Monday, June 5, 2017

My 2017 British Fest Experience!

I got back yesterday after a long weekend in Omaha, NE, at the 4th British Fest Convention! British Fest is a celebration of all things British -- though it tends to focus on "Doctor Who" and "Harry Potter," which is where all the fans are at.

There were three featured guests at this year's British Fest, including Frazier Hines (AKA Jamie McCrimmon from "Doctor Who"), Terry Malloy (AKA Davros from "Doctor Who"), and Colin Spaull (AKA Lilt & Mr. Crane from "Doctor Who"). 

Speaking of Frazier Hines, I've enjoyed his portrayal of Jamie ever since I first saw him on "The Two Doctors" episode of "Doctor Who" back in the 80s. Jamie was this highlander character who was all about action and he wore this kilt all of the time.  Very nice guy.

In fact, let me tell you about how nice he was. Husband Mark and I decided to attend the "Frazier Hines Personal Theater" panel on Saturday evening. I had no idea what to expect. It turned out that Hines aired a program filled with personal recollections about famous friends such as Tom Jones and Davy Jones that were interspersed with favorite songs and rock videos. I thought it was odd at first and then I sat back and enjoyed the music. Some of those videos were really great! Midway through the show, Hines pulled out some six packs and began passing out beers to several of us in the audience. So now I can say that Frazier Hines from "Doctor Who" gave me a beer!

The biggest thing that sucked about this year's British Fest was something that the organizers couldn't plan for way back when they scheduled the venue: hotel renovations. The second and third floors were in the midst of complete renovations when we arrived. As was the main ballroom where they typically store the vendors. They came up with a plan to put up a tent at the Main Panel Room out in the parking lot, but it was very hot this weekend and the sound of the generator made it very difficult to hear anything out there. So there ended up being a lot of juggling around of program locations and I'm sure that it was a major headache for the organizers. I know that it was annoying as a guest who struggled to listen to panelists over the sound of overhead hammering. And yes, there was hammering heard from our hotel room late into the night.

Beyond that, Mark and I had a fun time away from home. I attended some really great panels, including one that explored the various detective mystery programs (great stuff like "Poirot," "The Father Brown Mysteries," "Morse," and "Midsomer Murders"), one that explored the various faeries and paranormal creatures from the UK, and a tribute to Sarah Jane Smith. I also saw a viewing of the 2014 version of "Under Mild Wood." Very beautiful storytelling!

Speaking of "Midsomer Murders," I ended up doing another panel about that program at this year's British Fest. I pulled together this panel last year and received a lot of positive input from my audience. So I updated the panel for 2017 and volunteered again. I wasn't sure what to expect this time around. I got scheduled for 9 PM on the first night of the convention opposite a Harry Potter-themed dinner theater event. But I pulled in 10-12 people for my panel and had some great conversations about the program. I'll probably revamp the whole thing next year, but I'm really happy with how the panel turned out from start to finish!

My biggest 2017 British Fest regret was that I had to miss the "British Belly Dancing Collective." I saw that last year and was completely blown away! Unfortunately, it's a nearly five hour drive from Omaha to Iowa City and I always have to miss most of the Sunday programming because of that. Hopefully I'll get to see them again next year, assuming that there is a next year. 

As always, I want to thank everyone involved with pulling British Fest together. There is a ton of work involved with conventions of any sort: Arranging for guests. Coordinating the venue. Checking people into the event. Managing the computers and sound system. Running security. Entertaining the guests. General trouble-shooting. I appreciate the hard work that everyone people put into this event and hope to return for another British Fest in 2018!

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