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Levine attended Arnold (House) School in Blackpool from 1963 to 1970. In 1996 Levine traced over 660 members of his own family on his mother's side and organised the enormous Cooklin family reunion, on 21 July in London. This has been called the biggest family reunion of all time, and was covered on the BBC Evening News, and, extensively, in The Jewish Chronicle.
Between 1997 and 1999 Ian Levine produced and directed the documentary film The Strange World of Northern Soul, an anthology of the underground music cult. This was a video box set, containing over 12 hours of footage with booklet and CD, and incorporating 131 performances by the legendary American soul acts who had, in most cases, never been filmed before. The event premiered at the King George's Hall in Blackburn to an audience of 1300 in July 1999. The Strange World of Northern Soul was released on DVD as a six-disc box set, replete with extras, in 2003.
In May 2000, Levine organised the reunion of his entire school class from the 1960s at Arnold School in Blackpool. All 30 members of class 3A were found and brought together to experience lessons, P.E. in the gym, a rugby match, and an assembly with their original teachers, all in original style school uniform. The reunion was filmed and shown by the BBC.
Earlier in his career he was a disc jockey at the Blackpool Mecca, and became an avid collector of soul, R&B, and Northern Soul records. In the mid-1970s he also produced for disco, leading into the genre's evolution into Hi-NRG.
He and songwriting partner Fiachra Trench were among the main figures in the development of the Hi-NRG style and its moderate success in North America, writing and producing "So Many Men, So Little Time" by Miquel Brown (two million sales), and "High Energy" by Evelyn Thomas (seven million sales).
During the 1980s and 1990s he mixed a number of dance-pop hits for a variety of artists, including Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, Kim Wilde, Bronski Beat, Amanda Lear, Bananarama, Tiffany, Dollar and Hazell Dean. He also founded his own groups: Seventh Avenue, which featured two members of Big Fun; Optimystic; and Bad Boys Inc. During this period, Levine also maintained a friendship and rivalry with fellow producer Simon Cowell.
He also wrote and produced for the successful UK boy band Take That, and for The Pasadenas. He has written and produced several TV themes including "Discomania", "Gypsy Girl", "ITV Celebrity Awards Show", "Christmasmania" and "Abbamania".
In 1987, Levine began recording some former artists from Motown. By 1989 the project had grown in size and a reunion of 60 Motown stars in Detroit, Michigan, outside the original Hitsville USA building, attracted attention from several media outlets. Motorcity Records was launched as a record label, initially distributed by PRT and later Pacific, then Charly and finally Total/BMG. By the time the project ended in the mid-1990s, over 850 songs had been recorded by 108 artists who had all been formerly signed to Motown. As an album range, the project continues to be released to this day, but the most successful single was by an artist who hadn't recorded for twenty three years, Frances Nero, with "Footsteps Following Me", co-written with Levine and Ivy Jo Hunter, the man who wrote "Dancing in the Street".
In 2007, Levine formed the label Centre City Records, on which he has released four albums: Northern Soul 2007, Disco 2008, Yesterday and Tomorrow (a collection of his 30 greatest hits, re-interpreted by his current roster of artists) and Northern Soul 2008.
In 2010 Ian Levine formed a new boy band called "Inju5tice". The band launched their career with the song "A Long Long Way From Home" which was a commercial failure. Levine backed away from the project shortly after. Inju5tice later went on to become ELi'Prime.
Levine is well known as a fan of the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who. Levine was, in part, responsible for the return of a number of missing episodes of the show to the BBC's archives, and was involved in stopping the destruction of further serials after he learnt that they were being discarded. He also retained many off-air recordings.
Some observers have speculated that the Abzorbaloff monster played by Peter Kay in the Doctor Who episode "Love & Monsters" was based on Levine - an unofficial continuity consultant during the early 1980s, - and lampoons his role in fandom. The Abzorbaloff design was created by Blue Peter "Design a Doctor Who Monster"-winner William Grantham.
"Doctor in Distress"
In 1985, when the BBC announced that the series would be placed on an eighteen-month hiatus, and the show's cancellation was widely rumoured, Levine gathered a group of actors from the series, together with a number of minor celebrities, to record a protest single called Doctor in Distress. The participants included the series' two lead actors, Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant, as well as other actors associated with the series such as Nicholas Courtney and Anthony Ainley. Also involved were members of the bands Bucks Fizz, The Moody Blues and Ultravox. Hans Zimmer was one of the musicians involved in the record's production. Levine has since claimed that the song was originally the brain child of Gary Downie, a production manager at the BBC and partner of John Nathan-Turner, the producer of the show at the time.
The single was released under the name “Who Cares?”, and was universally panned. Levine himself said later, "It was an absolute balls-up fiasco. It was pathetic and bad and stupid. It tried to tell the Doctor Who history in an awful high-energy song. It almost ruined me.”
Levine's efforts to locate missing episodes of Who continue. On 20 April 2006, it was announced on the BBC children's show Blue Peter that Levine would purchase a life-sized Dalek for anyone who would return one of the then 108 missing episodes; details were provided on Blue Peter's website.
Levine also financed a private project to recreate the incomplete 1979 Doctor Who story Shada with animation and newly recorded dialogue from many of the surviving cast members. Levine had hoped that the project would be released on DVD, but the commissioning editor of the Doctor Who DVD range decided not to use Levine's animation on the DVD release of the story.
Ian Levine has also been responsible for producing a number of extras on the Doctor Who DVD releases: the documentaries "Over the Edge" and "Inside the Spaceship" were included on the 3-disc set "The Beginning", while "Genesis of a Classic" appeared on the release for Genesis of the Daleks. Levine has also contributed to many other classic series DVDs, appearing as an in-vision interviewee on occasions, and by allowing the Restoration Team access to his private collection of rare studio footage and off-air recordings.
K-9 and Company
American comic books
Levine also possesses one of the world's great collections of American comic books. He claims to have the only complete set of DC Comics in the world, with at least one copy of each DC comic book sold at retail (i.e., not including promotional or giveaway comics) from the 1930s to present. The last vintage comic book he obtained for his collection was a copy of New Adventure Comics #26, which he acquired at the San Diego Comic-Con in July 2005.
Although Levine's complete DC comic book collection does not include all of the hundreds of different promotional (non-retail) and giveaway comic books that DC released over the decades (the particular identifying information for many of them has been lost due to DC not retaining decades-old licensing information), his DC promotional and giveaway collection contains the vast majority of all of the DC promotional and giveaway comic books currently known to have existed, and is perhaps the most complete DC promotional and giveaway collection currently in existence. The writer and comic book expert Paul Sassienie began cataloging, grading and certificating 'The Ian Levine' collection in May 2011.
- Levine, Ian (7 February 2007). "Ian Levine CV". Ian Levine's MySpace blog. Retrieved 11 October 2010.
- Dunbar, Polly; Robertson, Peter (3 September 2011). "The night I smashed a Sinitta record over Simon Cowell’s head, Ian Levine paints an intimate portrait of X Factor's music mogul". Daily Mail. Retrieved 5 February 2013.
- Bailey, David (1 April 2009 (cover date)). "The Fact of Fiction: Logopolis". Doctor Who Magazine (Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Panini Comics) (406): 57.
- Phipps, Tim (8 August 2006). "Happy Times and Places: "Love and Monsters"". Strange Horizons. Retrieved 25 November 2006. "I've no idea if [Russell T. Davies] was explicitly thinking of Ian Levine when he wrote the Abzorbaloff, but I can't help but suspect that Levine was bouncing somewhere around the back of his head."
- Petridis, Alexis (24 November 2006). "Take That, Beautiful World". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 November 2006.
- McGurk, Stuart (22 October 2005). "Shows of support". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 November 2006.
- "Missing Doctor Who films". Blue Peter website. bbc.co.uk. 19 April 2006. Archived from the original on 31 August 2006. Retrieved 25 November 2006.
- Southall, J. T. (12 September 2011). "Doctor Who and the Shada Man". Starburst. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
- Southall, J. T. (26 October 2011). "TV News: DOCTOR WHO - SHADA Update". Starburst. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
- Zurzolo, Vincent (9 August 2005). "DC Completist Ian Levine Interview all the way from the UK!". Comic Zone. World Talk Radio. Retrieved 25 November 2006.
- Levine, Ian (15 July 2005). "The DC Collection Is COMPLETE.". Collectors Society Message Board. Retrieved 25 November 2006.