I got given the perfect belated Christmas present yesterday from my good friends Troy & Rom (superb taste) in the shape of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace on DVD. I've been championing this wonderful eighties horror series for ages, and it reminded me that I was supposed to have been conducting an interview with the man himself for Eat My Brains to tie in with the DVD release. I did my research, submitted my questions... and nothing happened; we drew a complete blank from the PR company and they didn't even bother to send out a copy of the DVD for us to review. Instead Garth ended up doing articles for all the 'quality' press like Empire magazine.
So, since I'm sitting here with nothing better to do, I thought I'd share my intended questions to Garth Marenghi with you all. Maybe one day when he's sat at his typewriter suffering with writer's block he'll go online, Google his name and end up here where he can finally supply some answers. (Unlikely, I admit, but then again I did bump into his publicist Dean Learner in a London bar just before Christmas, so you never know...) Here's my 'lost' interview with the master dream-weaver then:
Hi Garth, you've been a writer of horror stories for over three decades now. What keeps you interested in the genre?
You tend to use present day settings and faceless urban locations such as Luton and Leytonstone in your books. Do you feel this helps your readers to identify more with the terrors that you describe?
Horror fiction is often perceived as a rather worthless literary genre, yet many of your tales have an underlying subtext dealing with major global issues, for example, water pollution (The Ooze), the AIDS epidemic (Juggers) or the impact of the internet (Mindgrid). Do these issues represent your own real-life fears?
Can you tell us a little about your latest novel, Retch?
Your publisher Dean Learner comes from a background of high-class erotica. Is it true that the two of you are thinking of collaborating on a series of erotic-horror novels?
Let's talk about your television series Darkplace which you wrote, directed and starred in during the early eighties. It's attracted quite a cult following, despite its rare broadcast. Are you aware of the influence that the show has had on other contemporary programmes? I'm thinking of Lars Von Trier's Kingdom series and Stephen King's adaptation Kingdom Hospital in particular, but also several episodes of Holby City.
Your friend Dean [who also co-stars as hospital boss Thornton Reed in Darkplace] was quoted as saying, "Not since Orson Welles had one man so many fingers in so many pies, and been the chef as well. And then looked like he went and ate them all. The guy was out of control." Looking back now at the making of the series now, was it a tough shoot for you?
Madeleine Wool who played Dr. Liz Asher in the show famously vanished after the production and is still missing, presumed dead. What do you think really happened to her?
Your other main co-star was of course cult horror actor Todd Rivers who played Dr. Lucien Sanchez. What was he able to bring to the project?
You've described the show as "subversive" and I believe you've had a number of battles with censorship, notably being forced to pixilate an erection in the episode Skipper The Eyechild. Does it annoy you that so-called 'art' films like Nine Songs or Baise-Moi can get away with showing graphic sexual images, yet you can't show a giant mutated eyeball sporting a hard-on?
Now that Darkplace has finally secured a DVD release, what surprises and extras can fans look forward to seeing?
You filmed around fifty episodes of Darkplace yet only six have been screened. Are there any plans to restore further episodes from your vaults?
After the disastrous attempt to film your classic novel Black Fang (rats learn to drive), has this dissuaded you from further big screen adaptations of your work? I've heard rumours of you perhaps making a film about giant mutated wasps in the near future?
Finally, Dean's new chat show Man To Man With Dean Learner begins this month on Channel 4. Can we expect to see you as a guest on the programme?
(Interview prepared October 2006 © soulmining)
You can discover more about the genuis of Garth Marenghi at his official website here.
As a footnote to this post, actor Matt Berry who plays Todd Rivers (Sanchez in Darkplace) will be performing at the Komedia in Brighton on Wednesday 28th February. I'm there!