When my brother and I were young, our favourite show was Doctor Who (yeah yeah – some things never change). In Australia, it aired Monday to Thursday at 6:30 (usually after The Goodies at 6pm) and in our house it was unmissable.
When my brother grew up, he was going to be The Doctor. And I was probably going to be a companion – except when I was going to marry Sergeant Benton. (Or possibly Brigadier Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart. I was not fussy.)
So when I heard that Sergeant Benton himself (or at least John Levene the actor) was coming to Australia, I was a little bit excited. Also hurt because he never showed up for our wedding – but I forgave him for that a couple of years ago. He’s a little old for me anyway.
The big show was on Tuesday night.
Now Fraser had warned me that I was not the target audience for these media cons. I kind of realised that myself when we paid $55 a ticket (and $45 for the Bigster). Add $30 for a photo and $40 for autographs (we got neither) and it can be a very expensive night out. Good for singles who are not sucking on school fees and new oboe reeds and potential overseas student exchanges with associated home renovations and a boardgame habit that may be a little out of control. Not so great for me with all of the above but I accept that others’ mileage can and will vary. And of course they have to make some money somewhere.
AKA: SERGEANT BENTON!!! IN THE SAME ROOM AS ME!!!
The format was pretty basic. A montage of clips of Sergeant Benton being awesome and saving the world, followed by a Q&A with Mr Levene. Then a break followed by a door prize and more Q&A (including a quick impromptu auction) and then photo/autograph time.
First impressions: OMG HE DOES NOT LOOK LIKE SERGEANT BENTON AT ALL! HE HAS BIG HAIR AND BIG TEETH AND A SUIT!!!
It turns out that Mr Levene has been doing a Tommy Cooper tribute show for a while and – well, it showed. One-liners flew thick and fast. The audience laughed a lot. Good manners or actual humour? Possibly a bit of both. His content varied a bit between glib one-liners, elaborate set-ups and serious political commentary. And at times I found it hard to tell which was which – it is hard to get emotionally invested in a serious political statement when you are waiting for the fart punchline.
But still: SERGEANT BENTON!!!
I *think* I would have liked him to chat a bit at the start, before he started taking questions. But not if the chat was Tommy Cooper-esque.
Best moment of the night was probably when they showed him the clip from Outland where Andy names Sergeant Benton as a character he’d most like to shag. He was completely floored but delighted. The Outland creators were there too and gave him a copy of the DVD. Bigster was kicking herself because we have the DVD signed by one but not both of them. She is threatening to OMG TAKE IT EVERYWHERE with her until she miraculously runs into Adam Richard somewhere and can get him to sign it. It is entirely possible that she will do this too.
After the break there was a door prize. But only for people who had bought the $40 autographs. So an autograph-payer prize really. And then a little impromptu auction of some photos he’d brought. Bigster got excited and paid $62 for a photo of John Levene peeking out the TARDIS door with K9 and Davros and maybe a Cyberman too. I thought she would get it autographed but she is FAR TOO SENSIBLE to pay $40 for that and we just went home. I would have got the autograph, myself. Awesome moment during the auction though, when she bid and then looked at me and said “Is that OK mum?”.
Other highlights – or what worked best – were probably the very genuine and interesting anecdotes. Stories about filming – about who was or wasn’t nice – even some residual bitterness – made the show and the actors really come alive. The story about how he nearly killed Jon Pertwee with a helicopter was awesome. And apparently you need to watch The Daemons in slow-motion to see the two guys who accidentally break a rifle and then have to hold it together. This is the stuff I was excited to see and very much enjoyed.
There were also stories about his life – his family and his former and now very famous neighbours. And a certain British Secret Agent. Interesting, touching and very very engaging.
I was less interested in the Hollywood stories. Although I will probably buy his CD “The Ballads of Sergeant Benton”. Oh who am I kidding – I should just go order it now.
Bigster enjoyed it although I think (or hope?) that some of the jokes and anecdotes went over her head. She was pretty thrilled that a couple of people (John Richards from Outland – who she saw at our local library last Thursday – and Rob Lloyd “the comedian who looks like David Tennant” – she won tickets to his Melbourne International Comedy Festival show 2 weeks ago at Supanova and we went last Friday night) recognised her and said hello. And even more thrilled that the Outland boys told her she was far more grown up than either of her parents. Which may well be true but should not be QUITE so noticeable on the basis of 5 minutes of chit chat. And Fraser said “well it was a media con and I warned you about those”.
But still. SERGEANT BENTON.
My eight-year-old self was thrilled.