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Star One 2004

Bedford Moat House, Bedford, England

24th and 25th April 2004

   View from our room

A full report follows but here is a list of links, some of which take you further down this page, others to different pages.


I decided to go all the way to the UK for this convention (the first and probably the last Blake's 7 con I'll ever attend) when I heard Michael Keating was a guest. Until very recently he hasn't appeared for years, so I grabbed my chance to see him and the rest of the excellent guest line-up, and had a three-week holiday at the same time.

As I arrived early, I took part in the Friday evening quiz. I looked around the room desperately, hoping to see someone I recognised so I could join their team, and some very nice people invited me to join 'Star One and a Half'. The quiz was very well-organised, a lot of fun, and our team came second—beaten just before the finish line by 'Beer and Blake's 7'. I should have recognised their name from the mailing lists I'm on; I blame jetlag.

At breakfast the next day, Harriet Monkhouse (part of 'Beer and Blake's 7) introduced herself to me, saying that the chance to meet fans like me whom she'd never normally get to see was her main reason for coming as she's seen the cast so often before. How lucky she is to be able to say that.

Full Report

It was a packed programme, especially for the guests who seemed to be always on stage, signing autographs, hosting coffee clubs, or doing photo sessions. I had to plan my time carefully, but even then I missed out on David Jackson completely and hardly saw Stephen Pacey.



First two panels

Paul Darrow and Steven Pacey panel

Michael Keating panel

Photo with Michael

I then went to have a photo with Michael taken by a professional photographer. I've cropped a picture of Michael out of it.


There was a very long queue of people, in which I met someone who knew me from my stories on the Hermit library. Fame (of a sort)! Michael was lovely, asking me where I came from, and surprised I'd come so far.

Next panel

The photo session made me late for the next panel.

Paul Darrow and Jacqueline Pearce panel


I walked over the bridge with a bunch of fellow fans I knew from mailing lists, to a very disorganised café Steve Rogerson said had good food. It may well have, but by the time we got served the vegetarian pasties were gone. It was a lovely hot day and we ate in the sun by the river Ouse, watching the rowers and swans.

Autograph session

Autograph session and photos with Michael and Jacqueline


I did make it to Paul and Janet's auction session though. This was entertaining as they went through what must be a practised routine auctioning various donated items for charity. I was sorely tempted to bid for the big laminated signed poster of all the cast from the DVD release reunion, but realised that 1) my money was in my body-bag under my jeans, and 2) getting the poster back home in one piece could be a problem. I was disappointed that Janet didn't auction Paul's horrible shoes as she'd threatened though.

Coffee Club with Michael Keating

There were ten of us at the coffee club in a small room. Michael was just lovely. He offered us all coffee or tea, and a bowl of sweets, then asked each of us in turn about ourselves and our interests. When it got to my turn, said that I loved to write and asked him if he'd accept a gift, and he said yes. I got out a copy of Vila Restal's E-mails and dedicated it to him. If I remember correctly, I wrote, "For Michael Keating with respect and admiration. Thanks for making Vila so real." and signed it. He looked delighted to receive it. Yes, I know he's an actor, but I also get the impression he's a very genuine and kind person, and who knows, maybe he'll look at it and get a laugh or two.

Dinner with Michael Keating

And after all that, plus my body-clock telling me it was coming up to 6 in the morning, I was so tired I went to my room and had a nap despite my excitement.

Dinner with Michael Keating



I'd missed being in the traditional Wobblevision which was photographed in all its SFX glory during dinner. The episode remade this time was Gold. Harriet grabbed me after breakfast though and offered me a bit part as the passenger Avon ogles on the Space Princess. Yay, part of it at last!


The autograph room was also home to a collection of costumes from the show. After breakfast while it was empty, I took pictures and chatted with the owner who must have spent thousands acquiring them.


Morning sessions

Gareth Thomas and Glyn Owen panel.

Photo with Michael and Paul at which I learned the origin of the name 'Soolin' and heard some Avon and Vila-type banter.

Jacqueline Pearce and Stephen Greif panel.

Michael Keating panel, sad dedicated Vila-fan that I am.


Gareth was sitting with some of my friends in the bar and drinking wine so I joined them, taking the opportunity to get pictures.

Lunch with Gareth and friends

Afternoon sessions

Gareth Thomas panel.

I missed the Stephen Greif panel as I lined up for a Gareth autograph for a friend. Gareth was lovely, chatting to everyone and refusing to be hurried, but it meant a very long wait. He was still there at 5; he does give the fans very good value. "They're here to see me," he said. "I know I'm taking a long time, but I enjoy it." To quote the actors' favourite accolade: lovely man.

Paul Darrow and Michael Keating panel.

After that, everyone started to leave. Ruth, Gemma, and I helped pack up the costumes, and Gemma tried the Vinni one on. Ruth took a picture of me interviewing Tarrant's Trousers with a microphone. For those who wonder why, there is an interview with a pair on the Three Good Reasons site.

And then it was all over. It was, however, just the start of my holiday. 


I loved meeting fans I've only known by e-mail and all the guests were delightful. One common theme that came out in all their sessions was their sorrow and bitterness at the changed world of acting. All I can say is that I've noticed the decline in quality, versatility, and talent for some time, and that has to be one reason why I love Blake's 7 so much—along with other quality shows, I should add. It's not the only reason though. Blake's 7 is the only show I write fiction for, and that is purely because Michael Keating gave Vila such a depth, humanity, and vulnerability, his character really touched me.

I know going half-way round the world to see him and the others was extravagant, but I'm glad I did. I met a lot of lovely people, made more friends, and had a wonderful holiday afterwards.

To those of you who live in the UK: don't take your cons and frequent opportunities to meet the cast for granted. If I lived there, I'd go to everything I could—for the pleasure of meeting the cast, and for the company of the wonderful fans I got to know.

Selected Cast Photos

Click on a thumbnail to get the full-sized picture

Michael Keating Michael Keating Paul Darrow Gareth Thomas David Jackson
Jacqueline Pearce Stephen Greif Steven Pacey Paul and Michael  


There are also some excellent black and white portraits of the guests on Mark Keen's Jade site.

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