A GALAXY OF STARS SHINE ON COMIC CON
By Ann Evans
Photos By Rob Tysall, Tysall’s Photography.
Another show packed with fun and enthusiasm. Ann Evans went along to the latest MCM Comic Con event and met some fascinating people – who all seem to like dressing up.
There was everything a movie, comic and game fan could wish for at the MCM Comic Con event held at the Birmingham NEC on 18-19th November. Thousands of fans, many cosplay enthusiasts dressed in amazing replica costumes of their favourite superhero, villain or character turned up, making it a fabulous weekend of pop culture that the whole family could enjoy.
The weekend hosted a star-studded line-up of guests. Mentioning just a few, there was C-3PO actor Anthony Daniels, Doctor Who’s Pearl Mackie and David Bradley, of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones fame.
Doctor Who’s fifth doctor, Peter Davison was there along with two of his companions, Janet Fielding (Tegan) and Sarah Sutton (Nyssa). Also meeting their fans was Warwick Davis of Star Wars and Harry Potter; Star Trek star Denise Crosby, Pokémon and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles voice actor Veronica Taylor, and Keith Allen best known for his roles in Robin Hood and Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
With series XII of Red Dwarf recently aired on TV, and getting brilliant reviews, we spoke to Chris Barrie, who plays the hologram, Arnold Rimmer. Chris was naturally delighted by the show’s success. He said, “We did have some very big gaps between series. But once we got into costume and started to get back into character it was good.”
Making his point, Chris showed us that famous Rimmer salute, much to the delight of people waiting for autographs. He continued, “The show does feel slightly different since 2009. We’re all a little bit older and we approach things a bit differently. But Doug Naylor’s writing and the ideas are brilliant, and seem even funnier. Also, we have different technology from what we used to have, which makes things easier. For example, in series XI in the Officer’s Club there’s about 16 versions of me. With today’s technology it’s really easy to do this, but it would have taken a very long time without technology.”
Fans just can’t get enough of Red Dwarf, and asked about future shows, Chris answered, “We’re hoping to continue to do more, and maybe a modern stage show involving technology.”
So, how does Chris cope with remembering all his lines? “Ah! That’s the down side, learning the lines,” he admitted. “The easiest way is to rehearse it, because then someone will say something which is a cue for you. It’s not so easy lying on your bed and trying to learn them. Although sometimes I get the family involved reading the other parts. That’s fun. But really, there’s no substitute for doing it with the rest of the cast.”
Of course, Red Dwarf isn’t the only TV series Chris is well known for. He played another equally as irritating character in the 1990’s sitcom, The Brittas Empire. Here Chris played the incompetent manager of Whitbury New Town Leisure Centre. The sitcom ran for 7 series with 53 episodes, following a reunion is early October there was great hope that they might be doing more.
A celebrity new to the show was Hugh Spight. As a full body puppeteer, dancer, actor and entertainer, he has appeared in numerous productions. Chances are however, that you won’t have seen his face beneath the character costumes he’s had to wear. One role was the Gamorrean Guard who tangled with Han Solo in Star Wars – Return of the Jedi. Another was a tall, weird creature known as a Landstrider in Dark Crystal, where he had to wear a full body harness and stilts – and gallop! He’s also worked with Jim Henson on The Great Muppet Caper, as well as being on Doctor Who, where he was one of those dreaded Daleks.
There were more Doctor Who characters on the Swadlingcote Dalek’s area. Brothers Stephen and Antony Griffiths, and friend Mark Hugh admit to being Dalek mad! They explained that it all started by getting one fibreglass body of a Dalek, which they turned into a very realistic looking Dalek, then another, as well as building Dalek creator Davros, a Tardis and made a Cyberman suit for 6ft 5in Hugh.
“We’ve put a mobility scooter inside the Dalek and a voice modulator so the operator sounds like a Dalek and can move around,” said Stephen. “We use all sorts of recycled metal, wood and bits and pieces to make things – Christmas lights, car switches, we made the Cyberman suit from gym mats which is really light but looks very heavy.”
The Swadlincote Daleks now find themselves in demand, doing kids’ parties, conventions, film promotions, fetes and galas, at the same time raising money for charity.
Exhibitors and retailers showcased a huge array of merchandise at the show, covering all the genres from anime, steampunk, online video games, comics, collectables, costumes, accessories. And over in the Comic Village the public could meet and see the work of a comic book artists and writers.
The ever-popular Robot Wars was attracting crowds with the noise and excitement of seeing the robots doing battle; and making their debut at MCM Comic Con, Ohbots’ programmable humanoid heads which saw budding robot fans bringing them to life!
Danny Aindow, National Event Manager, MCM Comic Con had this to say. “It was great to end our year with such a brilliant show. The sense of community and engagement came ringing through loud and clear. The fans really showed us their love for a place to celebrate community, geek culture and our shared passion for pop-culture – we’re really excited for what we can bring in 2018 to take the MCM Birmingham shows to greater and greater heights.”
For new of the next MCM Comic Con event, visit: mcmcomiccon.com/birmingham/