SHADOcon 2 – a fan celebration of Gerry Anderson’s UFO as well as his film Doppelganger – took place at QUAD in Derby on Saturday 30 June 2018.
The day started at around 8am when the organisers were allowed access to the building and had around an hour to set everything up. Models were carefully unpacked and ferried into the ground floor display area. Box loads of merchandise were carried up to the second-floor dealers’ room – though many of the dealers chose to take the lift. I set up shop on the second floor with a table full of officially licenced photographs and just over a hundred goody bags all waiting to be handed out once the first attendees arrived at 9am.
The goody bags went down extremely well, with material kindly supplied by both Fanderson and Anderson Entertainment as well as some other little trinkets including a facsimile of John Kane’s resignation letter from Doppelganger, one of two postcards featuring artwork by Steve Ince and a yellow balloon with Ed Straker’s face crudely penned on it (just like the one in the episode ‘Survival’ – air not supplied.) There was also a glossy illustrated brochure for every attendee put together by designer Richard Smith and organiser Chris Gibbings.
10am saw SHADOcon2 start properly with Chris Gibbings introduction in the main hall – reading out a letter of apology for not being able to make it from Gabrielle Drake. This was followed by the first of three episode screenings courtesy of Network Distributing. Kill Straker! Looked stunning in HD on the big screen as did the other two episodes – ‘Confetti Check A=OK’ and ‘The Psychobombs’ later in the day.
The first guests on stage were the director of ‘Kill Straker!’ Alan Perry and one of its guest stars David Sumner – they were interviewed by Chris Drake. Alan is a terrific guy and so enthusiastic and approachable. David barely recalled his role in the series – it was nearly fifty years ago – but still held court with his memories of his many other acting roles from the period.
One of the main attractions of the event was an appearance by one of the original SHADO jeeps. Looking absolutely immaculate in the summer sun of Derby’s Market Place, it was a far cry from the dilapidated state it was in merely a few years ago when James Winch – the current owner and restorer – found it in Gran Canaria. He was interviewed on stage by last year’s SHADOcon organiser Steve Hardy. Joining him in a fan panel was Paolo Malaguti – who had travelled to the event especially from his native Italy and brought several original props from the series including Ed Straker’s original wig and Alec Freeman’s jumpsuit.
Appearing at a fan event for the first time was Suzanne Neve who played Mary Straker in two episodes – one of which ‘Confetti Check A-OK’ was screened during the day. Despite being nervous, she charmed everyone with her lovely smile and constant bewilderment at being remembered for just one role in a lengthy career that included the BBC’s mammoth ‘The Forsyte Saga’ and Nigel Kneale’s prophetic ‘The Year of the Sex Olympics’ – both of which she recalled in a stage interview with Chris Gibbings. She was accompanied on stage by her husband, the noted early Doctor Who director, Richard Martin.
Alan Shubrook took to the stage to give a talk on the special effects of UFO. Once the tech got working, he illustrated it with many of his own photos from behind the scenes and even produced a special brochure to accompany the talk which available throughout the day in the dealers’ room.
Podcaster Luke Harrison interviewed one of last year’s returning guests Ayshea Brough about her career who despite suffering a rare attack of hay fever throughout the day soldiered on with good humour!
Following a screening of ‘The Psychobombs’, Gary Finney-Zair chatted to guest star David Collings, who, like David Sumner, recalled little of his UFO appearance but still managed to entertain the audience with his memories of ‘Sapphire and Steel’ and the many other roles he essayed.
Rounding off the guests was Alan Harris who appeared in several UFO episodes as well as making a brief appearance in ‘Doppelganger’.
A raffle, in aid of Macmillan Cancer Care, was held with some valuable prizes including a pair of Eagle transporter model kits, autographed artwork and a signed banner advertising Alan Shubrook’s book which Alan donated.
For most of SHADOcon2, I myself was sat at the registration desk and got to chat to many of the attendees who had an overwhelming appreciation for the fact that the event was taking place. We had several requests for additional balloons. Hopefully, they won’t be used for target practice like the ones in the UFO episode! I also managed to sell a few of my own postcards… which was nice.
The evening saw a rare big screen showing of ‘Doppelganger’ which was introduced by Steve Hardy and was also open to regular customers of QUAD.
SHADOcon 2 was the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people. Not least the many volunteer stewards who kept things running smoothly and (roughly) to time. It was also testament to the enthusiasm of the many attending fans whether they brought models to display, cos-played as moonbase operatives or just showed up to enjoy the day with fellow fans. Everybody contributed to day’s success.
Photos by Larry Dyde, courtesy of SHADOcon 2. Thanks to Andrew Mark Thompson for this event report.
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Did you make it to SHADOcon 2? If you did let us know what your favourite thing about it was in the comments below!
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