The following post is from Emma Hyam (a.k.a emma_lou on our forums & emma_lou1983 on Twitter). This can also be read on her blog.
This weekend I was lucky enough to attend what has turned out to be the biggest Star Trek convention ever, ‘Destination Star Trek London’. I chose to visit over two days, both the Saturday and Sunday, so this post will be an overview of my adventure and my impression of the organisation of the event.
Saturday started for me at the frankly ridiculous hour of 6:30 am, as I rose to get myself down to the ExCel Center for when the event opening. Although I knew this was going to be a big event the actual scale surprised me. I’ve been to quite a few conventions in my time but when I arrived and was ushered into an enormous aircraft hangar to wait for the doors to open at 9 am, finding myself in a queue of at least 2000 people, a lot of whom were in full costume.
Once I finally got inside the venue, I had a quick circuit of the main hall to get my bearings, before getting down to the serious business of grabbing some merchandise. With that done, I checked out the museum exhibits from a private collection, then settling myself at Stage “C” for the “Meet The Producers” talk with Brannon Braga and Ronald D Moore. They were both on good form and spent most of their time on stage taking audience questions on many subjects such as at Kirk’s death in Star Trek: Generations, with Braga saying, “Kirk should have died on HIS bridge not on A bridge” (to great applause), the future of Star Trek on TV and flaws of Star Trek: Voyager. Braga intriguingly stated that he had originally planned an arc for 7 of 9; that after her discovery that she couldn’t feel full emotion without it killing her in Human Error, feeling stuck between two worlds, unable to be “fully human” and not wanting to return to the Borg Collective, she would have sacrificed her life so the crew would be able to get home in the final Voyager episode Endgame.
On Sunday I elected to have a lie in and rolled into the convention center around midday. One of my friends had been lucky enough to get tickets to the afternoon’s free talks, so after a quick visit to the DVD stand to pick up a couple of bargains, and check out some snippets from the upcoming Next Generation Season 2 bluray (which looks absolutely stunning), we plonked ourselves down for the Deep Space Nine crew talk. Stage B was packed to the rafters as Andrew Robinson, Cirroc Lofton, Rene Auberjonois, Nana Visitor and Chase Masterson came on stage. After telling us a little bit about what they’re up to these days they took questions from the audience. They ranged from the fairly serious, as an audience member asked if in a post 9/11 world a character like Major Kira would be in Trek, to the fairly silly as Andrew Robinson was prompted to do a headstand. After they departed it was time for co-star Michael Dorn to step up in a solo talk, launching immediately into taking questions, and although he refused to do a “Worf voice”, he gave us a blast from what he revealed to be his favourite post Trek project, “I Am Weasel”. He also told us about the culture shock of moving from The Next Generation to Deep Space Nine, and of his evening round at Patrick Stewart’s flat with Brent Spiner and Scott Bakula. After a bit more wandering around and sitting down for a coffee & a chinwag with friends, I took myself off for the main event of my day, the talk with Sir Patrick Stewart. He came on stage to rapturous applause and much like other guests he launched straight into taking questions from the huge audience. Luckily the questions he took were excellent, enabling him to riff off the answers. He spoke movingly about his long friendship with Brian Blessed, told an amazing anecdote abo
ut having his comb-over forcibly cut off by a director friend and his wife in the middle of restaurant, and expressed how proud his was to run the Olympic torch through Croydon. After Sir Patrick had left to stage I grabbed a quick dinner and headed home to prepare for Sunday evening…
After this I went straight into my final event of the weekend; Kate Mulgrew’s talk, and what a way to finish the weekend off, “The Grew” was on sparkling form and had the crowd roaring with laughter as she told anecdotes about being wound up by her co-stars, having to live in the trailer next to Robert Duncan McNeill’s, and how she wished if anyone on Voyager had been gay that it would have been 7 of 9, before raising a saucy eyebrow!
So as I made my way home, out into a dark, rainy Sunday evening, I mused over the whole weekend. Credit has to go to Showmasters and Media 10, who did a great job getting big names over to the UK for a convention, as well as attracting more that 17,000 fans over three days. There were some problems, the access to Stage B in particular. There was also nowhere near enough capacity for the crowds that wanted to see their heroes, and the queuing system broke down to the point that I heard some people had to stand in line for over an hour, before staff members finally told them they had all gone for the day. Sadly the decor of the show hall left a lot to be desired, and while The Klingon and Federation Zones were a nice idea, they looked cheap didn’t have any activities going on to amuse people – games tables or video games would have nice. And the amount of ambient noise they created caused a few problems for the guests; The Klingon Zone was right next to Stage B, and had a huge gong which was being constantly banged to the point where guests couldn’t hear audience questions. I also wish that more fanclubs, merchandise sellers and podcasts get invited along next time as I felt they were sorely underrepresented.
These niggles aside, I had an absolutely wonderful time at ‘Destination Star Trek London’, and I really hope that the huge attendance of this event will mean that another will take place in the near future. If it does, I’ll be there!