Amazingly, “My Sci-Fi” has been a regular article in the mag-based version of SFX for over 11 years now. It began in issue #78, with a mission to ask celebs who are not primarily associated with our genre (though some of them dabble) what they like in the way of science fiction and fantasy. So, who was our first victim? None other than Simon Pegg… well, back then he wasn’t quite so sci-fi. (His picks in 2001, by the way, were The Empire Strikes Back , The Dark Knight Returns and Buffy The Vampire Slayer – wonder if they’ve changed now?).
Since then, we’ve interviewed 150 more celebs for the article from all walks of fame – pop stars, comedians, sportspeople, politicians, even ex-porn stars.
Here are 15 of our favourites from over the years, either because of who they are, or because of the answers they gave. We can’t help wondering what the ones who suggested Lost thought of the final episode…
Not to be confused with the actor, Prof Brian Cox – formerly keyboard player in the pop group D:Ream (but things could only get better) is a particle physicist at the University of Manchester. He was scientific consultant on Sunshine , and presents “amazing” science programmes on the telly.
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY MOVIE “When I was growing up, Alien was a huge favourite of mine. At the time, I was fascinated by spacecraft, so I couldn’t be bothered with the horror bit – I just loved the architecture of the ships and the dirty future that Ridley Scott had created. I also loved the first Star Trek film, which I think was probably the best until the new one. I think that science fiction is a place where our imaginations can fly and the new Star Trek was wonderful for that. In my view it’s as valid as science fiction as 2001 .”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY TV SHOW “I think some of the new Doctor Who episodes have been amazing. I loved ‘Blink’ and ‘Human Nature’. I also like Star Trek , particularly T he Next Generation around seasons three, four and five.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY BOOK OR COMIC One of my favourite novels is Childhood’s End , by Arthur C Clarke. It’s nonsense in a way, with this idea of an event in the human future that resonates into the past and these aliens that come down to prepare humanity for the next stage of evolution. As a physicist, I’m damn sure that you can’t time travel into the past, but the wonder of sci-fi is that you can explore those existential questions. That’s why I love it.”
SCI-FI GUILTY PLEASURE “I love things like When Worlds Collide , those classic ’50s sci-fi movies – I don’t know if that’s guilty or credible, but I’ve got a soft spot for them because I grew up with them.”
Former Chelsea, Spurs, West Ham and England footballer Greaves became a TV and newspaper pundit after hanging up his boots.
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY MOVIE “Oh, loads. Star Wars , Blade Runner , and that one with Arnie was great – Total Recall . Great, great fun. Loads of action, but made you think. My favourite, though, my real, real favourite was a very, very scary film called Soylent Green , with old Charlton Athletic, as we like to call him in football circles. Scary not because it was a horror, but because the future it showed – with the have and have-nots, the rich up there and the poor down below being treated like meat. Well, you can see Britain going down that way. And that’s really frightening. Did I guess the twist? Well, yeah – it wasn’t exactly hard to work out. But that didn’t ruin it for me. I still remember it as a very… disturbing film to watch.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY TV SHOW “I love Star Trek , The X-Files , anything with a sci-fi twist, really. I just love sci-fi. I liked Voyager . Really liked Voyager . That could have been mainly down to Captain Janeway. But you can’t beat the original Star Trek . You know, when I watched it originally, I could never work out if William Whatsisname was taking it seriously. He seemed to have this grin – a mischievous grin. And then you hear him in interviews afterwards and you go, ‘No, he was having a laugh.’ But there’s nothing wrong with that. It made for great telly.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY BOOK OR COMIC “I don’t read. Not just sci-fi, I don’t read anything. Well, except for The Sun . Is that fantasy? I only look at the pictures, anyway.”
SCI-FI GUILTY PLEASURE “Oh, Kathryn Janeway. My type of woman. You could strand me alone with her on a space ship light years away from Earth any day.”
After training as an actress, Birmingham-born Toyah became one of Britain’s most successful solo singers in the early ’80s. She’s since been a regular on the UK’s TV screens, plying her trade on programmes ranging from Holiday to Tellytubbies.
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY MOVIE “I like all the Aliens , I like Pitch Black , and I’m a big fan of Chronicles Of Riddick . I actually think it’s a superb film and I get very angry when I read bad reviews about it. I think all the cast are stunning in it, and the effects are stunning.
“I like sci-fi horror, so Alien Vs Predator is for me. Anything with monsters in I absolutely adore. In fact, on Sunday afternoons my hubby and I like to go to bed and have sci-fi to watch on DVD, and there’s just not enough made. I have a personal ambition myself to be in a sci-fi horror film. I’d love it. I beg my agent daily, find me a sci-fi horror.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY TV SHOW “I watch very little TV because I’m always working in the evenings. I loved Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor Who , but I’m not quite sure about the latest Doctor [Tennant at the time of the interview]. I like my Doctor Who to be more adult-orientated. But I’m absolutely addicted to Medium . I’ve probably seen every episode at least six times. I’m enjoyed Heroes and I always loved Buffy. I always tend to watch sci-fi on TV – that’s my passion.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY BOOK OR COMIC “I love books. That said, I haven’t really got round to reading many lately. The one I’m still ploughing through is Perdido Street Station by China Miéville, because I love his writing. But then I love Michel Faber who is a very light science fiction writer – he’s a surrealist writer and I enjoy him immensely.”
SCI-FI GUILTY PLEASURE “Probably Galaxy Quest , which is a brilliant film and puts a smile upon my face. I do love Space 1999 and Fireball XL5 , as well. I suppose they probably count as guilty pleasures.”
Towering at a giant 6’ 8”, stand-up comedian Greg Davies has featured in The Inbetweeners , We Are Klang and Fast And Loose . He’s is currently starring in BBC Three’s Cuckoo .
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY MOVIE “ Total Recall . Any piece of cinema where Arnold Schwarzenegger disguises himself as a fat old woman by using robot technology must be cited as a masterpiece.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY TV SHOW “ Battlestar Galactica (the original). When I was a child I honestly could not see why anyone thought Star Wars was better than this. If there are going to be villainous space robots, then of course they should be shaped like Roman Centurions and have one roaming eye. Of course they should.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY BOOK OR COMIC “I loved Spider-Man as a kid but my gran ruined this by making me a Spidey costume. Initially everyone in the playground was jealous. Then I tried the climbing frame and discovered she’d made it out of polyester and the gloves were so ineffective at gripping that I couldn’t make it past the first rung.”
SCI-FI GUILTY PLEASURE “ Flash Gordon . For two main reasons: to see Brian Blessed’s most subtle performance as a leather-clad man/bird hybrid. And to see the smuggest expression ever on a person’s face when Ming tells a henchman to introduce the ‘bore worms’ to his victim. You never get to see these evil creatures but I presume the bore worms sit next to the victim reading health and safety legislation for hours.”
Famed for his un-PC stand-up “pub landlord” character, Al Murray (a descendant of William Makepeace Thackeray) is a regular on the arena comedy circuit.
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY MOVIE “ Alien and Aliens qualify for that. I’m an ’80s sci-fi action blockbuster fan, like Predator . They are straightforward and they are formulaic, but it doesn’t matter, because they are done with such brio. Total Recall is amazing. Is it real? Is he imagining it? We never know, but he gets exactly what he pays for, it’s all there at the beginning. And then recently Moon – I watched that four or five times.
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY TV SHOW “ Doctor Who is genetically hardwired into my view of my world. When they brought it back, watching my kids, being moved, excited, all in equal measure, that’s the top of the shop. It’s a British cultural thing. The original bare bolts that they devised, the time travel, the box that’s bigger on the inside, the regeneration… genius formatting, and totally original too.
“And contemporary sci-fi I’m really interested in. The reboot of Battlestar Galactica , I got to the point with that where I’d buy the box set and watch six back to back.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY BOOK OR COMIC “ I like Marvel – I like knowing what’s going on with Hawkeye. I’m not a serious super fanboy. I read them and throw them away. They’re disposable entertainment, that’s what I thought the point of them was. Classic Roy Thomas Avengers round the turn of the ’70s with the Vision and the Scarlet Witch’s romance – amazing stuff. And I was a huge Spider-Man fan as a kid, when you used to get it in black and white reprints, with Captain Britain running alongside, drawn by Herb Trimpe. I remember that when I was nine; the fact that they were doing a superhero for Britain… Yeah, make mine a Marvel. Screw DC!”
SCI-FI GUILTY PLEASURE “ None. I’m not into things so shit they’re brilliant. I can’t do that postmodern stuff. I like things to be done well.”
Ben Miller had almost finished a physics PhD at Cambridge University when the world of comic acting beckoned. As well as being half of the irreverent double-act Armstrong And Miller, he’s starred in such shows Moving Wallpaper , Death In Paradise and Primeval.
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY MOVIE “I love science fiction stories that put characters in outer space as an excuse to get into their minds. One of my favourites is Solaris by Steven Soderbergh, from the novel by Stanislaw Lem. I’ve got the Tarkovsky version of the same story sitting on my desk and I’m really looking forward to watching that too. For the same reason I also loved Sunshine by Danny Boyle.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY TV SHOW “I’m a passionate devotee of Lost . Boy, we’ve had a long wait for this latest season and I plan to relish it. The joy of that show is watching them continually paint themselves into a corner story wise, and then flamboyantly bluff their way out of it.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY BOOK OR COMIC “I think HG Wells’ short stories are some of the best science fiction I’ve ever read, but my favourite of his novels is The Time Machine . I first read it when I was about 14 – I read a lot of science fiction then – and it’s hard to imagine Doctor Who or Primeval without that book coming first.”
SCI-FI GUILTY PLEASURE “I’ve looked in on Second Life but the real estate prices were so extortionate I thought better of it. I’m a bit of an old-school gamer: I’m afraid it’s Tomb Raider for me all the way.”
Destined to forever be known as “the geeky one” from Friends , the former Ross Geller is carving out a successful new career for himself as a movie director.
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY MOVIE “I’m a huge sci-fi fan. I think Blade Runner is one of the all-time greats. Visually it was mind-blowing, and philosophically there are issues it raises about life. And the performances – Harrison Ford, Daryl Hannah; Rutger Hauer was a revelation for me.
“The first Alien movie blew my mind, and of course I was a huge Star Wars fan. I remember being in line for the first film when it came out when I was a kid.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY TV SHOW “When I was growing up, I watched Planet Of The Apes and S tar Trek – there were so many. I don’t get to see many nowadays and I really miss it.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY BOOK OR COMIC “I grew up on Piers Anthony – the Xanth series, A Spell For Chameleon and that whole series. And Edgar Rice Burroughs’s John Carter From Mars . Those were my two big ones that I absolutely loved, but I read a bunch – Dune , the Dune series. I remember John Carter was really sexy, and also the creatures they came up with. The good guys were Martians – his best friend had four arms and two legs. For a kid, it’s really healthy to be pushed in that way to use your imagination.”
SCI-FI GUILTY PLEASURE “There were a couple of old shows like Space 1999 with Martin Landau. I think he’s an amazing actor. It felt different and it was so unusual to have Martin Landau as your protagonist. I guess that gave me hope because he wasn’t the greatest-looking guy!”
After achieving ’90s fame in ’90s double-act Lee & Herring, Stewart Lee carved himself a career as the 41st Best Stand-up Ever (says Channel 4), as well as all that writing Jerry Springer: The Opera business.
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY MOVIE “ Silent Running . One of the first things I ever remember being moved by as a child – and it didn’t have a happy ending. Bruce Dern’s focus is fantastic, and the eco-message, which at the time seemed a little overstated, is now totally relevant. Cute robots and a nice Joan Baez theme. But, to be fair, I’m also of that generation for whom seeing Star Wars at the cinema was a mind-blowing experience.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY TV SHOW “ The X-Files was so brilliant for the first few series, like a movie every week, and then it got bogged down in its own continuity. I remember when The Prisoner was repeated in the early ’80s and everyone went nuts for it – I still think it’s a superb period piece. And I think Star Trek: The Next Generation offers a workable philosophy for life. Just ask yourself, ‘What would Captain Picard do?’”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY BOOK OR COMIC “I love the whole Marvel Universe – my favorite would have to be Spider-Man, either the Stan Lee strips or the Brian Bendis ones. I enjoy pretty much everything Alan Moore does. As far as SF books go, I used to read Robert E Howard as a kid and then Ray Bradbury as a teenager, and then Vonnegut and Dick as an adult. I just read The Purple Cloud by MP Shiel and I enjoy finding obscure SF classics like that. There’s also lots of great books lurking in cheap ’60s and ’70s paperback covers too – Bug Jack Barron for example. I also like lots of old weird mystic stuff and I am a member of the Friends Of Arthur Machen society.”
SCI-FI GUILTY PLEASURE “I don't feel guilty about any SF pleasure.”
He took the paranormal into living rooms as Most Haunted ’s resident, bling-wrapped psychic.
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY MOVIE “There’s one in the same category of what I do – The Sixth Sense . I really enjoyed that. I loved the twist. Haley Joel Osment was brilliant; the facial expressions when he was in counselling reminded me an awful lot of my experiences as a boy. I even like going back to Ghost – very touching, very emotional. However, there were certain things in that film that were glossed up such as when the bad guys lost their lives, seemingly through spiritual matters… Well, that doesn’t happen but I forgave that because I enjoyed the film. I also like a couple of things with Arnold Schwarzenegger – the Terminator s, Predator … I’ve probably watched Predator 200 times.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY TV SHOW “I loved Charmed . The portrayal of not using witchcraft for anything negative until encountering negativity is a very, very good format. But Stargate SG- 1 is my favourite. My belief system is that there are great aspects of truth out there and to me that programme is not far-fetched. I think, ‘Why not? Can there not be a situation where other worlds can be contacted?’ And here we have a programme where we’ve actually found a machine made by aliens, and we go through this wormhole and it can transport these guys to many worlds. It’s fantastic.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY BOOK OR COMIC “I haven’t read very many books on the subject. Mostly it’s TV or films.”
SCI-FI GUILTY PLEASURE “If something’s bad on the eye and the ear, Derek Acorah only watches it once or twice.”
Since getting her big break on ITV reality show Essex Wives , Jodie Marsh has been a “page three” girl, featured on Celebrity Big Brother , published an autobiography and occupied many column inches in the UK press.
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY MOVIE? “The other day I watched The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth . I love everything about Labyrinth , but watching The Dark Crystal as an adult is not quite the same. My brother always used to go on about how scared he was of it, and I used to ask why, but when I watched it, I was like, ‘Oh my god, I would never show that to my kids!’ I can see now what my brother was going on about.
“A lot of people said they didn’t like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen , but I really liked it. I just thought it was fun and a bit childish. I like fantasy like that when it’s so unbelievable that it’s ridiculous.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY TV SHOW “I love Lost . I watched it from the first episode and was just hooked. I couldn’t wait for the next episode to see what was going to happen.
“I watched Doctor Who when I was a kid, and I used to love that, but I’ve never seen any of the new ones. And I loved He-Man . I used to watch every cartoon that was out – in fact I’ve got them all on DVD now because I went and hunted them down. They’re wicked, absolutely wicked.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY BOOK OR COMIC “The only books I remember reading loads of were those books where you got to the end of the page and had to choose where you were going to go. I thought they were brilliant because you felt like you were writing the story yourself as you went along.”
SCI-FI GUILTY PLEASURE “I used to be completely obsessed with Supergirl . It’s not a great film, but I loved her and wanted to be her, which I’ve never admitted to before.”
With his knack for stretching the limits of taste to breaking point, Scottish comic Frankie Boyle was a mainstay of the early series of M ock The Week before defecting to Channel 4 and winning libel cases against The Mirror (he denoted settlement proceeds to charity).
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY MOVIE “I really want to see that movie set in Glasgow with Jet Li. Did that really happen? [Yep, it was Unleashed – SFX ]. The Keanu Reeves thing of A Scanner Darkly was surprisingly good; I’d like to see some more Philip K Dick stuff made that well. The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch could be a particularly nuts movie. I love that line in Solaris – sums up a lot of why sci-fi is so dystopian: ‘We don’t want other worlds – or the one we’ve got’.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY BOOK “I love Gene Wolfe: the Sevarian books are a kind of far-future fantasy that I think is my favourite thing ever written. The hero is an executioner travelling through a world so far into the future it’s like the Middle Ages. He joins a group of travelling players (as Death) and there is an incredible sequence when he hunts down a creature that takes on the intelligence of its victims as it eats them. I can’t explain how weird and how great it all is, you should read it.
“Another favourite of mine was Time Out Of Joint by Philip K Dick. There was a great biography of Dick recently – I Am Alive and You Are Dead . Check it out. Check out how nuts he was.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY COMIC “I love all comics, good and bad. They’ve all got something. Mark Millar has a couple of really good comics out at the moment. Kick-Ass , about a nerdy young guy who sticks a superhero outfit on and goes quite mental, is my favourite book at the minute. For anyone who’s not read it, Scarab from the old Vertigo series was truly nuts, as was Peter Milligan’s Enigma .”
SCI-FI GUILTY PLEASURE “I quite like some pretty commercial fantasy. George RR Martin’s books are good. I always get the feeling as a reader that he’s kind of f**king with you. I like that.”
He’s conquered TV and radio, and interviewed more A-listers than you can name. Now, the comic book fanatic has finally moved into his favourite medium writing his own comics, such as Turf .
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY MOVIE “How long have you got? Blade Runner , Alien , Aliens , the original Thing , Planet Of The Vampires , 30 Days Of Night . I love all the Harry Potter series. All the Lord Of The Rings movies. I can’t wait for The Hobbit . Rollerball , Death Race 2000 . I love those ’70s Roger Corman things. I liked The Princess Bride , of course
“I liked Stardust . Japanese fantasy like Zu Warriors Of The Magic Mountain by Tsui Hark. I like the original Fantastic Planet , the French animated movie. I love Guillermo del Toro – Pan’s Labyrinth was awesome, and The Orphanage was incredible.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY TV SHOW “ Dollhouse is really underrated. Star Trek , of course. I like the Kirk years and the Picard years. I’m not so big on the other ones, but I like them all. Doctor Who and Torchwood . There was an early black and white series made by ITV called The Corridor People , which I really liked. I love The Prisoner and The Tomorrow People . In America I liked Firefly and Fringe .”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY BOOK OR COMIC “ Fables , Sandman , Swamp Thing – the Alan Moore Swamp Thing . Conan , anything by Robert E Howard. I love all that kind of stuff, swords and sorcery. I’ll read almost any fantasy.”
SCI-FI GUILTY PLEASURE “I don’t think I’ve got any sci-fi guilty pleasures really. If it’s well done, well acted and well written, I love it.”
The acerbic star of Radio 4’s The Now Show has got a thing for cords. “I believe corduroy holds mystical powers people are not aware of,” Brigstocke says. You can now see him on variety of celebrity panel shows, plus he hosts I’ve Never Seen Star Wars and appears in utterly bonkers CBBC comedy sketch show, Sorry, I’ve Got No Head .
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY MOVIE “The original Star Wars . It’s the one I’ve seen more than any other and lit up my childhood. My son is four and I showed it to him quite recently, and he’s very excited about lightsabers. Can’t quite get his head round the whole Darth Vader concept. It gets quite complicated – the idea of how a person goes from good to bad. Hah, who would have thought that anyone would invest George Lucas’s travesty of a prequel trilogy with the idea that they contained complicated themes? But for a four-year old they do actually.
“But films based on comic books can f**k off now! Enough! I have had it with that shit. There are new, interesting stories to tell. You can’t remake every single nerd comic into a great movie. They’re all too f**king similar.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY TV SHOW “I was a big fan of Quantum Leap , but in fairness I haven’t seen it in a long time. But I liked the way they constructed a narrative. I really got into Star Trek: The Next Generation when I worked on an oil rig. We watched Next Generation a lot.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY BOOK OR COMIC “I don’t read novels. I used to as a kid. The Tripods , and a lot of those ‘choose your own adventure’ books. But I’ve lost courage where novels are concerned and when I go into book shops I buy popular science books and biographies. Never finish them.”
SCI-FI GUILTY PLEASURE “ Alien Resurrection is fantastic. I loved it. That scene where Ripley discovered the versions of herself that hadn’t made it – I thought was a genuinely shocking piece of filmmaking.”
Former teen doc Doogie Howser, MD, Neil Patrick Harris is now better known as another (singing) Doctor…
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY MOVIE “I really liked Pan’s Labyrinth . That was great. Guillermo del Toro’s an amazing director.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY TV SHOW “ Lost is my go-to science fiction show right now. I watched Heroes for a while but none of the characters would die so I lost faith in that. But Lost … Man, I’m loving it. There was a sag. They started introducing characters that we’d never seen before on a desert island and that threw me for a bit of a loop, but they quickly killed them off.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY BOOK OR COMIC “My older brother was very into Marvel and X-Men and all that so I would read some of his. And I like Alex Ross, the artist, a lot. Also, I’m a magician so I collect old magic-related comics like Super Magician. ”
SCI-FI GUILTY PLEASURE “I was a closet Masters Of The Universe fan. I would buy the toys and hide them because I thought everybody would think it was really stupid. I had Castle Grayskull and Snake Mountain. And who was the one whose head changed when you spun the top of the head and the face changed to different things? Oh yeah, Man-E-Faces.”
Comedian and presenter Rufus Hound is all over British telly, having done stints on Top Of The Pops , Richard And Judy , Argumental and as the voice of Bravo’s gaming show Playr.
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY MOVIE “I’m a big fan of superhero movies in general. For all the hype about Batman Begins and The Dark Knight , my favourite still is probably Batman Returns . I like Tim Burton’s view of a man who seemingly has everything, but is intrinsically lonely and conflicted, that he doesn’t necessarily feel like he has definitely made all the right decisions.
“As for more traditional sci-fi stuff, I really liked Minority Report , which is odd considering I’m not a massive Tom Cruise fan.”
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY TV SHOW “I’m a big Doctor Who fan, but genuine Who fans should feel free to call me a Johnny Come Lately because I can’t tell you which episode Tom Baker wore his scarf to the left. I’m very much the man who started watching with Christopher Eccleston.
FAVOURITE SF/FANTASY BOOK OR COMIC “My biggest fanboyness is for Preacher – I own every edition of that. From there probably nothing too surprising: Squadron Supreme , Watchmen , obviously, and I quite liked Fables , though it lost me a bit by issue 30. I’m not a big fan of Marvel, but if it says DC, and ideally Vertigo, on it, I’m probably going to read it. If it says Marvel, I know I’m going to pick it up and say this’d be brilliant if I was 12.”
SCI-FI GUILTY PLEASURE “I would think probably my deepest pleasure, if not the guiltiest, is Mallrats and the rest of Kevin Smith’s films. They’re not, I appreciate, intrinsically science fiction, but they do deal with the bigger issues, such as whether freelance contractors on the Death Star deserve to die or whether Lois Lane could carry Superman’s baby.”
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