||Author: Andy James, United Kingdom
Star Trek Convention
Albert Hall, London. April 6th - 8th 1996
Although I've been a Trek fan for many years now, this is the first convention
I've attended and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I knew that there were
a number of the stars of all of the series who were appearing, I knew it was
in the Royal Albert Hall, but other than that, not a lot.
Sarturday morning, far too early to be up at the weekend: Having arrived,
met my compatriots and joined a queue to get in, it started to become very
clear the size of the event I was attending.
There were a number of people in
various forms of fancy dress, Klingons, Borgs, Guinans I also saw a Tasha Yar
and a Troi. Quite a number of poeple were just in the standard uniforms, some
with just the top, jeans underneath, some with the full outfit. Most were
Next-Gen onward type uniforms, with a split between Next-Gen and DS9 / Voyager
styles, there were also a few from the other films and TOS (I didn't see any
from the Motion Picture, however).
Having found our seats (fyi we were in K block everyday, rows 2 - 5) we
were confromted with a number of projection video screens, a stage and a
major lighting system. We settled back and waited to see what would happen.
Basically there were 5 areas which you could be in:
Obviously, most of the time you wanted to be in the main hall, since that's
where the stars were. You could, if you wished, go somewhere else whist there
were things on, but this wasn't the general idea.
- The Main hall itself
- The Dealer rooms (the top gallery was screened off for this)
- The Bar
- The Restraunt
- Somewhere else (coridoors, toilets, etc etc)
Each peoron (or persons) was allocated an hour to do their thing, and
generally this took the form of an introductory speil followed by a question
session. To support questions in a hall of this size, microphones were dotted
around and you had to get one of the assistants to let you use one. The
video screens allowed everyone in the hall to see what was going on.
The Dealer rooms just had tables set out with all manner of things on them.
Generally these got pretty packed during lunch and break times but weren't too
bad early on or when someone was on stage. Luckily most of the dealers took
credit cards and I'm sure many people bought more than they should have (myself
The bar served many lovely drinks - from cans - also some (potentially
dubious) sandwiches - and was very expensive.
I never went in the restraunts - after the bar, I hated to think about it.
I went somewhere else a fair bit, particularly after vising the bar.
The following gives my impression of the various guests, they appear in
no particular order (other than chronological)
This is probably a bad idea, but since no one ever looks at my page, I should
get away with it.
James Doohan (Montgomery Scott)
This guy has done a LOT of conventions - and it shows. He took great delight
(quite rightly) in telling us that he had celebrated 50 years in showbuisness
in January (he's now 76). He's got loads of stories to tell, is very relaxed
on stage and has a wonderful number of different accents and voices which he
can instantly switch into.
However, when he, Walter Koenig and George Takei
were on stage, I did get the impression that he was a bit like an old
grandfather (which he probably is), in that he tended to want all the attention
and rambled on about his own stories for a bit too long. Perhaps that's unfair,
I enjoyed his solo stint quite alot, it was always fairly superficial and
didn't get into heavy things like ethics and philosophy - but that's fine.
He also sang for us.
Walter Koenig (Pavel Chekov)
Obviously another old hand at the convention lark. Walter had his fair share
of stories to tell and did a hilarious parody of Captain Kirk which, although
a little unfair, kept the audience in stitches. He also told us a story about
George Takei's laugh - which we all imitated when George actually came on
The Chekov character never had a HUGE amount of stuff to do and Walter,
I think, was somewhat bitter about that. Although he tried to make light of
it, he did tell us that before agreing to appear in Star Trek VII, he had
asked for a number of extra moments to be added in for Checkov. These
were duly added in, and then cut in the edit - thus stripping Checkov of some
much needed character development.
A good speaker, quite lighthearted and still looking young for his age
(although maybe a bit haggered - he's had some heart trouble) he was fooling
around a fair bit when James and George were on stage, but is better on his
own. He came over as thoughtful, honest and open but with some bitterness
about his Trek character, I think, and some resentment about the Hollywood
George Takei (Hikaru Sulu)
Another chap who's obviously done alot of conventions (of course), George was
quite a character on stage. He came across as the biggest Trekker of
the lot of them - he seemed to still be very enthusiastic about the whole
phenoninon. Again, I don' think we got very deep into George's personality,
mostly because he spent most of his hour telling us about the time when
William Shatner and himself were supposed to open the monorail at Alton Towers,
and the difficulties he had with getting there - a great story, but it did
take a LONG time.
William Shatner (James Kirk)
The biggest applause of the convention - not surprisingly. I guess if one
person could now embody Star Trek (since the sad demise of Gene
Roddenbery) it is Bill. Again, very accomplished convention speaker with
a lot of stories to tell - especially his practical jokes; DeForest Kelly
and the toaster, Leonard Nimoy and the bike, and lots of people wanting to
ask him questions.
However, Bill really wasn't focused on Star Trek, he's doing too many
other things. He was keen to tell us about all the new stuff in his life, all
the projects he's working on, but when asked quetsions about Star Trek, he
either gave an answer which he's given before (because he's been asked the
question before) or he couldn't really relate back - he claimed that he
couldn't even remember the "Space ... the final frontier" speech.
Nice chap, not a bad word to say about anyone, but I felt that most of
his answers had been (at least partially) rehersed and that he never really
got a good rapport going with the audience. Still, it was quite a thing to
see William Shatner in the flesh.
Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock)
Unfortunatly, Leonard did not attend the conference. The story we were told
was that he had to make the trip very quickly and was booked on Concorde here
and back, but that the evening flight to Heathrow had been cancelled and he
therefore could not attend.
Wil Weaton (Wesley Crusher)
The only representitive of Next Generation because the rest of them
were otherwise committed (see below). I must confess that I didn't think that
he'd be very interesting, since he wouldn't have many stories to tell, he
was very young when he was doing it and, let's face it, most people didn't
hold much truck with Wesley.
What we actually got was very good. A wide range of topics were discussed
and he came across as genuine, thoughful, serious but also with a reasonable
sense of humor. I was impressed. He was surprisingly mature for a guy of 23,
he had alot of political views, a fair bit to say about his county's
government and the general state of affairs of the World and also had a
good sense of perspective when some of the more bizarre questions came along
It's just a TV show.
He also had a few stories to tell about the cast, he obviously thinks
a lot of Patrick Stewart and gets on well with Michael Dorn and Brent Spiner
he was also quite humble about his acting and says he learnt a lot.
I don't know whether he'd prove popular at a lot of conventions, since
he refused to act in character A good move, since he was a teenager
in the series and now is not - and he has quite a few opinions which could
annoy a large number of people - despite the fact that I believe the
opinions he stated were very good and he'd obviously given them a lot of
thought. He's also a great fan of the Mid-West .... NOT!
Possibly the most surprising, since I was expecting so little, but got
so much out of his talks.
Avery Brooks (Benjamin Sisko)
And now to the only representitive of DS9 at the convention. Mr Brooks was
an interesting character. He is definitely an ACTOR and is
into all kinds of stuff. He even teaches drama.
On stage he was a bit odd, he had a very strange, short, sharp laugh which
used to emerge anytime he thought he'd said something ironic or funny (half
the time, we didn't get it) and he had a tendancy to lecture to the audience
which was a little disconcerting.
But, with all that said, he did give some interesting answers he didn't
seem false in any way, he maybe avoided a few questions (I don't know
if this was because he did not understand the questions, or if it was
deliberate). I think his teaching experience gave him a very confident air
around the stage and also gave him a fair degree of control over the audience.
If pushed he would simply refuse to answer something, and he also tried to
make some points (such as the ship not being real) at times when I felt he
should have played along.
Quite a tough time listening to him, he wasn't interested in the superficial
and some of he mannerisms were a little strange, but he has an excellent
singing voice, cool shades and a severe haircut.
Robert Picardo (The Emergency Holographic Doctor)
And so on to Voyager. The Doctor was definitely the most popular Voyager
character before we saw Robert, but after he had appeared at the convention,
I think his popularity could only grow. The guy IS a star. He put on a great
show and was very enjoyable to watch. He has a very dry whit, sings his
Give me a name song at every opportunity (OK - when asked) and fills
the entire place with his presence. Splendid.
His second appearence was with Jennifer Leigh and many of the questions
related to their involvement which he fielded very well. The inflections
and some of the comments he made are exactly the type of thing the Holographic
doctor would say, but time after time he had some sarcastic, ironic or funny
line in response to someone's question. Completely enjoyable.
Ethan Phillips (Neelix)
He obviously hasn't done that many conventions. He was pretty nervous in his
first appearence, although he did a fair job of hiding it. He's definitely a
pacer and would pace up and down the stage througout his hour. An amusing
chap, he used the video screens to check on his baldness at least three times
He seemed to be very good natured, hard to upset and was willing to
play in character. Although most of the questions were of the Neelix and Kes
relationship slant, he handled them all pretty well and kept on slipping in
something comic, either by pretending he didn't understand or giving an
outrageous answer. Good fun. (Unfortunately, I missed him and Jennifer Leigh
on stage together, so I can't comment on that segment of his talk).
Jennifer Lien (Kes)
Jennifer was not supposed to be there (as far as I know), but she turned up
and went on stage twice (three if you count her 30 second Hello on
Saturday) with other people. I missed her and Ethan Phillips on stage, but
I saw her with Robert Picardo.
The first thing is that she looks very different in real life, but the
voice just gives it away - very distintive. She is obviously very new at
the convention game and being the only female star at the convention, it's
hard to compare her, but she seemed very nervous, giving only short answers,
I don't think the sort of questions she was being asked helped, but then,
there's only so much you can ask about Kes.
She seemed very sweet and cute and many people asking questions made
various comments about the fact, but in the end her shyness got the better
of her. I understand that she was better on her second appearence.
Larry and Janet Nemecek
These are two folks from Paramount who do various things with the scripts.
Their presentations included a number of slides, some of various scences from
DS9 and Voyager, and some from the backstage sort of view of things. They
gave out some interesting information, particularly for people thinking
of submitting scripts, but they didn't have the pulling power of the stars.
Information (Watch out for spoilers)
I picked up the following snippets of information at the convention:
- The eighth Star Trek film (which has no working title) started production
either on the 8th or 9th of April (depending on who you believe).
- Star Trek VIII will not star any of the original crew, will not star
Wil Weaton and will not feature Spot the Cat
- A new Enterprise will be seen in Star Trek VIII
- Star Trek VIII will feature the Borg
- A cross-over episode has (just) been filmed for Voyager, featuring the
Excelsior and Sulu
- A cross-over episode is planned for DS9
- A special 30th Anniversary programme is planned for DS9 (this may BE the
I must take this opportunity to comment on Stargazer - who arranged the
Although they secured the venue, got the stars, got some decent video,
audio and lighting systems together and got the people to turn up, the whole
event was cocked up.
A shame, because with a bit more planning, organisation and dissemination of
information all of this could have been avoided. I still enjoyed the event,
but I'm quite upset that people were made to waste a lot of time and pay a
lot of money.
- The autograph system was a joke, involving much outlay of money and much
queuing and standing around.
- The procedure for asking questions was not explained properly, leading
to many hassles
- The dealer rooms closed as soon as the presentations had finished, which
meant it was diffficult to find time to get there
- The tickets were expensive
- On the last day the dealer room was supposed to stay open for an extra
hour - it didn't
- On the last day the dealers were dismantling their stands whilst William
Shatner was on stage, which caused a lot of noise at times.
- There was no way of finding out what was going on without buying an
- The lighting proecdure on the question sessions seemed only to work
some of the time
- The image on the video screen was not what you wanted to see, some of the
- It took them a long time to adjust microphones when you couldn't hear
- Apparently, the gala party,
arranged for the first night, was a joke (Hearsay - I didn't go)
Cheers and Boos
- Rob and Gaynor: for organising the tickets - and turning up every day
- Mark and Katrina: for letting me crash and for bringing me my keys
- Goron: for paying for my ticket - I'll pay you back soon, promise
- All the fans who turned up from all over the place
Andy James - April 9, 1996
- Mark: For not turning up on the last day - because you were tired
- Goron: For not turning up at all - and disabling your mobile.
- British Airways: For cancelling Leonard Nimoy's flight
- The Pubs in Westminster: For being full
- The cold I caught on Saturday (It might be Telurian Flu)