Slingers, a series that needs to see the light of day

Slingers title card

Previously I’ve mentioned the saga that was the ‘Legionnaires‘ project which in hindsight was probably destined to its fate. Now I’d like to be a bit more positive and mention a potential series that I for one would happily put up some of my own cash into seeing it one step closer to it’s completion.Slingers screenshot 3

Slingers is a premise for a British (in feel and cast at least) Science Fiction series that personally for me ticks all the boxes, it inhabits that corner of the modern sci-fi world that is happy to tip its hat in the direction of classic Cult TV serials of the 1960s such as the Avengers but casts it against the backdrop of the far future. A future where kitsch lounge music, orbiting gambling ships and sharp sixties suits mix freely as the cocktails with artificial intelligence, holograms and smart weaponry.

As the tag line goes-

“Think… The Rat Pack in space… Ocean’s Eleven in the 30th Century.”


“Getting home one heist at a time!”

The shows concept comes from Mike ‘Sizemore’ Atherton and created a bit of buzz when first mooted. Now this has been on the cards for some time, I first heard about the project back in 2010 so it has been a while since it hit the radar but unlike Legionnaires this actually does have an established set of actors connected to it.

One in particular blew my mind.

Step forward everyone’s favourite British B-List actor Mr. Sean Pertwee. I love Pertwee, I make no bones about it and its a constant source of annoyance to me that he has a habit of dying in almost everything he appears in so the idea of him having a part that could stretch over episodes thrills me with a bizarre buzz indeed.

Slingers screenshot 4

There are also the other cast members being –

Tom Mison (now Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow series),

Adrian Bower (the PE tutor from the much missed series ‘Teachers’),

film actress Margo Stilley

and finally UK based Japanese actress Haruka Abe who is more likely to be known to TV audiences as one of the groupies for the character Fist from the show ‘Ideal’

But before we get carried away with ourselves lets look at what’s been done so far.

True to form we have concept art, lots and lots of quality looking concept art.

Blackjack ship concept art Slingers

Slingers concept artWe have a more than decent and very entertaining promo film (shot in 2009) that sets the backdrop to this world nicely and illustrates that nowadays you hardly need the budget of Hollywood to pull of a decent looking ‘taster’ for the investors and seeing how all that was accomplished in 2009 just imagine what you could achieve now. The fact that it also contains the delightful music of one of the most wonderful yet sadly ignored bands the UK produced in recent years, The Mummers, is wonderful in itself.

The promo has been uploaded to Youtube since 2010 and has attracted to date around 29, 922 views and real buzz amongst the faithful.

Slingers screenshot 2

The extremely snazzy promo was to my surprise directed by Steve Barron, a man maybe better known for such movie ‘hits’ as ‘Mike Basset: England Manager’ and 1990s ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’.

Slingers production

We also have a fully fledged outline for the plot and the characters which helps a hell of a lot… former Legionnaires investors take note, this is the sort of thing to be looking out for next time you think you’d like to invest in any production.

The plot in a nutshell is that after an interplanetary war against nameless Alien scum humankind is now (the year: 2263) scattered across the galaxy, the use of an extremely powerful weapon to win said war closed the route back to the home world off so now everyone who was on the other side of the divide is trapped in a fish bowl like portion of  the galaxy.

Far from home the wealthy live in classy space ships and pleasure stations that make Vegas at the height of mob rule look tame. The ‘Slingers’ in question are a band of cool, hip elite soldiers lead by the character ‘DM’. Now turned hucksters they roam the densely populated yet comparatively small area of space in a stolen military grade craft conning the conmen and robbing the wealthy whilst attempting to stay one step ahead of Sean Pertwee who wants his rather nifty spacecraft back. The ship is the only one capable of taking anyone back to planet earth due to it’s method of travelling by ‘Slinging’ itself through space. Hence ‘Slingers’ of the title. The team are also being chased down by the military from which they’re on the run from…

Okay, well so far it kinda sounds a bit like the A-Team meets Blake’s 7, or the ‘Real Hustle’ set in space but its far, far better than I make it sound, trust me. I mean there’s a combat robot called Junior for goodness sake what more do you want?!

Slingers green screen

All this is fine and dandy but what are the chances of this getting made any time soon?

Answer is that it seems unlikely, often the case being the longer the period a project languishes in limbo post promo and isn’t picked up it’ll probably remain there. Of course its not always the case but there are few second chances in science fiction series production and just as is the case with most other things there is a fashionable time for each show. Wait too long and people are into a completely different area of the fantasy medium and all raving about the latest craze be it zombies or Sherlock Holmes and the less likely a show is to appeal to the masses or at the very least a healthy subsection of an existing audience then the less likely it is to be picked up. Science fiction tends to roll around mainstream popularity every now and then after all.

One of the main things that was noted about Sliders was that it managed with only a promo and a premise to gain a dedicated following which in effect became fans of a series that had never even existed to begin with, but that’s just the great thing about science fiction fans hook them with a great concept and something original from the outset and they’ll feverishly dig up anything they can about the project and create a loyal community around it before it even airs. Of course that can backfire if you deviate too much from the original idea I suppose.


Slingers screenshot

Also take into account that Tom Mison is now well established with the hit Fox show ‘Sleepy Hollow’ and whilst of course you can always change pilot or promo cast I’m guessing that doing so, so long after all the publicity for the shows been out there would be a bit of a blow to say the least to those hoping to see more of what the promo promised.Mison Sleepy Hollow

The Production company who started the ball rolling is called ‘Sleepydog’ and they seem more at home producing the sort of light reality based TV you often see late at night on free view channels, stuff like ‘Weird & Wonderful Hotels’ a series that investigates the odd in the world of the B&B and Motel.

(All the info with regards to Slingers is still up there as is the Facebook page that was created in 2009) On the Sleepydog site there’s a link to a future comic book project between artist Dave Kennedy and Mike Atherton but again this is called a ‘Tease’ and appears to set the back story to the cast and the characters so the main live action series plot can start with a bang.

Slingers comic art

It would be tempting though to think that the future of this project remains in comic books, or online comics like so many shows cut short in their prime before it. The page has little information on it and there are no links to the comic itself sadly.Slingers cover

It would certainly be nice to see the adventures begin even in comic form as that would obviously drum up more interest and build a fan base based on something tangible than concept art. So far though I’ve found no further info on this comic.

So there you go, Slingers, if it ever sees the light of day then I’ll be a very happy bunny indeed!


The top most perfidious & dastardly Englishmen in Film & Fiction! (In no particular order)

As national stereotypes go perhaps there are worst things than being classed as nation of stiff upper lipped, supercilious, untrustworthy, snidey, cowardly bad guys of epic proportions. For one thing it’s kept our most outrageous and terrible panto-esque Thespians in Hollywood work for many years and frankly it’s rather cool if we’re honest, who wants to be the boring git in the white hat? Although a fallout from this trend has seen the posher side of the English accent become such a cliché and shorthand for utter empirical evil that even when the baddie is supposedly German, Russian or even an alien they’d damn well better have the sort of voice that sounds like a Pathe news reporter circa 1951 and even sees the most unlikely of actors attempt to pull it off. Sean Bean being a good example, when he attempted to do a posh accent to most English ears it sounded like a foreigner … but he is from Yorkshire so that’s pretty much the same thing for most Brits.

There’s a conspiracy theory held dear by many nut cases and right wing fruitcakes (fruit & nut?) that the Hollywood film industry is run entirely by American Jews with a strong bias towards their points of view. This is of course utter nonsense, every Englishman knows that Hollywood is seemingly run by the Irish-American lobby which explains a lot of the typecasting for English actors.

NIven dapper gent

It wasn’t so long ago that the likes of David Niven, Roger Moore and Richard Todd were seen as quintessentially inhabiting the rather more positive English stereotypes of honour, stoicism, fair play and wit whilst the worst of our caddish traits were gloriously displayed by Terry Thomas. And that’s as bad as ‘we’ got. Then things changed, not sure when but I blame the 1980s which is my answer for everything and since then the creeping ease with which this supposed Anglophobia became the norm is now taken for granted.

This is pretty much a work in progress so feel free to suggest anyone for the list.

Here’s the list so far!


Edward Longshanks

Name: Edward I of England aka Edward Longshanks aka ‘Hammer of the Scots’.

From: Braveheart (1995)

Media: Film

Played by: Patrick McGoohan (American born but grew up in Ireland and UK)


Details: His reputation in England is pretty much that of a strong monarch and by ‘Strong Monarch’ we mean he is seen as being a guy who kicked much arse and took names in the process of doing so thus securing his dominion over the entire country and over those of other nations that also cling to this god forsaken rock we call Great Britain namely the Welsh and the Scots (hence his other cool nickname) and like all true English monarchs he was more a product of foreign upbringing than an English one and had that whole angry Norman side to him that pretty much saw him go tonto at a drop of a hat in battle. Yet he also had a softer loving side which is often overlooked, which he demonstrated when he erected several monuments or ‘crosses’ in memory of his wife at every site that her coffin rested on it’s way for burial in Westminster Abbey. The real Edward was no stranger to leading from the front having fought in the Second Baron’s War, a Crusade and several campaigns against those naughty Welsh before even thinking about getting around to the Scottish wars that have since defined him for many.

In the film though he’s simply an out an out baddie, a spitting raging ball of angry impotent Englishness and the inventor of the (fictional!) law Droit du seigneur. A man who won’t think twice before hurling his sons lover out of a top floor window, the sort of guy who’d also leave the toilet seat up and wouldn’t flush.

Portryal: Think the Jungle Book’s Shere Khan when in a good mood and trying to win someone over and then think of Joe Pesci in Goodfellas after someone’s made a crack about shoe shine boxes when royally pissed off. He likes the colour orange as this must be the only explanation as to why all the English wear it.




Name: James MacPherson.

From: ‘Warehouse 13.

Media: TV Series.

Played by:  Roger Reese (A Welshman!)





Details: A man who would think nothing of employing imploding grenades that sucks everything into one huge crater of deadness, disintegrating old inventors into piles of dust or chopping peoples heads off whilst welding a samurai sword all of which is what he’s doing when we first meet the scamp.

Portrayal: Frankly camp as a row of well aligned tents and falls into the same category of ‘English baddie’ as any number of the Watchers from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Given his name he could very well be Scottish but the accent alone marks him out for special ‘English Baddie’ status.





Name: Colonel William Tavington.

From: The Patriot. (2000)

Media: Movie.

Played by: Jason Isaacs.



Details: Now, at the time this film caused a real stink in Europe and not just England, ignoring the fact it’s based on a real historical figure of Banastre Tarleton the images of British redcoats (not the guys from Butlins) during the war of independence enacting atrocities and war crimes that the writers supposedly based upon those committed during the Second World War by the SS in France was hardly going to help matters. Outcry followed and for once even the French sided with the English on the matter, then the City of Liverpool, never the most light-hearted of UK citizenry folk or the most likely to avoid a chance of a punch up kicked up a fuss over the portrayal of one of their own (as the real Tarleton had been Mayor of the city- as if anyone cared) and the papers had a field day.

Although as usual it was all forgotten about as soon as the film opened and like Braveheart we all went to see the it and marvel at how utterly evil we English really are and wonder why nobody has invaded us for our own good.

Portrayal: A master-class in duplicity and utter maligned cruelty, this guy is almost kinky with it to boot. Clearly he’s all about the warfare and knows how to kick rebel arse in the process andeven his skin seems to ooze evil. Frankly he’s also the most interesting person in the entire film as well as being the best dressed, shame he get his comeuppance really. Oddly enough in America the character appears to have something of a loyal fan base for his dastardly ways amongst the ‘slash fiction’ bloggers, fan fiction writers and of course the Redcoat reanacting fraternity. I found this quote on one such fan fiction site dedicated to ‘bad boys’ and the last bit rather made me chuckle for some reason. The writer uses the real Lt. Col. Tarleton in their work and felt some explanation as to who he had been was in order.

“Ban Tarleton is a highly fascinating and attractive man in his own right, with more than a little of the bad boy about him, though he never burned a church with people inside.”




Name: BishopBishop

From: The Saboteur (2009)

Media: Console Game.

Played by: John Noble (an Aussie!)





Details: The Saboteur was a game that took the true life wartime adventures of an Anglo-Frenchmen William Grover-Williams and keeping the resistance and race car elements then simply chucked the rest out of the window. Its maybe interesting to note that main protagonist Sean Devlin was indeed played by an English voice actor and given how bad that Irish accent was perhaps we can see this as some revenge.

Portrayal:Your pretty basic creepy Englishman here, looks like he enjoys to wear rollneck jumpers whilst smoking a pipe, head of the SOE in occupied France and just oozes smug self assuredness. Clearly rankles Sean and he seems to get off on that truth be told. I can’t tell you any more about the character as the game is bloody terrible so I’ve never been able to get more than half an hour into it without simply ejecting this piece of rot and putting something else into the Xbox instead.




Name: Archibald Cunnighamarchibald

From: Rob Roy (1995)

Media: Film

Played by: Tim Roth



Details: A foppish sword swinging murderer and rapist who commits his vile crimes in an extremely laissez faire manner. In short an utter dick.

Portrayal: Tim Roth does an excellent job at creating a character that goes from comic period piece Macaroni to menacing and truly dangerous nut job in minutes. You clearly understand that Cunningham isn’t just an overgrown spoilt brat but is utterly unhinged and has no empathy for anyone other than himself – but there’s no reason as to why he can’t look good in the process.



Name: Hans GruberThe Rickman

From: Die Hard (1988)

Media: Film.

Played by: Alan Rickman





Details: Your average West German psychotic leader of a armed robbery commando team. So impeccable was Alan Rickman’s method acting that he removed himself away from the world of Hollywood prior to the making of this movie going to a small Bavarian village where he spoke in the local dialect, dressed entirely in lederhosen and lived off nothing but sauerkraut, sausages and ‘beesting’ cakes. The end result being that Hans Gruber is in fact just Alan Rickman with only the slightest hint of any sort of German accent, basically making him to all intents and purposes an English baddie in all but name.

Portrayal: Alan Rickman doing a damn good impression of Alan Rickman.




Major Bingham

Name: Major Bingham

From: Passchendaele (2008)

Media: Film

Played by: Brian Jensen (A colonial from Canada)





Details: A film that serves in a similar manner for Canadian armchair revisionist historians and casual Anglophobes to that of Mel Gibson’s ‘Light Horsemen’ for Pom hating Aussies. Paul Goss who some of you might remember from turgid Tea time favourite show ‘Due South’ directs and stars. Whilst the action sequences are rather nifty the film is a mixed bag indeed.

Portrayal: Pompous pig featured, bull necked REMF who whilst in Calgary recruits Canadians for the slaughter in No Man’s Land and never stops banging on about how ruddy great the Empire is. Jingoistic was a word invented to describe this guy. A bully and sneeky with it he ends up somehow close enough to the front to get his throat torn out by some passing shrapnel whilst cowardly whimpering and attempting to duck out of massive ruck, something that doesn’t even appear to raise an eyebrow amongst the sturdy Canadians who obviously never liked him anyway. He’s presumably supposed to be English given his dodgy comments about the Canadians and his love of the Mother country to say nothing of the rather dodgy accent. Although he does get kudos points for the saying the clichéd English phrase ‘sticky wicket’ and somehow managing to make it sound like the most heinous thing ever said to a woman.


Ethan Rayne


Name: Ethan Rayne

From: Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Media: TV Series

Played by: The late Robin Sachs (English actor)




Details- Powerful English sorcerer but hey aren’t we all? He’s old mates with Giles and whilst Giles sorted his life out and got a steady job at the Watchers Council Payne went a bit dark to say the least. It’s not clear when we first see him if he has any agenda other than finding the chaos he’s caused entertaining.  Soon it all comes out that he and Giles were fellow drop outs at Oxford, listening to their terrible prog rock albums, maybe dropping quality acid whilst table tapping and calling on dark forces… in my opinion they might also have had a ‘thing’ going on. Like Giles he has a wide range of knowledge and research in the paranormal to fall back on and like Giles (and in fact a lot of former public school boys) has a fluency of Latin. In fact let’s just say he’s the ‘Anti-Giles’ and move on shall we?

Portrayal: Well, we’re going to start repeating ourselves now but here goes. Duplicitous, creepy and frankly I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him. His demeanour is really very similar to that of an old drama tutor I knew, in fact he reeks of being an old ‘luvvie’ in his mannerisms and movements.


A film that never was.

I found some old copies of Starburst magazine whilst clearing out the house, all mostly dated between 1996 to 1999. Anyway there was a series of giant purple and silver coloured ads that caught my eye and instantly took me back to my teenage years. They were advertising for a chance to star in a ‘Uniquely British science fiction film’ entitled ‘legionnaires’.


It would seem that anyone could star in the film, if they could only pony up the required cash (a measly £333) which would go towards funding some of the movie.

I also found various slim articles on the film and its progress which contained images of storyboards and concept art and this seems to imply that Starburst and Cult Times took it all very seriously as well (after all it had Jason Connery in a lead role!).

I mean the blurb for the trailer is designed for a deep Hollywood announcers voice, long booming bass sfx and moody lighting wouldn’t have gone amiss.


Legionnaires 2You can just picture it can’t you! A British Starship Troopers! Complete with wee Union Jack flags on the shoulders of their Mecha suits and stiff upper lips all round! In fact the entire premise was sold on its ‘Britishness’ that somehow this film would be the rebirth of home grown science fiction, an appealing thought in a world before the rebooted Dr WHO.

I remember showing the advert to a friend of mine on the same art course (ceramics) and he simply rolled his eyes into his skull and made a farting noise with his lips and said ‘con!’. He would be proven to be oddly prescient in that opinion.

‘But there’s a Freephone number at the bottom’ I said as this proved this couldn’t be a con. The ads made claims that you could be an extra, be in the crew, get a credit and that everyone would attend the opening night and get freebies, freebies, freebies!

Then… there was nothing, no film ever appeared and no news as to why either and to be honest I plum forgot about it until seeing the ad again.

My interest peaked I decided to do a bit of digging on the internet and amazingly this has thrown up a lot less than I may have first hoped for. Mainly I suppose as the internet was still fairly in its infancy back then and that most of the sites and chat rooms dealing with this topic will have been mothballed or shut for years now.

I did though manage to uncover something about it here and there, mainly angry pages of complaints from would be actors and investors as to why the film stalled. It seems that it did actually get to the point where they were producing merchandise and posters before they had even started filming it at Elstree Studio. It also seems that anyone who put the required £333 into the pot was counted not just as a shareholder but also given the chance for artistic input into the movie’s direction which never sounds good does it? The plot thickens!


What appears to have gone on-

£80,000 of the money earmarked for the movie appears to have simply vanished, people were left narked and out of pocket despite claims that the company making the film was insured against any loss so everyone would have their money back if anything should happen. Yet even when Legionnaires Plc Company knew that all the information that they were using to sell the project was incorrect to say the least, for example there were no ‘name’ actors confirmed for any parts in the movie, they kept up the pretence and the recruitment drive for more cash investment and extras.

Fours years passed and the film remained in a limbo world of ‘no comment’. Whilst all this was happening the script would continue to be rewritten many times over changing in tone and moving away entirely from the original premise that had attracted many to the project. There are some accounts of extras having been filmed in a lonely, undermanned sound stage against a green screen for a few hours but little else appears to have been done apart from a couple of early CGI ‘teaser trailers’ shown at conventions such as Capscicon ’97 & Wolf 359.

Legionnaires Plc Company would eventually vanish off the map hounded by investors, the company website would remain and deny all dealings with the actual film, people would get angry, very angry and ‘This is Wiltshire’ would still be reporting the story in the year 2000 with-

Due to massive demand the company set up to produce Elstree Studios’ first sci-fi film since Star Wars 20 years ago has extended its share offer. Legionnaires plc says it has been receiving 18,000 calls each month since December from people interested in buying shares to help fund the project due for release next spring.

Yet it had all seemed so promising, the October 1997 issue of Starburst seemed to positively rave about the project and especially about the head people involved, Gary Boulton-Brown and Kathleen Fairbairn. Even saying that-

Unlike the Heretic (Very unlike) Legionnaires has a lot to say (and show) for itself, not least of which is the fact that Creative Independent now have an office at Elstree and studio space booked there from December.

Yet even with this rave report on the prospects of this project being a winner there was a note of caution from Gary Boulton-Brown which was rather telling-

Gary positively invites debate and awkward questioning regarding the all important share offer and how safe and guaranteed it is. He admits that the main cast has not been contacted as yet (at the time of going to print) and that there is no absolute guarantee in a venture like this

In the same article any concerns on the obvious lack of any real details about plot, casting or dates and even the ‘look’ of the film was easily brushed away by those involved claiming they feared their idea might be stolen by other studios and then being pipped to the post.

This is a film that was supposed to have been released sometime at the end of 1998 and it was claimed would forever change the face of British indie Science Fiction. Instead it left bitter disappointment, anger and a lot of debt and many, many questions unanswered and a poor Jason Connery sat waiting by the phone for a call back that never happened.

Jason ConneryThe deadline for investors to claim their money back ended in January 2002, Gary Boulton-Brown would continue to run another company called, somewhat ironically ‘Maverick Camera Ltd.’ (since dissolved) yet oddly enough some sources claim he was still registered as the Company Director of Legionnaires Plc until 2009 when he ‘resigned’, as for Kathleen Tamar Fairbairn she resigned from Legionnaires Plc in December 1998 at the height of the concern over the project. Lee Medcalf who was employed on the project as computer graphics conceptual artist and modeller stayed on until December 1999 with a ‘promotion’ to the title of ‘Full Modeller & Animator’ for the entire movie. He describes this time in his own words on a publicly accessible trade CV site –

Legionnaires PLC was a publicly funded production company that was formed to make the SF movie Legionnaires. The production company which was co run by Garry Boulton Brown and Kathy Fairbarn collapsed due to a DTI investigation in to impropriety in company finances.

…and there I’m afraid the trail goes cold but I’m sure that somewhere, someone will have the full story, or their side of it, up on another website.

In the end we had to wait until 2006 until we saw small union jack flags on any British Science Fictional offering coming anything close to what Legionnaires promised for a uniquely British take on sci-fi… and well, that didn’t go down too well with many.


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