May 2018~ Starfury Ultimates

This event was announced shortly after the previous years’ event (it may even have been at the event itself) and last year had got some very mixed reviews. It had been a number of years since I attended a Starfury event so I kept a close eye on the guest list.

A number of guests were announced, mainly from the DC shows Supergirl, Arrow, The Flash and Gotham plus a number of guest from Agents on SHIELD and Jessica Jones. This was enough to get me interested so I purchased a weekend ticket as all the gold had sold out. The one good thing I like about the weekend or gold tickets is that all the autographs for regular guests are included. Any bonus or extra guests that are added you have to pay for but are still cheap as are the photo shoots of which I purchased eleven in the end.

As the event drew nearer a number of guests cancelled. It’s unfortunate but happens if the working actor gets offered a new role. My photo-ops were refunded at the event via a credit note which enabled me to buy a few more.

The event venue was the Norbreck Castle Hotel in Blackpool. A fairly run-down venue but large enough to handle the sheer number of attendees. Luckily I wasn’t staying at the hotel but somewhere nearer the centre of Blackpool. I arrived midday Friday and went to collect my pass and photo-op tickets. I then went back to my accommodation for the night to chill out.

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I arrived the next morning bright and early as I had photo shoots with a number of guests. 6 on Saturday to be precise. I must admit that apart from the big signing events like WalkerStalker and Heroes & Villains, these were by far the smoothest photo-ops ever. Very long, yes, but well run. Both Floriana Lima and Chyler Leigh were beyond amazing. Friendly and beautiful both insde and out! Elizabeth Henstridge took one look at my matching cap, shirt and lanyard and proceeded to call me a SHIELD nerd which she though was funny! Too cute!

I then proceeded to watch a few panels by various actors including the SHIELD panels, Supergirl and Jessica Jones panels. They were both insightful and hilarious and gave a great sneak peek into what goes on behind the cameras.

After that, it was autograph time. We were called by badge number and yes, once again it was busy but fun. Brett Dalton (Agent Grant Ward- SHIELD) did deface my badge with some Hydra propoganda! He’s well known for it and very funny-cool dude!

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It was then I collected all my photos from earlier in the day. All professionally printed on glossy 10×8. Very nice!

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I then hung around for the costume contest and as usual there were some awesome entries. Thanks to those people on the Facebook Ultimates group for letting me steal some photos as I had an issue with my phone and didn’t get any!

I then headed back to chill about before doing it all again the next day.

More photo-ops….

More panels….


More autographs….

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and lots more costumes.

A big thank you must go to all of the stewards, staff and the organiser, Sean Harry for an amazing event.

Hopefully I get to do it all again next year when the event moves to Birmingham

Most of all a HUGE thank you must go to all the guests. Without them doing what they do and being the fun people they are, the event would have been nowhere near as good!

Thanks to:

Krysten Ritter & Carrie-Ann Moss (Jessica Jones)

Elizabeth Henstridge, Brett Dalton, Mallory Jansen, BJ Britt & Max Osinski (Agents of SHIELD)

Chyler Leigh, Jeremy Jordan, Floriana Lima & Briana Venskus (Supergirl)

Willa Holland & Paul Blackthorne (Arrow)

Violett Beane (The Flash)

Maggie Geha (Gotham)


April 2018~ Secret Cinema- Blade Runner: The Final Cut



Secret Cinema are back and this time they are celebrating their 10th anniversary by going back to their first event with Blade Runner, only this time it was to be bigger and better.


The whole premise of the event this time was around humans moving off-world to live on colonies in outer space (as in the film) because the Earth was polluted. Replicants and companions are quite common (again, as in the film) but the Nexus 6 model was banned due to it being a danger- just like the film.


Three of us were planning on going so bought tickets (unfortunately, our friend Fudge had to pull out at the last minute).  Within a few days we were sent an email inviting us to sign up for our identities for the evening. A quick questionnaire determined your job of which there were many. I was assigned to be Dennis Lockwood, an ambassador for The Utopia Corporation who run all the off-world colonies. My friend David was to be a Private Detective whilst Fudge would be a ‘Professional Friend’. We were given a list of things to bring (including goggles or glasses, a transparent umbrella or jacket, a notepad and more) and told how we should dress. Regular updates gave us more information leading up to the event. We also had to print off our ID card and bring it with us.


The day of the event arrived and we had to be at Canning Town Station by 6pm. A couple of LAPD Police Officers directed us to the World Terminus, just across the road. Upon arrival we had our tickets scanned and was given a seal-able bag for our mobile phones.

We then entered Downtown LA 2019- the people at Secret Cinema had painstakingly created the stalls, the people, the whole environment, right down to the acid rain! Many key characters from the film could be seen wandering around including Rick Deckard, Rachael, Detective Harry Bryant, Taffey Lewis, JF Sebastian, Gaff and more. There were also plenty of replicants of various models (including Leon, Pris, Zhora and Roy Batty) wandering around. You could eat at any one of the Chinese food stalls, get drinks at nearby bars, visit The Snake Pit, LAPD HQ and Tyrell Corp. Every area had actors in who never break character.

David went off to LAPD to get his assignment and was pretty quickly chasing around The Snake Pit with other detectives. My assignment was to report to Utopia Corp to be inducted. The induction took the form of listening to and taking part in a sales pitch for those wanting to move off-world. At the end, Eve, the Utopia liaison, told me to report to Tyrell to undergo testing.


On arrival at Tyrell, we were separated by wrist band colour. Mine was red and there were only a few of us- there were not many reds in the box when we were given them at the entrance (something on our ID cards told the staff what colour to give us).


I was taken, with 4 others, to a back room and shown a rather disturbing ‘mental conditioning’ video. At the end of the video we were told that we were all Nexus 6 replicants and had to do our best to avoid the Blade Runners and stay alive. We had two choices- 1) Go back to Utopia Corp and persuade Eve to get us off-world quickly or 2)Try our best to blend in and stay undetected.


We left Tyrell. I chose to go with option one, however, someone had beaten me to it. When this other Nexus-6 approached Eve, she worked out he was a dangerous replicant and called the police. He was very quickly chased down. I then decided to blend in and hit the various bars and different districts whilst David ran around being a detective. I had to avoid the scavengers area as they were all diseased. I had a close encounter with someone trying to sell me illegal off-world tickets.


Then, I decided to fall down the stairs and twist my knee. An LAPD cop and the First Aid guys were awesome and after applying a freeze bandage I headed back out into Chinatown. I met up with David shortly before the film began and the same LAPD cop helped get us to the front to get a decent seat. There were 3 massive screens that all became part of the set and key scenes were, as normal, acted out along with the film.


Both I and David had an absolute blast and were both upset that Fudge could not join us as she would have loved it! My only complaint (and David’s) was that the cinema seating was too small and too cramped. Luckliy, Detective Krause (they are ALWAYS in character) moved me to a VIP seat due to my dodgy knee. It was better but not by much.


If you are a big fan of Blade Runner then you must do this. It’s awesome!

A HUGE thanks to David for coming out of his way to pick me up and drive me home again!

April 2018~ Out Of The Ashes Reunion

Since the Out of the Ashes Con in April 2017 ended, many attendees wanted to meet up again and have fun. Some of the attendees got together along with a couple of the FCD crew to organise a reunion event in April 2018. It was to be a one-day event with a buffet and party in the evening.


Friday April 6th came and the attendees began descending on The Telford-Ironbridge Holiday Inn. After a not-so-enjoyable visit to a local restaurant, the fun began quite quickly and carried on at the hotel bar into the wee small hours of Saturday morning.


Other folks began arriving on Saturday morning and registered for the event, which began at 12pm with a variety of board games. The crew of the USS Iceni were running a raffle and at 2pm the event would be officially opened.


I had been asked a few months ago to come up with some kind of quiz along with my FCD sidekick (or am I the sidekick) Neil Green. It was to start out as a team event with The Tribblemakers taking on Team DISCO.

All rounds had some kind of geeky link but were based on a classic gameshow from the 70s onwards. Examples included ‘Play Your Cardassians Right,’ ‘The Next Generation Game’ and ‘Odo’s Weakest Link’. After the first four rounds, one team was eliminated and the remaining team had to compete against each other with one person leaving at the end of each round.


One round involved the final three contestants having to sculpt a model of Odo from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine out of modelling clay. Our surprise guest, Rainbow Sun-Francks from Stargate Atlantis, hilariously judged this particular round.


At the very end, the one remaining contestant took part in ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Geek Edition. Our Grand Champion was Mark Cottam.


Everyone left to go and get ready for our Mask Party and buffet. I’m not a fan of masks but found one I was happy with- Captain Chaos from Cannonball Run.


People began arriving in a variety of outfits, including Holly, one of the organisers who came as an Andorian from Star Trek. After a few opening remarks and a guest announcement for the upcoming FCD Stargate con, Cal Mah, the party began.


Many people headed home the next day but a few of us hung around to chill out before heading home on the Monday.


I really hope it becomes an annual event as its good to catch up with good friends and family and do it away from a full blown con.


A huge thanks to the organisers! A job well done!

April 2018~ 2001: A Space Odyssey 50th Anniversary

50 years ago today ‘Something wonderful’ happened. A film was released that would split the sci-fi world in two. You either loved it or hated it.

Most fans have their own theory about the meaning behind the plot and indeed the plot itself. Many of these theories overlap. Here’s my interpretation.

4 million years ago, a group of apes lived in Africa, fighting over food and water with another tribes of apes. One night, an Alien artifact, a large black monolith, suddenly appears, near this tribe. This black slab represents a challenge for the apes as they were naturally fearful but also curious creatures. Their curiosity eventually won and led Moonwatcher, the leader of the tribe to touch the Monolith. This touch sparked the next stage in evolution and led the apes to create the first tool which was then used as the first weapon.

Skipping forward 4 million years to the year 2001 we see the Earth, surround by a variety of space stations and nuclear weapons platforms. Humans have evolved, are rational and still curious but lacking the fear the apes had. There is no gravity space space so humans need to learn to walk again and be toilet trained and eats baby-style food. In essence, they are babies again.

The tools have evolved too, in many cases becoming more human-like. In space, humans can easily lose control of their tools.

Another large monolith is discovered beneath the surface near the crater, Tycho. A group of humans visit the now-uncovered monolith. As this new contact is made, a high-pitched transmission is beamed from the slab and out towards Jupiter (Saturn in the first novel). This monolith is acting as some kind of sentry- letting its creators know that humans have now evolved to a stage that is taking them out into space- a possible potential threat??

18 months later, the Discovery One ship, under the command of Dr Dave Bowman and Dr Frank Poole is approaching Jupiter where another Monolith has been detected. On board Discovery, along with Dave, Frank and three crew in cryo-sleep is HAL- HAL is the name of the ship’s on-board HAL9000 computer, the brains and nervous system of the whole ship. HAL sees Dave, Frank and the other humans as mere maintenance men, just there to look after and service him. To HAL, humans have gone as far as they can go and he is the next stage in evolution. HAL believes he is a living, sentient being. Superior to humans in every way.

HAL detects an error in the AE-35 unit. This eventually turns out to be a mistake, causing Dave and Frank to attempt to deactivate HAL. However, HAL is one tool that man has lost control of. He doesn’t need air to breathe or food for fuel. HAL was also given conflicting orders, preserve the mission above all other orders as well as take care of the crew- this in turn also added to his downfall. A battle between man and tool begins and leads HAL to cause the death of Frank Poole as well as the other 3 crew members in cryo-sleep and leaving Dave Bowman stranded in an EV-Pod outside of the ship.

HAL didn’t figure on Dave’s human, ape-like ingenuity kicking in and Dave is able to get back on to the Discovery and shut-down HAL with the simplest tool of all. A screwdriver.

Dave now finds himself alone and facing certain death. His crew are dead as is his ship.

Dave decides to go and investigate the Monolith and heads out in one of the EV-Pods. On arrival, he is instantly transported through a star-gate to another dimension where he sees himself as an old man facing humanities final challenge- death. Like the broken wine glass and spilt wine, he understands that the human body is just a vessel for the human spirit.

Human evolution had relied so much on the tools it created that it the end it was the tools (HAL) that almost killed him. This realisation shows that man is ready for the next evolutionary leap and thus the star-child is born.


March 2018~ Walker Stalker Con London

This year’s Walker Stalker Con would be my third and my last.

I really wasn’t intending on going this year as I had met many of the cast before. But the addition of Sonequa Martin-Green, who had moved on to be the lead on the new Star Trek: Discovery, changed my mind. I met her previously at a Netflix event in November 2017 but the selfie we took was so bad I wanted to get a professional photo op. I also wanted to try and meet Emily Kinney who I had missed on a number of occasions.

One of the things that had always attracted me to Walker Stalker (and FanFest cons in general) was that they limit their numbers. Yes, that means that prices are a bit higher, but I didn’t mind paying more for a more relaxing time.

This year was to be completely different. Now, at this point let me remind you I’ve been doing cons for around 30 years…..

This year’s price list went up and it was a shock to everyone. All autograph prices had gone up considerably, some almost double. The excuse given by the organisers was that the guests set their own prices and it’s down to them. Having crewed cons I know that isn’t true. Especially when some guests would be appearing at a con in Wales a few weeks later for up to 75% less than at WSC. But that all became insignificant and quite trivial when the day of the event came.

Normally you are able to collect your pass/lanyard etc. the day before. This year we were instructed to come on the Friday only if we were VIP or higher, or had lots of photo op tickets to collect. I was General Admission and only had one op so waited until the Saturday. I wasn’t worried as in the previous two years it was easy enough to turn up at 10.30am and be inside within minutes. Boy was I wrong.

I arrived at 9.45am. I joined the queue in front of Gate B and the line ran down in front of the venue and into an old train shed that stood next to Olympia station. It then snaked inside the shed and out the other side. It took me 15 minutes to get into the shed and that is where I stopped.

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From then on it all moved very slowly. This was at 10am.

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I eventually made it out to the far side of the shed and the snaking continued. There was not a member of Walker Stalker Con staff in sight. Only the odd Olympia Security people who were no help.

Two hours passed and I started to panic for a number of reasons. I’m not good in crowds that don’t move, especially when I’m getting squashed, and two I had my photo-op with Sonequa at 12.25pm and had yet to get in and collect my ticket.

The line was poorly managed. A group of young guys decided to have some fun and try to skip lines which meant in a huge surge forward and lines combining. This was enough for me. The other attendees (not all, but quite a few) were feral and it was fast becoming unpleasant. I decided to break line and storm to the front. I would either find help or go home- as I was walking along I had other attendees yelling at me (some quite nasty) but I kept going. I eventually found a tall American lady (I think her name might have been Amanda) who listened, was not impressed with what I told her and then helped me get inside- this was at 12.15pm. I made it to my photo-op with Sonequa with about 5 minutes to spare, thanks to the help of WSC staff inside.

Sonequa Martin-Green 2

Amazingly, Sonequa remembered me. I was greeted with “Hey you, its good to see you again.” She also commented on my shirt (which if you look carefully, is slightly different to the normal DISCO shirt) we had the photo and I left.

I was still quite anxious so I went to see my friends Steph and Ann in the chill out room. I left after about 20 minutes to venture out on to the con floor.


It wasn’t particularly busy, I’ve seen busier, but  the attitude of attendees was shocking. Lots of pushing, shoving and general unpleasantness.


I finally found Emily Kinney- the map they handed out was way too small for me to read so I had to do it the old fashioned way. Emily had a very small queue so I got to meet her quite quickly. Got my autograph and photo and was on my way.

Emily Kinney 1

I’d missed most of the talks I wanted to see due to being stuck outside for 3 hours but there was one just about to start. It was ‘The Troublemakers; with Austin Amelio, Steven Ogg, Michael Traynor and Pollyanna McIntosh. I found a seat near the edge with ease and the talk began. I think I lasted all of about 10 minutes as the other people watching in my area were too busy chatting, plus they were still letting people in, all who were very loud and didn’t seem to care.


I couldn’t hear so I left and decide to leave altogether.  I did manage to snap a quick pic of Zombie King, Greg Nicotero, Ross Marquand and the always lovely Alanna Masterson on the way out but that was it.




I was anxious and frustrated. I was meeting friends to celebrate my birthday later that evening but due to the extreme prices inside Olympia I hadn’t eaten and I’d dropped my water. I headed off to get some food and drink and to calm down. This was at 2pm. I’d been at the con for about 90 minutes- the entry ticket was £45 quid.

I’m due to take my brother and his family to HVFF, run by the same organisers, in May and I’m concerned. My brother has mobility issues and my niece has autism. Neither would be able to deal with lines and attitudes like this. Shockingly, all of my tweets to the Walker Stalker account, the Celeb-Photo Ops account and to the guy that runs the show have all gone unanswered. I was tweeting from the line, asking for help but all I got was silence in return, even though they were busy tweeting from the show floor.

I’ll be contacting the Disability Services but I want some assurance from them that none of this will happen again. But I am worried, especially seeing as there has been little official response, without being prompted, about yesterday’s debacle.


February 2018~ BAFTA British Academy Awards

It’s been a good few years since I have been to an event like this.

BAFTA have allowed a set number of members of the public into a special red carpet access area. This allows them to get photographs, autographs and selfies with the many celebrities attending. Many of my friends have done it in the past but over the past few years, BAFTA had allowed people to camp outside the venue overnight which meant that wristbands for the red carpet public access went fast.

This year was to be different…or so the website said. It stated that overnight camping would not be allowed and that wristbands would be given out from a central London location at 10.30am on the morning of the event. The location of the wristband collection point would be made public on the official website and Twitter pages at 10am same day. It also stipulated that the location would not be The Royal Albert Hall or BAFTA Piccadilly.

I came up with a plan. I figured that they probably wouldn’t venture too far from either RAH or BAFTA HQ. My thinking was that it could be somewhere in the West End. I hailed a cab at 9.45am and explained to the driver my plan. We decided to head for Upper Brook Street, off Park Lane, as that would give us access to a number of locations.

We sat and waited.

10am came and the location popped up. Golden Square off Regent Street. It would be 3 minutes tops as the streets were quiet on that Sunday morning. We got there as my watch hit 10.04am. I’m pretty sure the driver was trying to recreate a scene from The Italian Job by the way he drove and then pulled up at the location! To my (and others) surprise, there was already a good 100 people, mostly dealers, in a line already. It was obvious that they must have had insider knowledge. Now I have a real problem with autograph dealers at events like this. Most of them are downright bullies who think that because they are dealers, it’s their right to be there. They often turn up with 10-15 items per celeb they are ‘hunting’. Two guys even had suitcases!! Anyway, the line wasn’t being managed which meant that latecomers were turning up and joining their friends. I went from being about 120 to 201. It got very heated and really needs managing better. It was unfair for many people and there were some arguments. Eventually I got my wristband.


I was told to go to the junction of Queen’s Gate and Prince Consort Road by 1pm. I arrived early just in case. Again,it was badly organised. We were let in in batches, supposedly in number order but it was obvious that it wasn’t being checked properly. The idea was that the lower your number, the better spot you would have. I was 201 out of 550.


I eventually got in, and found a spot by the barrier right at the front on the steps of the RAH. I thought it would be a great spot. Boy was I wrong.


I stood for a few hours chatting with other attendees, doing a bit of cheering for both CNN and RTE whilst set up continued.


The pens opposite us, all the way up the stairs, were empty. One of the security people said it was for press but what actually happened was that people at the back end of the line (numbers around 450+) were let in and ended up right at the top of the stairs by the main entrance.


Then the guests started arriving. Quite quickly it became obvious that once the guests had run the gauntlet of all the media outlets and fans, their chaperones had been told (as we overheard) to bypass the fans on the lower stairs and head straight for the top where the cameras are. Basically we were used to fill pens so the event didn’t look empty. Not impressed at all.

Most of the celebs obeyed their chaperones and kept walking.

Luckily, some did come and give a quick autograph/selfie but not many. When you consider the sheer number of celebs that were there, I would imagine that only 10-15 even bothered; even then, you could hear the chaperones telling them to move on to the top. Some at least said “Hi” or “I’m sorry, I’ve been told no.” Others were just very rude and totally blanked fans. I think they forget who made them popular.

Luckily, two did come my way. First was Dennis Quaid. He was walking past so I called out to him and waved my phone. He replied “Hell, yeh” and came over for a selfie. Nice guy!


Then Letitia Wright from Black Panther walked by. Luckily, I had a Black Panther poster card. She happily signed that before posing for a selfie. I don’t think she signed many others.


I couldn’t stand it much longer. I really wanted to come home and write a positive blog entry. All my other BAFTA experiences had been enjoyable. Not this one. It was spoilt by greedy dealers (I saw many items for dealers I know going for a lot of money on eBay the next day) and by poor organisation; they even let in another 30 people who didn’t have wristbands and tried to push in front of me and some friends I made. I had to leave. They said I wouldn’t be allowed out until it was over; I was essentially locked in which made me panic. Anyway, after some negotiation I got out and made it home.


I’m saddened by the whole experience. I’m just a fan who likes meeting celebs and getting autographs etc. I’m not a dealer out to make an extortionate amount of money. I was glad that they made the change to wristband collection, but it was clear (and BAFTA can deny it all they want) that insider information was given out and the event, from a public point of view wasn’t very well run. I know that you can’t expect every celeb to sign for everyone, but to overhear that you are in an area that is going to be bypassed by pretty much everyone, is annoying and a waste of time.

Would I go again? Only if huge changes were made and the process was fair.

January 2018~ The Greatest Showman

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of musicals. It’s also no secret that as much as I love the Les Mis stage version, I’m not a fan of the film due to the way the sound/singing was recorded. It was with some hesitation that I decided to watch The Greatest Showman.


The film tells the life of Phineas Taylor (PT) Barnum, American Showman and the founder of Barnum & Bailey’s Circus. It isn’t true to life (though some bits are) but aims to tell a story “in the spirit of PT Barnum” and act as a celebration of humanity. Therefore the creators have taken a fair bit of artistic licence with the tale and I’m ok with that.

During the film, Barnum gathers a variety of oddities, from Fedor Jeftichew aka The Dog Boy, the world’s heaviest man (The Lord of Leeds, played by Daniel Everidge) and Shannon Holtzapffel as Prince Constantine, The Tattooed Man who all bring something different to the circus and the film itself. The recruitment scene near the start is one of my favourites.

Whilst there were great performances all around, Hugh Jackman (as PT Barnum), Keala Settle (as Lettie Lutz, The Bearded Lady), Zac Efron (as Phillip Carlyle, a character based in-part on Barnum’s real-life partner, James Bailey) and Zendaya (As Acrobat/Trapeze Artist Anne Wheeler) shone throughout. ‘Rewrite the Stars’ has to be one of the best scenes in the movie, coming a close second to the ‘This is Me’ routine, powerfully performed by Keala Settle and co. Other notable songs include the title track ‘The Greatest Show’ and ‘From Now On’.

The Greatest Showman
Zac Efron and Zendaya

The only issue I had with the film is the scene set in England with Queen Victoria. To me, the actress playing her wasn’t quite right. Apart from that, it is a real, feel-good movie with a great message on inclusion. I really hope it does well during award season this year.


The Prince Charles Cinema announced that they would be showing a sing-along version on Saturday 27th of January. I managed to get the last ticket as they sold out very quickly. I’m not a great singer. I sang in choirs and on stage in ‘Hansel & Gretel’ at The Bloomsbury Theatre in 1983/84 as a child but when my voice broke I gave up. I still enjoy it no matter how bad I sound- I blame my mother! Luckily, others at the PCC were the same. Only a few decent singers, the rest of us just “harmonised”!


Before the film begam Toby Anstis of Heart FM Radio fame ran some competitions, gave away some freebies and held a very quick Q&A with the director of the film, Michael Gracey. Then there was a fancy dress competition; a young girl dressed as Barnum, won a hat worn (and signed by) Hugh Jackman himself.


Then the film began. It was a fun afternoon and was so popular that the PCC have announced more screenings.


My only gripe: for a film that promotes inclusion and equality (and has a large man as a character) why were all the freebie tee shirts only large?? At least my niece will get something to wear.