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Peterborough TV & Movie Fest 2015

Peterborough TV and Movie Fest
25th October 2015
aka
My Early Birthday Present

by Susan Bowden

I had assumed that taking a train and staying overnight in Peterborough in order to attend TV and Movie Fest would ensure I arrived at the event feeling refreshed. All good in principle, but my mind wouldn’t allow me to sleep…

Those staying in Peterborough selected different hotels, with everyone having fun. Anniew and her husband were able to join me and my son at the Premier Inn, where we ate dinner and spent a lovely evening engaged in companionable conversation. I’d hoped a good night’s sleep would follow, but it was not to be. It wasn't the fault of the hotel - in fact, the facilities were excellent. This was good, because as I lay in bed watching television, I made notes about a story focusing on insomnia (don’t be surprised if that appears on the ficlet challenge at some point), I went online, I… well, it wasn’t untill after 3:30am on Sunday 25th I finally fell asleep - and that’s with the clocks having moved forward. I blame the caffeine I drank late in the evening. But I wasn’t going to allow tiredness to deter me from feeling excited about the following day!

Having bought early bird tickets, we arrived at The Cresset in time to stand outside in the queue: cold, huddling like Emperor penguins, with guests politely wishing everyone in line ‘good morning’ as they entered the building.

There were distractions from the weather, such as chatting with fellow fans. And as 21st October 2015 was designated as Back to the Future Day, we were able to admire the De Lorean parked outside the venue. Attendees could have their picture taken sitting inside the vehicle – sadly, it didn’t include a flux capacitor, otherwise I would be travelling back to 1977-78 in a heartbeat, in order to watch B7 being filmed.

Once a second photo shoot ticket had been purchased and securely stored, we took the opportunity to look around at all the goodies on display. While the vendors weren't selling the A to Z of everything, there was certainly a varied selection which would appeal to different fandoms. Have the folks that perpetuate the cliché that only men and teenage boys are interested in science fiction and fantasy ever attended one of these events? Women have always been a huge presence at conventions. And who doesn’t love to poke around Forbidden Planet? TV and Movie Fest was attended by all genders and age groups, and children were having a blast from the moment they stepped inside the venue.

The cosplay creations were all of a high standard: Servalan, Marty McFly, Catwoman and the Thermions from Galaxy Quest. Daleks patrolled and there were Timelords everywhere, all ready to suppress Davros should he switch from observing to less friendly activities.

Federation troopers were on hand to control the masses, Anna Grant searched for Avon, Soolin appeared ready to strike; maybe she wanted revenge on Dorian. He wasn’t there: probably too busy working on a teleport system.

Gary’s costumes were strategically displayed in front of a sparkling star-strewn background. It was quite stunning, and with Paul Darrow and Jacqueline Pearce in position behind the B7 autograph table, it felt like someone had fired the starting pistol.

Paul is a consummate professional, taking time to talk with everyone in the queue, and Jacks amused everyone with the copious messages she wrote on items handed to her to autograph.

Deciding what to have Paul sign came down to Rebecca’s World, Lucifer (book format) and his autobiography, You’re Him, Aren’t You? I selected Rebecca’s World because Paul’s performance in this terrific story is genuinely sublime. Listening to him perform Mr Glister (James Mason) and Captain K (Lawrence Olivier) during our conversation about the audiobook was a real thrill.

We talked about his latest, non-B7, Big Finish project. I believe he mentioned there would be four in the series. This is the same writing project he alluded to in his 2014 interview with HFM, but subsequently had to put on hold.

I teased Paul about his incurable name dropping, and he reeled off several throughout our conversation, including possible casting names for his audio book series.

My son handled himself admirably. When meeting Mr Darrow for the first time, Paul treated him to a familiar: “Well, now!” They discussed his Lucifer trilogy, with Paul proffering sage advice on how to treat girls: “Don’t go around punching women, like Avon!” My son also received an enthusiastic response to his name, which is similar to a character Paul’s written.

Paul was sweet, funny and attentive, but as I was acutely aware that his and Jacqueline’s autograph line stretched the furthest, I didn’t want to hold up the others who were patiently waiting to have a word.

A bit like flies around a honey pot, those of us in attendance from Horizon all trooped up the stairs in time to sit in the front rows for the panel with Paul and Jacqueline. Jacks set the tone perfectly: “Don’t upstage me, dahling!” she playfully ordered Paul, in response to a comment he made as they were about to take their places on stage. It amused me, especially since Paul, the ultimate showman, happily acquiesced… for a short while anyway, until they were ready to start the panel.

Paul spoke of his illness with profound poignancy – his bravery moved everyone in the room. But it isn’t my intention to focus on his change in circumstances in this report. He is now healthy, looks incredible - and Paul will always be Paul.

Jacqueline talked about how glad she is to be home in the UK and living in the North West with her dogs. She couldn’t discuss the recent Doctor Who audios she’s recorded with John Hurt, and naturally lapsed into stories about the days before Sir John acquired his title. Most of her Liberator Chronicle stories were recorded while she was in Africa, though she and Paul talked about recording Kerr for Liberator Chronicles Volume 4. While it probably isn’t news that they recorded it separately, I’m still impressed with the editing - this story is one of my personal favourites.

Paul told fascinating anecdotes from his extensive television career, throwing in the fact there were plenty more Blake’s 7 audios to come. He also discussed his other project. I can’t wait to see this listed on the Big Finish Website – I’m looking forward to it immensely.

Jacks and Paul have amazing stage presence; the entire panel was entertaining, naughty, playful and touching. There was no shuffling or talking in the audience – everyone hung on their every word.

Well done to the moderator too, who principally used prompts in order to let the guests talk freely - the best way to conduct a panel, in my opinion. The massive applause at the panel’s conclusion hopefully let Paul Darrow and Jacqueline Pearce know how much we appreciated their company at the event.

While Paul’s appearance at TV and Movie Fest naturally counts as my weekend highlight, I did find the time to talk with Peter Davison (I liked his era in Doctor Who). And Clareblues and I, through a process of constantly moving from our nattering position due to the autograph lines increasing, ended up chatting with a representative from the Exotic Pet Refuge. Their table in the dealers/autograph room contained various exotic pets in aquariums, including a snake (wouldn’t be smart to let that loose) and two beautiful owls on stands calmly observing everything in a chilled-out manner. The larger owl had seen it all - he’s been attending events for twenty five years. We were told how the refuge was started and how it’s developed. They aren’t funded, but hopefully many of those who attended the convention picked up a leaflet about their 2016 open days.

The Cresset is a spacious venue, and there are plenty of communal areas with tables, seating and refreshments. There was a hub where we could all meet, sit, and chat to our hearts' content. It’s always a pleasure to spend time with fellow Horizon members, and on this occasion, because everyone eventually congregated around the tables, it afforded me the chance to meet folks from different groups.

John Levene came over for a brief chat with us during a much-needed lunch break, and then it was time to climb those stairs a second time - having first performed a quick teeth check to ensure sandwich remnants weren’t lurking to embarrass us when we smiled during the photo shoots.

I did the Paul Darrow photo shoot (no surprise there) and once again he told tales from his Blake’s 7 filming days (hair in the wrong place/kissing), charming everyone in the queue. He looked extremely fetching in his maroon blazer, which probably contributed to the parade of women kissing his cheek following their photograph. It’s reassuringly endearing to realise everyone has the same shell-shocked expression when they exit a photo shoot with their favourite actor/actress.

Most attendees were leaving at around three o'clock, but the Contradiction panel wasn't scheduled until four. I was worried that the team would be talking to an empty room, and was determined to attend. I’d chatted with John Guilor, (Ryan) Rupert Booth, (Jenks) and Tim Follin earlier in the day, picking up a photo signed by everyone in the cast and production – now nicely stored in my folder. Melanie Gray (Rebecca) filmed the panel. There were six attendees – ten, if you count the aforementioned names. But numbers weren’t important, the cosy panel allowed for genuine audience interaction and the cast and crew are all lovely. Their knowledge and enthusiasm for the game is infectious – having Paul Darrow playing Paul Rand in Contradiction led to several behind the scenes tales. I won’t repeat what he did as they sat in a pub eating dinner, but it's on their YouTube video. I fully intend downloading Contradiction. The murder mystery game can be played at leisure, and requires utilising your little grey cells in order to progress through each stage. I wish the guys every success.

Peterborough TV & Movie Fest proved to be a thoroughly excellent weekend: a friendly atmosphere throughout the day, everyone having a laugh, the entire team was professional. The photo shoots, panels and autographs were all conducted in a relaxed environment.

All the guests were amazing, Jacqueline Pearce’s stamina is admirable, a real trooper, still smiling as we exchanged pleasantries with her late into the afternoon. And it almost goes without saying how absolutely wonderful it was to talk with Mr Darrow at the event – I’ll look forward to seeing him at future conventions.



***


Peterborough TV and Film Fest
Sunday, 25th October 2015
The Cresset, Peterborough

by Sue Little

Well, I wasn’t going to go.
Well, it was too far.
Besides, my chauffeur didn’t want to go without her Significant Other…

Then RTGP3 happened, and I decided to meet up with all the guys again in Peterborough. Train, hotel – then the unthinkable:
“I’ll drive you up on the day,” says Hubby.

So, there we were, at 6.45am on a cold, foggy morning, packed and ready for the drive to Peterborough. We arrived at 9.15am and found a parking place, which a really helpful steward said was free on weekends. My tickets were for 10am, so I wandered off to find everyone else and saw a black car, the same model as mine, draw up next to the steward… and sitting in the front was Mr Darrow!

Hubby said he would sit in the car and read the newspaper while I got in the queue. After a few minutes it became quite cold, so I asked if I could step inside the foyer and keep warm. Then I spotted someone outside… it was Miss Pearce!

We decided it was far too cold to stay outside, but then Mr Darrow arrived, smiling and saying hello to everyone. It was worth the long journey to Peterborough just to see how well he looked.

Jacqueline and Paul were taken inside, while I entered the foyer and joined the growing number of people waiting to get in at 10am. They let us in at 9.50am – yay!

The first thing was to find Anniew, Mistletoe and Meegat, and then I was off upstairs to listen to the B7 Panel talk. It only cost £1 to get in and there was a very nice sound system to boot!

Once everyone had stopped clapping, and the interviewer had introduced the two guests, we all settled down for an enthralling half hour.

Jacqueline informed us that she was now living with her four dogs in a two-up two-down house in Bolton.

“Bolton?” said Paul in surprise, “I am sorry!”

At that point someone in the audience said that he came from Bolton!

Paul talked about visiting Terry Nation in California. He had his own suite, with lovely views over the mountains. He went down for breakfast and Terry was there, typing away. Paul couldn't decide what he wanted for breakfast or lunch, so they went to a posh restaurant. They were sitting on an upper level, but the lower level was empty. Terry explained that it those who hadn’t made it were on the lower level; those who have made it were on the upper. Dick van Dyke was sitting at the next table. He said hello, then Richard Dreyfus came over and said hi.

Paul asked what was going on.

“Oh,” said Terry, “my daughter booked this table in your name - Lord Avon! They all think that you’re a high powered producer!”

Jacqueline admitted that she had no interest in science fiction prior to being cast as Servalan, but she loved the strong character. Paul said he read the first script and noticed that he wasn’t in it. David Maloney told him to read the rest, which he did and realised that he had the best part!

Paul talked about making Aftermath. Director Vere Lorrimer ('Uncle Vere') wanted to film their kiss as a slow pan down, then Servalan would raise her foot and her shoe would fall off. When he had finished describing the shot, Paul asked whether they were filming a carpet advert! He told Vere that he and Jacks had it all worked out, to which Vere replied, “I thought you might!” But they showed him, and Vere agreed to do it that way.

Paul also talked about the scene in Aftermath where Servalan was tied up (“Oh, I loved that!” interjected Jacqueline). There wasn't any scripted dialogue, but as Paul ran to cut her loose, she said “Thank you,” and he replied “You're welcome!” which was a bit bizarre, with all the bombs and smoke going off.

Both Paul and Jacks talked about how well the cast of B7 had gelled, which was rare and has contributed to the series success and longevity.

Paul said that there had been some confusion about the way B7 should end. When he heard that everyone gets killed, he said, “Well, Terry won’t like that!” Then he was told that Blake gets killed, and said:

“I thought he was already dead! I’ll do it, and make sure I get it right this time!”

He said that the reason Avon smiled at the end was because Servalan had just walked in. “Then we would have lots of little Servalans!”

He sent up his performance of Tekker in Doctor Who, and said that he did it for the money - they paid quite well!

Jacks talked about going to Seville for her Doctor Who story.

Paul spoke about recording most of the Big Finish audios on his own, because he would only work half a day in order to get home to his dog. Sally was annoyed, but Hugh Fraser, who was playing the President of the Federation, said, “Maybe we should all get a dog, Sally!"

Paul also talked about a new audio drama he had pitched and written for Big Finish that was nothing to do with B7. Paul would play the leading role - not a hero, but a catalyst. Jacqueline would be in it, too. Paul will also be recording the audio book of his autobiography, You're Him, Aren't You?

Jacqueline talked about working with Sir John Hurt at Big Finish, with Paul revealing that he and John Hurt had shared a flat when they were both at RADA.

This is just a brief outline of the talk; half an hour is just not long enough - especially as Mr D has so many anecdotes to tell!

After the panel, we went downstairs to join the queue for autographs. Gary’s costumes were on display on the stage, beautifully lit by well-placed spotlights. In front were the tables behind which Paul and Jacks sat to sign autographs.

I offered up my copy of that excellent novel, Avon: A Terrible Aspect, which was duly signed by the author. There was a young lad in front, who according to his Mum had never watched Blakes 7. Mr D ordered him, in his bestest Avon voice, to watch it! Whether the lad will or not is another matter.

In the centre of the room were tables for the dealers, and on the other side of the hall were tables for the other guests, but I think Paul and Jacks had the longest queues.

Something to eat then beckoned, before I went to buy tickets for the photo shoot. I was only planning to get one with both Paul and Jacqueline, but then decided to go the whole hog and have one just with Paul. During the many years I’ve been a fan of this man, I have never got a proper photo of just me and him, whereas Daughter No. 2 has loads of pictures of her with that guy David Tennant!

All us Horizon gang drifted over to the area for sitting and eating, and I noticed that the only models on show in that area were from Battlestar Galactica. Outside was the Back to the Future DeLorean….well, it was a DeLorean, but not the one all done up with the contraptions on it. I’ve seen that – in fact, more than that: Several years ago, my Mum-in-Law actually went down the M27 in one of the mock-ups, when her mechanic nephew turned up and asked if she like to have a run in this car he was looking after. She couldn’t understand why everyone was pointing!

Then came the photo shoot, which was done by a brilliant photographer. First a photo with Mr D and Jacks, then a quick exit and back in the queue for a photo just with Mr D, who by then was getting rather naughty! He was saying, very quietly, a little word that made everyone laugh, or in at least one case, made a young lady blush! By now, all of us in the queue were giggling, and one of the ladies asked if she could kiss him on the cheek… and she did! Well, thought the rest of us, if she can, so can we! After that, I think most of us kissed him.

Then we traipsed back downstairs, this time for Paul to sign autographs at the Contradiction table. Once again, a long queue formed, as did another one for Jacks, who was still signing autographs until late in the afternoon.

Dr Who figured a great deal, with numerous Doctors prowling around; Wilf Mott sitting outside the Tardis, Daleks causing havoc, Davros speeding round. Blakes 7 was represented by fans dressed as Servalan, Soolin and our very own Anna Grant.

I chatted to Vera Day who starred in The Prince and the Showgirl with Marilyn Monroe. She was able to tell me about her experiences with a lady that Daughter No.1 is a great fan of. In fact, Vera said it would have been nice if my Daughter had been there, as the people assigned to be her minders didn’t seem to know much about her films. Then we had a chat about Helldrivers and how she ended up in a dance hall while James Bond and The Prisoner slugged it out. As a treat she gave me her autograph… for free!

Next I chatted to Peter Davison. I told him I loved Button Moon and All Creatures. Yes, he really did put his hand up there during the series!

Then I saw Peter Purves. Both Anna Grant and I regaled him with our memories of Blue Peter and a programme called Doctor Who. We also chatted about poor old Simon Groom, who live on air, quite innocently said: ‘What a lovely pair of knockers!’

The event itself was centred in one hall, with the models outside on the other side of the entrance hall. The tea and chips were a godsend. All in all, it was well organised, not too crowded, and everyone was very friendly. It was an ideal sized event for Mr Darrow to appear at, and he had time to chat to everyone. However, I don’t think Grandson would have stayed interested for long, and I’m glad that I didn’t drag him from his slumber.

Hubby and I left about 3.30pm, just after Mr D. It was a long day and a long journey, but well worth it.
.
Next time… it’s Bournemouth, which is just down the road from me!

***


Photos by Maximum Power, Mr and Mrs Olag, and Littlesue's Hubby

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