FILM fans were treated to two screenings ahead of Robin Askwith’s triumphant return to The Forum.

The actor delivered his one-man show for a third time at Darlington Film Club.

The evening started with a showing of Ripper Tour, a new horror short from Robo Films and Misty Moon, starring Lynn Lowry and national treasure Dudley Sutton.

The tautly written script sees horror legend Lowry visiting the scenes of the Jack the Ripper murders, only to find the Victorian past catching up with her – with a splendid cameo from the always excellent Sutton.

If Ripper Tour was an unexpected delight, what followed almost defied description.

Queen Kong, is a 1976 giant gorilla ‘role-reversal’ movie, with Askwith playing Ray Fay (get it?), the subject of the eponymous ape’s amorous attentions.

The audience knew what to expect – Askwith himself had warned it was “the worst movie ever made” – and braced themselves for the awfulness to come.

Scantily clad females and corny jokes abounded as the mess of a ‘plot’ unfolded, but there were a few laughs – more accurately groans – as the film club patrons revelled in the dreadful action.

Then came the main event as Askwith took to the stage.

He tore through a set which drew heavily on the making of the film, including anecdotes about the hilarious direction, a Russian ballerina in a monkey suit and a disintegrating giant ape.

Indiscreet tales from his 50 year acting career followed, with stories about a naked Oliver Reed in a fish tank, sword fighting with Sooty and Frank Bruno and “the toilet incident in Malta” which ended in Askwith breaking his neck.

Askwith is rude and crude, but it’s clear he has an affection and respect for many of the actors in his stories and it’s this warmth which makes his shows very special.

Andrew White