometimes it has occurred to you what you would say if you were given an award (or maybe you already did?). In any case, what would your speech be?
I've never won an award but I was in a show that won one and I got to be one of those people standing at the back while Jerry Hall presented it to the star and they made the speech. It was really fun. If it was me and it was the Oscars or something, I like to think I'd use the opportunity to highlight a bigger issue - you know like how Richard Gere did with Tibet or Frances McDormand did with gender disparity in Hollywood - only mine would be an appeal to TNT to bring back New Dallas.
Have you ever dreamed about a supersoap/soap character?
This won't mean anything to you, Toni, but I remember having recurring dreams about Petra Taylor after she went missing in Brookside in 1984. They were really sad!
If we could go back in time and do something as productive and meaningful as revamping the original "Muppet Show", and you were invited to guest star, what routines would you do, would you sing, and what kind of love scene would you do with moi?
Well, I can't sing, so no singing, but maybe the routine could be that I really want to sing but cos I'm so terrible, the Muppets keep trying to stop me. And perhaps Beaker does an experiment to make me able to sing and it goes hilariously wrong.

I could do a love scene with Animal and Janis, where Miss Piggy accidentally gets locked in a wardrobe and no-one can hear her or see her so no-one knows she's there and she can't get out. Ever.

Thanks for your questions, Toni!
 
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Pammy P

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@James from London

Questions for you:
What gave you the inspiration to write your reviews of each Dallas season, it was compelling reading well certainly for me?

How long have you been a fan of the Ewing’s?

If you could, have starred in Dallas, which role would you have played and why?

Thank you
 
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Toni

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Well, the ultimate role would be Digger Barnes. Failing that, Alf Brindle, the boozy old roughneck who the Ewing boys brought to Cliff's apartment to badmouth Digger and Jason only for him to produce Digger's copy of the document splitting Ewing Oil into thirds, or the mad bomb guy who Angelica Nero paid to blow up Jack's car, or Brian Dennehy's dumb sidekick in Winds of Vengeance. Drunk, mental or moronic, or some combination thereof -- those are the fun parts!

I'm currently on Season 3, Episode 2 and there's nothing I'd change so far. I think they really are brilliant.

Muffins are a bit rubbish and a box could contain anything, but a magic lamp's magic so magic lamp, please.

I've never won an award but I was in a show that won one and I got to be one of those people standing at the back while Jerry Hall presented it to the star and they made the speech. It was really fun. If it was me and it was the Oscars or something, I like to think I'd use the opportunity to highlight a bigger issue - you know like how Richard Gere did with Tibet or Frances McDormand did with gender disparity in Hollywood - only mine would be an appeal to TNT to bring back New Dallas.

This won't mean anything to you, Toni, but I remember having recurring dreams about Petra Taylor after she went missing in Brookside in 1984. They were really sad!

Well, I can't sing, so no singing, but maybe the routine could be that I really want to sing but cos I'm so terrible, the Muppets keep trying to stop me. And perhaps Beaker does an experiment to make me able to sing and it goes hilariously wrong.

I could do a love scene with Animal and Janis, where Miss Piggy accidentally gets locked in a wardrobe and no-one can hear her or see her so no-one knows she's there and she can't get out. Ever.

Thanks for your questions, Toni!
:bravo1::10::ty:
 
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James from London

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Thanks, Sarah!

As an actor, did you study in London, if so which drama school/college did you go to, or are you just a natural talent?
I tried for ages to get into a proper drama school, but I was so crap I had to wait for a new drama school to be invented, The Poor School (now the Pauline Quirke Academy), which was actually desperate for students to fill its first year, before I could get into one. I was pretty clueless.
How much time does it take you to work on the 'Who called who what' thread? It's brilliant :)
Thanks! I'm not sure if anyone reads it, but it's fun to do - a bit like Sudoko, I imagine. (I've never done Sudoko.) I started doing it with EastEnders when I started watching that from the beginning nine or ten years ago. When I heard Wicksy called Pat a slag bag, I thought "this needs to memorialised in some way." The '80s supersoap WCWW&W don't take that long really, just ten minutes here or there. The Enders ones, which I inflict on Facebook and the Walford Web forum, take a bit longer cos they have about four times as many episodes in a month (and there's a lot more name-calling)!
Do you still keep in touch with Colin?
I hadn't spoken to him for a long time, then a while ago when Soap Talk Tool & Die Telly Chat was down for a few weeks and no-one knew what was going on, I emailed him and he replied. I'd assumed he was just sick of the lot of us, but it turned out there'd just been a breakdown in communication and he hadn't realised there was a problem.
Why did you never attend any of the anniversary events for Dallas?
I don't think it ever occurred to me! I don't think I'm a convention-type person really.
 

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Do you enjoy traveling
I'm not a very intrepid traveller. I don't like airports. I don't mind planes at all, cos if we crash it's not my fault, but all those different queues and signs and delays at airports get me all hot and anxious. But I was on a long theatre tour in the UK a few years ago and I thought I'd find it a real drag, but I just loved it.
do you have any favourite travel destinations?
Well, I used to love going to visit my mam's side of the family in Thurles, Tipperary every Easter when we were kids. And I've done theatre jobs in Paris and Frankfurt which were both really fun - I think you absorb a place differently if you're working there. And I've been to Edinburgh a lot, mostly during the Festival, and I have a lot of good memories of it. My favourite place on the UK tour I mentioned was Newcastle: lovely theatre, lovely city, lovely pubs, lovely pies, lovely people. It reminded me of being in Ireland. Oh and I've got quite a romantic view of Liverpool - it's got so much pop culture in its history, it feels quite mythic being there, a bit like you imagine it must be to be in Hollywood.
 

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Hi James!
Thank you for the very insightful Rewatching threads over the years particularly of Dynasty. I have a couple of questions:

1) Do you think you'll ever finish the Rewatching Dynasty solo thread that you started? You stopped half way through Season 5 and I was looking forward to your thoughts on the Moldavian Massacre.

2) How do you find the time to watch these soaps and write in such detail? The chronology analysis are particularly impressive but must have taken a long time.
Have you ever thought about writing a book?

3) Has your appreciation of Old Dynasty changed? You seem fonder of it now, particularly Season 6 which polarises many fans?

thank you!

Tony
 

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OK, I'll give you a clue which might completely give it away: Both songs have had films named after them.
I'm interested to know what makes you laugh.
Well, I used to do stand-up, so even though I don't go to comedy clubs much anymore, I really don't like watching stand-up on TV because it feels really sanitised; it doesn't have the same sense of danger that you get when its genuinely live and it could all go tits-up at any moment. The exception is Stewart Lee's stand-up series from a few years ago which made a point of acknowledging the artifice in a really interesting way. So I mostly get my yuks listening to the radio - DJs like Scott Mills and Nick Grimshaw on Radio 1 are a real laugh (Grimmy has a lovely way with words. I always remember him describing a night out with a friend: "He was just one pint away from a traffic cone on his head"). Chris Moyles and Sara Cox used to make me laugh when they were on Radio 1 as well. Adam Buxton's podcast is often really, really funny too. And I still listen to podcasts of his old radio show with Joe Cornish, The Adam & Joe Show, which is brilliant.
Who are your favourite comedians, both past and present.?
My favourite live stand-ups are probably Stewart Lee, Daniel Kitson and Jon Richardson. Stewart Lee's kind of a legend, "the comedian's comedian". Kitson refuses to do TV so he's more well-known on the live circuit - I haven't seen him for years but he's wonderful. I first got into Jon Richardson when he had a Sunday morning show on 6 Music. Radio's just so wonderfully intimate that when he went to TV and started doing the panel show circuit, I sort of felt I "lost" him in a weird sort of way. But he's married to Lucy Beaumont, who's a very lovely, funny comedian who I did a play with years ago when she was just starting out, so I'm glad he's doing so well.
What are your favourite sitcoms?
The Larry Sanders Show is my favourite of all-time. It's so real it kind of ruined things like Alan Partridge for me. Rising Damp and The Lovers are probably my favourite British comedies. More recently, I've loved Mum, Don't Forget the Driver and This Country.
 
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