November 2017~ Netflix- Star Trek: Discovery Fan Event.

In late October, Netflix began sending out emails to Trekkies inviting them to a fan screening on Sunday 5th of November at Millbank Tower, next to the River Thames in London. I initially didn’t receive an invite, so I emailed and asked to be put on a waiting list. The following day I received my invite.

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It came with the additional information that there would also be an exhibition of props, as well as a Q & A with some of the talent- Aaron Harberts (Showrunner), Sonequa Martin-Green (Michael Burnham), Shazad Latif (Lt. Ash Tyler) and Jason Isaacs (Capt. Gabriel Lorca). We were told that doors would open at 12pm.

Knowing what Trekkies (including myself) can be like, I decided to arrive early. 9 am to be precise. Shortly after I arrived, some friends also turned up. They too were also decked out in DISCO tops, all sourced from an unofficial, popular online auction site.

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We tried to get a coffee at a nearby hotel but it was jam packed so I headed back to the front of Millbank Tower to wait for another friend. Whilst there I met up with a guy from Netflix (who I would later find out seemed to be running the whole event) and he was surprised to see us there so early. He pointed me in the right direction and told me where to wait and that he would see me at noon.

Lots of friends arrived and as time went on, the crowds grew. It wasn’t really a line at one point, more of a loose assembly, but the guy I saw earlier came out, said ‘Hi’ and had a look around. He then told someone else to sort out a line, starting with me. After that I must admit I got a bit snappy if anyone tried to jump in front of me and my friends.

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12pm came and we were let in. We all received a Netflix wristband and the first 25 of us would be allowed to meet the guests and get autographs. This was an amazing bonus!

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An express elevator ride to the 29th floor deposited us in the Altitude 360 restaurant which had been transformed into an exhibition hall. At one end we had the Captain’s chair from the USS Discovery as well as props such as phasers, Klingon blades, uniforms etc. The other end had been transformed into a room holding the spore drive and console.

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As fans we could wander round, take photos and interact with the items on display and each other, all the while enjoying the vast amount of refreshments generously laid on by Netflix.

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At about 1.15pm we were directed down to the theatre to watch the 8th episode ‘Si vis pacem, para bellum’ (If you want peace, prepare for war).

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Before the episode was shown, Jamie East (of Thronecast fame) who was presenting the show, introduced the guests. The four of them said a quick hello before settling in to watch the episode with the fans.

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Once the episode was over, a hilarious Q&A followed. There is a video somewhere which I will post later. The highlight for me, apart from hearing all the behind the scenes gossip, was Jason Isaacs getting Jonathan Riker Frakes’ name wrong! All of them were extremely humble and a joy to listen to. Jason was amazing at praising his fellow actors and the creative team. Hearing the gorgeous and very talented Sonequa tell us her own backstory for Michael Burnham was equally awesome and she brings a fresh outlook to the Trek universe. Shazad was very cagey about his character and I think there is more than meets the eye to Ash Tyler. It’s also quite clear that Aaron Harberts wants Discovery to be groundbreaking but also honour all the Trek that has gone before.

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After that, it was back upstairs for a meet and greet with autograph and selfie opportunities. It was an awesome day and I would like to thank Netflix for putting on such an amazing event!

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August 2016~ Thunderbirds 65

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Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s TV Show Thunderbirds, first aired in 1965. It follows the exploits of International Rescue (IR), a life-saving organisation equipped with technologically-advanced land, sea, air and space rescue craft; these are headed by a fleet of five vehicles named the Thunderbirds and launched from IR’s secret base in the Pacific Ocean. The main characters are ex-astronaut Jeff Tracy, the founder of IR, and his five adult sons, who pilot the Thunderbird machines.

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32 hour-long stories were created and aired in 30 minute episodes. Like the other Supermarionation shows (Fireball XL5, Joe 90, Captain Scarlett) it garnered a cult following. Years later, after two feature-length films. a live-action movie (2004) a stage show and two animated series’, Thunderbirds would go back to its roots with three episodes made the very same way that the originals were 50 years previously.

A Thunderbirds Mini-Album was released on vinyl (Remember those?) for those fans who wanted more. Most mini-albums contained soundtracks and not much more, but one in particular contained three stories that had been written and recorded for vinyl release only and up until now had never been seen on screen.

In early 2015, a group including Stephen La Rivière, ITV and members of the Gerry Anderson estate got together to decide the best way to celebrate the shows’ 50th anniversary. They came up with the idea of turning the three episodes (Introducing the Thunderbirds, The Abominable Snowman, The Stately Homes Robberies) in actual episodes using the same techniques used 50 years previous. Models were built from scratch as were new puppets. One of the original directors was brought on board and the project was backed via Kickstarter.

The premiere of these episodes took place on Wednesday 17th August at The BFI in London’s Southbank. Thanks to my mate David, I was able to get tickets to take my nephew Charlie who is a massive fan.

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We watched the episodes which were amazing. It was just like watching one of the originals. Afterwards, there was a Q&A session with the creators. David Graham, who did the voices for Parker and Brains was in attendance. Charlie loves Parker and my mate David knows David Graham so they were able to meet. Charlie was very starstruck, especially when David did the Parker voice and told Charlie that he had made his evening as it’s not often he meets new, quite young fans.

It was a great evening, one we will never forget! Thanks again David!

March 2016~ Marvel Superhero Challenge

With the upcoming release of Captain America: Civil War, the latest chapter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Disney are putting on events for kids at their flagship branch, The Disney Store Oxford Street. Through a colleague I managed to secure a couple of spots for my niece Jessica and nephew Charlie (Little Lewis was too young) to a preview event which would allow the staff at the store to test everything out before going live.

We arrived early enough to take part in the opening ceremony and the first 10 children were given a special Disney key. We wandered around the store for a while before heading down to the theatre where the event would take place.

There were 10 children in total. The children were split into two teams: Team Cap and Team Iron Man (just like the movie). There were ten characters, five per team. Each child had to select a character from a bag and that would be their character for the duration. Charlie and Jess ended up on opposing teams with Charlie as The Winter Soldier and Jess as Iron Man. After that there were a series of tasks to complete, each tasks earning a piece of a puzzle upon completion. The final task needed both teams to work together to complete the final puzzle.

At the end each child was given a nice set of stickers!

Shortly afterwards my wallet was bled dry as the kids went on a shopping spree in the store!