ASSASSIN'S CREED

ASSASSIN'S CREED
January 2017
"John Banks is one of the UK's most prolific audiobook narrators, working for the likes of Big Finish, Audible, Random House and Games Workshop.

He is a true multi-voice, creating everything from monsters to marauding aliens.

He is also an accomplished stage and TV actor."

audible.co.uk 2018

Coming throughout December...

Coming throughout December...

Coming in January 2019...

Coming in January 2019...

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 more than 250* audio-drama stories for Big Finish Productions and The Black Library/Games Workshop, details of which can be found in the postings below.


There are also details listed here of the 150* audio books I've recorded since March 2013,
including the unabridged New Revised Standard Version of The Bible, for companies including audible.co.uk, Hachette, RNIB, W.F. Howes, Little Brown Group, Penguin Random House, Games Workshop, Orion, Fantom Films & Ladbroke Audio.

(*figures at October 2018)

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...

Available now:

Available now:
5 CD Box Set

Flight. Redefined.

Games Workshop

Games Workshop

Media Content

This Windows 10 Googleblog is designed and best viewed on Firefox; unfortunately, some media content may not function properly with other browsers or operating systems.

Search This Blog

Monday, 28 October 2013

Wind And Wuthering

'Walking across the sitting room, I turn the television off...' and decide to write a quick blog update instead of being both a 'watcher of the skies' and the 'storm news'. In fact, rather than doing any of these things, at this very minute, I should really be in London for the first day's recording of an audio book, but St Jude's Storm has taken care of that - at least for the time being. If anything like a normal rail service is resumed today, we might go in and make a start. The process of recording only needs two of us; me to read and a producer to do everything else, but at the moment, we're both unable to travel and the executive producer is deciding what to do. It must be a logistical nightmare for him to potentially have to re-schedule a whole day's worth of recording across several studios and I don't envy him the task.

Moving on to other things; there was more Dr Who on TV this weekend, this time featuring Doctors 5 & 6, Peter Davison and Colin Baker respectively. The first story was Earthshock, broadcast originally from 8 March to 16 March 1982 which starred Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton as Nyssa and Janet Fielding as Tegan. It also marked the final appearance of Matthew Waterhouse who played Adric.


Synopses for this and all the other weekend classic Doctor stories are easily available elsewhere, so I won't go into detail about the story lines. I'm also keen that the postings I've done in response to the stories being shown as part of the 50th Anniversary, don't just appear to be an excuse for a bit of 'name dropping'. The motivation behind this series of updates really lies in my own personal reaction to having grown up with Doctor Who and now, quite unexpectedly, finding myself in a position of actually working with some of the actors I'd only previously seen on television, which is naturally quite a thrill.

I have very briefly met Matthew Waterhouse but never worked with him, although I'm aware that he has been recording quite recently with Big Finish. On the other hand, I've worked with Peter, Sarah and Janet on six productions and feel I know them all quite well, especially Sarah, who has become a good friend. Along with Mark Strickson, we bonded as a company during the severe winter weather a couple of years ago when we were recording three stories over a two week period, which is unusual for Big Finish.

In this weekend's second adventure with the Doctor, Vengeance On Varos, originally broadcast on 19 & 26 January 1985, Colin Baker played the title role and his companion was Nicola Bryant as Peri.



Just checking my CD collection to discover the current 'Colin count' is eleven, with more in the pipeline. Of course, I've also worked on a couple of Dr Who stories with Nicola and most recently, we've worked together on The Mervyn Stone Mysteries.

I must give a special mention to Nicola, because without her, in all probability, I wouldn't be writing any of this and wouldn't ever have worked for Big Finish. We got to know each other on a theatre tour of Don't Look Now, which also starred Peter Amory, Rula Lenska and Shirley-Anne Field.

As the tour progressed, we became good friends, sharing digs for most of our weeks away from home. With great generosity and kindness, Nicola recommended me to the producers at Big Finish and after submitting a slightly lashed together demo-reel, I was invited to work on my first audio drama for them, Paper Cuts, with Colin as the Doctor. So once again, a very big 'thank you' to Nicola Bryant!



Meanwhile, back at today's travel conundrum; if I can get into London somehow later this afternoon, I might have to check into a hotel for the night, as I can't imagine things getting back to normal any time soon and if we have an early start in the morning to catch up on lost time today...

PS: those of a certain generation, might have picked up on various 'musical' references in this posting and if you follow me on Twitter, you'll know what I'm thinking of... otherwise, how cryptic of me!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The National Theatre 1963 - 2013


I couldn't really let the 22nd October 2013 go by without somehow wishing the National Theatre a 'Happy 50th Birthday'.

The Company, created by Sir Laurence Olivier at The Old Vic, is fifty years old today and transferred to its current location in 1976:



'Because of the National Theatre Board's wish to make the building live as soon as possible despite protracted building delays, each of the three theatres within the National was used as it became available, even though not finished. The Lyttelton opened first, in March 1976; the Olivier next in October 1976; and the Cottesloe staged its first public performances in March 1977. The Queen officially opened the building on 25 October 1976. Saturday 1 March 1977 was the first night on which all three theatres were playing.'




 
The summer of '76 was one of the hottest and most prolonged in British living memory. I have vivid recollections of going on a school trip, during the heatwave, to see a production of John Osborne's play Watch It Come Down at the Lyttleton. Apart from seeing a couple of famous actors in the cast, my strongest impression of the event was the joy of being in an air-conditioned building - the first I'd ever experienced!

As a 17 year old, very keen on theatre and hoping to study drama at university, I remember standing outside the magnificent new building and secretly vowing to myself, that one day, I'd work there too. Well, it took a while, but I have worked at the NT, in Henry V and earlier this year with Port and who knows, maybe a glittering career awaits in years to come...?



Right: a view from my dressing room - March 2013

Monday, 21 October 2013

BBC Radio 4: The Father of English Football

Once again, thanks to the recommendation of audio producer Neil Gardner, I was recently offered some very interesting work with BBC Radio 4, to play Arthur Pember, one of the Founding Fathers of The Football Association and its first President.

This year marks the 150th Anniversary of the FA and there are numerous events and programs to celebrate such a momentous occasion in sporting history. Along with producer Richard Bannerman, I had great fun working on The Father of English Football with fellow actors Barnaby Edwards and Michael Maloney and I'm very much looking forward to listening to the finished production on Friday 25th October at 11am on Radio 4. 


Here's a synopsis from the BBC:

In this month 150 years ago, a group of sportsmen met at the Freemasons' Tavern in London's Covent Garden. In an age when football teams played by their own rules, each one differing from the other, the aim was to create a standard code. Their first decision in 1863 was to call themselves the Football Association and, over the course of six often dramatic meetings between October and December, they set down what became the cornerstone of the game of football. The prime mover was Ebenezer Morley.

Hardeep Singh Kohli considers Morley's reputation as the founding father of English football, and traces the arguments of those first meetings through the Minute Book, which many now consider the most valuable historical document in the creation of the modern game. The arguments were often heated and ended with a breakaway group dissenting and eventually forming themselves into the Rugby Union.

Hardeep talks to Jane Clayton, of the International Football Institute at the University of Central Lancashire, about the character of Ebenezer Morley and his colleagues. He visits the FA's headquarters at Wembley, and talks to the historian David Barber. They leaf through the pages of the 150 year old Minute Book, which describes the arguments that took place - particularly over the rules on whether the ball should be carried, and whether players should be allowed to kick, hack and trip an opponent. 

Hardeep also meets David Elleray, Chairman of the FA Referees' Committee, who discloses how current rules are discussed and altered and how referees apply them.




Producer: Richard Bannerman

A Ladbroke production for BBC Radio 4

First broadcast: BBC Radio 4 at 11am on Friday 25 October 2013




England Players Joe Hart, Jermaine Defoe and Alex Oxlade hold portraits of Charles William Alcock, Ebenezer Cobb Morley and Arthur Pember.
 
For more information on Arthur Pember and the FA, follow these links: 

                        Arthur Pember                    The Football Association                           


Sunday, 20 October 2013

Dr Who: Spearhead From Space & The Pyramids of Mars

As Watch TV are continuing with their classic Who stories, here's a brief update on what was broadcast this weekend. On Saturday we had a four episode series from January 1970, Spearhead From Space, starring Jon Pertwee as the third Doctor and Caroline John as Liz Shaw. For the sake of 'completeness', I'm including this story here, although I haven't actually worked with any of the cast members in subsequent Big Finish adventures, which was the original impetus behind my posts about last weekend's broadcasts.Of course all of these stories and their various plot lines are recorded in much more detail on other dedicated web sites should you wish to know more and I'm sure they're available to buy on DVD.

Here's some fabulous artwork inspired by Spearhead From Space:



Today's other four-part story, The Pyramids of Mars, from 1975, stars the unique Tom Baker as the fourth Doctor and Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane Smith . For many fans of the series, Tom is the definitive Doctor and indeed, he inhabited the role for longer than anyone else.
 
















I've had the great good fortune to work with Tom on a number of Fourth Doctor stories with Big Finish and I can only vaguely attempt to convey the joy of sharing a recording studio with him. He is, you won't be surprised to hear, a fascinating character; funny, inventive, generous and always happy to entertain the rest of us in the green room. I count it a great privilege to have spent time with him and to have witnessed at first hand the great Tom Baker playing Doctor Who at  full power!


The Doctor's chief adversary in this story is a character called Sutekh, an Osirian played by Gabriel Woolf. I'm aware that Gabriel has acted in a number of Big Finish stories, although I've never worked with him at BF. However, my first ever job in a professional theatre (1978 Birmingham Rep & Malvern Festival Theatre) was as a very lowly 'Acting ASM' in a production of Hindemith's 'The Soldier's Tale'. Gabriel Woolf was the star performer and I used to help him apply his quite extensive make-up for the role - small world!


So, all for now but for 'obvious' reasons, I'm already looking forward to next weekend's adventures with Doctors 5 & 6...

Thursday, 17 October 2013

JFK and The Cuban Missile Crisis

Back in early August, I was asked by the fabulous Neil Gardner at Spokenworld Audio if I'd be interested in recording an audio version of Robert Holmes' fascinating book A Spy Like No Other. After a few seconds careful consideration, I leapt at the opportunity and after a very interesting couple of days in the studio, recording was complete.

The fruit of our labour is released today via this link: Spokenworld Audio - A Spy Like No Other


The arms race between the Soviet Union and the USA was the most dangerous confrontation in the history of the world. Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s decision to place nuclear missiles in Cuba, and US President John F. Kennedy’s willingness to call his bluff, brought the Soviet Union and the West to the edge of a cataclysmic nuclear war. Now, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Robert Holmes, a British diplomat in Moscow during the early 1960s, provides an answer to one of the greatest mysteries of the Cold War. Kennedy’s confidence in his brinkmanship hung on the evidence provided by Oleg Penkovsky, the MI6/CIA agent inside Soviet military intelligence. 

While working on A Spy Like No Other, Holmes set out to tell Penkovsky’s story. But, in doing so, he stumbled upon an astonishing chain of intrigue, betrayal and revenge that suggested a group of maverick Soviet intelligence officers had plotted the crime of the century. When Penkovsky’s treachery was discovered, in the middle of the Missile Crisis, he was executed and his boss, General Ivan Serov (the head of Soviet military intelligence and a former head of the KGB), was subsequently dismissed. The Soviet propaganda machine then thoroughly discredited Serov and consigned him to obscurity. 


In this extraordinary new study, Holmes suggests Serov’s anger at the West’s ‘victory’ in Cuba and his resentment at the treachery of his protégé and his own downfall turned into an obsessive determination to gain revenge – and reveals the opportunity he had to do so by working with KGB rogue officers to enlist a young American loner, Lee Harvey Oswald, to assassinate the President.

 


We had some interesting and occasionally challenging decisions to make about how to present the book in audio form. The text hadn't been adapted in any way and the difference between reading silently to oneself and reading out loud as a 'performance' can sometimes present quite a challenge. The natural abbreviations one instinctively makes as a reader have to be overcome and yet the text still has to sound smoothly conversational, rather than stilted and expressed simply for the purpose of conveying information. We also did a bit of head scratching about the pronunciation of some Russian names; for example, even a simple name like 'Ivan Serov' requires a decision about where to put the stress - Ivan or Ivan ?, Serov or Serov ? Some of the various Soviet acronyms were also a bit tongue twisty in the context of the narrative flow and as for the Polish Secret Police - try casually throwing 'Ministerstwo Bezpieczeństwa Publicznego' into a sentence!

A Spy Like No Other was my first experience of recording a non-fiction book and the performance of it presented quite a steep learning curve. However, with the expert guidance and fulsome support of Neil Gardner, the work was never less than great fun. I must sincerely thank Neil for giving me such an opportunity and for being such a fantastic creative collaborator - thanks Neil!

* * * * *

As a very brief coda to this posting, my excitement is such that I must also say what a truly thrilling time I'm currently having in the studio with some amazing and legendary Dr Who alumni - more of which anon.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Dr Who: The Tomb of The Cybermen


And in an almost unprecedented 'two in a row' posting, here's a very quick, yet irresistible follow on from yesterday; Watch channel today broadcast all four episodes of Dr Who: The Tomb of The Cybermen, originally shown between 2nd September and 23rd September 1967, starring Patrick Troughton as the Second Doctor - how fantastic!

Once again, the story featured actors I have subsequently had the pleasure of working with, this time including Bernard Holley and the brilliant Frazer Hines as the Doctor's companion, Jamie McCrimmon. 


Here are some images from the story.



Frazer Hines as Jamie McCrimmon                                                                           Bernard Holley as Peter Haydon


 Well done to the Watch channel and I'm looking forward to watching more classic Doctor Who!

PS: Exciting news to be revealed asap about working with other classic Whovian alumni...


Saturday, 12 October 2013

Dr Who: The Aztecs


As many Dr Who fans will already know and as I've mentioned in previous postings, November 23rd 2013 marks the series' 50th Anniversary. There are a variety of events and programs timed to coincide with such a significant moment in British television history and earlier today, I spent a few hours watching a couple of fascinating Dr Who documentaries broadcast on the Watch channel here in the UK.

Watch also showed all four episodes of Dr Who: The Aztecs, first aired between 23 May and 13 June 1964. I was then five years old and despite being generally terrified by much of Dr Who, I was nevertheless a great fan of the series. However, the idea that I would one day become an actor and have the privilege of working with people who appeared in The Aztecs and indeed with other actors from the classic series, would have seemed to me as incredible as a Dr Who story.

I'm sure you can imagine then how thrilling it was for me to see The Aztecs, starring colleagues such as William Russell, Carole Ann Ford, Ian Cullen and the fantastic John Ringham, with whom I did a theatre production of All My Sons  in Cheltenham, a somewhat scarifying 20 years ago!

So the 50th Anniversary celebrations are under way and I'm sure there's much more to come. In celebration of today's showing of  The Aztecs, here are some images... enjoy!



 William Hartnell as The Doctor
                  
                             and William Russell as Ian                                   Carole Ann Ford as Susan















               
                   

             John Ringham as Tlotoxl                               
                                                                                    Ian Cullen as Ixta

Sunday's Dr Who on Watch features Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor in Tomb of The Cybermen.

Friday, 4 October 2013

The Sound Within

I mentioned Neil Gardner's The Sound Within a few postings ago in July. It was something we did at the end of a day in the studio recording an audio-book and as far as I remember, it was done in 'one take', so what you hear is my first instinctive reading of the piece. I think Neil has written something quite amazing and I was thrilled with the finished production. One of my comments at the time of recording was to muse about David Gilmour providing a musical sound-scape behind the words; Purple Planet have done a superb job in my opinion and hit the mood, as I understood it, perfectly. 

 

The Sound Within is reproduced in its entirety below, or you can download it free by following the link at the foot of this most generous and encouraging review.

 

Audiobook Shorts: The Sound Within - Review by Susan Omand


 Susan Ormand listens to a deceptively simple story about the tangible versus the intangible.

  
Read By: John Banks
Music By: Purple Planet
Directed By: Neil Gardner


 The story of The Sound Within is a very simple one about a space. A space that just "was" until it encountered sound and light. The sound and light entered the space and measured the space and enjoyed the space. At a very superficial level, that's pretty much the whole story.

That is also very much the "sound" of the story too, with a lulling repetition of simple words and the space, sound and light taking on almost anthropomorphic, childlike qualities as they explore and discover their environment. In fact, on the surface, it felt very much like a childhood bedtime story in a safe and comforting way.
However, if you want to be more introspective about the meaning behind the story it actually becomes a deep and philosophical study of existential limits and the ability to "just be", scientific exploration and interpersonal boundaries - the tangible versus the intangible. So it's very much a case of making the story what you want it to be, and the brevity of it, at under seven minutes, allows for this much more easily than a longer piece.
The Sound Within was a pure indulgence for me as I enjoyed listening to the sound and texture of the words as well as the story itself, which worked on several levels.  John Banks' voice was also ideally suited for it with a pleasing tone and calming timbre. The music at the start and end is worth a mention too, as it really added to the almost trance-like quality of the recording. I cannot really come up with anything negative to say about it, other than it didn't blow me away with a wow factor. Instead, it made me smile. A lot.

The Sound Within - free download

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Blake's 7, Radio 4 & The Father of English Football

October, autumn proper; "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness"; thanks JK, well said.

Before we dive headlong into the good stuff, I must just mention the various technical problems which have blighted this and other websites during September. It began with a bizarre and seemingly random change to the size of posted images, some of which became so big, they obscured the main body of the page. After much on-line forum trawling for help, I think the image problem has now been rectified, although the 'slideshow' element had a final flurry of misbehaviour a few days ago and as I tried to update the 'My audio releases' section of the blog this morning, it was refusing to save new text*. Apologies if these various gremlins have affected your visits to the site.

So, here we go: This month sees the release of Blake's 7: The Liberator Chronicles; Volume 6.
Here are some details of what's in the box:


Three enhanced audio books performed by the stars of the classic BBC television series. 
These stories are set during Series 3.

Incentive by Peter Anghelides

Paul Darrow as Avon, Steven Pacey as Tarrant and Adrian Lukis as Bracheeni The Liberator crew are recovering from a Galactic War and searching for their lost members Blake and Jenna. But it’s a search that leads them into terrible danger…

 
Jenna's Story by Steve Lyons

Sally Knyvette as Jenna and John Banks as Correl
Jenna's story is finally told - from her escape from the Liberator during the Galactia War, to her determination to continue the fight against the Federation alone… with the odds stacked against her.


Blake's Story by Mark Wright and Cavan Scott

Gareth Thomas as Blake and Paul Darrow as Avon
Blake's story is finally told - from his escape from the Liberator during the Galactic War, to his new life as a troubled, scarred man on a distant rebel world…

Directed By: Ken Bentley 


I must confess, that I don't know too much about the original B7 television series, so these stories are of particular interest. My lack of fore-knowledge and context in some ways feels like an advantage in terms of being able to appreciate these stories entirely on their own merits and therefore, I'm very much looking forward to giving them a thorough listen. Incidentally, I don't know about you, but my journey through last month's release, Dr Who: The Dark Planet has so far been hugely enjoyable. I quite like the format of dialogue combined with direct story telling; I find there's something fundamentally pleasing about being told a story.

Moving on. This 'business' we call 'show' is a strange one to be sure. It sometimes feels like playing the Lottery for a living; and sometimes, out of the blue, you win. I had a very pleasing 'win' a few days ago when I was offered a job on a BBC Radio 4 dramatised documentary about the formation of the Football Association. The program, called The Father of English Football is to be broadcast on Radio 4 at 11 am on 25th October and in it, I'm playing Arthur Pember, the first President of the FA (Link: Arthur Pember on Wikipedia). Directed by Richard Bannerman, I had the great pleasure of also working with fellow actors Barnaby Edwards and Michael Maloney. And thanks in no small measure to producer Neil Gardner at Ladbroke Audio, whose personal recommendation actually got me the job.

So there we are; first post of the month. In fact there's quite a lot happening over the next several weeks, but as usual, I'll have to mention specific events nearer the time of release. 

More news just as soon as it happens!


*Apparently, this is a 'known issue' and a fix should soon be available. In the meantime, I've used a suggested display work around to list my audio releases.  

Fabius Bile

Fabius Bile
WARHAMMER 40,000

Reviews & comments:

The Malazan Empire

Over the course of this 8 book series, the amazing John Banks has had to create and voice 648 distinct characters!

Neil Gardner - producer

The Door In The Wall & War of The Worlds

Not often I buy another version of an audiobook I own, but after hearing John Banks' narration of The Door in the Wall by Ladbroke Audio, I had to buy their version of The War of the Worlds. Banks has a great reading voice.

Andy Frankham-Allen - writer

The Books of Babel: Senlin Ascends, Arm of The Sphinx & The Hod King

Mr. Banks does superb work, and I recommend the audiobooks wholeheartedly!

Josiah Bancroft - writer

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

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.

The War Doctor

The War Doctor
December 2015