Back in 2008 I started crewing with Showmasters at their second event in Glasgow. The first few shows were not that large but I’d been thrown in the deep end on my first day and asked to escort the guests to the green room from from their drop off point. I was so nervous but it didn’t take long for those nerves to dissipate and on my second day there I was – guest assistant to the lovely Rusty Goffe.
I’d then returned later in the year to crew the next event which they held in Braehead and this time I was guest assistant to Nicholas Courtney (RIP). Such a charming man and by this point I had started going down the acting path and was at college. Nicholas and John Leeson both helped me with my latest assignment as well as offering tips and advice. Nicholas also advised me to look into Radio Drama as a path with my accent and it being something that he thought was a dying skill. He was later in my thoughts as I recorded my first radio drama, The Waiting Game.
Next stop was working at EMS (Entertainment Media Show), LFCC (London Film and Comic Con) and Collectormania Milton Keynes. By this point I’d moved to High Wycombe and it was easier for me to get to these shows. Well, these were FAR larger than the humble event in Glasgow. Earls Court was one of my favourite venues. Just a large cavernous space that would over the course of day one be put together by crew and then filled with goodies from the merchandisers and the following day be flooded with fans of countless films, comics, tv and games all coming together to share their love of geekdom.
I loved the fact that you could be yourself, not only as an attendee, but the crew are mostly fans as well. Many of us grew up being told that being a geek was something to be ashamed of and especially being a geek and a girl! There clearly was something not quite right there! This was a weekend where I worked hard but had so many opportunities, made so many friends and most importantly got my nerd on!
Being crew you could be doing any number of jobs from working on the “Reg Desk” (registrations), queue management for the more popular guests or for the photo booths, working the green room (sorry no stories from there as it’s private!), runner (making sure all the guests have refreshments and making sure that guest assistants get breaks), crew specific for photo or talk areas and then guest assistant (sometimes there is more than one job there, GA, cash assistant and then virtual queue ticketer.)
In my time working with Showmasters I’d done all these jobs and more, some of which are now obsolete such as photo distribution, as they upgraded to instant printing.
Over the years I met so many celebrities – far too many to list – but each one has been a pleasure to look after or meet.
But at these events it’s not only the guests who are the stars of the show. I’ve seen so many cosplayers who have such amazing costumes however I would like to point out that cosplay is not consent for inappropriate behaviour (touching, taking photos without permission). The time and effort put into some of them are amazing and of course some take no time at all to put together but are just as fabulous.
I also worked at official events that Showmasters put on like Destination Star Trek London (DSTL). I am not personally a Star Trek fan but again it was an amazing experience to see all the costumes and meet some of the guests. Being dragged into a lift by Kate Mulgrew was an experience! To top it off Patrick Stewart was also in the lift! That weekend I had the pleasure of being Michael Dorns guest assistant and with Brent Spiner on the other side of me wasn’t so bad ether.
But all that had to come to an end as in March of 2013 in a warehouse somewhere in the United Kingdom, I was sitting on a leather couch crying my eyes out. I’d landed a small part (I can hear one of my former tutors right now, “There are no small parts only small actors”) in the hit BBC One show, Sherlock.
Although after filming Sherlock I still crewed at events for the rest of the year. I didn’t think anything would come of it and that only my friends and family would make a fuss of it. I had no idea how wrong I could be.
Bumping into Mark Gatiss (who had written the script for The Empty Hearse) at the BFI for the screening of another show, he introduced me to fans waiting to see him as Mary Sutherland from the original Arthur Conan Doyle story, A Case of Identity. Then I had people approaching me at events asking for autographs and photographs. It was very surreal as it hadn’t even been on television at this point.
Later that year I had my first request to sign at a convention, Elementary. However, I was still completing my degree and I was unable to attend the event.
Then on New Years day 2014 The Empty Hearse aired and I was overwhelmed with the response from the fans on social media towards myself and the poor Mary Sutherland. Then March 1st 2014 I was at Cardiff Film and Comic Con again but this time as a guest.
Again it was strange for me signing instead of being a guest assistant. Eve Myles, whom I’d gotten to know over the years of her being a guest asked what I was doing with a guest pass. My crew mates were not phased in the slightest making fun of me and making sure I didn’t let it go to my head!
After CFCC came Sherlocked, the first official event in London. Well if CFCC was overwhemling I cannot describe the feeling walking through the Excel centre and people pointing at me and whispering. You are so used to walking through the street and no one batting an eyelid to suddenly people watching you. Being on stage is a different sensation to this.
When the doors opened and the fans flooded in I still did not expect to have anyone really interested in meeting this small-time actress who had the good fortune to have a part in this fantastic show. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I had fans who had been following me on twitter saying I was an inspiration to them, people who thought my brief appearance on screen was so moving and they just wanted to hug Mary Sutherland. I felt terrible when doing my photo shoots and I had fans who were shaking from nerves at meeting me. I would try to do my best to put them at ease after all, I was like that once when I started crewing.
Then came the costumes, the amazing talent and dedication people put in. I wish I could have taken more photos but if I’d done that then I’d never have gotten anything else done! There was a Smaug, Hobbit, and Sherlocks galore! Some amazing Mycrofts (one of my favourites posted below), Irene Adlers, Lestrades and the list goes on.
But I am glad that my brief part brought joy to so many.
I can only hope that this is the beginning of a wonderful journey and I hope to take you all with me.
I would like to say a huge thank you to all the crew of Showmasters. To all those people I’ve met over the years, some became good friends with and some just had a good show with. In many ways Showmasters helped me become the woman I have become today and build my confidence. It’s like an extended family. And a special thank you to Stuart “Too Tall” Hattrick for looking out for me when I was crewing and was unwell and to Jason V Joiner for firstly creating these shows in the first place and for giving me the amazing opportunities above.