Supercelebration – A Convention Report by AC
Fanderson, the official Gerry and Sylvia Anderson appreciation society, hosted the Supercelebration convention in the Holiday Inn, Maidenhead from 20th to 22nd September. The event was a celebration of all things Anderson, but in particular the 50th Anniversary of The Secret Service and the 50th Anniversary of production starting on UFO.
The event was a huge success, with fans travelling from all over the world to share their love of Anderson productions. Whether you’re a fan of Thunderbirds, Space:1999, Captain Scarlet or any of the other series, there was something for everyone to enjoy.
One of the major draws of any convention is the opportunity for fans to meet the cast and crew behind their favourite series and Supercelebration was no exception. The lineup featured countless alumni from a wide range of series, far too many to name here, but I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to chat with Terry Adlam, Steve Begg, Dom Lavery, Peter Hitchcock, Dee Anderson and Mike Trim.
The guests were interviewed on the main stage throughout the weekend and some even held smaller workshops so that fans could gain valuable insights on topics like puppeteering, concept design and the Fanderson club itself.
How many other fandoms allow you to see your screen heroes up close and personal without having aged a day? Supercelebration boasted a mind-boggling roster of the most gorgeously crafted puppets you could imagine. Everyone from Mike Mercury to Father Unwin, including rare originals!
I’ve seen many Anderson puppets before, but it never ceases to amaze me just how lifelike and intricate they are up close. It certainly never fails to give me an increased appreciation for the skill of the sculptors and puppeteers.
I’ve still got a soft spot for Captain Magenta. If the gentleman guarding the exhibits had left the room for a moment, I probably would have had Magenta in my bag in a flash*.
*Disclaimer – AC is being humorous and does not endorse theft in any way shape or form.
Oh those amazing models, makes me giddy just thinking about them…got to pull myself together! Yes the models on display were just jaw-dropping! From the giant radio controlled Skydiver (it really floats, folks!) to the replica of the Stirling Road studio building, I could have spent the entire weekend and then some just studying the impossible level of detail on the sheer number of models in the room.
Practically every series was represented and some craft appeared in multiple scales! Perhaps the jewel in the crown, certainly for the sheer audacity of the piece, was the gigantic Thunderbird 2 cliff house and runway diorama, complete with moving Thunderbird 2, retracting door, folding trees, raising ramp, smoke and sound effects. Truly FAB!
There was a time before VHS (ask your parents, kids), DVD (ask your parents, kids, gosh I feel old), BluRay and online streaming. It was a simpler time, but it also meant you were out of luck if you wanted to watch an episode of your favourite Gerry Anderson series. Early conventions provided an opportunity for fans to gather for screenings of episodes and rare material and that tradition continued at Supercelebration.
A nice mix of episodes aired in the screening room throughout the weekend, but other treats were in store for viewers, such as the marvelous archive interview with Stanley Unwin, an audio commentary with the late Shane Rimmer and the UK premiere screening of the Thundebirds Are Go episode Inferno.
Music and Art
Are you a fan of the music in the Anderson series? Pfft, ask a silly question… Well you wouldn’t have been disappointed. Like Special Assignment in 2017, Supercelebration boasted a dedicated music room where fans could sit back and unwind listening to some of the Anderverse’s greatest melodies.
Do you like art? Do you like the work of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson? Do you like art based on the work of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson? Great, so do I! That’s why it was such a lovely sight to see the art room packed to bursting point with wall upon wall of sumptuous artwork from the countless comic adventures of the Anderson creations. Mike Noble, Graham Bleathman, Andrew Skilleter and Steve Kyte were just a few of the legendary names glimpsed in the exciting panels occupying every possible space. Splendid!
Something to lighten the wallet…
How I managed to leave the convention with a penny to my name I don’t know. Rarely have I seen such a stash of lavishly produced merchandise, including books, magazines, CDs, patches, badges, model kits and more. Heck, if the entire weekend had consisted solely of the sales table, I would have happily stood browsing it the whole time!
Fun and Games
The weekend was jam packed with fun and games, including Mike Jones hosting ‘Lord Parkers Bingo’ in full costume on Friday evening. There were laughs and prizes aplenty, and it was the ideal ice-breaker for first-time convention attendees.
Saturday evening saw the return of a Fanderson convention favorite, the disco! Fans took to the dance floor, many in painstakingly crafted costumes.
Amid all the fun of the convention, the attendees were able to engage in something a bit special, raising money for The Silver Line, a very worthwhile cause. Through the course of the weekend and the various raffles and auctions, fans raised more than a staggering £8,000 for the charity, something which reduced a few of our number to tears.
Fanderson announced that Supercelebration was the last full weekend convention hosted by the club, but that doesn’t mean the fun is over. There will still be smaller events from time to time and if you haven’t yet had the chance to attend, or have been thinking about it, but not quite made up your mind, I’d strongly encourage you to go the next time you have the opportunity. Mixing with fans from all over the world and sharing your love of Anderson productions? There ain’t nothing better, it’s totally FAB!