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Donna Lettow kicked off the proceedings on the Friday evening with a session devoted to more out takes from the cutting room floor. Donna was flying solo at this con without partner Gillian Horvath, who was addressing a screenwriter’s conference in the US. Donna herself has just finished writing a pilot called Angels On Horseback for PAK, a family broadcasting channel in the US. It’s about the Frontier Nursing Service and Donna described it as Dr Quinn meets The Waltons. First up was the unused original tag to Archangel, which was intended to set the scene for Season 6. It is twenty years after the end of Archangel as we know it and Duncan, hair cut short, is kneeling alone. The door opens and Methos walks in. Duncan asks “Did you bring it?” and Methos nods, saying “I brought a friend”. Joe comes in, in a wheelchair, and hands Duncan his sword. Duncan takes it without hesitation, saying he’s ready. Donna said that David Abramowitz had wanted to spin the series in a new direction and this post-apocalyptic future was what they intended. Ahriman had run amok unchallenged for 20 years and Duncan would re-emerge into a world that had moved on. But the series was to hit problems over renewal and this idea was abandoned. And I, for one, am glad that this idea never saw the light of day - after all, I’ve seen Highlander 2.

Next up was Not To Be. The first cut came in really long at 57 minutes and Donna, who admitted to be being a Fitz fan, saw her hero’s time cut, so she brought some of the missing footage. There is a scene between Duncan leaving the gallerie and arriving in the brasserie with Fitz, which shows them walking down the street and Fitz admiring Tessa. In the bar scene with Methos, Fitz uses a much longer analogy about time being like a river - the original title for Not To Be was The River - and it had been intended that Duncan would be shot and fall into the Seine, not onto a railway track. However, the Seine was far too cold to be throwing Adrian into it, hence the substitution. And just where had Duncan “seen that trick before”? In the same scene in the bar, where Duncan first sees an angry Methos, Methos takes exception to Fitz chatting up the barmaid and pulls that knife on Fitz, leading to Fitz’s comment about “what a pleasant chap” and Methos’ line to Duncan about “what are you looking at”?

Donna then took us dancing. First up was the full flamenco scene from Duende, which got heavily edited for the final episode. Further confirmation that Adrian can definitely dance, if that were needed. Then we tangoed atop the Eiffel Tower. The day before, when they filmed the ground shots for Finalé II , the weather had been warm, so Elizabeth had been dressed in that mini skirt. The next day it was raining and the temperature was 42o, so cold that Elizabeth can be seen shivering. They were keeping her wrapped in quilts between takes. The dance is longer than in the episode and some of the shots are is if the camera were one of the dancers - leading Donna to talk about the VR tango with Duncan, as Adrian hammed it up for the camera. Donna also showed Elizabeth’s VR tango, which, oddly, was shorter than Adrian’s. Damn.... It wasn’t easy to see the platform on which they were dancing, but there were some moments when you could definitely tell that Adrian or Elizabeth thought that they had taken leave of their senses by doing what they were doing where they were doing it.

Leading on from the cold, it was back to Duende for the final duel. They had started filming before it started raining and decided to wait out the rain. But when it showed no sign of letting up, they had to start filming. The Circle that Adrian and Anthony de Longis were fighting had been printed on a plastic sheet, which offered no grip to the dress shoes they were wearing. Anthony went flat on his face during one take in the daylight and again during one of the night takes, causing a huge splash that Adrian said was very cold. Eventually, they got it in the can and Donna showed us the finished fight, although if you’ve seen the blooper tape, you’ll have seen that Adrian and Anthony started “Singing In The Rain” at one point.

As it was getting late, we went to Take Back The Night, which had not been without its problems. The original script had come in as a miniseries chronicling the history of Scotland. It got rewritten - David Tynan rewrote the Scotland flashback, Donna the Ceirdwyn flashback and Gillian the present day story. This produced a 78 page script, not the usual 51 pages, so David Abramowitz took the complied script and edited it. One of the scenes that he took out was of Duncan killing an English officer in revenge for Culloden with his wife and family watching, (sound familiar?). This surfaced in Leader Of The Pack, in Duncan’s comments about “killing men with their wives and children watching” and provided the basis for Forgive Us Our Trespasses. Donna showed us a scene filmed for Take Back The Night that wasn’t in the final version. A bearded and weary Duncan returns to Ceirdwyn after his killing spree and is drunk. He picks a fight with a fellow Scot and, to stop him damaging himself, the other guy or the inn, Ceirdwyn brains him with a pewter vase. This led to the scene in the bedroom having to be reworked, with new dialogue looped in over the shots they had, to remove references to Duncan being there because she clobbered him. During the fight, Duncan falls backwards over a table and there is no doubt left in anyone’s mind just what Scotsmen wear under their kilt.... The answer? Tights!

She told us that it isn’t just scenes get reworked after filming - plot points get that too. Although she had no video to show us, Deliverance was written as if Sean Burns and Duncan met in 1917 at the hospital, but they liked Michael J Jackson’s performance so much that they edited it and added extra dialogue to make it look as if Duncan and Sean had known each other much longer. In the same episode the French actor playing the Watcher in Le Havre was incomprehensible, so they got a Canadian actor to loop his dialogue in and took the opportunity to change the dialogue and the plot, as originally Duncan threatened the Watcher.

She did have a clip from Till Death that was lost from the final cut, which has Duncan and Methos shifting boxes from Methos’ Volvo to the Citroen and arguing about getting between married couples. Methos mentions a Roman Senator, his wife and a slave boy in 34 AD, leading to Duncan accusing him of playing the “Wise Old Bachelor”. Donna later recycled these characters into her HL book Zealot. The reason it got cut - with four flashbacks in the script, there was precious little time for anything else!

Onward to The Messenger. We got a different take, in more than one sense, on the “standard response” scene, filmed from behind Joe, which ends with Dawson throwing his drink over Methos after Duncan has left, saying “Have a drink on me”. Then it was on to the bar scene - “5,000 years of wisdom - him?”. The scene is longer, with more dialogue and Donna showed us a version shot from a different angle, focusing on Peter Wingfield. At the end, as everyone leaves, he apparently came up with a different closing line on each take. The line about socks was in the script, but in the one she showed us, he looks round, sees everyone’s gone and says “that just leaves me and the crew”.

She said that some roles were written with specific actors in mind. Kristin in Chivalry was written for Ann Turkel, as was Carolyn Marsh for Sarah Bernhard in Dramatic License. Ones who got away were Nigel Bennett, (Coventry in DL), and Michael Praed - twice. Till Death was written for him, as was an earlier unnamed episode, which makes Jeremy Brudenell their go-to guy, as he also filled in when Billy Idol wasn’t able to do The Vampire. However, mostly they audition half a dozen actors, which led to the audition tapes for Kronos. Season 6 bad guys Andrew “Black Tower” Bicknell and Charles “Sins Of The Father” Daish were honourable mentions, although Bicknell looked like he was auditioning for Skeletor and Daish just looked too English, leading to Donna talking of the Four Rugby Players of the Apocalypse. Then she showed us the audition tapes for Sammy. Who? Well, back when it was going to be the continuing adventures of Connor MacLeod, the sidekick was going to be called Sammy. Martin Cummings, later of Poltergeist - The Legacy auditioned, as did some guy called Kansas Love, (I kid you not), and one Stan Kirsch. All auditioned the store break-in scene from The Gathering, with Cummings doing an unbroadcast scene after Slan’s death in which Duncan explains that they are Immortal, as is Sammy, (who died in the original script) and Stan doing the scene from Free Fall with Tessa, just before Duncan comes back, senses Felicia and tells them to get out. A trivia note - there is apparently a card called Reporter in the Highlander card game and this is its origin. This is a character in the original script who hires Richie to follow Connor and Duncan, but got cut out. This is why Richie is following them and why we see so much sparring - cutting out that subplot made The Gathering come up short. Back when they thought that it would be Connor and not Duncan, Derek de Lint, also of Legacy, was a front runner for the part.

Donna finished on a banker - the Jimmy scene from Comes A Horseman, in all its twenty something minute splendour. Before we move to the other Friday session, a quick slip forward to Saturday night. I missed most of Donna’s Script To Screen, due to the need to feed, but did see the end and that she had added some new material - the car stunts from Diplomatic Immunity both times we see Willie knocked down, the Quickening from Prophecy before post-production got their hands on it and Richie’s Quickening from The Messenger. I know this has been shown at other cons, but I hadn't seen it. The post production people put in some shots behind Stan of surf and surfers...... to the music of Surf’s Up!

Next... Bedtime Stories