October 2018~ Star Trek Short Treks

BLACK ALERT! SPOILERS FOLLOW….

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It was announced at San Diego Comic Con that CBS would be releasing a series of 4 “Short Treks”- 15 minute long episodes that would begin airing in October, and take us up to the start of Discovery Season 2. Each episode will be centered around a character.

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Now I will freely admit that I had to find an alternative way of watching this as CBS have made it US only. This is a bad move as A)there are fans worldwide like me who pay their Netflix subscription so they can watch Trek and B)it forces us to find other ways to watch as we have no idea if they will ever be seen! Sort it out CBS!

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The first Short Trek, titled ‘Runaway’ is begins with the now-Ensign Sylvia Tilly, played by Mary Wiseman, communicating with her mother, Siobhan Tilly, who is cautioning her over her choice of career path and reminding her to know her limitations.

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Shortly thereafter Tilly is in the Mess Hall when she encounters a young Xahian stowaway named Me Hani Ika Hali Ka Po, played by Yadira Guevara-Prip, who is a talented engineer. It is up to Tilly to help her return home in time for her coronation.

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It’s a great episode and definitely worth watching. Mary Wiseman is awesome once again as Tilly.

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The episode also has a couple of the best quotes from Tilly so far. “Hormonal space rabbit” and “quadruple espresso with milk alternative- it’s my best friend” both had me laughing out loud.

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Can’t wait for Season 2!

August 2018~ Star Trek Discovery: Spock casting!

When Star Trek Discovery began in 2017, many Trek fans, myself included,  hoped that they wouldn’t go anywhere near Kirk, Spock and co during the first season. I felt it needed to be accepted on its own merits. Season one was a complete success (for most fans) and it was an amazing sight when the Discovery finally came nose-to-nose with the USS Enterprise…..I must admit a little tear was shed!

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This led many to believe that the Enterprise would somehow play a big part in season two. That was subsequently confirmed by CBS when they announced that actor Anson Mount was cast to play Captain Christopher Pike (Commander of the Enterprise before Kirk), another Trek character to have been played by multiple actors.

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Anson Mount, Jeffery Hunter, Sean Kenney & Bruce Greenwood as Captain Christopher Pike

What little information we do have tells us that Spock has vanished; Pike and the crew of the Discovery, including Spock’s adopted sister Michael Burnham, set out to find him.

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Sarek (Spock’s father) & Michael Burnham

Since the announcement that Spock would somehow play a part in Discovery season 2 there has been a lot of speculation about who would play him if he were to appear.

Many fans were excited at the prospect of a new Spock, whilst others said that to recast would be tantamount to sacrilege as there can be only one- many said that Quinto was bad enough in the JJ Abrahms movies (FYI even though I’m not a fan of the JJ-verse, for me Quinto and Zoe Saldana were perfect casting choices).

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To me, Leonard Nimoy (Grandpa Leonard 🙂 ) will always be the quintessential Spock. However, for Trek to continue, recasting becomes necessary.

I’d like to remind people that to date, 9 people, including Nimoy and Quinto have played Spock:

So there IS a precedent for a new actor playing Spock at a different age and I’m cool with that. I’m sure the new actor will pay homage to Leonard Nimoy- Leonard’s family seem to approve!

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Ethan Peck (Centre) with (L-R) Terry Farrell (Jadzia Dax in Star Trek: DS9 and wife of Adam Nimoy), Adam Nimoy, Julie Nimoy & David Knight (Julie’s husband)

So who is the new Spock?

His name is Ethan Peck and he comes from good Hollywood-acting stock; his grandfather was the actor Gregory Peck who I loved in The Omen, The Guns of Navarone, To Kill A Mockingbird and more…..

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Ethan already has a good list of acting credits under his belt and I’m sure he will be a great addition not only to Star Trek Discovery, but to the whole Trek family!

Welcome Ethan!

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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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!

Star Trek Discovery

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October 2017~ Star Trek Exhibition- Blackpool

The Star Trek Blackpool exhibition ends in November this year. I managed to pay a visit before it closed.

To be honest, it was a let down. The majority of exhibits came from Martin Netter, the German collector who also sells merchandise at highly inflated prices. I’ve seen all these props before at various Trek cons. Most are in poor condition and can do with a bit of TLC.

There were only two good parts to the day. Meeting up with mates to have a variety of photos taken on the bridge set and seeing the new props and chair from Star Trek Discovery. Apart from that it was a waste of time.

Photos below.

September 2017~ Star Trek: Discovery

Star Trek is back on TV (kind of) and back where it belongs and as usual there are plenty of fans already picking at it like vultures on a carcass.

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Star Trek: Discovery was announced in November 2015 and premiered on CBS ALL-ACCESS on Sunday 24th September. It was released on Netflix the following day for international viewers.

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Please note: If you have not yet seen the show, some spoilers follow.

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The series is set ten years prior to the original series with Kirk, Spock, McCoy and co. It follows the exploits of the USS Discovery. It is the first show to have the leading character who is not the ship’s captain. Commander Michael Burnham is the Discovery’s First Officer, played by Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha in The Walking Dead) a Starfleet Officer with a unique background. Her parents were killed in a Klingon raid and she was raised by Sarek of Vulcan, essentially make her an adopted sibling to Spock.

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In episode one “The Vulcan Hello” we see Burnham struggle with decisions, and a battle with her Vulcan upbringing versus her Human nature. These decisions would eventually lead to full scale war with the Klingons, the deaths of those closest to her and the loss of many Starfleet ships including the USS Shenzou, an old Walker Class Starship commanded by Captain Phillip Georgiou, played by Michelle Yeoh. It’s not until episode 3 that the USS Discovery, commanded by Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs) puts in an appearance.

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I love Discovery so far. Like all Trek it breaks new ground somehow. This time around we have not only a person of colour (one day we will get past the need to separate us by colour, gender etc but that’s a whole other blog post.) but a female as well and so far I’m impressed. Burnham is a hard character to like but tough choices have to be made. I can’t wait to see how she develops and Sonequa plays her so well. It also has the first same-sex couple which has also caused some controversy. So far Discovery is much darker and grittier than the previous iterations, with the exception of DS9. I look forward to seeing how the show develops.

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As usual, Trekkies all over the globe have started picking the show apart. Most in a positive way, looking for hidden links to the other shows, but there are still a few who seem intent on finding fault with every little thing. I’d like to pick up on a few now.

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First, it should be known that many of the production staff have said that they are aware that people would be nitpicking. They have also asked fans to be patient as they guarantee all the nitpicks will be answered.

1- The visuals of the show. This includes the look of the ships, uniforms and everything else. The main complaint is that it doesn’t fit in with the look of the original series.

My response: Why would it? Yes, it is set 10 years prior, but improvements in television production mean that the show will have a different look. If TOS had the tech we have now, I think it would look very , very different. Let’s face it- If they used 60s tech nowadays to film, or made it look visually the same, it probably wouldn’t do very well.

2. The Klingons- From their look to their ships some folks are unhappy. “We’ve never seen these Klingons before”, “these ships don’t look right” or “these ships look like the ones in DS9”. 

My response: Are you serious? Even though we have seen a lot of the Trek universe over the years we haven’t seen everything. A new show like this gives the creators the chance to expand the universe even more. It’s already been said that these are not the Klingons we know. To say “if you’ve seen one Klingon you’ve seen them all” is kinda racist! 😉 As for the ships? They looked old. Which fits in with the backstory of the new Klingons coming from an old house.

3. Aliens- There are aliens on Starfleet vessels, like the new character, Saru. A Kelpian who can literally sense impending doom/death. “There were no aliens in Starfleet in TOS” is the cry I hear.

My response: Umm, Spock? Vulcan I believe? Anyway, apart from the Enterprise, we didn’t see much of Starfleet or any other starships in TOS, so how would we know. Besides. the tech wasn’t easily available in the 60s to regularly make effective looking aliens.

4. Uniforms and ships- The uniforms just don’t fit with TOS seeing as it’s set at the same time as The Cage. Starship interior design doesn’t match either.

My response: The answer to both of these issues can be found in the Discovery novel, Desperate Hours. But think for a minute. The ships themselves, both interior and exterior, are quite similar to those in Enterprise. Very submarine/battleship-like. The uniforms themselves look like an offshoot from the Enterprise jumpsuits. If you would like the answer revealed in the book, please scroll down past the picture. I can highly recommend the book. It’s well worth a read.

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Uniforms- The uniforms the we know from TOS are a new design, currently only being issued to those crew who are part of the new, elite, Constitution Class Starship programme with the idea of eventually rolling them out to the rest of the fleet. There is precedent for multiple uniforms being used at once. Think about the DS9 jumpsuits at the same time as the TNG uniform.

Ships- Many of the current ships in the fleet are old. Based on a design similar to the very early NX Class. The new Constitution Class ships are designed for long-term voyages and were designed in a more ‘homely’, less ‘battleship’ manner. If this works, it is also to be rolled out fleet-wide.

This is my interpretation of what is in the book and what I have read elsewhere (I could be wrong!). This same info can also be found on many other websites. I think it’s a great way of joining Discovery with TOS.

I’ve only ever had one BIG issue with Trek continuity and that was with Star Trek Into Darkness, but that is a whole other issue. The only thing for me that has yet to be answered with Discovery is the use of what originally was The Enterprise Delta for the whole of the fleet. In TOS, every ship had their own logo. As the Enterprise became the most successful, most famous ship, its logo was adopted by the whole fleet. But this was after TOS. Would like to hear the explanation as to why it appears now.

I’m sure there will be more gripes for people to moan about and I will try to update this list at some point. But I suggest you just sit back and enjoy the ride!

EASTER EGGS- There are quite a few hidden links. I’m not gonna list all of them but here are a few:-

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  • Internal ship sounds (doors, com whistles, alerts etc) similar to TOS
  • Phasers and communicators similar to TOS/The Cage
  • Bottle of Chateau Picard in the Shenzou’s Ready Room
  • TOS titled books in Ready Room
  • The Prime Directive is called General Order One (as it was in TOS)
  • First Officer Burnham is known as Number One (Majel Barrett’s character in The Cage and Wil Riker in TNG)
  • Vulcan nerve pinch and mind meld
  • Sarek (Spock’s daddy!)

Again, I’ll update this as time goes by…

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LLAP!

 

 

August 2017~ Trek-On!

Trek-On! was a Sci-Fi one-day convention organised by the guys who produce the TrekMate Podcast. It took place on Saturday 19th August 2017 at The Rudolf Steiner School in King’s Landing Langley.

I. along with a few other people from FCD Events was asked to help crew the event. Initially there were 14 guests, mostly from Star Wars. The headline guest was Max Grodénchik who played Rom in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine who had come over especially for the event on his way home from the big Trek con in Las Vegas. After setting up the venue on the Friday night, most of the team met up with Max at a local carvery, which was a first for him and his family.

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The event had everything you need for a good con. It had a good amount of guests. Plenty of dealers plus other activities such as a Jedi Fight Academy run by Andrew Lawden, one of the guests, who was Liam Neeson’s fight stand-in in Star Wars Ep 1: The Phantom Menace, a table-top gaming area plus a console gaming area. There were also props on display from Back to the Future, courtesy of The Hill Valley Preservation Society. A screen accurate DeLorean was outside the venue and you were able to have your photo taken inside it. In Hall 2 (where the guests were situated) you were also able to have a professional photoshoot with the guests. A variety of talks by the guests had also been planned, hosted by the man of many voices, Mr Contalk himself, Neil Green!

When I crew cons for FCD, I am part of the management team and normally manage an area but with this event I had asked to do something simple like helping to look after a guest or two. This request was honoured, but due to a shortage of staff I ended up looking after quite a few!

The crew of the USS Merlin, a Region 20 Chapter of Starfleet International, the world’s biggest Star Trek fanclub were present, with RAdm Richard Sams in command. He was there to present Max Grodénchik with his member pack after he joined the USS Alba, a Scotland-based chapter.

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Although there was a lot on offer, sadly attendee turnout was low. From the point of view of the organisers, it was upsetting to say the least. It hasn’t put them off and they are going to try again in the future. But, from the point of view as a collector/fan it was good for me as I got to spend a lot of time with the guests, chatting about their time on various films.

The majority of guests were what are commonly known as ‘extras’. Personally, I hate that term as I think it totally devalues their role in film/tv. I prefer ‘Background Actor/Artist’. Most of these people are trained actors. Yes, they don’t speak on screen and if they do it has to be less than 13 words (in the UK at least) otherwise they get paid more and get a screen credit. Theirs is an important role. When talking to people about this topic, I always ask them to think of an important scene in a film and then imagine that scene with all the background actors removed. For example, look at the scene below. It’s the medal ceremony from the original Star Wars film. How boring would it look and how much less of an impact would it have if it was just Luke, Han and Chewie with Leia giving out the medals? It would look nowhere near as effective.

For some, this is their life’s work and they have worked on many famous films and TV shows and worked with many big celebrities. These folks have helped make some of the biggest films what they are today and to devalue their work would be an insult and a disservice to them.

We were lucky enough to have quite a few ‘extras’ at the event. I’ve been waiting to meet a good few of them over the past few years.

First there was Alan Tomkins. Alan has been Art Director on a number of blockbuster films, including The Empire Strikes Back, Batman Begins, numerous Bond films and war films such as ‘A Bridge Too Far’. I was eager to meet him for his work on Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was interesting to hear his stories of working on the film including how Kubrick made his life hell by constantly wanting the pod bay of the Discovery-One re-dressed.

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The there was Alan Austen. Alan has done a number of films but his main role for me was as the Stormtrooper who put Han Solo in the carbon freeze in The Empire Strikes Back.

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Derek Lyons has been in a number of my favourite films and had multiple roles in each. He was a German soldier in two Indiana Jones films, has appeared in multiple Bond films and had three roles in Flash Gordon. It was great to hear stories from both him and Alan. I met Derek because of his 3 roles in the original Star Wars. He was a Rebel Honour Guard, a Rebel Pilot in the briefing room scene and finally Lt. Voren Na’al, medal bearer at the award ceremony.

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Like Derek and Alan, Nick Joseph has had a varied career, appearing in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ and many episodes of the classic Doctor Who. Nick portrayed Major Arhul Hextrophon during the medal ceremony in the original Star Wars. Nick was a pleasure to speak to.

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Next was Tina Simmons. Tina has done lots of background work, most recently in Transformers: The Last Knight and Doctor Strange. Tina played a Rebel Technician during the briefing room scene in Return of the Jedi. I know someone else who was in that exact same scene and stood only meters from Tina. If only I could convince him to do cons too? Great talking to her as well!

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Harry Fielder was a pleasant surprise. Harry has had a near-40 year career as a background actor, appearing in hundreds of TV shows and films. His first being an episode of ‘The Saint’ with Roger Moore. Harry used to be very popular on the Star Wars con circuit, but due to ill health he hasn’t done an event for a while. Luckily, he lives a couple of miles from the venue so came down to sign. The man has so many stories, it’s amazing. I had no chance of hearing them all so I bought his book. Harry played Corporal Grenwick in the original Star Wars. He was in multiple scenes but is best known for helping Darth Vader with Princess Leia’s interrogation and being shot by Han Solo when they attacked the detention block. I’m glad I got to meet him!

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Finally, there was Sandeep Mohan. Sandeep has played many roles including being an MI-5 agent in Skyfall and a surgeon in Dr Strange. For me, he is best known as a Scarif Trooper in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and a First Order Stormtrooper in The Force Awakens. In TFA he appeared in two standout scenes: He was the trooper that manhandled Lor San Tekka (Max von Sydow) and the trooper that stopped his partner and made them back away when Kylo Ren was having his tantrum.

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It was a great pleasure talking to all these guests and I wish Wayne and Jude all success in the future with any events they put on. There is so much potential there.