I was 14 years old when Twin Peaks first aired in the UK. Every Tuesday evening at 9pm, my excitement was too much to bear. Despite the fact that I didn’t really understand all of it, the show captivated me – much to the dismay of my mother, who thought I shouldn’t be watching ‘weird horror’ on TV! My friends and I even started a club at school – you could only be a member if you were a rabid fan of Twin Peaks, Northern Exposure and Quantum Leap. Yes, we were that cool.
Fast forward to 2009, and at age 33 I was still obsessed with the show. I had fallen so deeply in love with this fictitious world, I felt like I knew every corner of it. In my dark days, it was a safe place. I know you know what I mean.
Working as an events producer, I was looking for a new project that would capture my attention and ignite my passion. One day, while working from home with an episode of Twin Peaks flickering away in the background, it dawned on me that the following year marked the 20th Anniversary of my favourite series. As far as I could see there were no celebrations taking place in the UK – why would there be? Was a 20-year-old show at the forefront of anyone’s mind? But I knew the impact Twin Peaks had had on me, and how many fans were still out there. I decided I had to do something, for all of us.
Originally it was to be a one-off event. Some actors from the show, a few screenings, possibly a theatrical element – I knew I could organise something special. I put out some feelers, and before I knew it had secured Charlotte Stewart as my first guest. This thrilled me beyond words – not only was she great in Twin Peaks but she played the female lead in David Lynchs’ first feature Eraserhead. And let’s not forget Little House on the Prairie!
While I busied myself securing a venue, I was contacted by the Double R Club – a new Lynch-inspired burlesque and cabaret event held every month at London’s Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club. I must confess I’d never heard of them, but their enthusiasm for my event was so great, I had to offer them a spot at the festival. Little did I know how integral they would become!
One element that has always captivated fans of Twin Peaks is the music: Angelo Badalamenti’s haunting soundtrack coupled with the sensual voice of Julee Cruise melts me to this day. When I received an email from Julee herself saying she was free to attend, you can imagine my reaction – it involved a lot of jumping about and a large glass of wine! After that, everything started falling into place. I had Julee, Charlotte and I had now found my venue – the beautiful Riverside Studios in Hammersmith. And as the festival approached I received an email which blew my mind. Catherine E. Coulson got in touch to say she would love to come to the event. The Log Lady had emailed me! Luckily I had just enough in the budget to bring her over.
The festival was due to take place at the end of November 2010, but in October life dealt me a crippling blow when my mother lost her fight with cancer. I truly believe that if I hadn’t had the festival to concentrate on, I wouldn’t have been able to handle my grief the way I did. I’d already decided to donate the proceeds from the event to charity, and before she died my mother had chosen the Rowan’s Hospice just outside Portsmouth to be the recipient (to this day we continue the charity auction in her memory). So as the festival approached, I was more determined than ever to make it work. Finally 27th November arrived, and with my good friend Helen on board as my right hand girl we opened the doors to the Twin Peaks audience. Right away, we were engulfed by a wave of enthusiasm.
My best friend Ciaran was selling merchandise like it was going out of style. Kerry, one of my former ushers, joined us as a production assistant, and we haven’t been able to get rid of her since. Helen and I spent the day running around like headless chickens, but between us we worked to make the event a success. The day didn’t run without the occasional hitch, as those who were there will recall, and we all learnt a great deal from the experience. But overall it was fantastic: we loved chatting with the fans, we loved seeing their faces when they met Charlotte and Catherine, and when Julee Cruise stepped up to sing you could feel the awe and admiration in the room. It was glorious to witness.
After the event we started pulling everything apart, discussing how much fun it had been and how many people enjoyed it, thinking that was the end. But a week later I had received over 50 emails both from folks who had attended and others who had missed out, begging me to put on another event. The more I thought about it, the more I knew I could develop the festival, make it better, and really immerse the fans in the world of Twin Peaks.
Over the years we have been joined by some incredible people: Sheryl Lee, Dana Ashbrook, Madchen Amick, Sherilyn Fenn, Ian Buchanan, Lenny Von Dohlen, Phoebe Augustine, Al Strobel, Kimmy Robertson, Chris Mulkey, Julee Cruise and even Catherine and Charlotte returned as they had so much fun the first time round. As each year passes we try and make this event more special by adding new interactive elements, broadening our audience and inviting more guests from the show to celebrate with us, and of course this year is no different.
2017 sees the 8th annual festival and of course the return of ‘Twin Peaks’ which airs in May. It’s so great to see the original fans plus the new generation of fans putting out so much love for the new season. From what we know so far it looks like it’s going to be something special indeed and we will reflect that in our 2017 festival. That, my friends, is how the Twin Peaks UK Festival was born and now we have grown to new heights having been officially licensed by CBS and Twin Peaks Productions. The future is looking damn fine.
“I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.” Special Agent Dale Cooper
Twin Peaks UK Festival Founder & Producer