comic con

Riverdale actor KJ Apa graces MCM London Comic Con with kiwi charm 

Sunday was the final day of MCM London Comic Con, and with it was one last big name to close out the weekend.

New Zealand actor KJ Apa, who plays Archie Andrews on the television show Riverdale, was in London to answer a number of questions at his Q&A panel.

Apa, wearing a shirt given to him by a fan at MCM, charmed the socks off the audience. The show is young (it only first began airing in January), but has already gained a dedicated audience.

Though things were easy straight off the bat for Apa. Being a New Zealander, he had to adjust to his new surroundings in America. Apa said that he needed to stop using certain Kiwi terms that his American counter-parts wouldn’t know, and said that it took the cast a little while to get their chemistry working. Thankfully they pulled it off well.

The 19-year-old actor showed plenty of affection for his television father, Luke Perry. Apa said that Perry was the one actor that he got on best with (name Jugheard actor Cole Sprouse as the second). That special relationship lead to some great acting experiences for Apa.

The final scene of the season in which Perry’s character Fred Andrews is shot, was one of Apa’s favourites to film.  Both actors received the script for the scene the night before filming, and Apa said he was thrown. But Apa said that his special relationship with Perry made that final scene very difficult to film, and they both had to stop to take a few minutes from the emotional scene.

The shooting of Fred Andrews (which may or may not be fatal) will lead to Archie becoming a lot darker as he looks to avenge his father. Apa promises that Archie will become much more intense in season 2.

As far as season 1 was concerned, Apa said that he initially thought that Jughead was the killer. The actor said he thought it would be cool, considering that Jughead is the narrator of the show. But once he dropped that idea, he moved on to suspecting Clifford Blossom. And he guessed it right early on, saying that he stunned one of the writers when he asked if Clifford was the one responsible for Jason’s death.

Perhaps Apa has a future in writing murder-mysteries.

Apa is a fairly new to acting, getting his first role when he was only sixteen. And it was something that came fairly naturally. He claims he didn’t even have to work on his American accent for Riverdale. When Apa first auditioned for the role of Archie, he brought his guitar along to his callback. Apa, who performs all of his own music in the show, said that he felt calmer with his guitar in his hands.

But a solo album doesn’t look to likely for Apa. Hopefully he sticks to acting, though, he has plenty of fans to carry him on.

 

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Firefly’s Summer Glau and Sean Maher reunite at MCM London Comic Con

Two stars from Joss Whedon’s short-lived, cult television series Firefly were reunited on Saturday at MCM London Comic Con.

Actors Summer Glau and Sean Maher (who played siblings River Tam and Dr Simon Tam respectively) joined the stage for a lengthy Q&A session with their fans. The pair completely packed the room on the sold-out Saturday, which is pretty impressive for a television show that didn’t even make it through its first season.

Despite it’s short life, Firefly has a massive and dedicated fan base. Glau and Maher agreed that it was probably this aspect that helped fans become so fanatical. But it didn’t hurt that the story and its characters were each so special.

Maher recalled how when the cast first started working together, the chemistry was both instantaneous and organic. Their sibling affection for each other helped create some of the more dynamic parts of the show. Each after sighted the other as a larger reason as to why their performances did so well.

The actors said that the filming was a unique and special experience. Glau said that she was mostly kept in the dark about the future of the show, and said that creator Joss Whedon only gave her glimpses into her character’s past – information that she wouldn’t divulge to the fans.

The subject of Glau’s ballet training came up multiple times in her responses. But her character River uses a variety of martial arts in the Serenity film. Glau spoke about how her “gangly limbs” were used to her advantage to form a unique style that was one of the more impressive aspects of the movie.

Both Glau and Maher’s characters were at the forefront of Firefly’s follow-up film (and excited about having dialogue on so many pages). Glau especially had to work on her martial arts training, which she said she began several months before filming even began.

“It became my life,” said Glau, reflecting on her training – which included lessons with 12-year-old boys who all refused to be her partner.

Glau and Maher also discussed the string of cancelled shows they’ve both been on. Maher especially felt jaded after having a number of his shows axed by the same network on multiple occasions. But if the success of Firefly proves anything, its that there can still be love for a show that is gone too soon.

But mostly, both actors look back fondly on their time on both Firefly and the follow-up film Serenity. Both actors have worked with Whedon on multiple occasions. Whedon himself mostly lives in the realm of movies these days, but a full-fledged return to television would always be welcome.

Minor note, but bonus points for Glau’s super-adorable little girl. She could be heard chatting away during the entire hour. And is apparently a big fan of The Jetsons.

London Film and Comic Con Summer 2015 – Friday Preview Day

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I was rejected for a press pass for this summer’s London Film and Comic Con. Just putting that out there first thing because I am still full of bitterness. Why would someone choose the Daily Mail over this fantastic blog? I mean, what the hell is a Reuters anyway? Okay, so perhaps it is easy to see why such an in-demand event would not choose me, but still – I’ve got sass.

Alas, missing out on a press pass (and not being notified until a week prior to the event) also meant I missed an opportunity to buy tickets to the nearly sold-out London Film and Comic Con. Thankfully there were still a few tickets left for the Friday Preview Day to be snatched up by me and my constant-con-cohort Virginia over at Corleones and Lannisters. Thankfully, there was still much to be seen on Friday.

And it was no surprise that this summer’s convention had such in-demand tickets. The con had a plethora of high-profile guests like Sigourney Weaver, Michael Gambon and a whole slew of Game of Thrones cast members. Oh and just a little 30th anniversary reunion of Back to the Future. But I’m sure no one has ever watched the movie to care or anything like that…

Jokes aside. The reunion of Back to the Future was also there support The Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. The campaign called ‘Up to 88!’ is fundraising all weekend to help the foundation reach its goal of $88,000 by October 21, 2015 – Back to the Future Day. At every corner of the convention there was solidarity and support for this wonderful foundation. People who donated were given a poster that was exclusive to the convention in London. The convention also sold exclusive ToonStar Toys which donated a portion of the proceeds to the foundation.

In its 11th year, the London convention moved to its new home at the Kensington Olympia. This was a much-needed move as they had very much out-grown their old haunt at Earl’s Court. New digs also brought new problems, but things seemed to move quite smoothly for a first try.

But there is something so much bigger and better we need to talk about here. We need to talk about Billy.

The Panels 

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Zach Galligan and faithful side-kick Gizmo

I GOT TO SEE ZACH GALLIGAN. ZACH GALLIGAN, EVERYONE!

Oh the fangirl in me had to restrain myself to not squeal in delight when the actor walked on stage for this panel with a small Gizmo plush. My friend and I have noticed a trend that most 80s actors have ceased to grow older (see last October’s LFCC for Ralph Macchio proof). Galligan looked absolutely amazing. The actor was joined on the panel by his on-screen mother, the wonderful Frances Lee McCain. The two hadn’t seen each other in almost two decades, but got along as wonderfully as old friends.

The discussion at the Gremlins panel was lively and friendly, and it even got a bit naughty (lots of sexual innuendos – all greatly appreciated for a good laugh). When an attendee asked if Galligan of McCain ever thought the puppets were life-like when acting with them, the responses were all gold.

“The sound editing on Gremlins was amazing. I didn’t get to hear any of Howie Mandel’s voice saying ‘bye Billy’ or anything,” said Galligan. “When I acted with the puppet, all I could hear was machine sounds. Acting with Gizmo was like working with an escalator.”

They were both thoughtful with their responses. Galligan had an unique view on a possible Gremlins sequel. One that was positive more than ornery or negative. He made valid points on puppetry vs CGI that made me even second-guess my own opinions on the matter. They were very gracious to fans for their love and engagement. A refreshing take on the cult-adoration. This was one of the most engaging and entertaining panels I have seen at any convention thus far.

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Zach Galligan and Frances Lee McMcain pose for a quick photo

The last panel of the day was simply titled ‘horror panel’ which is even less descriptive than I am. But there were some real legends on the stage on Friday, including the one and only Tom Savini. Joining the iconic special effects make-up artist were Canadian stunt man and Jason Voorhees Ken Kirzinger, Saw II director Darren Lynn Bousman and actor J Larose.

While there were some horror fans in attendance, it seemed as though the emcee had no idea what was going on. I do have to say he was quite good on many other panels (as he hosted the Q&A’s at the last LFCC and did a fantastic job with the Gremlins panel), but he seemed a bit out of his league – he even forgot J Larose’s name and the poor actor sat in silence for most of the panel, which is a shame because he’s a really cool guy.

Most of the discussion seemed a bit stuck on repetitive questions, unfortunately. But interesting people will always deliver good answers regardless of the monotony in the conversation. I wish the panel would have been directed a little bit better, but alas most of the discussion was centred around favourite this and favourite that.

I really have no right to complain because I didn’t have the guts to ask my own question during the panel (which was of course about Deranged). While I love interviewing people, asking questions in large groups where I have a funny accent really isn’t my idea of fun.

Perhaps the most interesting story of the hour-long discussion was Bousman’s talk about how he got his film Repo! The Genetic Opera into theatres and into the hearts of cult movie lovers. After Lionsgate gave the film little promotion and a very limited release, Bousman took it upon himself to get the movie out there. He drove across the US paying theatres to show his film until it gained the momentum it has today. It was a great story to hear from a director so passionate about his film and not giving a flying fuck about the studio.

I don’t think it was the fault of LFCC that the panel was a bit bumpy. It was fantastic to see some horror legends up on stage, but they really ought to be where they belong – in a horror convention. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a better fit at the moment than a comic convention (in London anyway, there is always the Sheffield HorrorCon where Savini was the previous weekend). Maybe next time I can be hired to ask questions. I have zero personality, but at least I will never forget the name Larose.

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Despite the impressive array of guests, this summer’s LFCC definitely had hit a few bumps in the road. The lack of rooms to watch panels was a bit of a mistake. Having more talks and more places to wander would be a great improvement. That was one thing MCM Comic Con has a leg up on – there is always something to do.

The new layout also meant that it was difficult to find anything. There were a few posters on the walls with the daily schedule and a vague map, but something more would have been nice. MCM Comic Con always gives a really in-depth programme for their weekend party. Plus the layout had become very confused, which was a little surprising considering how well everything had been planned when it was held in Earl’s Court.

That being said, this convention is really bigger and better than ever. That’s exactly what it said on the press release I stole, but I actually mean it. This convention was an absolute monster in size. We were there from about 2 until close at 8 and I’m not even sure if we got to explore every part of the convention.

IMG_1193I also got to pick up a few things at this convention. The first was a selection of three comics written by John-Paul Kamath. These independent comics were a great buy (but more on that later). He was extremely friendly and clearly passionate about his work. Meeting artists and writers at conventions has now become one of my favourite ways to spend my time at conventions. These comics are definitely worth picking up. Check out their website at The London Horror Comic and Graveyard Orbit.

The second purchase had to be something Gremlins because at this point in my life, this movie obsession has seriously taken on some kind of disease in my brain. The poster I bought at this convention is done in the now very popular minimalist style. I bought this in hopes that it wasn’t too offensive for my husband that I would be allowed to hang it up in our flat. The verdict is yet to be reached…

Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a name of the creators anywhere on the poster. That and the vendor didn’t give me any flyers. So if anyone can IMG_1195point me in the right direction, please do. I would love to give credit where it is due. They make loads of movie posters and its all on great heavy-grade paper for a much more high value feel.

On a different note, the Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) was a wonderful breath of fresh air (literally – it smelled in the main area). Working as one, yet seperate, the YALC boasted some major names in young adult literature, such as Judy Blume and Robert Rankin. This was a much more quiet area of the convention. It was a wonderful place full of books and chocolate cake.

The one disappointing part was seeing several of the comic artists squashed in upper floor with the YALC and the video games. I make it a point to buy either art or independent comics when I go to these conventions. Seeing them cut off from the main area was a bit sad, but thankfully many people seemed to have ventured out of their way to seek out the artists.

While I might still be a bit sore about missing out on a press pass, I do have to admit I enjoyed the convention. There was still so much more to see. Definitely worth seeing every day. Just remind me to buy my tickets ahead of time from now on.

Can’t go to San Diego for Comic Con? London has a fix for that.

San Diego Comic Con begins in just a few days. Let’s face it – this is where everyone wants to be and no one can get to. And if that isn’t painful enough, it seems like every media outlet just like to rub it in with plenty of “preview” coverage to make you cry. Want to learn the latest about the new Star Wars or see that exclusive Ash vs Evil trailer? No. No you can’t.

But for those in lands far away from California, New York or Chicago, there are still fantastic options. For Britain, there is no better comic con than the London Film and Comic Con at Kensington Olympia. There will be three days of famous actors, popular comic artists and a large number of authors. Oh and so many things to spend money on you’ll need to take out a small loan.

From July 17-19, there will be no other place in London filled with more stars than LFCC. Everyone under the moon from Back to the Future to Gremlins and even the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise will be there. October’s Winter edition of the con was plenty of fun – with Q&A’s with Ralph Macchio and Alan Ruck. So chances are this summer’s con promises to be even better yet.

Highlights:

  • Back to the Future cast “Return to the Future” Q&A
  • Sigourney Weaver
  • Kevin Eastman
  • Half of Westeros
  • More Doctor Who cast members that you could name

Personal highlight:

  • Zach friggin Galligan

Tickets are selling out quickly now that there are only a few more days before the convention kicks off.

MCM London Comic Con haul: let’s talk about comics

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Half the fun of going to comic cons is learning about new comics, shows and products that you might have missed elsewhere. After attending my first two comic cons last October, I was determined to go out of my way to discover the greatness people had to offer. I certainly found it in different shops, independent comics and art.

Both of these buggars in the photo above came from the A Place in Space stall. This shop is located in Croyden. It’s so close to my neck of the woods I was almost embarrassed that I had never heard of them before. But alas, they had a great selection of Funko Pop! figures that were calling out to be purchased. My husband and I have a slowly growing collection that I’m afraid needs to stop growing soon or we will be out of a room.

Being the fantastic wife I am, I picked Ultron for my husband. But of course I had to nip Hong Kong Phooey for myself. The unfortunate thing about comic con is if you’re not into superheroes, you really miss out on a chunk of what’s going on. I greatly appreciated that someone carried a bit of nostalgia for a unusual collector like myself.

Another store I came across was Travelling Man. All of their stores are mostly up north (another thing that greatly pleased my Northern husband), but they also have a very nice online shop. I assumed that most stalls would run deals at the convention this weekend, but clearly marking up prices seemed to be the game for most vendors there. Travelling Man was one of the few exceptions. They had such a great selection of books and board games, and all at a great price. They will definitely be a shop I keep an eye out anytime I leave London. I also send my apologises to the nice man who tried to talk to me about the Saga volume I bought. This was another gift for the husband and I could only say “yessssss” in response to any questions. Plus my conversation skills usually extend to “hmmm” and “aaaaah” anyway.

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A great part of MCM was the fantastic Comic Village. Absolutely every type of comic and manga art under the sun was there from superheroes to sloth people to unicorn women. And it covered big names like Marvel, but had a superb amount of indie comics and prints available. This was the first place IMG_1016I headed to on Friday because I knew exactly what I was looking for: a Lee Bradley print. I have seen his work at every con I have been to in London. There was one piece in particular that had been on my mind since the last batch back in October.

Enter his The Walking Dead illustration with Gizmo and the gremlins. Everything about this piece is something to love, but for some reason I had talked myself out of buying it then. Thankfully it were prints still available and I bought one without the slightest bit of hesitation. Unfortunately every bit of free time I had seemed to be at a contrast with Mr Bradley’s schedule. Every time I popped back to his table for a chat, he was busy or had gone. Next time, sir.

I picked up one indie comic for a read from Attackosaur Comics. Their comic Devil Executioner immediately caught my eye because the cover art reminded me of early Karl Moline and because it appeared to be one of the only horror IMG_1017comics available at the convention. The work on the inside is quite interesting. Written by Martin Ian Smith and art by Nicolás Giacondino, Devil Executioner is one beautiful badass book.

It is a contained one-shot comic, which is really a cool way to get exposed to a new area of comics. This particular story follows the gun-toting exorcist Father John Torrento as he tries to save the life of of an Italian girl who has been possessed by a demon. I’ve always found real exorcisms extremely fascinating. The fact that I happened upon a comic that was based on those instances was pure, happy luck. Actually, I’m so into this comic it probably deserves its own write-up later.

Clearly I spent a fair bit of cash this weekend (sorry, bank account), but I’m already really looking forward to the next con – theLondon Film and Comic Con that’s happening in July. Lots of great guests coming up on that one, but for now this commences my coverage of my crazy weekend at the MCM London Comic Con. I am off on my honeymoon in Scotland this weekend, but I promise to return and not touch any stones at Craigh na dun.

A wrap up to MCM London Comic Con

The final day of MCM London Comic Con weekend was today, and quite frankly it couldn’t come soon enough. By halfway through day three I was utterly exhausted, and thankfully so was my partner-in-crime, Virginia. So we packed it up early today, but not without checking out a few more final panels. Althouhg, leaving early did mean we missed the “Who Will Run the World? GIRLS” panel. I would feel sad if it were for the utter relaxation I feel sitting at home eating Pringles at this moment.

SuperBob

This little movie is being deemed as “Britain’s first superhero movie.” A meteor hits earth, creating a superhero named Bob (Breet Boldstein). Unfortunately Bob is not you’re typical superhero. As the tagline of the film says, “Unfortunately he’s British.” Why? Director Jon Drever believes its because of a simple lack of confidence in the British psyche that makes Bob so different from the Marvel and DC heroes in America. On top of all of Bob’s responsibilities, he can’t get a date. Here enters Natalia Tena’s character who is promised to be a strong female character that helps lead the narrative. So expect a special and unusual hero for this film.

The movie will be showing at the Sci-Fi-London Film Festival on June 7th at the Ritzy Picturehouse in Brixton. An official premier date is to be set for late summer.

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SuperBob stars Natalia Tena and Brett Goldstein with director Jon Drever

Orphan Black with Kristian Bruun

Yes him again. Bruun had a half-hour panel (although this time it was 20 minutes because it appears as though someone forgot to get him on time – again) discussing the popular Canadian television series. This time there was a emcee who was filled with great questions for Bruun, including touching on the long-running Murdoch Mysteries. Unfortunately when Britain not even having a premier date yet for season 3, it was difficult to talk about anything that happened in season 2 (which aired over a year ago now). But as with Saturday, Bruun was sweet and great to listen to.

He did promise to post a photo of his and Tatiana Maslany’s matching red fleece onsies. Still waiting for that one, sir. For anyone a part of the Clone Club, feel reassured that the cast and crew are dedicated to making fans happy. Bruun stated that nothing was more important than wanting to please the fans.

“We have a unique story that we bring dedication to,” the actor said.

My biggest regret of the whole weekend was not getting the balls to set up an interview with Bruun. His Canadian-ness was so appealing it would have been great to sit down with him. Major lesson learned for next time.

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Parting thoughts

MCM has improved in many ways over last October’s incarnation. My biggest problem last time was that it was almost too big to manage. Queues (lines) were everywhere and always in the way, making it impossible to get around in the place. This year they had made everything more compact. It was easy to navigate and see everything that you wanted to. Everything was clearly labeled this time and everything was sectioned off really well. Not into art? Skip the comic village on the first entrance. Not into Anime or Manga? Just avoid the back and front. It was a really welcome change and all the extra space acted nicely as areas for people to rest and eat.

Unfortunately, it was very difficult to overlook the amount of time people were interrupted, delayed or cut off. Perhaps they need to get more volunteers this year because several of the workers appeared to be spread thin. And according to several of the actors in attendance, they were never told where they needed to be or what they were going to be doing. I’m not sure where the problem lies, but hopefully this will be smoothed over next time.

This con was so much better than October’s it was incredible the amount of difference. With a few more tweaks (especially by picking someone to proofread the programme), I’m sure the next go will be even better.

MCM London Comic Con: Day 2 in brief

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MCM London Comic Con’s big day finally came on Saturday. There were panels and guests abound. Saturday definitely is by far the busiest day at the convention. While there was plenty to love, there were some great disappointments (and mishaps) as well.

Two highlights in the start of the day were Tyler James Williams of the Walking Dead and Kristian Bruun from the popular science fiction show Orphan Black. The two each did a Q&A that was supposed to be an hour long. Williams was terrific. The first thing he did when he entered the room was compliment the amazing fan base. The entire time after that he only showed the greatest respect for the people there. Every question he answered was very thoughtful. He acted more like a devoted fan than just a cast member. He definitely won the room over.

Then Bruun. BRUUN! This man is incredible. While Gillian Anderson was great to watch at her Friday panel, Bruun could give her a run for her money for best personality of the whole weekend. He kept everything super witty and told fantastic stories: how confusing it is to work with the same actress who plays so many parts and he gave full details about that torture scene from season 1. Unfortunately, there weren’t many fans there to actually see him. And that was a part of a major problem that happened at the con this weekend.

First, there was no emcee. When Williams entered he wasn’t even entirely sure what he was supposed to do. Brunn was over 30 minutes late because no one came to get him. He didn’t know what to do either. Thankfully they both were quick and took control by running a Q&A. Both were great sports and were totally gracious guests. But they kept getting interrupted due to ‘scheduling conflicts.’ The entire thing was a total fuck up. These were two guests from two of the biggest shows on television and weren’t allowed to have an entire hour with the devoted people who came to see them. It was really a shame. While they were great to listen to, there should have been someone in charge to make sure things were going right – and they certainly didn’t.

Even more embarrassing, no one thought to give the (paying) fans any respect. No apologises were made nor was there ever an explanation. Normally that wouldn’t be so bad is people hadn’t paid to be there.

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Orphan Black star Kristian Bruun

That kerfuffle aside, the rest of the con appeared to run smoothly. The afternoon was full of panels that celebrated television on the other side of the pond. Upcoming ITV show, Jekyll & Hyde had many stars in tow to share information about their new show. Guests on the panel included stars Tom Bateman, Natalie Gumede and Richard E Grant, writer Charlie Higson, producers Francis Hopkinson and Foz Allen.

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Jekyll & Hyde panel on Saturday afternoon.

The show, which will be out next autumn on ITV, is more a sequel to the classic Victorian novel. Instead of focusing on the traditional story, this show will take place in the 1930s in London. Hyde’s grandson (Bateman) has been trying to figure out his grandfather’s secrets. Bateman discussed the intense challenge it was to bridge his Jekyll and Hyde. Unlike the book where Hyde becomes a grotesque ape-ish character, the alternative personality is “the guy we all think we are when we’re drunk.”

The cast and showrunners promise plenty of early monster movie inspiration. While Hyde will be battling his own personal demon, other terrifying creatures will be haunting the streets. In an exclusive first preview, there was lots to see including werewolves, vampires and a British icon. Of course that staggering icon is Richard E Grant. He was on the panel offering fantastic quotes like, “I’m very greatful for a job” and his favourite part of filming was “fucking lots of vampires.” Still waiting on clarification on whether or not this was a joke. But jokes aside, Higson promised to bring these British myths back (such as the black dog) to the forefront before they are forgotten in the mist.

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Jekyll & Hyde creator Charlie Higson, actor Richard E Grant and executive producer Francis Hopkinson

British myths and stories were also the centre of attention for the panel of BBC miniseries Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. The show, based on the 2004 book by Susanna Clarke, follows two magicians as they bring magic back to England during the Napoleonic Wars. The panel was unlike any other from the weekend. Considering the original source material, many of the answers and questions were on a higher philosophical level. Actor and star Bertie Carvel was definitely unusual, but his love for the theatre showed through everything he said as the panel discussed things such as the importance of a community when creating a project that worth being proud of.

The seven-episode miniseries is now showing on Sundays on BBC 1.

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The Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell panel on Saturday