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Paul Darrow at Bournemouth Comic Con 2016

Bournemouth Comicon
Saturday 12th March 2016
Report by Sue Little

It’s 5 o’clock!
It’s Crackerjack!!
No, it’s not; it’s 5 o'clock in the morning and I’ve only had four hours sleep.

Today is Saturday, and I’m off to Bournemouth to the Comicon. It’s cold; it’s foggy, but I set out (after scraping the ice of the windscreen). I arrive at Brian’s house. He is daughter No. 2’s Significant Other and has offered to take me to Bournemouth, along with Adam who is busy getting his make-up sorted out while I sit down in a nice comfy chair and have a cup of tea…

Then off to Bournemouth - through a lot of fog. But we arrive at the BIC, find a space to park and then go to join the queue - a queue that winds down the stairs, along the pavement, across the road, past the bus stop… you get the picture!

I’m standing in line with a Visitor from V and a lady from a story in which she got bitten by the spider instead of Peter Parker. And there’s a Silence in front of me, various Dr Who incarnations, other ladies wearing very little… which cause a few male drivers almost to veer off the road!

The doors open and we all surge in. Brian goes to sort out where he should put K9, leaving me and Adam to hunt down Paul Darrow’s location.

First hall: lots of dealers. Along the back wall are various guests, including one that I recognised - Ryan Gage from the Musketeers, sitting with his two minders and piles of photos, waiting for people to queue up.

Next hall: more stalls, more guests, but no sign of Mr Darrow. “Maybe he’s cancelled,” I say to Adam.
“No, they would have said so.”

Up the stairs, through the stage area where the cosplay takes place, through another lobby (past the hot dog stall) and into another hall with KITT from Knight Rider and The Mystery Machine from Scooby Doo.

And then we see Mr Darrow’s table, with his lovely Avon photo behind it. Yay!!

I spot a lady standing all alone. It’s fellow Horizon member Silver Alaunt, who has also spent some time searching. But now we are together, and in the right place. Adam says “Bye,” and off he goes, while Silver and I perch on a handy seat and wait. We're hoping to meet up with other Horizon members. “I wonder if Moon Disk has made it?” says I, “and what does Twizzle look like?”

The young man from Sarah Jane Adventures comes along and sits at the next table. He says hello to us, and makes himself comfy.

“We’re waiting for Paul Darrow,” say Silver and I.

“Oh yes, good old Paul. I’ve just met him in the green room.”

So he is here!

A few minutes pass. Then there seems to be a small commotion in the entrance to the hall, and the man himself appears, surrounded by all sorts of people shaking his hand and saying hello. Eventually, he gets into position behind the table, still saying hello to everyone in sight.

Despite being the first there, Silver and I find ourselves at the back of the queue, which proceeds to get longer and longer.

“Hello,” I say to Paul, “It’s me again!”

“Oh, no!” he replies. He signs my book, shakes my hand and next...

…it’s Silver. She has brought him a bottle of wine and a copy of his book for him to sign. There follows a discussion about the wine, the bag it's in, the book... and the queue gets longer.

Afterwards, Silver and I just stand there, gazing at him. Paul is looking so well. He has a kind word for everyone. People ask if they can have a photo with him; he obliges. Meanwhile, the queue...

Silver and I decide to get a cup of tea and prepare ourselves for the photo session and talk. Once refreshed, we return to the hall, find a seat at one of the games tables and pretend to play the board game before us.

“Are you playing?” a young chap asks.

“Err, no. We are two ladies of a certain age just taking the weight off our feet and letting the painkillers kick in!”

Then it's photo time. We all queue up, and that’s when Silver and I find more B7 fans that we encourage to join Horizon. There is a young girl dressed in white. I thought she was Princess Leia, but she could well be the heroine in the new Star Wars film.

“Mr Darrow really liked my costume,” she says.

Silver and I look at the outfit she is almost wearing. “We bet he did!” we say in unison.

Then the photo session, which the organisers have got down to a tee. Just a few seconds, and the picture is actually in your hand.

“Me again!”

“Oh, no!”

I have no idea why, but Paul’s right arm snakes round my shoulder; hence the look on my face in the picture! And I’m afraid I did exactly what the young lady did at Peterborough… I kissed him on the cheek!

Then a mad dash for the talk. First come, first served, they had said. Well, as this is an open arena, there's no fear of not getting to see and hear Mr D. Actually, hearing is a bit difficult, as they have the Knight Rider music playing at the back of the hall.

Moon Disk suddenly appears. “Are you Littlesue?”

“Yes,” says I, and I show her my photo.

Moon Disk has come all the way from Sidmouth in Devon. She came to get his autograph, hear the talk and then she was going home again!

I’m afraid both Silver and I bottle out when it comes to any questions. A youngish chap behind me (about late 20s), puts his hand up - not to ask a question, but to say that Avon had been a role model for him. That brought gales of laughter, including from Paul himself! A lady in our row asks a question, while her husband sits next to her, casually playing a game on his phone. Silver and I have come without our hubbys...

Paul goes back to signing autographs; another queue forms. A chap asks if he could interview Paul for his glossy magazine, and hands over a copy for him to peruse. “No naked ladies?” asks Mr D.

At this point, Moon Disk announces that she needs to set off home, so all three of us ask nicely if we could each have our photo taken with Paul on our own cameras. As ever, Mr D is happy to oblige. Moon Disk goes home, happy as Larry.

Silver and I go off to get food and a cup of tea, and then wander round the halls and stalls again. We find a stall that sells B7 stuff that they make to order. I buy a purse with the Liberator on it (£10) and Silver gets a mug with the crew on it (£7). We bump into the artist Damien May and buy a few of his fab B7 posters from his stall.

Then we go back to the hall, past various costumes, and see that Mr D still has a queue at his table, and is doing another interview. If I recall correctly, the organisers put one of their staff at the end of the queue in order to let Paul take a break!

Silver decides to call it a day, as she had to get the train back to Kent, so we say our farewells to Mr D, who is still signing and chatting.

I had to wait for Brian, so I end up in another café area, with another mug of tea, chatting to a chap who didn’t actually know that Paul was there!

“I would have loved to have met him,” says the chap, but as it was past 4.30pm, I tell him that I think Mr D is on his way home. But I did suggest that he should pop up and see if Paul's still there… and join the queue if he is.

Anyway, I eventually find Brian. We manage to locate Adam, plus the other passenger who had cadged a lift, and so it was goodbyes all round and off home, only to get caught in a traffic jam on the way out of Bournemouth.

So, what was the verdict?

If Paul Darrow hadn’t been a guest, I certainly wouldn’t have gone. If you have an interest in comics, gaming, Japanese animation, Dr Who, Star Wars, Game of Thrones… that’s fine, but as an ordinary fan (who doesn’t dress up) of a BBC Sci-Fi programme, then no. If Mr D had cancelled, then I think Silver and I would have ended up on Bournemouth beach eating ice creams; it was so nice and sunny.

But it was a lovely day out, and worth it to see Paul looking so well, and being just as charming and naughty! I couldn’t believe the queue that built up from the moment he appeared, and he was gracious to everyone, including this middle aged lady who seems to pop up everywhere he goes now!

I can’t make it to Cygnus Alpha, so be sure to say hello to him for me!



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