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Tonight We’re Gonna Party Like It’s… 1970

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Tonight We're Gonna Party Like It's 1970

The morning Saturday, 1st February 2003 saw co-slipper Andy Thompson, my partner Caroline and myself zooming down the M1 towards London. Destination: 1970! Well, in reality we were heading for the home of Timeslip series’ creator and script editor Ruth Boswell, which was going to be the venue for the launch party of The Official Timeslip Website and to which the original cast and crew of the series had been invited!

We arrived at Ruth’s house at about 1.00pm and Ruth herself greeted us (by the way, Ruth’s house actually appears as Stephen Jameson’s house in the Tomorrow People story, ‘The Slave’s of Jedikiah’!) After unloading the car and placing our bags in our respective rooms we convened in the dining room and Ruth made us a very welcome cup of tea – which we needed as she had some bad news! She told us that Denis Quilley would be unable to attend the party the following day as he was in hospital recovering from a hernia operation. Of course we were disappointed but we were also relieved to hear he was on the mend and would be home in a few days. Ruth suggested that we make him a card and get the party guests to sign it, which we all thought was a good idea. A further blow was that Peter Jeffries would also be absent as he had to go down to the West Country to visit an ailing relative. However, there WERE pluses! John Cooper had himself recently left hospital and had told me some weeks previously that it was unlikely he would be fit to travel to London so soon after his operation. Fortunately his recovery had been so rapid that he now felt up to the journey and would be joining us after all – splendid news!

Ruth asked us what we wanted to do for the rest of the day and we told her we’d like to stretch our legs after the car journey and take a look around Alexandra Palace, which is very close to Ruth’s house. While Ruth went out for an hour the three of us went for a walk around the Palace. It is a HUGE building and is of course steeped in history – not least through its association with the early days of the BBC. At the front of the building the view across London is breathtaking and in the distance it was even possible to make out the transmitter mast of that OTHER Palace so associated with television; Crystal Palace.

After our tour round this magnificent building (which showed no sign of the fire which nearly destroyed it some years ago) we trouped round the local shops. Andy is something of a Charity shop buff (which he has passed on to me!) so we trawled through several of these and popped into a few bookshops too. Sadly we found no Timeslip novels but Andy did manage to find a bargain or two so he was satisfied with the day’s hunting.

On our return to chez Ruth we had yet more tea (it’s ALWAYS time for a cup of tea!) and were introduced to Ruth’s husband Greg. Ruth suggested we watch a Timeslip story to put us in the mood for the following day’s festivities and so we sat down to watch ‘The Day of the Clone’ which we all agreed was still as riveting as it ever had been. We all commented on Denis Quilley’s sublime performance as ‘both’ Traynors and the fact that Spencer Banks had matured so much since first playing Simon.

After the video Ruth gave us a quite superb dinner and we sat at the table talking until it was time for bed. We then said our goodnights and retired for the night, full of excitement for tomorrow’s adventure.

The next morning, after showering and dressing, Caroline and I went down to breakfast to find Ruth hard at work in the kitchen preparing the food for the party. Andy had already been pressed into service and was helping with the spuds. Caroline joined him in helping out with the food preparation and I was dispatched to the shop for further supplies (me not really being safe to be let loose in the kitchen!) When I returned we stopped for a tea break and talked about the sad news in the paper that the space shuttle Columbia had broken-up during re-entry manoeuvres the previous day... a very sad note on and otherwise very happy day.

After a light lunch it was time for me to get busy on Ruth’s Apple Mac. Firstly I designed a special ‘Timeslip’ get well card for Denis and then I knocked-up a couple of signs to pin to the front door and the gate in order to guide our guests to the right house.

Timeslip get well card for Denis - Designed by Steve

As the afternoon wore on ‘Timeslip Website’ technical guru, Paul phoned telling us that he was in London. Andy and I arranged to pick him up from Highgate tube station when he arrived to save him having to bus it over. Shortly after I’d finished on the phone with Paul, Bruce Stewart rang to announce he was ready to be collected from the station, so Ruth went off to collect him and Andy and I set off to fetch Paul.

After a fairly painless trip to Highgate (with Andy navigating so we only got lost once!) Andy, Paul and I arrived back at Ruth’s and we were introduced to Bruce. Bruce is a charming man with a very dry sense of humour and someone who we all felt instantly at home with. We learned that Ruth had already gone out again to collect John Cooper from ANOTHER station! While Ruth was gone, Andy and I took the chance to get changed, leaving Caroline and Greg to entertain Paul and Bruce.

After a quick wash and brush-up (and now in my suit) I returned to the living room in time to greet John Cooper. John has a very imposing presence that totally belies his warm and friendly personality and I discovered that he hails from Derbyshire – almost a member of the family, then!

Then the doorbell started to ring and people began to arrive thick and fast! Iris Russell was next to appear, looking absolutely STUNNING (I’m not ashamed to admit I was quite smitten by her!) and somehow managing to look YOUNGER than she did in the series! Ron Francis arrived like a whirlwind and his infectious good nature and high-spirits made us all warm to him at once. David Graham’s arrival was a little more low-key but just as welcome, as was that of Alpha 17 actress Lesley Scoble – who had battled a bad cold to join in the celebration. We asked if sister Teri was with her and she told us that she’d phoned Teri and that she’d got the start time of the party wrong and was making her own over later! The composer Mark Ayres also turned up to help us celebrate the launch of the site (no, Mark isn’t connected to ‘Timeslip’ but he was such a help in researching the library music from the series we had to invite him to the party!)

(l-r) John Cooper, Ron Francis, Bruce Stewart

Another ring of the bell signalled the entrance of… Cheryl and Spencer (along with their respective spouses, Charlie and Lyn) I had met Spencer before but meeting Cheryl for the first time was something I had been building up to for thirty-years! I formally introduced myself… and was grabbed by a delighted Cheryl and given a kiss! Never being one to be shy of coining a phrase, I told her (somewhat breathlessly!) ‘I’ve been waiting thirty-years for that kiss!’ Caroline shot me a thin smile and I made no serious effort to rid myself of the absurdly silly grin I was sporting. While everyone was moving into the room, Derek Benfield arrived to be greeted by Cheryl flying across the room crying, ‘Daddy!’ and flinging her arms around him.

Cheryl and Spencer (sporting the Simon Specs!)

During all this madness, Ruth and Greg were the perfect host and hostess, passing amongst the guests making sure everyone had something to drink and pointing out the location of the dining room so everyone could help themselves to the buffet.

Iris and David

Teri finally arrived – and not really all THAT late – spouting apologies and joining in the general hugs, handshakes and ‘ooh-you-haven’t-changed-a-bits’ that everyone else was indulging in. Then my big moment came… I had to make my introduction speech!

I took a gulp of my Lucozade (we’re all hard drinkers on the ‘Official Timeslip Website’) and positioned myself before the fireplace ready to address the gathered masses! To say I felt nervous was an understatement – here I was in front a crowd of people I had so admired for so long and THEY were waiting for ME to say something! With the back of my trousers gently smouldering and gripping my glass so tightly I thought I’d leave and imprint on it, I welcomed everyone, thanked them all for coming, reminisced about my own, personal ‘Timeslip’ memories and then thanked the ‘gang’ for making the programme… We raised our glasses and toasted this wonderful show and then played the FULL version of the theme music which I had been sent by the wonderful Stephen Rosie at deWolf (on CD no less!) Denis’ card was passed around with everyone signing it with messages of goodwill and I passed on apologies from those who couldn’t be there – Peter Jeffries, Jon Barron and Victor Pemberton.

Time to watch Timeslip

With the party now going at full blast the cameras were broken out and lots of pictures taken including a 2003 Skinner family portrait, Cheryl and Spencer (with Spencer sporting his Simon Specs), Teri showing off the fact that she can still get her Alpha 16 costume belt on (yes, she still has it!) and some non-entity called Steve Hardy having his collar felt by several members of the cast.

The 2003 Skinner family portrait!

Teri in THAT belt!

Don't be so hard on yourself Steve!

The party went on for hours with everyone reminiscing and reliving their experiences on the programme. The video Andy and I shot at Goff’s Oak (the Naval Station and Ministry Field in the series) was shown which prompted an indignant Derek Benfield to point at my picture on the screen and mockingly cry; ‘is that man a member of Equity!?’ and garnered gasps of disbelief from those who had been there in 1970 who couldn’t believe that the place was still standing.

Watching the Goff's Oak video.

All too soon the party wound down and everyone gradually drifted off to catch trains or make the long drives home. Phone numbers were exchanged and promises to get in touch were made – I got a kiss from Lesley, a kiss from Teri and another TWO kisses from Cheryl. Andy and I drove Paul back to the tube station (Andy, Carrie and I were stopping at Ruth’s for another night) and then we returned to the house, happy and contented. The site was off to a flying start and we had made some new friends and we’d certainly partied like it was 1970!

Steve Hardy

Carrie, Andy and Steve would like to say a special thank-you to Ruth Boswell and Greg Stewart for opening up their home to them for the weekend. It was appreciated more than words can say!

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