I have great pleasure to announce that my latest book The Black Archive #62: Kinda is now up for pre-order from Obverse Books. 

"‘Wheel turns, civilisations arise. Wheel turns, civilisations fall.’

With new input from writer Christopher Bailey, this archive examines how Kinda (1982) emerged from his background as a counter-cultural arts activist, a theatre and television writer, and his formative encounter with Buddhism. Searching the Dark Places of the Inside, Kinda is a richly layered allegory, inextricably linked, through the history and evolution of Buddhism’s teachings, with nineteenth-century European colonialism, fin de siècle literature, heritage cinema of the 1980s, Gauguin’s ‘noble savage’, acid trips and cutting-edge neuroscience."

I started work on this book back in December 2019, with a pitch to those good folks at Obverse Books who had published my exploration of the Season 18 story Warriors' Gate previously in May the same year. I was keen to tackle another story that I felt had several layers that could be peeled back and examined. So, I was swapping Taoism, quantum theory, Samuel Beckett and Tom Stoppard for Buddhism, Christian symbolism and Joseph Conrad (and Kate Bush). Plus drugs, primitivist painting, and the Vietnam War. Looking back at the proposal and the book that it generated I'm confident that it has managed to achieve the following broad points:

- an examination of Kinda’s development by Christopher Bailey relative to the very different visions of script-editors Christopher Bidmead, Antony Root and Eric Saward.

- director Peter Grimwade’s approach to a story he found worked counter to the Doctor Who serial format. He saw the format’s ‘adventure story’ linearity in contradiction to Bailey’s Play for Today 'artiness', intellectualism and realism.

- coverage of the themes and symbolism of Kinda: highlighting the layering of Buddhist, Christian, shamanistic and pagan meanings in the story; the Freudian and Jungian interpretations of self and other; and the articulation and interrogation of concepts of imperialist expansion and colonialism in the story. 

Within those aims lay other questions, nuances and contexts. How do you deal with Kinda as a case study in a structuralist, media studies reading published in 1983? What on earth does the heritage television and cinema of the 1980s, science fiction feminist writer Ursula K. Le Guin and Joseph Conrad have to do with all of this? And where do T.S. Eliot and Tahiti fit into the story? Would Kinda's elusive, reclusive writer Christopher Bailey even speak to me?

By March 2020, the world was turned upside down. Although I'd started writing, my first aim was to get to BBC Written Archives and sift through the production paperwork, the writer's file and any other associated documentation to provide some foundations for the details. My April 2020 appointment was alas the victim of the pandemic shut down. My employer also put me on furlough for six months. I barely went anywhere. 

So, desk research - plowing through scripts, videos, various magazines, online newspaper archives, several books about Buddhism - took over. And, yes, Christopher Bailey did speak to me. Well, we wrote to each other, mindful of the issues that Covid-19 would add to any meeting in person, and because I understood he wanted to protect his privacy. Intermittently, for a period of two years, it began with our first conversation in September 2020 and took us to the most recent of November 2022. It provoked some interesting tangents in the book and I'm so grateful for his input.

The BBC Written Archives appointment finally came through in July 2021 but even that was fraught with difficulty. The BBC's Covid-19 policy was very stringent at the time. No one was allowed into the building unless they'd had a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 24 hours of the appointment date and time. Lateral flow tests did not cut the mustard. After a false start, where I didn't get the appropriate test result in time, I was finally able to sift through the files. The team at BBC Written Archives were very supportive as they knew how long I'd had to sit on the waiting list.

Therefore, this book also takes in the span of major, life-changing decisions and events. It was the hardest thing I've ever attempted to write. I had retired by the time I submitted the first draft in 2022. When my husband caught Covid and was also back and forth with hospital appointments for an entirely unrelated matter, I had also turned sixty as the final edits were wrestled into shape in October and November this year. One to tick off on the 'things to do when you're 60' bucket list.

So, I'll leave it there for you to judge what I've made of Kinda. Enjoy the book.

Friends, firstly apologies for not keeping the updates coming. 

The last two and a bit years have been turbulent and distressing for everyone and I hope this message finds you all well. While Brexit, Covid and the war in Ukraine have surely impacted on us all, I have been keeping myself busy working on several freelance commissions and thought it was time for an update.

THE BLACK ARCHIVE: KINDA (Obverse Books - forthcoming. Due December 2022)

Just as Covid restricted us all to working from home or furlough or no job at all, I was in the middle of researching and writing for the forthcoming Obverse Books Black Archive on Kinda. It's a particular favourite of mine from Season 19 of Doctor Who. After publishing the book about Warriors' Gate in 2019, I fancied the challenge of writing about what has come to be regarded, despite its flaws, as one of the most intriguing stories in the canon. At this stage, I don't want to say much about the book. The research at BBC Written Archives, after much delay because of Covid, was completed in August last year but that was the icing on a particular cake in terms of where this book led me and the new insights I've been provided with. 

With Obverse switching back to a bi-monthly publication schedule after the book was commissioned, I had a generous amount of time to write and I hope the results will have been worth it. The current manuscript is now with my editor at Obverse and I have no doubt we'll be going through that in due course as we hit the run-up to publication this year. I'm quietly excited for this one.

ROBIN HOOD AT HAMMER: Two Tales From Sherwood Forest (Due for release in August 2022)

I'm currently putting the final touches to an essay for the book that will accompany Indicator's forthcoming Blu-ray release of Hammer's Sword of Sherwood Forest and A Challenge for Robin Hood, the two films featuring the quintessentially British character that the studio made in the 1960s.

From Indicator's site:

"For 1960’s Sword of Sherwood Forest, Richard Greene (The Blood of Fu Manchu, The Castle of Fu Manchu) reprises the role he made famous in the classic television series The Adventures of Robin Hood. Directed by Terence Fisher (The Gorgon, The Revenge of Frankenstein), and starring Peter Cushing (The Devil’s Men, Corruption) as the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham, the film sees Robin Hood thwart a plot to assassinate the Archbishop of Canterbury (Jack Gwillm, Jason and the Argonauts, The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb). The film also boasts an uncredited early role for Oliver Reed (The System, The Damned).

In 1967’s A Challenge for Robin Hood, Barrie Ingham (The Day of the Jackal) dons the Lincoln green as he and his merrie men hide out in Sherwood Forest after his cousin (Peter Blythe, Frankenstein Created Woman) frames him for murder. This action-packed adventure features acting support from Gay Hamilton (Barry Lyndon, The Duellists) and Leon Greene (Adventures of a Private Eye, Adventures of a Plumber’s Mate).

This 2-disc Limited Edition set contains a double-sided poster, an 80-page book, and extensive new and archival extra features, including the much-loved Children’s Film Foundation film Robin Hood Junior (1975), starring Keith Chegwin (Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, Cheggers Plays Pop) as the diminutive hero."


Back in September 2021 it was also a pleasure to be asked to review BBC Studios Blu-ray release of the animated The Evil of the Daleks for DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE issue 570, which hit the stands last October. 

My thanks to the team for asking me to contribute to a magazine I've been reading since it first appeared as a Marvel weekly in 1979. The Evil of the Daleks is also a firm favourite so it was serendipitous that my first contribution was an opportunity to review its animated reincarnation.

HAMMER VOLUME SIX: Night Shadows - Limited Edition (Released June 2021)

I completed a further commission for Indicator's box set release last summer and wrote the essay for the booklet accompanying the Blu-ray edition of Hammer's Captain Clegg for this release. It was a great opportunity to write about a Hammer film I had such a soft spot for and I spent some time researching the life and times of Russell Thorndyke, the author of the original books that Hammer's Captain Clegg was inspired by and to understand where the character of Clegg originated.

"Hammer Volume Six: Night Shadows revives four consummate Hammer classics from the early sixties, exemplifying some of Hammer's best work in the horror and thriller genres. Edgar Allan Poe looms large in The Shadow of the Cat, a macabre ‘old dark house’ tale of feline revenge, starring André Morell (Cash on Demand) and Barbara Shelley (The Camp on Blood Island); Peter Cushing (The GorgonCorruption) and Oliver Reed (The Scarlet Blade) star in Captain Clegg, which sees Hammer fuse horror and adventure in an eighteenth-century-set tale of smugglers and marsh phantoms; Herbert Lom (Mysterious Island) stars as The Phantom of the Opera in Hammer’s acclaimed production of Gaston Leroux’s Gothic classic, whilst Freddie Francis (Torture Garden) directs Nightmare, a spooky psychological thriller in the Les Diaboliques vein, which benefits from full-blooded central performances by Moira Redmond (Jigsaw) and Jennie Linden (A Severed Head). 

This collection contains a wealth of new and archival extra features, including documentaries and appreciations, interviews with actors and crew members, audio commentaries, and extensive booklets. Strictly limited to 6,000 numbered units." 


Due for release by Indicator on 19 April 2021, this limited edition Blu-Ray of Ken Loach's Fatherland(1986) features my new essay on the film in the booklet that accompanies the first pressing.

Loach's film, which was released after a period in the late 1970s and early 1980s where he found it difficult to get work commissioned and financed, is all the more intriguing in that it was his only collaboration, to date, with the much admired writer Trevor Griffiths. Griffiths a successful theatre playwright had, like Loach, moved from television and into cinema. Both had a formidable creative and political sensibility running throughout their work and my essay, 'Third Man', chronicles their interweaving, parallel careers through to the development and writing of Fatherland.

My own interest in Loach's and Griffiths' work has grown since I first watched Fatherland on Channel 4 (who had co-funded the film) in the late 1980s. I was happy to revisit their careers to fulfil the essay brief to contextualise their work and its political drive. With a particular focus on Griffiths, the essay discusses each of Fatherland's collaborators, their shared politics of the left, their work for theatre, television and cinema and the way each has developed their own voice through their respective techniques in directing and writing. It also underlines their differences, coming into sharp relief in the many compromises that both had to make during the making of Fatherland. Each had something to say in the film, often from different perspectives, about media, culture and history, Europe and political struggle in a decade where the left was in retreat, particularly in Britain.

As this essay was researched and written last summer, during the lockdown in May and June 2020, it was a challenge to complete it while voluntarily shielding and on furlough. The impact of the coronavirus also prevented me from looking through Loach's and Griffiths' papers held at the BFI national archive. This was particularly upsetting as it would have been very rewarding to look more closely at the development of Fatherland's script and the correspondence between Loach and Griffiths. Fortunately, David Archibald's article on Loach's approach to acting, written for The Drouth in 2018, offered some of those insights from the archive.

I also had some familiarity with Griffiths' television work when I had first researched and reviewed his superb political drama Bill Brand, made for Thames in 1976 and released on DVD in 2011. The material gathered for that review was then extended through a deep read of several texts on Griffiths and Loach as well as newspaper and magazine research (thanks to the access provided by Manchester Central Library's online newspaper archives and to Film Comment's invaluable online archive during the first lockdown) to uncover contemporary interviews with Loach and Griffiths when Fatherland was released in 1986. 

I am particularly indebted to the work, published since the 1980s, of Graham Fuller, Stanton B. Garner, John Hill, Stephen Lacey, Jacob Leigh and John Tulloch whose chapters and books on the work of Loach, Griffiths and producer Tony Garnett were extremely helpful in the writing of the essay. 

The initial draft originally came in at 3600 words and through about three further drafts this came down to 3185 (still over the word count) in the final edit. Although a large chunk of about 145 words was cut without too much consequence during that last edit, the loss of an extended section on Barry Hines' two-part television play The Price of Coal (1977) was somewhat unfortunate. It was a pleasure writing this essay while re-visiting the politically prescient Fatherland, a somewhat neglected Loach film. I hope it offers the relevant context to those who may be unfamiliar with much of Griffiths' work in theatre, television and film prior to his collaboration with Loach.


  • High Definition remaster
  • Original mono audio
  • Language Barriers (2021): new interview with editor Jonathan Morris
  • Talk About Work (1971): Ken Loach’s documentary for the Central Office of Information, photographed by Chris Menges, interviewing young people about their work
  • Right to Work March (1972): documentary film of a five-week protest march from Glasgow to London that saw the participation of a number of cultural figures, including Loach and other filmmakers
  • Image gallery: publicity and promotional material
  • New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Limited edition exclusive booklet with a new essay by Frank Collins, an archival interview with Ken Loach, an extract from Loach on Loach, an overview of contemporary critical responses, new writing on the short films, and film credits
  • UK premiere on Blu-ray
  • Limited edition of 3,000 copies

BBFC cert: 15
EAN: 5060697920192

It's good to see some of Loach's less regarded work on Blu-ray with Indicator's release of Fatherland alongside their limited edition of Loach's Carla's Song (1996) in April 2021. Both are available to pre-order from their website.

BIRDY: Limited Edition Blu-Ray - Notes on an essay

Due for release on 28 October 2019 by Indicator, this limited edition Blu-Ray of Alan Parker's film Birdy (1984) features my new essay on the film in the booklet that accompanies the first pressing.

Birdy remains one of my favourite films of the 1980s and the commission to write the new essay from Powerhouse was an opportunity to not only revisit a film I had seen on release and revisited on VHS and DVD but also to return to the original novel by William Wharton.

The essay, ‘In a dream, I'm trying to decide what I am’, attempts to track the development of the script prior to Parker's involvement and how Wharton's strange, often abstract, narrative about the transformation of two friends in the aftermath of the Second World War (it was altered to the Vietnam conflict for the film) was brought to the screen by Parker.

Birdy is another iteration of Wharton's personality, one forged through his participation in the War, his relatively poor background and his childhood obsessions.Tracing the numerous avatars of Wharton involved a close re-reading of the novel Birdy and Wharton's posthumous war biography Shrapnel, tracing Wharton's double life - as abstract painter and author - through numerous interviews, in documents on Parker's own website, and then trying to tie those in with a delve through Parker's papers, donated to the BFI archives.

The papers at the BFI provided a fascinating insight into how Parker shaped Sandy Kroopf and Jack Behr’s script and attempted to retain as much of the ‘the “one person” schizophrenia of the book’ and remain true to the author's identity or identities.

Thanks to Nigel Good and Carolyne Bevan of the BFI Special Collections team I was able to access the draft scripts, Parker's letters and memos about the script, the notes on use of Garrett Brown's Skycam to shoot some of the flying sequences, technical notes about canaries, and his correspondence with Michael Reidenback. Reidenback, hoping to secure a role in the film, eventually provided Parker with a lot of research into army psychiatric units and their treatments of mental patients in the post-Vietnam era. This material left the impression that Parker clearly wanted to get the details right about what we eventually saw on screen. It also shed some further light on Wharton's own elusive personality and reclusive life.

The original draft of the essay was approximately 4600 words by November 2017. By the time I delivered the final draft, in December 2017, this had been reshaped and edited to approximately 3000 words. Finally, this release of Birdy has been a little while coming but it is heartening to know that this was not only down to Indicator's desire to secure Parker for a commentary and produce a number of relevant special features but also to go the extra mile and commission a new 2K remaster of the film.

But here it is at last. Enjoy.

  • New 2K remaster supervised and approved by director Alan Parker
  • Original stereo audio
  • New and exclusive audio commentary with director Alan Parker and the BFI’s Justin Johnson
  • Learning to Fly (2019): new and exclusive interview with screenwriters Jack Behr and Sandy Kroopf
  • Keith Gordon on William Wharton (2019): the actor and filmmaker shares his experiences of adapting Wharton for the screen
  • No Hard Feelings (1974): Alan Parker’s early film is an unsentimental view of wartime London through the eyes of a troubled young man
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
  • New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • Limited edition exclusive booklet with a new essay by Frank Collins, an overview of contemporary critical responses, archival articles, and film credits
  • Limited Edition of 5,000 copies
  • All extras subject to change
BBFC cert: 15
EAN: 5037899071083

Purchase directly from the Powerhouse website.

I know, it's been a long time since I posted here. However, that's with good reason.

For about eighteen months I've been busy on two writing projects.

In November 2017, one of those took me to the BFI National Archives in Berkhamsted on the trail of a British director's archived papers. However, I can't say more at this point as the results are awaiting publication. You'll have to wait and see.

However, I had to juggle this in the middle of research for another project. This started with a pitch to Obverse Books in August 2017 for a volume in their ongoing book-length studies of single Doctor Who stories. It was a proposal to write a book about Stephen Gallagher's season 18 story, Warriors' Gate. With interesting stories about its production and a narrative and visual presentation ripe for interpretation, Gallagher's four-part serial offered something of a challenge. Obverse were willing to let me take that on.

R.U.R ©BBC 1938
Originally posted on the original Moviemail website (now sadly revamped and no longer providing the same opportunity to write such pieces), this was a series of blogs tracing the apocalyptic themes of British science fiction television. It was published between August and December 2014 to tie in with the BFI’s major retrospective and celebration of the science fiction genre Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder.

These are the longer, uncut versions of the original posts with minor additions and corrections.

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