ASSASSIN'S CREED

ASSASSIN'S CREED
January 2017

Hello...

...I'm John Banks - welcome to my website.

The majority of my working life has been spent in the theatre with companies including
York Theatre Royal, Cheltenham Everyman, Sheffield Crucible, Bristol Old Vic, Manchester Royal Exchange and the National Theatre in London.

Television work includes Emmerdale, Coronation Street, and 'Allo, Allo!'. I have also worked on a number of radio drama and comedy productions with the BBC.

Since March 2009, I have enjoyed playing a huge variety of characters in numerous audio-drama stories for Big Finish Productions and Games Workshop, for whom I have performed in well over 200 audio dramas*, details of which can be found in the postings below.


There are also details listed here of the more than 80 audio books* I've recorded since March 2013,
including the unabridged New Revised Standard Version of The Bible, for companies including RNIB, audible.co.uk, Hachette, W.F. Howes, Little Brown Group, Penguin Random House, Games Workshop, Fantom Films & Ladbroke Audio.

(*figures at March 2017)

I hope you find something of interest here and come back soon for further updates.


For all posts, reviews and audio samples, please scroll down...

Games Workshop

Games Workshop

Assassin's Creed

Catherine, David & me as Gully......

Catherine, David & me as Gully......
May 2016

The Herald of Sanguinius - short story

Fabius Bile

Fabius Bile
WARHAMMER 40,000

Pharos - audio book

The War Doctor

The War Doctor
December 2015

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Thursday, 20 April 2017

Doctor Who: Dethras

I think I'm losing all track of time; not especially a problem for me, but it obviously would be if I were a Time Lord like the good Doctor. Public Holidays, as we've just been having and are about to have again at the beginning of May, seem to throw my perception of time completely out of kilter, like an extended form of jet-lag. Strange - but true.

Moving on; another audio release this month*, this one from Big Finish Productions, a Fourth Doctor adventure, featuring Tom Baker and Lalla Ward and here are some details:

Doctor Who: Dethras

In the control room of a World War 2 submarine something strange has started to happen. As the ship runs out of control, its crew begin to fall unconscious...


Finding the submarine in the last place they'd have expected, the Doctor and Romana are confronted by a mystery. Once fully populated, there are now only three men on board. And there's now also a chimpanzee. 




What has happened to the rest of the crew? What are the strange noises they can hear outside the hull?

And most importantly, who, or what, is Dethras? 

Tom Baker The Doctor    Lalla Ward Romana    Alistair Petrie John    Shelia Ruskin Flague  
Josh Bolt Philip    Brian Vernel Robert    John Banks Franklin    Jane Slavin Xankari/ Teacher 

Written by Adrian Poynton
  Directed by Nicholas Briggs  
 

*This title was released in April 2017. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until May 31st 2017, and on general sale after this date. 

Despite the fact that Dethras only became available today, there is already a review - and here is a link to it: Indie Mac User - Dethras Review 

...and a little later in the day, here is another: Red Rocket Rising - Dethras Review 

* * * * *

The next thing to mention in this update, is the Combat Phase Podcast that I recorded just over a month ago, during a week of recording at Games Workshop in Nottingham. The story, in a nutshell, is that I was approached by Kenny Lull, 'podcaster master' and Black Library aficianado, to record an interview about the process of acting in Black Library audio dramas and the recording of audio books with them. 

Suspecting that an hour of me blithering on about the intricacies of acting for audio and boring everyone to tears with gushing mentions of David Mamet and the significance of the Aristotelian Unities of Action, (see Aristotle On The Art of Poetry and David Mamet True and False), it occurred to me that it would be much more interesting to have ace BL producer Matt Renshaw join in too and that between the two of us, we might hopefully be able to give an idea of the recording process and include Matt's wider knowledge of the whole process of commissioning, casting and recording. Whether we've been successful or not is for you to decide by listening to the podcast, which can be found via this link:
 Combat Phase Podcast: Episode 190  Hope you enjoy!

There's more to come later in the month, but that's...

...all for now, more just as soon as it happens! 

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Warlord: Fury of The God-Machine...

You'd be a bit of an 'April fool' not to give this latest audio book release from The Black Library a listen. Well, if you're a fan of Warhammer 40k stories that is; if you're not a fan, then you might not like it, you might prefer to spend your hard earned cash on something else and save nine hours of your life for something else... I don't know what else... don't ask me... what do I know?

Anyway, here are some details of this story, which I must say, I enjoyed working on very much. I'm looking forward to hearing it and if it's your kind of thing, (see above!), then I hope you'll enjoy it too.

Warlord: Fury of the God Machine

When the battered and bloodied Pallidus Morr demi-legio of the Adeptus Titanicus is assigned to defend a forge world from Chaos, they find their battle made more difficult by the allies they must fight alongside…


The Battle Titans of the Adeptus Titanicus are towering war engines, striding to war as holy effigies of the Omnissiah. Greatest of all are the mighty Warlord Titans, their weapons bringing righteous death to alien and heretic alike. Still reeling from a near disastrous battle against tyranids, the Pallidus Morr demi-legio is assigned to a new warzone, a nearby forge world which has fallen under the sway of Chaos.

Here their battered war-machines must fight alongside another Titan Legion, the Imperial Hunters. As city after city falls before the relentless tread of Chaos war machines, the Imperium’s only chance of victory lies in the two legios putting aside their differences and fighting as one.


 Written by David Annandale, Produced by Matt Renshaw & Narrated by John Banks

 Running time 9 hours

If you're really into the idea of these gargantuan warrior machines, like pretty much everything mentioned in the huge variety of Black Library stories, it's possible to build and 'game' with 'state of the art' models, which are available in Games Workshop stores around the world and directly from The Forge World - here's a direct link to the web site: Forge World

There's a Titan 'maniple' available should you wish to dedicate some time and money to building what will certainly be a hugely impressive kit, or set of kits. To give you some idea of the sheer scale of these amazing models, I have seen completed kits at Warhammer World HQ and the Titan is about half a metre tall!


I'm happily very busy in various recording studios at the moment and working on a number of projects, some very much 'trickier' and more challenging than others - but more of all that in due course. In the meantime, that's ...


...all for now, more just as soon as it happens!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Warhammer 40,000 Death Guard




Launched at Adepticon in March 2017, here's a short trailer I recently voiced for the new Warhammer 40k miniatures and a link to the Lexicanum for further information on the Death Guard:







...all for now, more just as soon as it happens!


Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Silent Scream...

Or, given the nature of the story, perhaps it should be 'The Silent Ice Cream'...?

The second of this month's audio releases; a fun and festive audio drama from Big Finish. Here are some details and a trailer:

On the set of a busy Hollywood movie in the late 1920s, a damsel is in distress! As cameras roll, she opens her mouth to scream and... nothing comes out. Nothing at all. It's happened again.




The Doctor, Romana and K9 have arrived in a terrified Tinseltown. A new film is being made and several stars of the silent screen are viewing it as a potential comeback... but it may prove a poisoned chalice. Actors are vanishing and strange creatures stalk the streets.





Something evil is lurking behind the scenery. Can the Doctor stop it when he doesn't have a voice?

It's time for his close-up...

Tom Baker The Doctor Lalla Ward Romana John Leeson K9  
Alec Newman Dr Julius Pamela Salem Lorretta Waldorf Jane Slavin Nelly  
Andrée Bernard Lulu Hammerstein John Banks Director / Cab Driver

Written by James Goss & Directed by Nick Briggs


"I think the hand of Nicholas Briggs as the director is evident in the pitch perfect pacing and guest casting. I’d give examples of the great guest cast; but that is the entire cast list this time.

I give this one a silent but deadly 10/10!"


Here's a link to the rest of this very generous review: Indie Mac User 


...all for now, more just as soon as it happens!

Sunday, 19 March 2017

The Binary Succession

Dear and ever patient reader, thanks as ever for stopping by and please accept my apologies for not updating for a while. Regular readers will know that the usual reason for a dearth of posting activity, is that work has robbed me of the time to gather and express news of recent events and the last few weeks have busy indeed.

I've been preparing two audio books for The Black Library. In their different ways, both presented a considerable challenge and after a re-jigging of the original schedule, I found myself recording both books in a single week. That in itself is quite a challenge, both physically and mentally. Sitting in front of a microphone for seven or so hours a day, fully concentrating and articulating some tricky  text, along with creating voices for over 70 named characters, certainly draws heavily on stamina. One of the effects of such concentration, which I must say, I do thoroughly enjoy, is that time seems to evaporate; a full day in the studio feels more like a couple of hours and it often comes as a bit of surprise that the working day has come to an end.

For different reasons, I'm excited at the prospect of listening to both audiobooks when they become available; in the meantime I've just listened to one of this month's Black Library audio releases and details of it appear below. I'm in the unusual position at the moment, of having been given a small, but beautifully formed collection of future releases on CD. I'm wondering whether to listen to them only when they become generally available, or gorge myself on them as soon as I have time? I must also be wary of prematurely mentioning stories that will not be released for some months.

In addition to last week's audio book recording, I was also delighted to record the voice over for a forthcoming Games Workshop trailer, but I really can't say any more about that for the moment - top secret! Less secret is that together with producer Matt Renshaw, I recorded quite a long podcast interview with Kenny Lull for the Combat Phase web site. We all had great fun chatting about Black Library recordings, stories and techniques and hopefully, listening to the podcast when it becomes available, will also be fun and informative. More details to follow!

And so to the first of this month's audio releases: The Binary Succession by David Annandale. Here are some details:

The Binary Succession

A Horus Heresy audio drama

Increasingly sidelined by the lords of Terra, Mechanicum Fabricator General Kane – desperate to keep the Martian priesthood relevant despite the treachery of his predecessor – takes drastic action to secure his position.



Even as the Imperium faces the renegade Legions of the Warmaster, the ruling Council of Terra is becoming paralysed from within by increasingly petty bureaucracy. Fabricator General Kane has seen his fellow Mechanicum adepts dismissed again and again by the High Lords – with his traitorous predecessor Kelbor-Hal still at large on the Red Planet, the political status of the tech-priesthood remains ambiguous.

New alliances must be forged from the old, if Mars and Terra are to survive the final battle.



Gareth Armstrong, Steve Conlin, Penelope Rawlins, Toby Longworth, Ian Brooker, John Banks, 
Luis Soto, Antonia Beamish, Cliff Chapman 

Written by David Annandale & Produced by Matt Renshaw

* * * * *

 



On a different subject; last Sunday at 10pm on the CBS Reality tv channel, I could be found playing Miami Detective Ted Macarthur in the series Killer Cops. If you happened to miss it, I'm sure it will be repeated for ever, probably, so have no fears.

I had fun recording the program last autumn and I'm pleased with how it all came out in the end. The CBS web site for the series has nothing featuring the episode I was in or indeed, me; so here's a company logo instead...


* * * * *

Traditionally, Sunday afternoon was always a time for me to do homework and despite having left full time education several decades ago, today is no exception. I'm back to record more with Black Libray next week and in the meantime, ie now, I must do some preparation. Details to follow, but that's...

...all for now, more just as soon as it happens!

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Asurmen: The Darker Road

Somewhat astonishingly, I've had a CD copy of this story for several months, despite the fact that it's just been released from The Black Library. I've been very disciplined and only today given it its first listening; I must say, I really enjoyed it, but will obviously have to listen a few more times before a final verdict. I'm narrating on this story, which I always enjoy.

Some BL stories are only available as downloads, so most of those I have. Other BL stories are also available as a 'hard copy' on CD and unfortunately, several of those, I don't have. I might well have them in digital form, but there's something very pleasing in having a physical object to go on my shelves, especially when the cover artwork (by Alex Boyd and Nuala Kinrade) is as spectacular as it is for Asurmen: The Darker Road.


A Phoenix Lords audio drama

With the future of Craftworld Ulthwé at stake, the Phoenix Lord Asurmen joins the warriors of the craftworld on a mission that will lead them down a dark and dangerous road.


It is said the Phoenix Lords arrive on the eve of great moments... 


Guided by fate, Asurmen the Hand of Asuryan comes to the craftworld of Ulthwé. At the behest of the head of the seer council, he joins the warriors of Ulthwé and the young seer Eldrad on a quest to the Crone Worlds in search of the oracle Hiron-athela.

It is believed that this being holds an artefact that could safeguard Ulthwé's future, but in order to obtain it the eldar must travel a dark road...

Gareth Armstrong, John Banks, Steve Conlin, Toby Longworth, Penelope Rawlins and Genevieve Swallow.

Written by Gav Thorpe and Produced by Matt Renshaw

* * * * *

At the moment, I'm in the process of preparing two audio books and enjoying the process as ever, although one of them is proving to be fiendishly complex...


...all for now, more just as soon as it happens!

Assail

Assail. The final novel in Ian C. Esslemont's epic seven novel Malazan saga, produced by Neil Gardner for Penguin Random House and for which I created voices for a total of five hundred and eighty-three named characters.

I look forward to receiving my contributor copies of these stories and setting aside a chunk of time to listen to them. In fact, out of sheer curiosity, I've just calculated how long it would take to listen to the entire saga. The answer appears at the bottom of this posting!

In the meantime, here are some details:

Tens of thousands of years of ice is melting, and the land of Assail, long a byword for menace and inaccessibility, is at last yielding its secrets.

Tales of gold discovered in the region's north circulate in every waterfront dive and sailor's tavern, and now adventurers and fortune seekers have set sail in search of riches. And all they have to guide them are legends and garbled tales of the dangers that lie in wait - hostile coasts, fields of ice, impassable barriers and strange, terrifying creatures.



But all accounts concur that the people of the north meet all trespassers with the sword - and should you make it, beyond are rumoured to lurk Elder monsters out of history's very beginnings.

Into this turmoil ventures the mercenary company the Crimson Guard. Not drawn by contract but by the promise of answers: answers that Shimmer, second in command, feels should not be sought.

Also heading north, as part of an uneasy alliance of Malazan fortune hunters and Letherii soldiery, comes the bard Fisher kel Tath. With him is a Tiste Andii, who was found washed ashore and cannot remember his past yet commands far more power than he really should. It is also rumoured that a warrior, bearer of a sword that slays gods and who once fought for the Malazans, is also journeying that way.

But far to the south, a woman patiently guards the shore. She awaits both allies and enemies. She is Silverfox, newly incarnate Summoner of the undying army of the T'lan Imass, and she will do anything to stop the renewal of an ages-old crusade that could lay waste to the entire continent and beyond.

Casting light on mysteries spanning the Malazan empire, and offering a glimpse of the storied and epic history that shaped it, Assail brings the epic story of the Empire of Malaz to a thrilling close.

©2016 Ian C Esslemont (P)2016 Random House AudioBooks

Running time: 22 hours 45 minutes






















The accumulated running time for these seven stories is:


9,628 minutes or 160 hours & 46 minutes or... slightly over six and a half days of constant listening

...see you on the other side!

Doctor Who: The Eternal Battle

Well this is not how I intended February to go at all! At least in terms of how I had imagined posting information about this month's releases. Instead of a regular series of updates, I notice that the end of the month is almost upon us and there's still much to talk about.

Several days ago, the second release of February appeared in the form of a Doctor Who adventure from Big Finish; viz The Eternal Battle - and here are some details along with some fabulous artwork by Anthony Lamb:

The TARDIS has landed in a war zone. The Doctor, Romana and K9 find themselves traipsing through an inhospitable battlefield. Strange lights flicker in the sky, and stranger creatures lurk in the darkness.


When rescued from an attack by a Sontaran tank, the time-travellers discover they’re facing a far more dangerous foe than the battle-hungry clones. This terrifying fight has been going on longer than anyone can remember… and shows no signs of stopping.


With the TARDIS missing and their luck running thin, the Doctor and his friends’ only hope of survival is to uncover the truth about what is happening on this planet. If they can discover the secret of the eternal battle they might just survive… but it might just mean the end of them all.

Tom Baker The Doctor   Lalla Ward Romana    John Leeson K9  
Dan Starkey Field Major Lenk/Sergeant Major Stom  
Jane Slavin Captain Nina Albiston/Sycon Computer    John Banks Brennan/Trooper Varn

Written by Cavan Scott & Mark Wright
Directed by Nicholas Briggs 



NB: This title was released in February 2017. It will be exclusively available to buy from the BF website until March 31st 2017, and on general sale after this date.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

A Perfect Machine

And so, February and this year of 2017 moves on apace and new audio recordings are being released; sometimes in a bit of a flurry, like last month and sometimes quite gradually, like this month.

The first audio release of February is my audio book version of a sci-fi novel by Brett Savory, 'A Perfect Machine' and here are some details from the publisher, audible.co.uk:




"Henry Kyllo is a Runner, a member of a secret society called the Inferne Cutis. Every day he is chased through the city by Hunters whose goal is to fill him with bullets. It is a secret war steeped in history, tradition, and mutual fear.



Rumours abound about what happens when a Runner achieves ascension, but it has supposedly never happened before, so no one knows for sure. Except that it has happened before. And it is happening again. This time to Henry Kyllo."

 

Written by Brett Savory 
& Produced by Neil Gardner




* * * * *

It's curious sometimes how publishing schedules progress. Rather like Assassin's Creed, A Perfect Machine was produced to an incredibly tight deadline; recording, editing and publishing all occurring within a couple of weeks. In contrast, the production of the NRSV Bible has already taken two years or so and despite the actual recording only taking up eighteen studio days, it still seems no closer to a release date.

For some reason, I quite like working to tight schedules; less time to 'out-think' myself in terms of preparation perhaps, just go with the flow and trust my instincts. At the moment, I'm preparing to narrate two fascinating audio books and it all seems very lazy and relaxed, because I don't have to be in studio to record them until next month; what a luxury!




The next thing I want to mention in this posting is a piece of very welcome and gratifying news, which I became aware of earlier today. It seems that the Big Finish production of Doctor Who: Only The Monstrous, has been nominated for an Audio Publishers Association (USA) 'Audie Award' in the Audio Drama category - yay!




In fact, another Big Finish box-set recording that I took part in, The Tenth Doctor Adventures, has also been nominated, although alas, not the story I performed in. However, two bites of the Awards 'cherry' might be regarded as being greedy and I'm just pleased and proud to have been involved in both of these adventures.




* * * * *

I must end this update on a sad note. During the past couple of weeks, two acting colleagues have passed away; Gorden Kaye, with whom I worked on two series of 'Allo, 'Allo for the BBC in the late '80's and Sir John Hurt, with whom I worked much more recently on Only The Monstrous.

When I first met Gorden, I was much younger and quite in awe of him as the star of a hugely popular comedy series. When I worked with John Hurt, I barely slept the night before recording. They were different people and performers in very many ways, but both were immensely kind and generous to me and within minutes of starting work, I felt comfortable and relaxed with them and able to do my job.

I feel proud and privileged to have worked with two such fabulous actors and I am grateful to both.
























* * * * *

...all for now, more just as soon as it happens!

Friday, 27 January 2017

HG Wells short stories and classic novels

Another release, or set of releases, which has taken me by surprise! Not because I'd forgotten about them, far from it; no, just that the first inkling I had of their release came late last night in a tweet form Fantom Films.

I think the release of six audio books in a day is a statistic I will never match again - a positive 'glut'! The artwork for these stories really seems appropriate to the period in which they were written, in my humble opinion and here, along with synopses and samples are the details:

 


Herbert George Wells was a novelist, teacher, historian and journalist, who has become known as the “father of science fiction.” His works have been adapted countless times, and provided the basis for many literary and theatrical productions.


A Victorian scientist known only as the Time Traveller creates a machine capable of moving through the fourth dimension. Using it, he is transported to the year 802,701 and thrown into a life and death adventure with the fearsome Morlocks.




A meteor-like alien object lands on Earth, spearheading an apocalyptic chain of events. Earth has been watched, and now the aliens have landed and their intent is conquest and war…



As a result of an accident with an experiment, two unlikely friends are propelled on a journey to the moon. But a whole new universe of terrors await them there, including the insectoid Selenites. Will they be able to overcome these perils, and find a safe way home?



A mysterious stranger in a long-sleeved coat, with a bandaged face and wide-brimmed hat, arrives in a small English village. But his incongruous appearance is nothing compared to the secret of the clandestine experiments he is undertaking…   



A collection of twelve short stories and the transcript of a dream. Included in this collection are Filmer, The Magic Shop, The Valley of Spiders, The Truth About Pyecraft, Mr Skelmersdale in Fairyland, The Inexperienced Ghost, Jimmy Goggles the God, The New Accelerator, Mr Ledbetter’s Vacation, The Stolen Body, Mr Brishner’s Treasure, Miss Winchelsea’s Heart and A Dream of Armageddon.




A collection of eight short stories exploring science fiction and fantasy themes. Included in this collection are A Door in the Wall, The Star, A Dream of Armageddon, The Cone, A Moonlight Fable, The Diamond Maker, The Lord of the Dynamos and The Country of the Blind.  

* * * * *

 

I was thrilled and flattered to be asked to record these HG Wells stories. The longer novels were already familiar to me, having seen a number of versions made for television or the cinema; not to mention the legendary Mercury Theatre radio adaptation of 'The War of The Worlds', famously devised and directed by Orson Welles, which allegedly caused mass panic in the USA when it was first broadcast by CBS in 1938.

I confess to never having read the original books and I certainly didn't know the short stories. However familiar these stories might at first appear, I hope, should you listen to any of them, that you will discover new and unexpected aspects to each narrative.

In their differing ways, each one of these novels and short stories revealed something new to me and I was regularly surprised as to how Wells articulated his highly original and profoundly influential ideas. 




...all for now, more just as soon as it happens!

Harlequins

Harlequins
Warhammer 40,000

Reviews & comments:

The Malazan Empire

Over 7 books recorded since December, John Banks has had to create unique voices for 583 characters. Quite amazing!

Neil Gardner - producer

Mervyn Stone: The Axeman Cometh


John Banks is a voice genius...

Nev Fountain - writer

Mervyn Stone... played by the note-perfect John Banks.

Matt Hills - Reviews in Time and Space

Dr. Who: The Sleeping City

I also must draw attention to John Banks who is an exceptional voice artist and in this one story performs more characters that I can count. ... it is listening to episodes like this one that really do let his talents shine through.

Tony Jones - Red Rocket Rising

Highlander:

...playing several parts, was the brilliant Big Finish regular John Banks - it was as if there were about 40 different actors in the other booth.

James Moran - writer

I went for the best of the best and brought in voice artiste extraordinaire John Banks.

Paul Spragg - producer

Vienna:

...also features the mind - bogglingly versatile and reliable John Banks

Jonathan Morris - writer

Dead Funny:

The acting is first rate… wonderfully played by John Banks as Richard – his impersonation of Eric Morecambe is worth the admission money alone.

Beverly Greenberg: Bolton Evening News

A Spy Like No Other:

This is the best audio book ever.

The Cult Den

Mr. Happiness:

This early and unfamiliar play by David Mamet is a character study of a 1930s radio counsellor, dispensing suave advice to his devoted listeners. John Banks brings out the wry comedy of this – comedy quite unappreciated by the character – with a clever range of gesture and vocal tone.

Jeremy Kingston: The Times


All My Sons:

This is a beautifully crafted piece ...and it affords a wonderful opportunity for John Readman* to do his All-American Boy act as Chris Keller. This most polished and well observed performance as the blighted son of a blighted father must rank as one of his finest accomplishments yet. ( * see Profile)

The Stage

The Ordeals of Sherlock Holmes

Kudos should also go to John Banks. Lestrade can be a thankless part, but Banks rose to the challenge, playing a pivotal role in this decades long arc.

Raissa Devereux - SciFiPulse

The Judgement of Sherlock Holmes

John Banks is multi-tasking, both as the superb Lestrade and also the villainous and no doubt moustache twirling Sebastian Moran. They sound completely different and I bow to his talent.

Sue Davies - SFcrowsnest


Further reviews and comments are included with specific postings throughout the site.