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London Film & Comic Con 2011

London Film & Comic Con – 9th July, 2011

I wasn’t going to go this year but Jacqueline Pearce was, various of the female companies of Dr Who were going, Derek Jacobi and the incomparable Sandahl Bergman. 

So I thought what the hell and booked an Early Bird £12 Saturday ticket, an Earls Court wheelchair for the day and a little later my train fare.  Pity about Alex Kingston, who was only there only on Sunday.  I'd have liked to meet her.

Sadly, the amazing Ms Pearce cancelled but I gritted my teeth and went anyway.  All went well, trains on time and now that a lot of Kings Cross/St Pancras is finished, my train came in at the main station and not that second area [that I hate so much because you have to walk for MILES to get down to the Underground].  This time I got down pretty quickly and lucky also that the part of the Piccadilly line that was closed for the weekend was after the Earls Court stop – blessed be!  Made good time.

Then I took a wrong turn at Earls Court tube exit – sadly all too easy to do, it’s a rabbit warren down there still – and came out on the side away from the Exhibition Halls, dammit!  There was nothing for it but to walk back down the nearest side street.  Yes, nice, warm, sunny day… but I was prepared and had plenty of water with me, so stopped when my hip screamed at me and sat on stoop steps until it stopped.  I finally came out onto the road leading to EC2, hung a right and crossed at the lights.  Sank gratefully on the steps outside EC1 and had another rest.  I sat there thinking, by the time I get in, it’ll be time to leave!  But after a few minutes and a chug later, I made my way round to the EC2 entrance.

My Early Bird ticket was completely useless by then as it was after 10am but got me passed straight through into the Hall, especially when I said I had to pick up the wheelchair.  The hire is free and all you do is leave something like your driver’s licence or somesuch identification, passport or whatever and pick it up again when you return the chair.  I sank gratefully into it and got myself re-arranged for the day.  I really could not have made it through the day without it and was suitably grateful to the helpful EC2 staff.

No sooner had I started to make my way across the Hall, than I ran into Cally & her Mum.  Stopped for a quick word and saw them from time to time during the day.  They were actually the only people there I knew, which is unusual.  Maybe if I had done both days?

I had a good look around to see which Guests had made it to Con and that’s when I found out Mary Tamm had cancelled too.  Luckily Louise Jameson and Sarah Sutton were there and to my delight, John Leeson but more on them later.

I discovered during the day that I had my camera set on a telephoto setting but didn’t have my manual with me and was stuck with it.  What I hadn’t realised also was the size of the photos was way too big and I have to resize the lot, if I’m to put them up on Pbase, curses!  So, working on that...

Various of the Guests were doing little Q&A or promotional stuff but as far as I could see only Karen Gillan actually charged the public for hers; bit bloody greedy, I thought, we are feeling our importance, aren’t we?  You couldn’t see her sign autographs either, ‘cos she was in a closed off area, [and yes, charging like a wounded bull for posed photos], so I only caught a brief glimpse of her later.  Not that I cared as I hadn’t come for her and if she is lucky, she can dine out on her possible brief brush with fame.  Let’s face it, she’s not exactly a seasoned or brilliant actress, is she?  She very new and been very lucky, getting in pretty much on her looks.  But luck to her, she may need it.  SIR Derek Jacobi on the other hand you could see easily, being sat with everyone else, didn’t mind you taking shots and was totally charming.

After I did a quick tour round the Guest tables, I started to get my autographs.  I wasn’t going for posed photos with any of them, especially given I was just there for the day and I know what they are like when it comes to delivering them back to the fans – frankly, pretty abysmal.  I didn’t get some of mine until the following day last time - and they were late even then.

Sandahl’s line was huge and I took some photos of her and let the rabid fans get to it and went back to her later, when it thinned out a bit.  You do so know her – from ‘Conan the Barbarian’, ‘Red Sonya’ and of course, ‘All That Jazz’, where I saw her first.  She was such a knockout and a pretty fabulous dancer that I never forgot her.  She still moves like a dancer and was so lovely with her fans.

 

I moved down the line and caught a break with the steward and went up to Derek Jacobi.  What a sweetie he was!  He speaks so beautifully and is warm and welcoming.  He was personalising, which was super and I apologised for not bringing my Cadfael cover – having remembered too late to back for it.  He laughed and said you should have gone back for it, so I said, Darling, if I had I’d have missed my train!  So he forgave me!

Just down from Sir were two interesting men, first Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa – who wore a hat, to cover his lack of hair, I think – and who rarely looked up but just signed and that was it.  Put me off going to see him!  Second, Mark Sheppard, who has been in so much since ‘Firefly’, it’s hard to list it all.  His latest that I’ve seen is on ‘Leverage’ with Tim Hutton and Christian Kane.  I did catch up with him after lunch, just before he went off to do his presentation and some photos.  Very down to earth, no frills or airs and he also personalised his pictures.  I didn’t like his shots from ‘Firefly’, so I chose one from ‘24’.

I went round the back, passing Sophie Aldred and Sylvester McCoy [never one of my favourite Doctors, I stopped watching early in his time], both with good queues and lots of fans wanted shots with them.  Sophie obliged, didn’t see if he did.  Quite a few of the Harry Potter kids were there but I really couldn’t raise any interest in them or the odd ‘Twilight’ person, none of them really known to me.  I did find quite a few Dr Who regulars there and was delighted to see Louise Jameson was as beautiful as ever and so was Sarah Sutton.  They were both lovely and chatted away about how they enjoyed it all – LJ said working on Martin Clunes’ series was just like working on ‘Bergerac’ and how she loved both of them.  I agreed on the ‘Bergerac’ but tactfully didn’t mention that I really don’t like Clunes and hadn’t seen more than two episodes.

I had taken the 20th Anniversary Special magazine for them to sign and John Leeson [the originator and first K9 voice wasn’t far away from them with one of the K9’s next to him.  He signed my mag, ‘Tailwags’ from K9 and was a really nice man.  His minder took a photo of us – yes, I know the camera is strangely set, just take the shot already!  I made sure I thanked them all for coming, it was lovely to see them all.  I only wish Mary had been there, being the first ‘Romana’.

I stopped off to say hello to one of my favourite people, David Prowse.  He greeted me saying I saw you back there and hope you’d come over…. Such a sweet man.  I laughed and said you still don’t have any photos of you to sign!  Took me a long time to get one.  We passed pleasantries and he told about the terrible time he had with a bone infection in his leg.  Wound up damn near having to rebuild the whole knee & hip joint; sounded horrific but he’s okay now.  I commiserated and as people were starting to build up to see him again, I took my leave wishing him well.

I knew about the rip-off food and drink prices from before and had taken some chicken pieces and an apple for lunch and sat where I could watch Louise & Sarah.  For some odd reason, some models had been invited to the Con and were seated not that far away, I have no idea why they were there.  Some men stopped and ogled but very few got autographs…  It’s like when they try mixing sports people too, very odd.

There were quite a few Comic artists, which I’m afraid meant absolutely nothing to me but were well attended.  There were so many Guests there, ranging from the well known to the obscure third Storm Trooper on the left type person!

We had Christopher Lambert, Camille Coduri [Billie Piper’s Ma in ‘Dr Who’], Clive Barker, Christopher Lloyd & Lea Thompson [‘Back to the Future’], Erin Grey & Gil Gerard [‘Buck Rogers’], the two Babylon 5 guys, Peter Jurasik & Stephen Furst, Richard Hatch from the original ‘Battlestar Gallactica’, Veronica Cartwright [who still looks good] who had been in practically everything SciFi in earlier times – though I’ll never forget her spitting feathers in ‘The Witches of Eastwick’! and last but not least, two of the original ‘Star Trek’ guys, Walter Koenig and Brent Spiner.  Gotta say Walter looked like he was on his last legs, is he really ill or getting old fast?  Couldn’t bear to go see him but Brent was another story and sat there glowing with health.  I said I was surprised he had time to personalise his photos and he said he’d heard the lovely Jill was coming and just had to do it! Told him what a silver tongued devil he was!  Sweet, but I’d heard he can be quite the acid queen when he’s not pleased…

I took some shots of a wonderful Griffin wandering around [saw the young lady inside later], very gracious stopping for shots.  Then a whole load of shrieks and noise erupted as two ‘Aliens’ and a couple of soldiers were moving around.  A young photographer was following them and had a ‘Face Hugger’ on his backpack, very droll!  It was hard getting some distance on them for pictures, especially as they rarely stopped moving… but they were great fun and you could track their progress from the fuss people made of them.

Also in attendance was R2D2, nice handler and an enormous Wookie! His friend took a couple of photos for me and I was about to dash him some cash, as most of these guys do it for charity, but he said no, they were all doing it for free because it was LFCC.  I appreciated that and thanked them both for coming.  There were heaps of costumes, not just in the Cos Play areas but people simply flying the freak flag and enjoying themselves.  Spidermen, Batmen, Supermen, Wonder Women [though they were rare], more females in the Cos play stuff or dressed in St Trinians gear.  And many thousands of people moving around the arena, just as well it’s big!

Well, come 2pm and I was just about done.  Even in a wheelchair, you get tired – even apart from the arms.  My thumbs were going numb and it was several hours later when that wore off.  So looked around for Cally but couldn’t see her, on my way to return the chair.  Thanked the staff and reluctantly parted with the chair, to make my out and down to the Tube again. 

Had a quick rest before heading in, as it is a damn long walk in and then down; no concession to the disabled going in from the Exhibition side.  The Earls Court station has normal above-ground trains too and you have to descend to the subway below  – and it’s quite a hike, with lots of steps.  Did obviously finally get down there, with a couple of rests – wish it was as fast as it is telling it! – but a train came in almost at once; straight through to Kings Cross [actually it’s 11 stops, but if you have a seat, who cares?].

Again, at Kings Cross, it’s a bloody hike, even for the able bodied, well spread out and not very disabled friendly with the walks in-between some rather-spreadout lifts between levels – you need moving walkways, guys, like the airports have!  

But again, finally made it up to above-ground and the main line trains.  Great, saw there was a train standing in, so made a beeline to get on; although getting to the platform was rather tortuous with attendant guards and barriers.  Must be tightening up. 

Made it on anyway, didn’t care how many times it stopped – not that many as it turned out, luckily.  I was on a slightly later train? than I’d planned but not a huge problem with this line, especially on a weekend.  The off-peak stuff is policed more in the week.  I mean, you arrive at your station stop and you’re early or later, what are you going to do?  Make them wait on the platform until you’re supposed to arrive? Make a scene and tell off the tired passenger?  Talk about taking your life in your hands!

From there, it was into a taxi and home.  Never takes long and it’s really good to get home, isn’t it?  Rang for some Chinese to round-out the day.  And that’s pretty much it really, just going to try and reduce the size of the photos.  Not much I can do about the blur, sorry…  I will put them up on Pbase when I can.

Toodles! You look really fit! 
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