These events have been taking place for 45 years now. Located in the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster, it used to be a place where collectors and dealers of all kinds of film and TV memorabilia would gather to sell, exchange and browse a variety of merchandise. I first began attending in 1989 and made some very good friends at this event.
The organisers began inviting guest signers from the world of TV and film so meet fans, sign autographs etc. and this proved quite popular. Personally I think it was a good idea though not everyone agrees with me. Shortly afterwards, the ownership of the event changed hands and the new owner began making changes.
I hadn’t been to an event for about 18 months, but was drawn to this one because of some of the guests they had signing. The normal event hours are 10am to 5pm and it only used to cost a few quid to get in. For a couple of quid extra, you could buy an early bird ticket which allowed entry from 8am. I was shocked to find out that the current owner had increased the price to £20 for early bird. I was chatting to other people in the line to get in and they were equally disgusted, not only with the price but the current owner.
Whilst waiting in line outside, Anita Harris (of Carry On fame) came by and was chatting to fans and they were taking her picture- not with them, just her. The current owner came out, grabbed her by the arm and marched her inside, all the while telling her off saying “Don’t stand there letting them get free photos. The can pay for them”. Disgusting behaviour from this man.
Once I got inside I could not believe what I saw. Everything was packed in so tight it was uncomfortable. The two-part hall had dealers on one side with guests (and a few dealers) on the other. There wasn’t a great range of dealers as there were in the old days, and the quality of stuff being sold was shocking in some cases.
I did manage to catch up with my mate Mark and his dad Tony on his stall which was good. Guest wise I was happy to meet Wolf Kahler who appeared in many films, most notably Raiders of the Lost Ar and the more recent Wonder Woman. I also met the awesome Jack Klaff who was Red 4 in the original Star Wars and was also a Bond villain among other things. Finally, I got to meet Robert Watts who was Production Manager/Producer on 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Empire Strikes Back.
I have since heard that the event is changing ownership and I can’t wait. Hopefully it will get back to what it once was and that the current owner leaves…