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 more than 270* audio-drama stories with Big Finish Productions, together with The Black Library/Games Workshop, details of which can be found in the postings below.
There are also details listed here of the 187* audio books & stories I've recorded since March 2013, including the unabridged New Revised Standard Version of The Bible, for companies including audible.co.uk, Hachette, Audible Studios, Podium Audio Publishing, HarperCollins, RNIB, W.F. Howes, Little Brown Group, Penguin Random House, Games Workshop, Orion, Fantom Films & Ladbroke Audio.
(*figures at April 2020)
I hope you find something of interest here and come back soon for further updates.
Wednesday, 28 September 2011
I couldn't let the day end without mentioning David Croft, who sadly passed away earlier today. I worked with David on two series' of 'Allo,Allo!, one of a number of hugely successful comedy shows that he wrote, directed and produced for the BBC over many years; shows which have become part of the fabric and culture of the nation, especially perhaps, Dad's Army, which he created with Jimmy Perry.
I can't claim to have known David well and I'm sure many other people will write much more about him in the days to come. What I can say, is that he was always immensely kind to me, very generous with his time and in sharing his vast experience in comedy.
Our first meeting was at the read through for my first studio episode, having previously worked only on location with another director, Susan Belbin. The call was for 11.30 am and I arrived at the studio at 9.30 so that I knew exactly where I needed to be. I wanted to arrive at the huge table already set up in the middle of the cavernous sound stage with a few minutes to spare, so that in my trepidation, I didn't have to meet the cast of very well known actors and be too nervous to function. At 11.25 I breezed into the room only to find the table fully occupied and David Croft reading in my lines. The call was not 11.30 as I had been informed, but 11 o'clock - what a great start!
Of course, I apologised profusely to everyone at the end of the reading and tried to explain that I'd been there for hours 'killing time'. David just smiled and said something comforting and it was never mentioned again. Others in his position might have fired me on the spot.
I remember once sitting with him in the BBC canteen at TV Centre, having a bite to eat, before recording sections of the programme in front of a live Friday night audience. I was telling him how much I loved Dad's Army and he was kind enough to talk to me about it and pass on a few anecdotes about some of the cast members - perhaps you can imagine how I felt at the time.
Knowing of my keen interest in how things were done in tv comedy, he would invite me into the director's gallery to watch him direct the show, cutting between five cameras on the studio floor and having the generosity and patience to explain to me what he was doing. There I would be, in make-up and costume as Corporal Caponi, watching him and the crew, waiting to go down to do my bit..
Such knowledge and insight gave me a better idea of what I needed to be doing as an actor. He would also sometimes invite me to look through the camera lens so that I could see how a shot was being framed, giving me a better understanding of how to play the scene. One day, we were filming in Nouvion Town Square at Elstree Studios and David gave me a note: he said that in the shot we had just rehearsed, if I were to stand with my weight 'on the other leg', it would be funnier. I did - and it was. That was the only acting note he ever gave me, apart from suggesting that I shouldn't learn my lines too well because the show was like a 'a soufflé' and should feel light and fresh. He would often go with a first take, even if there were a few mistakes, rather than lose the 'spontaneity' of it.
In his calm, quiet way, he taught me a huge amount and I shall remember him always with great affection and respect. In my opinion, he was a genius, who created some of the best loved television comedy this country has ever produced. It was a great privilege and an absolute pleasure to have known and worked with him.
You have been watching...
Thursday, 8 September 2011
& Cursed Among Sequels are available in paperback, I think it's an appropriate time to post the first episode of his complimentary series of pod-casts, released under the collective title, Vixens From The Void.
I hope you enjoy listening to this recording, the series was great fun to do. The novels are brilliantly original, engaging and funny; so much so, that I've just started reading them again.
Thursday, 1 September 2011
Doctor Who release to mention:
The Doomsday Quatrain
David Schofield (Nostradamus/Conclave Leader), John Banks (Brors/
Captain of the Guard/Bernardo),
Caroline Keiff (Garilund/Computer Voice),
Derek Carlyle (Kren/Second Nuncio),
Nicholas Chambers (Larrett/Milo/First Nuncio)
Update: 8th September: ...and indeed it was interesting! Arriving at the studio, I was slightly surprised to be given scripts for two episodes of SG-1 which I'd never seen and hadn't prepared for - at least it helped to keep things fresh and spontaneous!
The delay on the line between London and Vancouver was a bit of a lark; that aside, I had ten characters to play - some of them human - and had great fun giving it 'the beans' opposite
Michael Shanks, who played Dr. Daniel Jackson.
Update: 20th September. Two more episodes 'in the can' and no delay on the line this time. By coincidence, I still had ten characters to play although, as I had previously worked on and recorded both scripts, I had a bit more of an idea of who was who and what the stories were about. Here's a tweet from producer Paul Spragg:
'Second day with Michael Shanks and we're on episode four. Some disturbingly good chemistry with John Banks as he fills in as Vala...'
I'm sure I don't know what he means. Two more episodes left to record.
Next week I'm working on a project for Big Finish which is ultra top secret - at least for now! More anon...
Reviews & comments:
Mr. Banks does superb work, and I recommend the audiobooks wholeheartedly!
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
...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
...also features the mind - bogglingly versatile and reliable John Banks
Jonathan Morris - writer
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
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)
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