Brit Sci-Fi 2014

For me it started on January 8th with a thread in the Google group asking if anyone wanted to help with a workshop for BritSciFi weekend at the National Space Centre.

As Jamie Anderson was going to be a guest (not to mention Doctor Who, The Tomorrow People, Blake’s 7, Primeval, Thunderbirds, and loads of behind the scenes guests including prop builders and authors) it was suggested we do a Tracy Island model, and have kids build a prop for it. They could make a buildng, tree, vehicle, whatever they fancied. Fondly recalling those FAB moments on the TV I signed up as soon as I saw the thread.

Although our orginal plan had been to use boxes for the vehicles, however the week before the show Graeme Smith from Derby Makers started work on papercraft models of the Thunderbirds ships which after a few drafts he produced some great models, and Gareth did cubecraft models for the puppets. We were as ready as we were going to be.

The morning of the show arrived, and so had the frost, momentarily making me wonder what I had let myself in for, but before long the car was packed and we were on our way.

We set up a table for Tracy Island itself, another for painting and two for the papercraft models.

It was clear they were expecting the event to be busy when 15 minutes before the doors were due to to open, just as we were finshing setting up a queue of people made there way over to the tickets for the Q&As and photo shoots. I can honestly say I have never seen so many Fezes in one place, although there were also lots of people in full cosplay, and not just from Doctor Who. Before we knew it the doors were open and construction began.

We had no shortage of help from the younger visitors and well ahead of our imagined schedule we had the island up and painting began.

I was fortunate enough to get tickets for the Doctor Who Q&A on the Saturday morning, and Catrin Stewart, Dan Starkey, Sophie Aldred and John Leeson didn’t dissapoint.

They fielded questions from the audience for about forty minutes and before I knew it it was back to Tracy Island.

The cubecraft models proved very popular, with no shortage of people wanting to take their very own model home with them (after photo of it on Tracy Island of course).

By the end of Saturday the Island itself was looking good, and we had a quick tidy up before heading home for a well earned rest.

Sunday morning was bright, and the mood in the space centre was one of excitement as day two of the event began. I knew from Saturday I would need to go and queue a little earlier for tickets for the Red Dwarf photoshoot and Q&A, and I wasn’t wrong. As I queued for the photoshoot whispers came down the line that Craig Charles had had to cancel, but although there were a few grumbling voices, I think most people were still happy to see the other three.

Doors were opened well before 10.00 and before long the queue stretched back out the front doors.

The centre was probably busier than on the Saturday and we had everyone from young Dr whos to excited Thunderbirds fans helping to populate the island.

After a busy few hours at the stand I took Joel, Graemes from Dery Makerspace, to the Red Dwarf Q&A.

The guys were on form, when Robert pointed out how annoying it had been listening to the munchkin song over and overduring filming when Chris got up and delievered a quick rendition.

Danny John Jules sat taking selfies whilst Chris Barrie and Robert Llewellyn were answering one question. They seemed to genuinely enjoy their work, and clearly had lots of funny memories of times on set, and joined in the banter when asked fan geek question such as “which was better, blue midget or starbug.”

We had been keeping a sign up sheet for children to add to as they helped with the island, and when Andy White of Andy White Creative who worked on the original toy model of Tracy Island turned up to have a look at our workshop he happily agreed to paint a section and sign the sheet for us.

As Sunday went on we had a great array of trees, fish, spiders, even a rainbow with a pot of gold before Jamie Anderson(son of Gerry Anderson), and three of the original voices, Matt Zimmerman, Shane Rimmer and David Graham came to have a look at the build. Jamie took the built by sheet with him as a memento of the day.

Before long it was time to start winding down, and the packing away began. By the time we got back to Nottingham, exhausted but satisfied, and packed our things away at the hackspace, all I could think of as I drove the short journey across town was “girl you got me tongue tied”.

We’d like to thank everyone who took part in our workshop, and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did, and we’ll hopefully see you again next year.

Leave a comment