Cult film stars line up to meet fans in resort

Gary Shail, Quadrophenia actor
Gary Shail, Quadrophenia actor
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Besides a bevy of Bond girl beauties, cast members from classic British movie Quadrophenia will be lining up to meet fans at Blackpool’s Viva cabaret venue tomorrow.

In the ‘biggest cast reunion’ to date, the likes of Toyah, John Altman - perhaps now best known as EastEnders’ Nasty Nick Cotton, and Gary Shail will be chatting about the days gone by.

The 1979 British, loosely based on the 1973 rock opera of the same name by The Who, made stars of a whole generation of young actors who went on to great things, with Phil Daniels and Ray Winstone leading the way.

Gary Shail, who played Spider, helped get together the Mods and Rockers crowd attending the charity Our Disappearing Planet’s first Charity Autograph Convention at the Blackpool night spot - which will also play host to a bevy of Bond girls, plus stars of the silver and small screens.

“We don’t get together too often, although we see each other as separate events, but this is probably the biggest grouping for a long time,” he said. “And a lot of people are coming who have never done a Quadrophenia reunion, so it should be really good.

“Since the re-release in 1997 and the release on DVD, that’s when it really hit cult status - it was very much underground before that. Now it’s worldwide.

“We grew up together, we were kids when we did it so to still be in touch and celebrating something 40 years later is a treat.

“We’re all a bit bemused by it, actually, but we all like each other which is handy.”

As well as a chance for the actors to reminisce, the reunion events such as these provide an opportunity to catch up with fans of the film, something Gary still enjoys.

“It’s great to hear how important the film is in people’s lives, they’ve now passed it on to their own children after it became the template to their lives growing up.

“You can never belittle the power of things like that.”

Gary’s recently released his autobiography I Think I’m On The Guest List, charting as well as the success of Quadrophenia - his subsequent battles with drink and drugs.

“It took about nine months to write, but what was difficult was what not to put in,” he said. It was very therapeutic and good to get stuff out into the open.

“It’s no secret I struggled with drink and drugs, and I felt it was a good chance to explain that and how I got a happy ending.

“I got a lot out of the process, in fact I wish I’d done it sooner.

“I’ve read a lot of autobiographies where it’s all ‘Oh, my drink and drugs hell’, but to be honest, it was a lot of fun. It’s knowing when to stop or when you’ve had enough that’s the problem.”

And in an unusual tactic, Gary invited those he shared those times with to tell their versions of events too - which he admits could have backfired.

“I was nervous to get those back, but they all said the same: ‘What a good time we had’,” he said. “It could have back-fried, but I was going to put it in the book either way.

“It’s definitely not a ‘poor me’ book, I’m not looking for any sympathy.”

* Entry to the Charity Autograph Convention costs £12, from (01253) 297297 in advance.