Monday, June 6, 2016

My 2016 British Fest Experience!

I just got back from the latest British Fest. British Fest is a convention for people who enjoy British television, movies, games, and book. I have attended British Fest twice before (written about here and here) and have enjoyed these cons so much that I decided to return for a third time -- and also to prepare two different panels.

Husband Mark and I both actually managed to spend the entire weekend at British Fest this summer. Our son didn't think that he would enjoy the event so decided to spend time with Grandma Trouten instead, so it was nice to have some alone time without children or pets or work to serve at distractions.

British Fest 2016 started out on a somber note. Bill Breuer was to be a featured guest this summer. He had attended both previous British Fests, dressed as the 2nd Doctor Who. Bill's appearance was uncannily similar to Patrick Troughton and he was a really nice man. Unfortunately, he suffered a severe stroke last weekend and passed away early last week.

As a result of Bill's death, the schedule was shuffled around a bit at the last minute and the show moved on!

First thing Friday afternoon, I watched "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Death Star," which was a musical retelling of the "Star Wars" trilogy using costumes and puppets. It was pretty humorous and a great way to kick things off.

I then rushed over to the small panel room to get ready for my first panel: "Survivors 101." You know that I love "Survivors" if you've read this blog for long and I thought that British Fest would be a great opportunity to highlight this great post-apocalyptic science fiction series. It was a small group that attended this panel (and one of those attendees is married to me!!), but it was a great opportunity to highlight the 1975 series, the 2008 series, and the more recent audio dramas currently being produced by Big Finish.

I then attended a panel featuring Michael Henbury, British Fest 2016's main guest. Mr. Henbury is Britain's smallest man. He has also been featured in a variety of popular films, including "Return of the Jedi," "Willow," "Labyrinth," "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2," and "The Chronicles of Narnia" television series. This particular panel was a Q&A event. I asked him a question about whether or not he got to read much of the "Return of the Jedi" script outside of his particular scenes (Answer: No). I also asked him if he has much of a history with the UK's version of the Little Persons of America (Answer: Yes, but mostly when he was younger) and if he was familiar with the "Little People, Big World" reality TV series (Answer: Yes, but not sure how "real" it is).

We then took off to grab some grub before returning for a very good panel about "The British Side of Stargate." It's been so long since I'd watched these programs and I'd forgotten how good they were!!

We then decided to head to our room for some rest.

Saturday ended up being a really fun day! I attended a panel called "Golden Age of British Kaiju." Basically, monster movies produced in the UK! Keep in mind that there were really only two British Kaiju monster movies: "Gorgo" and "Konga!" Both of these movies have connections to Charlton Comics. I haven't seen either movie, but I've read the entire KONGA comic book series. I was assured that "Konga" the movie was wonderfully awful! Which doesn't surprise me. But "Gorgo" is supposedly very good as monster movies go. I definitely need to check out these movies! The guy who created this panel said that he was nervous, but really did a great job at creating a fairly original panel and demonstrated a lot of great knowledge.

Mark and I then took a break so that we could grab some lunch, check out the vendors tables, and watch an old episode of "Doctor Who" (from the Troughton period).

I then introduced Mark to the "Timey Wimey Puppet Show." This is a puppet show that performs comedy sketches featuring various "Doctor Who" characters. Check out this puppet show if you ever get the chance. You won't regret it!

I then attended the "Countdown Game Show" panel. Audience members where selected to compete in a series of letter and number quizzes for a British teapot -- including me! I was one of the four attendees selected to compete! I won the first competition, but bombed during the final event! Basically, my brain fizzled when it came to the final math quizzes. It was embarrassing, but fun!

Next, I watched the "Bad Wolf Belly Dancers" perform a variety of "Doctor Who"-inspired dances. They were all so good! I was terribly impressed!

After supper and a bit of a rest, I sat through a recording of the "Honey and the Nerd Podcast," which is a paranormal-themed podcast. Among the topics that we discussed included whether or not paranormal investigation groups should be bonded, which reality TV shows featuring ghost hunters are actually "real," and whether or not there is a government conspiracy involving UFOs. I liked this group and would enjoy listening to their podcast more in the future. However, I cannot find it. I've been told that they broadcast on YouTube, but I cannot find it. So if you have a link to their YouTube channel, please post a link to it in the comments section!

Mark and I then wrapped up the evening with a fun panel devoted to "Are You Being Served?" This is a great classic Britcom. If you've never seen "AYBS," then you are missing out on something very wonderful! This panel consisted of a variety of great 'AYBS" clips. It was nonstop laughing for the better part of an hour!

Mark and I then attended one final panel first thing Sunday morning. This was my second panel titled "Midsomer Murders." Roughly one dozen people attended this panel, including some "Midsomer" fans as well as people who weren't terribly familiar with the program. I started with a montage from "The Killings at Badger's Drift" at the beginning of the panel using screen-grads from that particular episode to highlight why people love this program. We then reviewed the characters and the communities where "Midsomer Murders" is typically filmed. We then reviewed my list of top 10 murders from "Midsomer Murders."

People were really interactive during this particular panel and I had so much fun putting it together and then presenting to this bunch! It was a great way to end my British Fest 2016 experience!

Unfortunately, we needed to leave after my 10 AM Sunday panel because we had to travel to the far corner of the state in order to pick up our son! But I would gladly have stayed for the rest of British Fest if I'd had the chance!

We will most likely attend British Fest 2017. I have a few more panel ideas, which I have stored away in my iPad so that I don't forget! Also, I keep saying that I'm going to cosplay. I really need to invest some time and money into creating one or two costumes for next summer.

As always, I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who planned and organized this summer's British Fest. It takes a lot of time, energy, and commitment to pull things together -- and they did a good job of responding to some unexpected developments. Thanks again from Iowa City!


Renee said...

Did you discuss why anyone still lives in Midsomer? We think the house prices must be very low.

Jon said...

Yeah, the running joke about Midsomer's death rate was addressed in the panel! Run for the safety of London!