Behind the Lines: Star Trek London

DESTINATION STAR TREK LONDON

Words and tomfoolery by Declan J Greene

A Royal Appointment…

As the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics exploded across London in a wave of fireworks and interpretive dancing, the entire nation came alive! Magnificently united in their shared enthusiasm and joy that such a magical event could take place on our little islands and all at once in a single voice we cheered loudly for the Great British events.

United every one of us as we looked on in wonder…

All of us, besides one…

The citizens of nations looking on, may have wondered why Britain’s great Queen appeared so reserved, miserable and preoccupied while the rest of us were so elated at the Olympics opening? Little did they understand then, that our Royal Madge had a great deal on her mind…

Our Madge you see, or Liz as she prefers to be called, could see the bigger picture beyond the highs of the Olympics and was already beginning to worry. How can we possibly follow this? She asked herself? How can my people just go back to normal after all of these amazing fireworks and interpretive dancers?! Doesn’t anyone realise the national come down we’re all about to have is going to properly suck???

Something had to be done. The national morale was at an all-time high and the Olympic hangover could very well leave us all rioting on the streets again! So with this in mind our great Queen called an emergency meeting to see what could be done to ensure something would be there for us all to look forward to once Usain Bolt had gone home. Bringing together a think tank of the U.K’s finest including James Bond, Stephen Fry and an enigmatic character known only as ‘The Doctor’. Locked away with them in the deepest bowels of Buckingham Palace, our dearest Madge put on the coffee, lit a cigarette and sat down to save us all!

Stephen Fry was first to point out that historically nothing improved the mood of the British like a good war with France, but the idea was shot down instantly since we could hardly afford it this close to Christmas.

The Doctor then suggested that perhaps he could freeze us all in some kind of two week temporal loop. Ensuring the Olympics never ended at all and solving the problem, but again the Queen said no. She eaten a rather spicy Indian the day before the opening event, and was not content to endure an infinity of Bangalore Belly even for the sake of her great nation.

Bond insisted he could most likely sleep with the problem until it went away, and was dismissed with a pat of the head and an iced lolly for his service.

It all seemed lost until suddenly our good old Liz struck upon the perfect idea! What one thing could replace the five Olympic Rings over London?

Nothing less than FIVE STARSHIP CAPTAINS!

A unique Event!

This would be a European first. All five captains appearing together at what was indeed also the first official Star Trek convention in the UK for well over a decade and bound to increase the public’s spirits ten-fold! Even I, Priority One’s bookworm and general fan of rioting and civil unrest, could not fault this as a brilliant idea, and having never been a convention myself it certainly seemed like a bloody good reason to lose that particular virginity!

So with a fat wad of cash in my back pocket, ready to be rinsed before the end in exchange for a few days of a warm fuzzy Trek glow, I hit the road for London and the time of my geeky life…

The Highlights…

GUESTS

Before I arrived at the event I had no idea what to expect besides the guests announced. As well as the five Captains DSTL featured some amazing special guests. As a loyal Deep Space Nine fan boy the line-up couldn’t have been much cooler, but even besides them were a great selection from big hitters like Brent Spiner to delightful obscurities such as Tracy O’Niel (Captain of the Enterprise C and poacher of Tasha Yars)!

Each was available for both personal photos and signatures, giving the fans a chance to actually meet some of the heroes we’ve been going into space with for over forty years. A few even did special photo-shoots in full make-up and when I heard about this in particular I knew there’d be a slice of that awesome for Dec…

As you can see Robert O’Reilly was chuffed to meet me. Big fan. Who knew?

 Of course for every inspired idea there is always an eager WTF waiting close behind, and as well as the brilliant visitors above there was more than a few questionable choices filling the benches. The top 3 are below and since I couldn’t imagine why anyone would pay serious cash for either their signatures or a personal photo, I couldn’t resist coming up with a few more interesting ideas our dear Madge could have better used them for…

1: Eddie Paskey. For those who understandably don’t know basically Paskey was every kind of background character in the original series. Playing dozens of officers, extras and bad guys Paskey was in 57 of the first 62 episodes (sometimes as more than one person!) and claims the dubious title of the only Red Shirt to continually survive.

WORTH PAYING FOR: Tickets to see Paskey evade death in a homicide maze of falling rocks, projectile poison flowers, flying knives and drunk Klingons armed with chainsaws. If he survives he gets his air fare, and can come back next year…

 

2: Bobby Clark. The strangest cousin in the Trek family we insist on keeping around. The actor who played the infamous Gorn, battling Kirk with a terrifying skill comparable only to a drunkenly mashed John Goodman, just slow enough to allow the Captain to invent projectile weapons from scratch and shoot the fool.

WORTH PAYING FOR: Attendees bet hard cash before being provided with a pre-torn gold shirt and lead to a boxing ring to fight Bobby in full costume. You win you double your money, Lose and Bobby eats you…method actors eh…

 

3: Sean Kenney. The guy who played Captain Christopher Pike in the original series…ish. Jeffery Hunter played the healthy Pike in the original pilot episode ‘The Cage’ and while his presence may have been cool, someone thought the guy who played his burned up wheelchair beeping version was probably worth getting a signature from instead.

WORTH PAYING FOR: Attendees play twenty questions with Kenney, who can only answer via one beep for yes, two beeps for no…I’d have thrown twenty guilt pounds free at that easy…

 

 

THE MUSEUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ever since the studios sold every prop and model in their super auction a couple of years ago (I bid on Shatners girdle. We camp in it at festivals) the chance to see Star Trek props is sorely limited if you’re not adept at breaking and entering private accommodations. Fortunately a few of those generous buyers loaned the event a handful of props and worn costumes and a ten minute DSTL distraction was born! In truth I was able to wander round the whole thing in the time it took my lady to go to the toilets, but that being said it was free and as one of the only attractions covered in the standard ticket prize a fair effort with admittedly some pretty cool stuff. Here are the highlights!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worth a look, and yes while one look was all you needed, it was a good one!

TALKS!

The very first tickets I bought were the talks for my favourite Captains! A forty five minute private Q&A with the actors who sat in the centre seat and a five star treat for any fan. The ultimate Trek gig and a chance to ask questions the DVD’s wouldn’t touch. Avery Brooks, are you so chilled out all the time because of any special herbs? Patrick Stewart, is Brian Blessed a close personal friend just because he has an epic voice too? Kate Mulgrew was even interviewed by Boris Johnson the blondy mop of a cartoon character that is our Mayor of London!

‘It wasn’t really Boris’ most British fans spotted instantly, ‘it’s someone dressed up pretending to be him!’ What no one seems to have figured out is that Boris is like Santa, and has many avatars across the land. A very British moment for Kate, bless her, who truth be told gave the best show by far of anyone present. A proper treat of a show from a performer I could have watched all day.

You could even see the other stars including the exceptionally funny Brent Spiner for absolutely free if you queued up early. And as you’d imagine it was a massive jam packed hit! Seeing the Captains together in the signing booths however was interesting in a slightly more personal way. Especially if you didn’t get a chance to ask your special question, or indeed if you like me were lucky enough to witness Scott Bakula and Patrick Stewart throw down after an apparent three days of Sir Stewart continually signing over Bakula’s face on the posters. With a full theatrical storm off from Stewart to boot this was probably my favourite moment of the entire event. Cost me nothing and taught me an unexpected lesson …do not draw on Scott Bakula’s face. Bakula will throw down on you…

FEDERATION AND KLINGON ZONES!

The only thing better than meeting your heroes is meeting your heroes comfortably drunk and, because such things are a serious game in Britain, Star Trek London had not only one but two bars. At opposite sides of the compound (most likely to avoid drunken fictional race crime) were the Klingon and Federation Zones. Themed bars serving Romulan Ale to Starfleeters and Klingon Bloodwine to those brave warriors among us!

As features went the Klingon Zone COMPLETELY eclipsed its Federation counterpart. Sporting bone thrones, bear skin topped tables, massive war gongs and wandering Klingon entertainers in full make up, our brothers with the bloodwine threw by far the greater shin dig. An explosion of KDF awesomeness that even featured a proper (and very legal) Klingon wedding that involved everything from shouting to actual bride and groom combat before everyone enjoyed a three tier Borg Cube wedding cake. Seriously tremendous stuff and by comparison the Fed Zone with its curious bean bag seats, confusing Human pin board and massage team (Seriously…I only wish I was joking about all of that) could never compete with the Klingon side. It’s single coolest feature? A massive holo-deck door. Like all good Starfleet officers such as me and the Priority One boys made the best of a bad situation and embraced the door for all it was worth, before abandoning democracy and equality for a path more deserving of a warrior…

From left to right: Mehmet(Shinsei), Lennon, Alex, ME!!!  Priority One’s British contingent loving it!

THE FANS!

Finally if there was one single thing I will take away from my first convention besides credit card bills and so much ruined underwear would be the sense of coming home.

In the course of my geeky life it’s been easy to feel slightly isolated in a culture that doesn’t really understand and indeed for the most part judges you the instant we reveal our love of Star Trek. As if saying so is something to be ashamed and better kept to one’s self, or code for ‘I need a life’, when it’s truly neither. Besides my brother and a handful of girlfriends I’ve converted I have sadly never had anyone around to really share and revel in this thing we love so much and I didn’t even realise what a sham that was until DSTL. There, the geekiest of fans, the most obsessed of Trekkies, are welcomed wholeheartedly. Strangers of every race, religion, age and class came together in a truly powerful love of Star Trek and sense of real family in every smiling face. No matter how different we were we were all the same. United in our joy and love for what Gene Roddenberry created. I’m quite sure he’d have been very proud to meet any of this lot…

Finally after meeting dozens of my heroes, getting gently wasted on Klingon hooch and rinsing my bank account, I finally said goodbye to the wonderful Excel Centre. Grateful to her Majesty for such a smashing idea and full of that warm fuzzy feeling I mentioned before. With wonderful memory that I will no doubt cherish and relive in the quiet moment of my life for as long as I live, all that was left to do now…

…was drive my lady home.

Just so you all know…I’m not giving it back. Deal with it…

Much Love from London! See you for DSTL 2013!

1 Comments ON " Behind the Lines: Star Trek London "
  • alt_example

    zmacgirthy November 23, 2012 at 7:19 pm -

    I dare say it looks better than STLV! We only had the Captain’s Chair, you got the whole f@*&ing bridge, plus a museum and KDF/FED zones to boot!

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