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Richard Ridings

The BoysAnd finally, what we all came to see. If this seems a little short compared with some of the other sessions, that’s because they spent a lot of time clowning around and we spent a lot of time watching them and laughing at the spontaneous madness happening on the stage. Before they came on stage, the stewards brought out four armchairs, a couple of small tables and a potted plant to set the scene, then they filed out to huge applause. “The boys are back in town!” crooned Peter, (badly). “Let’s burn something”, said Valentine, a bit more ominously. As they sat down, Richard disappeared into the green room and then returned with a present for Peter, who looked duly surprised. Peter unwrapped the parcel to find a box, which he opened at arm’s length. When nothing exploded, he looked into the box and burst out laughing - it contained a 5,000 year diary. He said he didn't have a present for Richard, (at which Richard looked upset and sat down), but he did have one for Marcus. He disappeared and returned with an identically wrapped parcel. Marcus opened it to find a huge blow up guitar, which he inflated and clowned around with. He sat back in his chair and there was a pause. “There was something I was supposed to remember” he muttered, then Val leant over and whispered to him. Marcus disappeared, leaving Valentine grumbling about how he could have trained a chimp quicker. Marcus returned and knelt before Valentine, saying “Master”. Val took the offered gift and opened it. It was a card with a monkey on it, saying “I couldn’t ask for a better brother.” Inside, it read “Well, I could, but Mum’s too old now”. To complete the gifts, Valentine went off and came back with a present for Richard. He said that normally under these circumstances, it would be a clock, but this was a small token of his appreciation for the last 4,000 years. Richard unwrapped the present and Silas finally got his monkey. As soon as he saw it, Marcus asked for some red wine.

Marcus then produced a guitar and sang “Pleasure and Pain”, for those of us not attending the M.E.L.T. concert that night. As the song went on, he sang it more and more towards Richard, who was holding the microphones for Marcus. After Marcus had finished, some asked for requests and Richard sat back and started to sing “Old Man River”, stopping abruptly at a line about the river always flowing. Finally, they thought it might be nice to let the audience in on the act.

The first questions picked up on Richard’s Q&A, starting with the first rule of great drama. Peter added “Billing” to the list and then Richard suggested asking the floor, so Valentine got down on his knees and literally asked the floor, but getting no answer, he sat down again. Asked about their favourite Shakespearean roles, Peter said Richard III and Richard went for Macbeth, quoting the line “horror, horror, horror”. Why, he asked, didn’t Shakespeare just have them say “there’s someone dead in there”? Valentine said he liked A Winter’s Tale, feeling that it was a very modern play and quite underrated. He particularly liked the stage direction “Exit, pursued by a bear”. During Richard’s Q&A, someone had asked him to do some Shakespeare and he’d dodged the question by saying to wait until they were all on stage. This came back to haunt him and Peter and Valentine looked at each blankly, then Peter leant forward and said to Richard, “Don't look at us - you got us into this mess!” Valentine told the story of an actor called John Baxter in Romeo & Juliet, whose line was “throw your mistempered weapons to the ground”, but he actually said “throw your noblest tampons to the ground”, which caused some confusion.

The boys were asked to introduce themselves in character. Peter smiled, leant forward and breathed into the microphone “I was Death....” Richard said that Silas had a massive chopper and Marcus said “I eat people”, then turned to look at Richard and his monkey, adding “and apes.. bring me some wine.” Valentine stood up and said that actions speak louder than words. He took off his watch, placed it on the floor and stomped. Turning to the audience, he said, “I am the end of time!”

It’s well known that Valentine admires Kevin Kline and Richard said that, when he’d worked with him, Kline would improvise during scenes to develop new ideas and would come to the set with different ideas prepared, which he would offer to the director as alternatives.

Asked if they had bad habits, Valentine said he wore one in A Matter Of Time, although he felt he looked fetching in saffron and maroon. Valentine said that Marcus has a tendency to ring him in the early evening - the phone would go and all Valentine could hear would be a cacophony in the background, then a voice would say “Marcus here”. To which Val would reply, “Yes, I know”. He said he was very familiar with the sound of Marcus’ favourite bar. Peter said that Richard was in the bad habit of not sleeping, as he would go out in the evening and come back at dawn. He remembered going to the set with Richard in the van and Richard would have an inflatable collar over his eyes to keep out the light. Valentine said that the four of them shared a trailer and Richard would sleep on the floor, which meant moving about in the trailer required you to climb over the supine Mr Ridings.

Asked about co-ordinating the horsemanship, Peter joked that it was done in post production, as they were never in the same field or going n the same direction. He said that the vultures which were on the set of the Horsemen’s Camp would spook the horses and his would go so far and then just stop. Valentine told the story about hitting Richard’s hand when splitting the cloth and how sick it had made him feel, but Richard hadn’t made a sound. Richard said he had been feeling terrible afterwards, so he had gone to the pub.

Asked what the impact of meeting the fans had been, Peter said that the show had spoilt him. He said the fans lived in a bizarre world, (which he meant in a kind way), but he always got a tremendous sense of warmth, love and generosity from the fans at the cons. it was great to get such feedback on what you were doing. Valentine said he was surprised at the variety of people there, that the fans were such a broad spectrum. He said he got a lot out of the relaxed atmosphere. Marcus said it was great to get such a reaction to his first work as an actor and it was really nice just to meet people. Richard said he was bowled over by the reception he’d had and was loving it, adding that he could go on for a few more days. To be involved with a show that reaches people is great.

Anybody wanna buy a sword?Asked about the wigs in Revelation 6:8, Richard indignantly exclaimed that that was no wig, his head is shaped like that! Peter said he though the long haired rock and roller look was very fetching and compared it to Dave Hill of Slade. Then they brought out a sword for the boys to auction. It was a Sword Of The Apocalypse, akin to Kronos’ sword and signed by all four of the Horsemen. Valentine started to describe the sword and pointed out that the Four Horsemen were carved on either side of the ornate hilt and covered in gilt, to which Peter cried “Gilt? I haven’t felt gilt since the 11th century!” and rushed up to run his hands over the carvings. There was a quite a bit of clowning around with the sword - Peter saying “let the monkey have it”, and Richard protecting his new friend. They lined up for photographs and Peter gently edged the monkey so that it’s neck was against the sword, that started to saw quietly, but everyone soon noticed. The bidding started briskly and the £1,000 came and went soon. The sword eventually went to an American lady for £1,450. All the money raised at the convention from the various auctions went to Leukaemia Research.

And that was that, but then came Wolf 359