I Was A Teenage Ernest Borgnine

I have very little sense of personal embarrassment. I’ve done a whole selection of odd things in public – sometimes for a joke, sometimes because I was bored – so when my friend Tristan asked me back in the early 1990s if I’d spend a couple of afternoons running around the Cornish countryside dressed as ‘Marty’ and ‘The Wild Bunch’ star Ernest Borgnine, how could I say no?

The result of those afternoons was ‘The New Airwolf – The Next Generation’, a ludicrous VHS-shot spoof of the mid-1980s action series ‘Airwolf’, which starred Jan-Michael Vincent as moody helicopter-piloting hero Stringfellow Hawke and Ernest Borgnine as his trusty sidekick, Dominic Santini. I owed Tristan for all the help he’d given me on a previous video project (our VHS-shot fantasy epic The Alchemist), so it only seemed fair, even when I ended up wearing a radioactive-yellow hat and had a sofa cushion stuffed under my clothes (to properly simulate the classic Borgnine ‘barrel-chest’ physique).

And it’s never quite gone away. The end result was gloriously shambolic but far more fun than I expected, and Tris put it up on YouTube in 2006, where it’s notched up a hilarious number of views (some of whom may have actually watched the whole thing). Then, recently Tris contacted me with the slightly boggling news that someone had done a ‘4K Restoration’ and actually edited Hi-Def versions of the original series footage we used into the video. The only downside of this version was that the sound wasn’t very good (especially in the end battle sequence, where the ludicrous gags are the point)… so I found myself constructing an all-new version by syncing up the soundtrack from Tris’s lower-quality version, for an all-new ‘Ultimate’ edit. It’s creaky and desperately silly, but I’m still oddly proud to have been part of it, and I’m glad that it’s still out there, on the Internet, playing havoc with search results and bewildering the hell out of any ‘Airwolf’ aficionados…

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