Monday 12 September 2011

I've Got a Bad Feeling About This...

11th September 2011
University of East Anglia


Having raised questions about my feelings towards East Anglia's topmost celebration of all things sci-fi and fantasy following last year's "Nor-Con" (reviewed HERE), I must have been glutton for punishment by getting my hopes up that 2011's event would be any better. But with Craig “Lister” Charles, Robert “Kryten” Llewellyn and Danny “Cat” John-Jules all confirmed as guests, I was nigh-on ecstatic about the opportunity to complete my Red Dwarf autograph collection following last year's meetings with Chris “Rimmer” Barrie and Norman “Holly” Lovett (both of whom were also in attendance again this year).

The first blow of the day came as we were about to enter UEA's LCR when I was pre-warned by my friend (and fellow blogger) Mr. Downie that star guest Craig Charles had pulled out at the eleventh hour due to “work commitments and contractual obligations with the BBC”. Now, we all know that Mr Charles is currently playing cabbie Lloyd in Coronation Street (though that literally is the extent of my knowledge), but Corrie is on ITV, so unless the organisers got the wrong channel, it sounds like a pretty poor excuse to me. True, Red Dwarf once was a BBC production, but they long ago gave up on the show and it has since moved to Dave. And besides, why on earth would "Lister" have been called in on his own when the rest of the cast were still able to fulfil their Nor-Con obligations?!

Tickets had apparently sold incredibly well for this year's event (up 300% on last year, according to the website), and the difference in numbers was noticeable from the minute we entered the bustling main room. Of course the LCR is hardly Wembley Arena, but it was still good to see that word was getting out (this is, after all, all for charity). Unfortunately, the traders, stalls and menagerie of costumed look-a-likes were all essentially identical to last year and within 10minutes we had snooped and perused the overpriced merchandise as much as we possibly could.

Moving into the venue's second room (just off from the restaurant and vending machines) where all the “meet and greet”s take place, Chris Barrie once again had a colossal queue while everyone else was lucky to have one or two people waiting to speak to them. It all looked worrying similar to the year before – we even wondered whether Chris and Norman were still wearing the same shirts! Illogically, Robert Llewellyn – who you would have considered to be a huge draw given his Twitter popularity, not to mention his online Carpool's (now showing on Dave, too) and his time on Scrapheap Challenge – was not even in this room but squeezed between traders in the busy main hall, where most people either walked straight by him, or couldn't get passed the crowd of people milling about!

More worryingly still, the place reserved for Danny John-Jules was filled by a replica Dalek – and no-one had any idea where the hell he was! It transpired that he was “held up” at a motorbike show and was therefore no longer coming – what a let down! My dreams of seeing all the "Boys from the Dwarf" was destroyed: having already met two last year, the only acquisition to my autograph collection was "Kryten" – and he was charging a rather hefty £15 a go (not for charity, I might add)! I realise that sometimes things crop up, it's unavoidable, but for two of the day's biggest guests to either pull out ridiculously late or simply not turn up is frankly appalling and I, for one, was hugely disappointed and felt somewhat cheated out of my £9 entrance fee.

Following a half hour "Celebrity Lunch Time", I was hoping that the “Red Dwarf Q&A” - planned for 1:30pm on the main stage - would lift my spirits, but after being kept waiting for some 20minutes (on top of the 25 we'd already waited to guarantee a good view) while they belatedly finished their lunches (what were they eating, a three course meal?!), I was less than impressed by the amateurish organisation which left Norman Lovett without a microphone and Chris Barrie with earache after his mic had a bad case of feedback. With “Matt Smith” on question duty, the embarrassment continued as Chris Barrie was asked an era-hopping question about Torchwood's Carptain Jack Harkness – a character he had never heard of and needed much assistance in placing.

We left pretty soon after that - before Robert Llewellyn had even answered a question - having realised that for all the organiser's good intentions and boasts of a “bigger, better” event, 2011 did not live up to 2010's less-than-stellar expectations. I guess that without the novelty value of last year's first time (which, lest we forget, brought us “Darth Vader” eating a ham salad and me chastising “Holly” for munching on a digestive), Nor-Con's faults were laid bare, expounded by the disappointment of unreliable celebrities. I'm sad to say that it would take a major celeb at next year's event to get me to even consider going again – but even then they probably wouldn't bother turning up!


  1. Why didn't you ask the organisers then what was actually going on before making up assumptions?

    Craig is still contractually obliged to the BBC as he is a BBC Radio Dj, he presents a Radio 6 programme. He was pulled away to fill in for a DJ that was unable to attend the Radio 2 Hyde Park event in London on the same date.

  2. Danny John-Jules - also contractually taken away by his sponsor at the last minute to attend the ACR run in Brighton. Danny had informed us that if it was bad weather he WOULD be with us at NORCON.

    The tail end of Hurricane Katrina gave us every reason to assume he would be there and we had no confirmation that he would definitely NOT be attending.

  3. Your comment " Unfortunately, the traders, stalls and menagerie of costumed look-a-likes were all essentially identical to last year " How can a TRADE STALL look any different, what a silly thing to say.

    The Heroes Alliance ( costume characters ) were not in attendance in 2010 and were new for 2011. The costumes were accurate and amazing so another error there.

  4. Mark Dean - NOR-CON13 September 2011 at 02:42

    Regarding Robert Llewellyn: your comment "was not even in this room but squeezed between traders in the busy main hall, where most people either walked straight by him, or couldn't get passed the crowd of people milling about!"

    Roberts appearance was organised and paid for by another trader, although NORCON had every intention in having Robert and Sophie Aldred in the main celeb area the Trader in question insisted that as they were "his" celebs they worked from his trader pitch.

    Robert and Sophie were not happy with this, neither were we but we found this out on the morning of the event and we could not argue with the trader himself as he had paid for the Celebs.

  5. Mark Dean - NORCON13 September 2011 at 02:45

    " I was less than impressed by the amateurish organisation which left Norman Lovett without a microphone and Chris Barrie with earache after his mic had a bad case of feedback."

    Unfortunately we are not sound technicians=, feedback occurs at event the best organised Wembley Events and indeed Norman did have a microphone.

    I think overall, the guys did a pretty damn good job.

  6. Mark Dean - NORCON13 September 2011 at 02:57

    Your comment" I'm sad to say that it would take a major celeb at next year's event to get me to even consider going again – but even then they probably wouldn't bother turning up!"

    Then please feel free to join and help organise the next one. I'm sure your breadth and width of misinformed information would come in useful somewhere.

    Your comments were ill researched and mis informed and unfortunately, from the comments we have received here you are certainly in a minority with your views.

    People are quite rightly allowed to view their opinions.

    NORCON this year was superb, do you actually know how many people organise NORCON? Do you know how long it takes? Do you know how hard it is to actually liaise with Celebs agents to get them to turn up? Do you have ANY idea at all what is involved in putting on an event of this scale?

    I would fear that the answer to the above questions is a resounding NO?

    All you have highlighted is your ability to show ignorance and also how you have made up assumptions from misinformation or actually no information at all.

    As soon as we knew celebrities were or were not attending it was placed in full view on the NOR-CON website as well as Tannoy announcements. Maybe you missed those too, perhaps we can do something in bigger print for you next year so that the information is more readily available.

    NORCON is totally unfunded, we do what we do on money we raise throughout the year and then we plough this back into NORCON enabling us to give the profits back to our chosen charities.

    There is no incentive other than the charity aspect or that of putting on an event that people will enjoy.

    There will always be those jaded, tunnel visioned individuals though that take great delight in hammering down peoples events in the vain hope of making themselves look intellectually superior but ultimately revealing they were poorly informed in the first place.

    This was only the second time we have organised NORCON, theres no guide, no manual to follow so please feel free to come along to one of the meetings and you can help us plan next year.

    but then again, as you said, " probably wouldn't bother turning up!"

  7. nor con was a great time, everyone i spoke to on the day had a blast. i gave up my free time and unpaid to help out as dose everyone else to make it a enjoable day for all. if you think you can do better then by almeans lend a hand to make it better. but its not fare to shoot down all the hard work of others just because two celebs didnt show!

  8. i agree mark. this complete idiot clearly has no idea how to look at websites and read the info placed on them. It was announced days before the event that certain celebs were not attending.

    i admire the way that it was organised and handled and like any major event, there can be a couple of issues and im not being funny, but if the sound being a little dodgy here and there was the worst it got then i think that the event was a great success.

    What people like the guy who has slated the show needs to realise is that not one of us got any pay or funding to do what we do, from the guys who organise and run the show, to the people who bring the costumes, daleks and set pieces, it is all off of our own backs. I had a total drive of 6 hours on sunday to show my dalek and help with the entertainments but i did it because shows like this are worth the smiles and joy that we give people when they see people as there fave hero or the daleks etc.

    To conclude, this one person who didnt like it knows exactly what to do next year: ORGANISE YOUR OWN FLIPPIN EVENT!!!!

  9. As a first time attendee to NORCON I am unable to compare from year to year, only give my personal views on 2011.

    While it was a little disappointing that a few 'names' could not make the day, it should be clear to anyone that the names either get paid for attending or make a bit by charging for signatures/photos. Its a fair bet they are all frequently asked to attend events on a 'free for charity' basis and accepting every request to do so can be neither financially viable or sustainable especially when they maybe subjected to breach of contract actions?

    As far as facilities go, I think the venue used was struggling to cope with numbers and this did make moving around a little slow which must have hampered the efforts of the team running the event.
    Considering the few (I am assuming) people actually involved in organising and running the day coupled with the limited access before the doors opened on the day, I think they did an outstanding job. I certainly would not like to handle the logistics alone. But then I have no experience of running an event such as NORCON.

    I do not know any of the organisers, staff or attendees and came with my partner and daughter, paid the full ticket price and spent most of my day in a hot sweaty restrictive costume for the benefit of others attending. I pulled an all nighter finishing up my costume, drove 4 hours, approx 90 miles each way and put smiles on the faces of mums & dads, teenagers, children, disabled and a celebrity or two. I was not there for me, I was there for everyone else including you Mr Howard, along with a limited number of costume wearers all doing the best they could to make the day a happy one for those that attended.

    While you may attend better organised/serviced conventions, do they purport to help charities to the same extent? It concerns me that anyone would knock a group of people helping a group of charities instead of doing something more constructive. Shame on you I say.

    I have no wish to appear as an unknown commenter, my name is Vince Loudon and you can contact me at if you feel the urge to do so or directly here.

    I fully intend to support NORCON 2012 to, at the very least, the level I did in 2011, perhaps you would care to do a little 'more' for NORCON 2012 than to belittle its efforts in helping its chosen charities?

  10. @Mark Dean:

    I'm sorry that my “misinformed” and “tunnel-visioned”opinions have annoyed you, I did not set out to upset anyone with my review and certainly didn't take “great delight in hammering down people's events”, but I could not hide my disappointment given how long myself and my friends had been looking forward to the event – it wasn't like we went in with a negative attitude, simply that certain factors (some of which, as you have pointed out, were out of your control) did not live up to expectations.

    As I noted in my blog, I realise that some celeb drop outs are unavoidable, but that doesn't change how gutting it is when they are the main reason I attended. I'm sure you were hardly okay with the news when you were told either? It was a major blow which I understand was not your fault.

    I also appreciate how much hard work and effort goes in to such an event, of course I do, and no, you're right, I wouldn't know where to begin in organising one, but I paid my money and attended and gave my honest reactions at the end. I have a hand in organising an admittedly far smaller monthly film event in my local area and, believe me, I know that negative feedback hurts, but we have to appease our paying customers.

    I do NOT consider myself “intellectually superior” and it wasn't “an assumption” that Norman Lovett didn't have his own mic or that Robert Llewellyn was in a crowded aisle – I saw these with my own eyes and watched as half of the people I went with walked straight passed Robert completely oblivious to his presence!

    Why was it “silly” to say the trade stalls were all the same as last year? My point was that you can't look at the same merchandise ad infinitum and therefore we got around the main hall much quicker than we expected. It's not silly, it's the truth. Had this been my first year at the event, it wouldn't have been an issue, but it wasn't and therefore it was.

    Again, I'm sorry that my views have hurt you, I didn't set out to be spiteful, and I realise – as I said in my blog – that the event was for charity, which is truly admirable. I wish you every success with the organisation and the convention in the future :)

    ~ CR@BHoward

  11. @Vince Loudon:

    I was certainly not knocking the charity aspect by any means, as I said in my comment above, that was truly admirable and of course I hope the event made plenty of money for "Help the Heroes" and the other charities NorCon supports.

    Nevertheless, you too could see that some of the points I raised in my review were legitimate issues, so it isn't like I was making them up.

    ~ CR@BHoward

  12. I do read that 'you' had legitimate issues from your personal perspective. I am a firm believer in the freedom of speech and do not shy from healthy debate.

    Perhaps rather than donate your time and effort to such an event as this (as some do), your review of the efforts of a small but committed group of organisers & supporters would benefit more from a constructive (dare I say, charitable) review?

    I would even pay for your ticket.

  13. @RobertMonk:

    I wasn't pulling down everyone's hard work, as I have said I appreciate how much effort went in to the event and there was much that went incredibly well, but I couldn't help but be let down by the no-shows - they were two of the biggest guests, after all.


    I don't appreciate being called a "complete idiot" - I paid my money and attended and am entitled to my opinion; I only wrote what I saw.

    ~ CR@BHoward

  14. Having attended the event for the first time myself, unfortunately I agree with many of the observations made by Cr@bHoward. I felt once the stalls had been browsed, there was little else to do but left the event feeling I had achieved my main aim of a photo of a Dalek, but after reading your comments (ie, the organisers) my views of the event have taken a turn for the worst.

    Upon arrival I was informed by one of your stewards that 'Craig wasn't attending, because of BBC obligations', when I replied with I thought Corrie was on ITV, he just shrugged. If this was the information all of your visitors were given then how can you not expect people to be confused?! So despite asking, as you suggest in your comments, the correct answer was still not available!

    Many of the points raised by Cr@bHoward were aimed towards the celebrities not arriving, not the organisers, the celebrities!! Maybe they couldn’t help it, but that does not mean their fans do not have the right to feel disappointed and voice their opinions.

    No, I have never organised a similar event, and neither do I intend to so couldn't understand how much work goes into it. That does not mean that people do not appreciate the effort of others but are sorely disappointed when the event is poorly organised, visitors are left waiting for sessions to start and there are not enough microphones to go around! Granted, I didn't expect perfection but to say that these things did not happen is nothing more than insulting to perfectly intelligent people who saw it first hand.

    Large numbers of people write reviews of not only your event but others too, and they are perfectly entitled to their own opinions, both good and bad. This review would not have prevented me from attending in future, but after reading the comments by @Mark Dean I am now dead-set against it. That is not due to this review, but your comments and your comments alone which I find to be disrespectful, hurtful, and mostly unnecessary not to mention that they could be considered discriminatory towards many people. Let us just hope that other people don’t feel the same for next year!

    If you are not prepared to take constructive criticism, and yes this review is constructive despite the slightly negative outlook from a disappointed blogger, then either do not read the reviews or learn to accept them and work on what you can do to improve future events.

    Yours disapointed, Rebekah

  15. We do have the clause though in full view on all posters and the website that states that:

    " All guest appearances are subject to work commitments and may change at short notice"

    Terry Molloy was supposed to be there but was asked to Host a 2 week Archers Cruise round the Med by the BBC on the 12th September meaning he had to prepare and travel on the 11th so he could not join us.

    We were equally as disappointed that Craig and Danny were not there, had we the opportunity to drag then kicking and screaming there we would have done.

    Celebs are an entity unto themselves sometimes, situations get thrown at you and we have to adjust and cope as best we could.

    I do hope that next time you decide to air your views in a public manner, you will do a little research, ask a few more questions that I or any other member of the NOR-CON team would be happy to answer, and write a piece on your blog that reflects a true picture of the event rather than the one you have painted above.

    As you can see from the responses given, people do not seem to share your opinions.

    Of course the comment about the Traders looking the same was silly... how on Earth are you supposed to make a line of traders selling sci fi merchandise any different?

    We had several new stalls there, Mouldlife doing examples of fake prosthetic wounds, Abacus Art and their custom airbrush clothing range and demonstrations.

    The larger events such as Collectormania, London Film & Comic Con all bring in much larger crowds, sponsors and committed revenue before the event and therefore also bring in better marketing, larger trade organisations and shops. We are not trying to compete with them, we are just putting on an event.

    There are only so many traders operating within the Sphere of Influence of NOR-CON that will have a viable reason to travel to us. As the event grows, the reputation builds ( no thanks to your comments ) we will attract bigger and more varied traders.

    We have found though that usually the ones that pick fault and criticize peoples well intentioned efforts are generally the ones who sit on their back sides and never do anything themselves.

    That being said, we welcome your comments and we will try to address some of them for NOR-CON 2012.

  16. @Rebekah:

    Thank you for your comment - I couldn't have said it better myself (and clearly didn't, hence the angry backlash...).

    ~ CR@BHoward

  17. I joined Mr. Howard at the event this past weekend and echo every one of his sentiments. I've been going to these sort of things for years, from the days Showmasters were running even smaller events in Cheshunt, to the enormo-shows like the Comic Con, London Expo and Memorabilia, and I have never been to such an amateurish one as this.

    I'm well aware how difficult it must be to start one of these, but people are paying you for a quality event (and insanely you are charging them almost as much as the big events in London do) and they are not getting a good deal.

    Booking guests that have contractual obligations that may keep them from attending is madness. I'm sure it would have been great to have all the Red Dwarf guys, but if it's not 100% doable it should have been left till it was.

    I appreciate you posted on your site about Craig Charles pulling out, but the first we heard of Danny John-Jules was when we got in, after we paid, of course.

    And his attendance being based on the rain is NOT acceptable under any circumstances.

    My flatmate is a huge Red Dwarf fan, and was sorely disappointed at having to dish out the entrance fee, to just meet Robert Llewellyn, and he had to barter with his people to just get a signature on what he wanted!

    And every talk I have seen at one if these shows exudes professionalism, the one we had the misfortune to witness made me embarrassed for the guests.

    We went with 4 other people, ranging from 'con' newcomers to people like me, and they were all bitterly let down by the whole thing. I'm sure we weren't alone.

    I've been to small and fledgling shows for years, and know what to expect. Norcon wasn't it.

  18. Mark Dean - NORCON13 September 2011 at 06:24

    to Rebekah,

    I'm very sorry you feel that way, we try to do our very best. We don't always get it right, but for a small group and an event of this nature and size, we do not do too badly.

    I also found some of Mr Howards comments disrespectful and hurtful, but we have addressed them I hope.

    Yes, there was a delay with the celebs going to lunch and a 5 min here, 5 min there, loo break here all compounds.

    Originally the line up was only for Chris Barrie and Norman on stage with Danny & Robert to follow hence the 2 microphones, this was changed last minute to a trio. That seemed to go down well.

    Constructive critisism is fine Rebekah, but it can only be a valid critisism if you have researched it first to see if there is a reason to critisise in the first place.

    I'll be happy to give you Craig Charles' agents details if you so wish. We found out about Craig on Friday evening and it was immediately sent to the website and we tried to inform as many people as we could.

    Of course, the agents are not working at weekends in their offices. We actually went as far as contacting the Red dwarf Official Fan Club, Other Red Dwarf Celebs as well as Grant Naylor productions to try and find out what was happening with Craig.

    The door staff had as much information as we had, " Craig has been contractually obliged to attend the Radio 2 Hyde Park event" that was all we got. We passed on the information as quickly as we could.

    Please be under no illusion that we bent over backwards to try to have him at the event for you.

    The event venue is small, we have a limited timetable to adhere too and do that as best we can.

    I'm exceptionally open Rebekah to any suggestions you may have as to what you think would be a good thing to have there for people to do other than the trade stalls, celebs and guests. Maybe we can incorporate that into NOR-CON 2012 and make it better. It is through feedback like yours though that we do see other avenues to pursue.

    Out of the entire day, the hiccups were a slight delay after Lunch in the celebs appearing on stage, due to loo breaks etc, and one celeb not having a Mic which was quickly sorted. Again, your points are noted and we will address them, thank you for pointing them out.

  19. Mark Dean - NORCON13 September 2011 at 06:36

    Dear Thom:

    I will address your points although it would seem your mind is very much made up.

    "I'm well aware how difficult it must be to start one of these, but people are paying you for a quality event (and insanely you are charging them almost as much as the big events in London do) and they are not getting a good deal."

    Advance tickets were available from the UEA Booking office, TV&Movie Store Norwich, The NORCON Website, Toyz & Games in Norwich at a price of £6.00. Having looked at the website you must have been made aware of the prices.

    "Booking guests that have contractual obligations that may keep them from attending is madness. I'm sure it would have been great to have all the Red Dwarf guys, but if it's not 100% doable it should have been left till it was."

    the celebs we use all give their time to us for free as we are raising as much money as we can for charity. Even celebs have bills to pay Thom, they selflessly give their time to help the event. If their bosses or agents say they have to attend an event then they "HAVE" to attend that event. We have no control over that I am sure you understand.

    Danny contacted us personally and stated that if the weather was raining for the ACE Cafe bike run, he WOULD be with us at NOR-CON. He could not cancel either event. Even though we had his agreement a long time ago to attend, his Sponsors insisted he do the ACE event on the same day. There was some hope that Danny would be with us but we would not know until the day, hence why a table was set out for him.

    If we had had a definate cancellations from him, of course we eould have passed that on.

    "I appreciate you posted on your site about Craig Charles pulling out, but the first we heard of Danny John-Jules was when we got in, after we paid, of course."

    Please see above

    And his attendance being based on the rain is NOT acceptable under any circumstances.

    Again, Danny said that if he could be there he would. His words and not ours but we passed it on in good faith as soon as we knew.

    Again, I welcome any of your comments as to how we can improve things Thom. For such a seasoned convention person it would be very helpful to have your valuable experiences to hand.

  20. I can only repeat what I said. If there was any doubt about a guests availability, they shouldn't have been booked. End of.

    And I was referring to both prices you were charging to get in.

    As for help in the future, I'd hit the Showmasters message board and ask some of the show runners on there, I just attend the events. It's a bit like asking someone who goes to a gig to help with the soundcheck.

  21. Mark Dean - NORCON13 September 2011 at 07:21

    Sometimes there comes point in an argument where black is white and white is black.

    I have put forward explanations to your questions and critisisms.

    I will now withdraw from this blog, there is nothing else I can say except that I'm sorry you were not happy and maybe next year you consider attending the Norwich Sci-Fi Fantasy and Film Festival that was this year held in the foyer of Hollywood Cinema in Anglia Square on September 3rd.

    Best wishes..

  22. @thom: are you just plain ignorant or is it just hard to sink in buddy? celebs have the final say on attending an event.

    if craig and DJJ could not attend because of other commitments then that's there fault, not marks or nor-cons. A celeb line up was posted under the premise that these people would attend and mark only has so much info to go on.

    as mark has said, dont have a dig at the event or its staff, have a dig at he agents and diary planners for the celebs.

    and as for anonymous rebekah, there is a way of voicing dissapointment at no showing celebs and is that really to the point of slating the event and its staff? i think not!

    @thom: you have children in the event as young as 3, did you really really expect a serious 'q and a' session with the celebs? alot of it was good fun and from what i saw, and the 'crew' of red dwarf did very well answering some silly questions from kids and some more grown up ones from the adults.

    fair do's, it didnt appeal to you hardcore red dwarfers out there, and like mark has said, any constructive comments will be taken on board and hopefully intergrated into next years show.

    clearly a few wont return next year, but out of all those that did enjoy it, many many more will return and bring friends who missed out this time along. i will be there, with my dalek and a few of my mates aswell!

    all the best 'anonymous simon'

  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

  24. Nice of you to resort to insults there. I'm aware it's down to the guests whether they show up or not, but I cannot see if the point of confirming them if there's a chance they are not going to show up.

    And not just show up meaning being unable to attend because a acting role as popped up, or a family emergency but they already have something on that day that may have to take precedence? That is unacceptable, and guests should not be booked based on that. As it will lead to disappointment. Which it did.

    Q&A sessions. In answer to your question. Yes, I do. Again, I've been to Q&A sessions at these kind of events as well, and they are open to all ages and it has never been nothing less than enjoyable. The one I witnessed was just a bit of a mess. And, by the way, never mentioned anything about kids asking questions. Glad to see they have an interest, if anything.

    I'm not a 'hardcore'Red Dwarfer, just someone with an interest in these things, and if I think it's poorly organised...I will say as much.

    Doesn't just apply to this, I went to Download at Donington Park last year (different scale, yes, but same principal) and thought it was poorly organised, and said as much in a similar blog to this.

    Although that was without the insults and inability to take criticism.

  25. This event was outstanding!! The failure of celebs to attend is NOT down to the organisers and I think it unfair to slate them for it. They clearly worked VERY hard to get the show put on and did a sterling job.

    Well done Mark and the rest of your team. I saw your argument with the trader over Robert and Sophie sitting at his stall rather than with teh other celebs.

    Unfortunately you will always get those who seem to get some perverse pleasure from dissing the hard work of others, certainlt the people I spake to all said the same thing a brilliant event!! Even the celebs were happy with teh way the even twas run.

    I have been to many sci-fi events and can tell you a 20 minute delay is not unusual. Also consider the fact that the celebs did not go for lunch when they were supposed to and that was down to the fact that they were doing their best for the people who queued for their autographs.

    I agree with Vince Loudon.........SHAME ON YOU !!

  26. I attended NOR-CON last year and this year as one of the volunteers in costume predator last year and master chief this year.. And I can say this years NOR-CON was much better than 2010 .. More people newer celebs ... Yes admittedly there where some cockups with the microphones ... But did that ruin the event ... No it did not .. People still asked questions of all the guests and they answered as best they could it's not Like we made norman shout his answers..

    And as for your comment on the question about the comparison with captain jack harkness ... How can we know what the public will ask?
    And your comment about the costumes look alikes being essentially the same.. Is completely wrong there where a total of 3 costumes that where use last year out of the 12 characters ... Which I can assure you having walked around for 7 hours stopping every 3ft for a photo where very well received by the public

    All round NOR-CON 2011 was the best event I have volunteered at and I have experience for 2 years of the London MCM expo. It was an honour to meet the celebs and the organisers of the event alike .. I have made some great friends since joining the NOR-CON team and I hope to make many more ..

    we do this entirely for charity and whereas you may have not enjoyed parts but mthe rest did enjoy themselves
    im sorry you wont be attending next year.. oh well more space for the rest of us

  27. @thom, look man, i dont want to get into a slagging match with a keyboard warrior but my point is that booking people on the basis they are turning up is acceptable is it not.

    to be fair, i couldnt really give a flying fiddlers what you think anyway as you clearly dont realise that if mark had confirmed bookings at the time of publication of the flyer then is he not within his right to put that on the sadi flyer. and also (if you would read things) it does state that with the nature of a celebs life, things can and will change at the last minute and it is not the responsibility of the staff at nor-con to force these people to come.

    The celebs do not get paid to attend nor-con so it is down to the celeb to decide if they want to let everyone down. pisses me off that all you guys can moan about is the fact that a couple of celebs couldn't make it, rather than praising the efforts of the nor-con staff for getting such an event off the ground in the first place.

    to be honest thom, im not wasting anymore time on you as you are very very narrow minded and just cant seem to grasp the concept of 'out of our hands' or 'beyond our control'.

    A big well done to the staff of Nor-con 2011, the people that did enjoy it, the people who provided the props and entertainment and the people that made the effort to have a nice day out and made good of a couple of unavoidable issues.

    all the best- anonymous si

  28. I will say it one last time, and this isn't being narrow minded, but if someone is under any kind of contract to appear elsewhere, even if it is a Craig Charles situation where he may be called at the last minute, he shouldn't be booked.

    Every other event I have been to has said about guests possibly dropping out to legitimate reasons (as mentioned by me repeatedly) and I accept that. But, in my opinion, it's too much of a risk to guarantee any guests that are under contract elsewheres.

    This isn't narrow mindedness, it's common sense.

    But, you know, shame on me for voicing an opinion different to everyone else.

    Mr. Howard, kudos on another excellent blog.

  29. Sorry Thom - you seriously speak out of your ****

    If your attide and stance is: "if someone is under any kind of contract to appear elsewhere, even if it is a Craig Charles situation where he may be called at the last minute, he shouldn't be booked." then that would surely apply to every single celeb on the circuit wouldnt it?

    So that means, by your logic, that no event would ever have a Guest or Celebrity turn up, just in case they may be called away. They are ALL under contract.

    Are you at Uni Thom? If so, I'll just give you an Honourary Doctorate in being a complete and utter pratt! In fact I'd give you one anyway.

    Unfortunately Thom, you are one of these people who has nothing to say, but usually end up saying it very loudly.

  30. "Mr Howard, kudos on another excellent blog", hahahaaa, what a complete joker!!

    Mr Thom, kudos on being 2011's biggest ignorant prat!


  31. Your comments regarding the booking of celebs is unjustified! Keep an eye on the guest lists for events like 'Collectormania' on the run-up to the delivery of the event and you will find that some celebs often agree to turn up months in advance but then, later on and much closer to the event roll-out date, they suddenly cancel on the grounds of work commitments or for other reasons. Illness is also something everyone planning on attending events should bare in mind.

    Getting all hot and accusatory over the actions of some guys and gals who freely volunteer many of their hours towards the creation of an event such as NOR-CON is unfair too. They created this event NOT for personal glory but to raise money for good causes, and they will undoubtedly raise a sizeable amount in the process... Now that's a good thing yes? So, would you care to provide administration skills, telephony hours, money towards making costumes and maintaining them and THEN spend a full-on day doing all you can to deliver the event for absolutely free? These guys and gals did/will continue to do and my hat goes off to such a dedicated bunch of people.

    Yes, they may not have top-notch skills in the delivery of the final show, in your opinion BUT still they try their best "for free" AND definately improve over time...

    I agree with you over the point that it was a disappointment not to have seen DJJ or Craig Charles at the show when they were meant to have been there but this was NOT the fault of the organisers...

    There were certainly a good deal of different costumed characters this year and many of them were new, not seen last year. I know, I was there too. Overall; yes, the event compared to bigger ones, has room to grow and improve, but it was notably improved upon from last year's event. For a start, there were roughly the same amount of traders as last year however, a number of them were not there last year. I saw sci-fi/fantasy books, DVDs and retro games going for reasonable prices, didn't you? And of course, the event is also about demos, Q&S sessions, facepainting as well as guest signings...

    Like you, I often attend the Comic-Cons, Memorabilias and Exxel Centre Collectormanias and though this was a more low-key affair pitched in Norwich, it was more accessible to me, less expensive when I consider not having to travel further afield and just as enjoyable.

    I spoke to a number of people who attended this year and they only hard positive things. All I will say is you should return to attending London or NEC-based events for now but should keep an eye on this event because it is very likely to grow in popularity...

    Disgruntled Joe