Kate Raymond, head of MPNN, recently announced the formal retirement of Michael Praed's first official fan club, the Michael Praed Network Newsletter. Begun in 1991, MPNN enjoyed a worldwide membership. For more than a decade, MPNN offered photographs, fanzines, a privately released album, a web site, field trips, fan club parties, and opportunities to visit Michael Praed onstage. The club's newsletter was a popular feature, giving updates on Michael Praed's projects, contributing insights, and giving fans a way to communicate with one another. In mid 2003 Kate Raymond, together with her partner Morn Geiger, decided a sabbatical was necessary to get her fledgling business off the ground. Explaining that running a business has been a heavy drain, in July Kate announced she no longer has enough time to devote to MPNN. After helping launch MPNN's successor, Kate will end all MPNN operations. Kate Raymond would like to thank the many people involved over the years for their continued interest and support.
How does Fanfare fit in?
At Kate Raymond's suggestion, Michael Praed will allow me, Celeste Moore, to maintain an official website and start a brand new fan club, tentatively named Michael Praed's Fanfare. Kate will assist me initially to ensure the transition between fan clubs goes smoothly.
In order to understand what is happening here, introductions are in order. As I said, my name is Celeste Moore, and I’ve been a fan of Michael Praed since I first saw him in ‘Robin of Sherwood’, around 1988.
My cousin Becky was the one who got me involved. She told me who was in the cast. I hadn’t a clue who Michael was at that point, however I’d seen Nickolas Grace in ‘Brideshead Revisited’ and Ray Winstone in ‘Quadrophenia’. Both actors had impressed me, but since they played such vastly different characters, I couldn’t picture them together. Curiosity piqued, I took a look at ‘RoS’… and found myself under the spell of yet another actor, Michael Praed. Like others, I became slightly obsessed with the series.
Although I attended a 1988 ROSNAB convention in Omaha, my new job meant I couldn’t go to many fan gatherings. Ironically, if I had managed to make it to the 1990 Visions Con in Chicago as I had wanted, I probably would have joined up with Kate Raymond’s then-emerging fan club MPNN. Unfortunately, I was totally unaware of the group’s existence. I lost track of Michael after that, despite his surge in activities and the fact that he made repeated trips near my Midwest American home to attend conventions.
Fast forward to late 2003.
My poor 15 year-old home recorded videotapes of ‘Robin of Sherwood’ had worn out. One day I had the bright idea of checking the internet for copies of the old movie ‘Robin Hood and the Sorcerer’. Much to my joy, I discovered that the whole series had been released on videotape by Network Video. I ordered them and began to re-watch the episodes.
Can you guess what happened? Yup. It nudged my quiescent interest in Michael Praed awake... wide awake.
Although I hadn’t planned on it, I soon replaced the taped version of the series with the newly released DVDs. Then I started combing the internet for information on the ‘Robin of Sherwood’ cast, crew and fans. Mind you, I’d looked years before, but my web searching techniques at the time were far too vague. I’d managed to find 'Spirit of Sherwood' just before they switched servers and I lost them again.
I didn’t discover MPNN until very late 2003 when their website was offline. I found Nytshaed's lavish "shrine" with it's many photographs and a note from Michael. I followed fan forum discussions, searched out his videos, audiobooks and DVDs. At that point I discovered Loralee’s 'Chest Hair Moments' website.
It was then I discovered a soundbyte of ‘Love Changes Everything’ from Michael’s participation in the Lloyd Webber musical ‘Aspects of Love’.
I knew Michael Praed could sing. I’d spotted ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ in the list of work he’d done. Anybody who has played Frederick in Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘The Pirates of Penzance’ has to have a strong tenor with a wide vocal range. I just wasn’t expecting the impact hearing him sing would have on me. Let’s just say that ‘Love Changes Everything’ changed me. It resonated within me like nothing else he’d done.
At that point, I wanted to know what Michael Praed was doing now. There was very little current news. I found information online, buried in stage gossip and newspaper articles. Information was out there, but widely scattered. Fans often had bits of news and rumors.
I stumbled across fan Janet Reedman at long last and sent her an email. Unlike other old-hands I queried, Janet answered my multitude of questions. (Without her, I would have gone mad, although she may debate whether or not she arrived in time to prevent permanent brain damage!)
Online sources made many references to MPNN, which was frustrating. I finally found an internet archive which had a few of the MPNN webpages saved. I ate them up like a starving man, trying to learn more. At that point, I discovered Kate Raymond had stepped down as head of Michael’s official fan club to take care of her new business. No one knew if she would be starting MPNN up again.
Talking the situation over with Janet, I decided Michael Praed needed a current, updated website. With MPNN out of the picture and Loralee gone, there was apparently no one to do it for him. I would yield to MPNN if Kate and Morn decided they could resume fan club duties.
I began work on www.michael-praed.com in August of 2004 with an emphasis on Michael’s professional life. From the beginning I intended to offer MPNN a home at the michael-praed domain, if that would help Kate. I announced the launch of the new website to various fan groups in January of 2005. The support was heartwarming and put me in touch with many more wonderful fans of Michael Praed. Two of them, Carole Welsh and Gerry James, enabled me to view Michael's other "cult" television show, 'The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne', which I love.
In early April, I drove to Chicago and found Kate and Morn in their new shop. The place was swarming with happy customers. It was clear that Kate had her hands full. It was equally obvious that she was distressed that Michael’s fans were struggling to keep track of him. After looking over my website and discussing the options, Kate decided to see if Michael would be agreeable to retiring MPNN and sanctioning a new official fan club and website run by me.
Put succinctly, Michael Praed did.
In July Kate Raymond officially retired Michael Praed's first official fan club, MPNN. In tandem with Kate's action, I created Michael Praed's Fanfare, Michael's next official fan club. With Kate's help, Fanfare will eventually offer some of the items MPNN sold. Although the two clubs share similar goals, they're two entirely separate organizations run by different people. Any Fanfare shortcomings will be my own!
Despite my late arrival on the scene, I’m profoundly aware how much MPNN contributed to the lives of its members and Michael Praed. I know I'm not speaking out of turn when I say that Michael Praed, his fans, and I would like to thank Kate Raymond and Morn Geiger for years of hard work. They did an exceptional job and will be missed.
II hope their busy lives allows them to spend time with us occasionally.
Blessed be, my friends!
[Go back to Club News 2005]