|Type:||fan run actorcon|
|Focus:||Blake's 7, Robin of Sherwood, Doctor Who, Red Dwarf|
|Organization:||Her Majesty's Entertainment|
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Visions '90 was held November 23-25, 1990.
From a flyer posted to rec.arts.drwho in September 1990: "VISIONS '90 (Formerly A BRITISH TV CELEBRATION)- November 23-25, Hyatt Regency O'Hare, Chicago, IL Guests: Jon Pertwee, Michael Keating, Sally Knyvette, Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Jason Connery, John Peel, Fraser Hines, Mark Ryan, Terry Walsh, Dave Rogers, Eric Hoffman. Invited but not confirmed: Patrick MacNee, Brent Spiner, Linda Thorson, Michael Praed, and Brian Clemens. Tickets $40/3 days, $30/Sat. and Sun., $20/1 day. Cabaret: $20. Luncheon, panels, art show, costume contest, gaming tourneys, video room. Hotel: single/double/triple/quad $65; must receive reservation at least 21 days in advance of arrival to guarantee rate. For tickets/info, contact: Her Majesty's Entertainment, [address redacted]."
Visions '91 was held November 29 - December 1, 1991.rec.arts.drwho: "A charity auction (to benefit Lambs Farm of Libertyville, a live-in facility for mentally and/or physically challenged adults), two video rooms (the program will be the same in each room, however, video room 2's show times will be three hours later than video room 1), a masquerade ball (on Friday night, with a DJ, and judging will take place before the DJ's first set), art show & auction, and a cabaret (which will include Tom Baker's rendition of Dickens' classic, "A Christmas Carol").
Other items of interest include: a brunch raffle (chances for this event will be sold at the registration desk; the brunch will occur late Sunday morning & winners will be asked to pay one-half of the cost of their meal), autographs & photographs (though Mr. Baker will not be signing autographs in person, he will be signing the program books ahead of time so that when you register you will automatically get his autograph -- an opportunity to greet him and have a photograph taken with him will be made available each day) and, of course, a dealers room (which the promoters describe as "tremendous!")."
- "Regarding a meeting place, most Who-oriented conventions have fan-made display items such as Daleks or TARDISes about, these make excellent, easy-to-find, unique meeting places. Certainly better than asking everyone to meet in the lobby -- can you pick out the USENET Doctor Who fans from the crowd of the "regular" Doctor Who fans? I know I can't."
- "Oh sure, it's easy [to ID fellow Usenet members]. Just look for the individuals with stooped shoulders, glassy eyed stares, and rather precise finger movements - on second thought that really doesn't help does it? Just listen for key phrases like - e-mail, r.a.dw, alt., bitnet, ethernet, any other net, .... then you will surely be able to pick them out."
See the Usenet announcement post dated October 1, 199 here.
A video of Paul Darrow at the event can be seen [www.blakes7fans.net/2011/03/blakes-7-paul-darrow-visions-con-usa.html here].
Visions '92 was held November 27-29, 1992 and was billed as "A British/American Television Celebration." An electronic progress report detailing some of the proposed activities was posted to rec.arts.tv.uk here. Among the proposed activities were: an art show, a masquerade
"This year's Masquerade will accommodate those of you who have audio needs. We will also be able to turn on and off stage lights, but we can't handle fancier lighting requests. Remember, presentations are limited to one minute."), fan run panels, a fan run dealer's room, and a charity auction benefiting Lambs Farm and the Make-A-Wish Foundation."
1992: Con Reports
Ahh, once again that time of the year has rolled around. And, with the devotion of the trufen, we ignore the thoughts of historical meaning and family gatherings that most folks have in their minds on this November weekend. Forget all that. Instead, four of The Flakes have once again hit the road for Chitown and the British Media Convention known as VISIONS.
There is only one B7 star scheduled to attend the festivities this time around, but one is all you need when it is the freakin' hero of the show: yes, Blake himself, AKA Gareth Thomas, will be there.
Thanksgiving Day itself began quietly enough. A liquor store that delivered was located and an order quickly placed. The next hotel up the road was serving a holiday buffet, of which we availed ourselves, until we were all as stuffed as any other four turkeys in town. Back at the Ramada, the place to be seemed obvious: the lobby bar.
After some little time, patience and living a clean life were rewarded, as Jennie, ever-vigilant, muttered softly, "Gareth just came in." And so he had. Well, your faithful (albeit biased) correspondent confesses to a bit of dithering: to approach Himself or not? Then, not unexpectedly, the Slut speaks up: "I'm going over there."
It seems safe to assume that no one at the table knew that a just-turned 46-year-old lady (?) could move as quickly as did this humble scribe. I take no little pride in saying that I beat Ms. Health Club to the bar by at least four steps. Gareth remembered us from our meeting in London last summer, and the conversation flowed easily. Ever polite, I even remembered to introduce Jennie' when she came over.
After some pleasant talk, it was time for those of us going to the Contributor's Party to head for the upper floors. It worked out just as I had hoped (don't you love it when a plan comes together?) it would do when I wrote my check for admittance: by which I mean, the party allowed me to spend even more time talking to GT. Perhaps there is a god after all, and She obviously loves besotted fans. When the official festivities ended, we adjourned once again to the bar and talk continued. It is not easy to carry on a conversation with GT in public, as he is sought out by all and sundry and will talk to each and every one at length.
Late in the evening, there was an unfortunate jolt of reality thrust into our midst, as Carol G. got the news of a death in the family and had to make plans for departure the next day. We all felt bad for her. Gareth came to our room (poor Sandra was dragged from her bed and forced to clothe herself again in anticipation of his arrival), and sought to make Carol feel better. His presence worked for me. The talk went on until about 4 A.M., with Jennie pouring the drinks and Gareth keeping us entertained. Not a bad way to begin a con.
Well, there were any number of activities over the next couple of days. Some people saw a lot of them. Jennie was kept busy, filling in for Carol on escort duty. Sandra seemed to be round and about, putting her camera to good use. I attended the following events: Gareth's solo Q&A session, Gareth's Q&A session with Michael Praed, Gareth's autographings (2), Gareth's photo sessions (2), and the Cabaret, where Gareth did two poems quite wonderfully. The high points of the con were the evenings in the bar with...GT.
It was also pleasant meeting and talking with other fans.
The dealer's room had a lovely quotient of GT material, and I acquired a wonderful print in the art show. The convention ended for me, not with the official closing ceremony, where Gareth spoke briefly, but with a good-bye in the corridor.VISIONS '92 was a wonderful convention. 
Visions 93 was held November 26-28, 1993 and was billed as "Celebrating 30 Years of Doctor Who."
An electronic progress report detailing some of the proposed activities was posted to alt.fan here. The members of The Federation (video collective) celebrated their 10th year at Visions '93 by showing some of their fan produced videos.
1993: Con Reports
"Well, this is my very first post on this board after reading it for several months, and I'm being taught to do my first Doctor Who convention. I'm enjoying it so much. I've already met John Levene and Gary Leigh, the DWB editor. I'm hoping to do a lot more these next two days, and I'm hoping to post many messages in the future." Visions review after one day posted to rec.arts.drwho on Nov 26 1993.
"Memories of Visions. This is my report of Visions 1993: The People, The Guest and the Location.
As this is my first Visions Conference, I would like to say that is did live up to expectation.
Arrival on Thursday Night: Video Room and Early Registration. Travelling with me was Sean Samson. We arrived NOT knowing what to do until Sean gave me the idea to call the O'Hare Hyatt. We waited for a bus to pick us up and pick us up it did, sharing the way with the Seattle Doctor Who Group.
We saw Red Dwarf Videos, the ORIGINAL BBC 2 Broadcast from Season 6. WOW!!! What a great show. I want to get copies of Season 6. Also that night was Blake's 7 "Hostage" and Moonbase 3's "Castor and Pollux".
Registration: I had some problems, but the staff at Visions was professional and helpful. Way to go mates.
Early Friday, print up a copy of the Club's Listing and "try to make progress".
Friday, the Opening Ceremonies. Queueing up was very interesting. I met and talk to a Briton from Trent on Life, the Universe and Everything. Very amusing awards. Every guest got one. Fill in below if you remember who got what.
Next on my agenda was to attend the Fan Panel on Internet. We trickled in slowly. This meeting was very well directed by Lee Whiteside. I was a very entertaining and informative meeting indeed. Next year, I hope the fan panels are announced and are better attended.
Next, off to a fan panel to see Carol Ann Ford and Sophie Aldred. Sophie asked us what do we think about Doctor Who in U.S. hands. I responsed with using the microphone saying that it should stay in U.K. hands. Amazingly enough she noticed I was from the U.K. and asked if there were others from the U.K. I asked Carol what she remembered of Syndey Newman. From here, we get Sophie "Sharp Eyes" Aldred having to help the near-sighted and blind-sighted Carol Ford on stage. She does remember Sydney, a short Canadian, who comple- mented her on her portrayal of Susan. BTW when Canadian was mentioned, the Canucks went crazy.
Next was an autograph session with the Lofficiers, J. Benthan (grandson of Philosopher Bentham) and John Peel. I embarassingly mixed up John Peel for Paul Cornell as having Internet access (sorry Paul). Lofficier is French, a Frenchman from France, and wife Randy is a Strlog writer. Both helped me in realizing that if I want to sent a Club's Listing of DW Clubs to Starlog to Starlog, there is a certain address I must write to. Merci a vous deux.
After, I took a bend to the Fans Dealers Room, met many netters and clubbers.
During lunch, Anthony Ainley completed me for my dress sense and I remembered him form Inspector Clouseau. Now who was that U.S. actor? Began with A. (Later)
Fan Panel: I asked Davison whether or not he played Cricket. He does and he DID bowl someone out. Also, he had a baseball bat for anyone with a stupid question. Definitely NOT cricket. Oh Well Peter, you are NOT going to get that opening on the British Team. :-)
Another interesting note: I got into a quick queue with Sophie Aldred for a photographic opportunity. Sophie did remember me from earlier. Oh! oh!
Late Evening, the Children in Need charity. $5 U.S. to see Dimensions in Time. I insisted that Gary Downie take $10 U.S., because from my point of view the Bulger Case and the Homeless. We saw the Part 2 with the lady, NOT with the heavy Man. Anyways, drab I thought of the plot, but it WAS going to needy children. In case you DON'T believe me, look up Carnaby Street in London, or the "Tower Mall" in Liverpool.
End of Friday: b****y Yadallemania strikes again. Oh, Well, that's life.
Saturday, the MAD full swing. Dealers Rooms, photoops, Panels, the lot. Move fast and often. Start, Carol Ford and William Russell autograph. Fact, Carol is severely short-sighted, and I forgot to to W. R. Enoch to sign his real name.
Mad lineups for Davidson/Baker photoops AND Bryant/Aldred photoops. Baker complemented me for dress sense as a man of occasion and the older ladies gave me a hug. While in line for B/A, I had a nice chat with a fellow Chinese Briton. I love Britonnics.
Photoop with Levene/Padbury. John remembers me from 1988 and got to hug the short mop. I remember him and say "News from Croydon, later". Sent him and her giggling silly.
Photoop with Danny John-Jules. Whoa! An Englishman with John Bull spirit. I say, what an extraordinary personality. A MUST meet! SURPRISE!
BTW, Visions 1994 wants to be devoted to Red Dwarf.
Photoop with Jan Chappel and Jacqueline Pearce. Bewarem, they do act sexy. Wonder if they as well as Sophie and Nicola. Behaviour is perculiar for all 4.
Photoop with Ford/Russell. Late due to lack of food.
Question to Colin Baker: Whoops! He misunderstood. Later at an autograph Session, he told me that his acting as a self-defense lawyer AND being one in the past was coincidence. Are we sure? I do believe him as he is one of the nicest people to be found.
Variety show: Interesting. Anthony in cabaret: A must see! Jan Chappell had nothing prepared and said so :-). Sophie and Nicola "Old DW had a farm", swore at the Dalek portion. Nicola giving out a dirty story. Sophie a good singer. W. Russell, J. Leeson and C. Ford doing a seen from Hamlet. DJ-Jules being comic. Etc... Too much to remember.
Sunday Morning: Scramble! Got an autograph of N. Bryant and gave her a joke: "What is the connection between Rupert Murdoch and Brighton? Page 3". You have to be English to understand. A misquestion to the elder actresses. Slip! Autograph Session with JNT, Chris Barry and Gary Downie. Last year if you remember, I threw out some ideas for some projects on the net. JNT has said that we will NOT be in trouble with the Beeb unless it involves profits. Also mention was Johnny Byrne (Berne), Paul Cornell, Kate Orman and almost forgot Douglas Adams (How dare I). Information: Byrne is currently doing a Yorkshire 60's based series. Can someone tell me what is is called.
Panel with DJJ: I asked him what it was like to work with David Bowie. He said just a few to meet the guy, to record in Abbey road Studios. He also said that he has a picture of him crossing the zig-zag crossing in Abbey Road. QUICK! Upload that photo!
The final memento: The final photoops. Leeson/John-Jules (dog and Cat), DJJ remembering me for dress sense and saluting me later, and the Ryan, McCullough(sp?) and Abinieri. What a good bunch of jokers. The end of the session Ryan noted the accent AND we also held the line up.
Visions: A chance to get together. Lovely time, esp photographing some new friends who I never met before. I WILL let draw your attention soon: I have 2 shots left.
Also, the Britons whom I met: wonderful characters. Ian Parkes(sp) and Andrew Wong, and the others, I will always remember you for sure. It was a pleasure talking politics, education, society, et al. with you.
A Briton I was born and a Briton I will most honourable die.
Downside: PRICES AND TAXES at the hotel. OUCH! The GST in Alberta looksmore complementary. Visions MIGHT be in trouble, with a sales tax of > 7%." Visions 1993 Report from... posted to rec.arts.tv.uk November 30, 1993.
[excerpts from a Blake's 7-centric report]:
[CS]: Jackie and Jan are not story tellers but Peter and Colin did a very good job with their time on stage and were very friendly.
[KW]: Similarly, I think that Jan and Jackie did not know how to handle the audience, and they used their pretense of hostility towards each other to brush off any real questions. For example, when someone asked Jackie why Servalan wasn't in "Blake" and how did she feel about it, Jan said 'I'm glad you weren't in it', Jackie said 'So am I', and then 'Next question.' (As best I remember.} I found it very frustrating. When they appeared with the 3 women from Dr. Who on a panel around noon on Sunday, they apparently had stayed up late partying. Through the first half of the panel, Jan looked bored, but during the last half she actually looked really sick. By the afternoon, they had recovered and were drinking again....
[SC]: Amanda and Karen have summed up the problems. I wonder if a workshop for guests would be a good idea? Some of the actors have a gift for handling panels and others require practice, especially if they haven't been to a con recently.
[AR]: Visions itself was a nice convention; Jacqueline Pierce and Jan Chappell hissed at each other on "discovering" just whom they had to share the panel with, and their snipes were very amusing to watch. The only problem is that they just about never went and told a *story* or elaborated on an answer to a question. J.P. said "I enjoyed it thoroughly" more times than I care to remember, even if her voice projected it so well... so Servalan-like. And there were long pauses after answers in which one of the two would have to ask if there were any questions so as to prompt the audience. Stories would have encouraged questions, as well as there not being any responses to the tune of "You can't ask that, surely?" or "I don't think we can talk about that" from J.C. Still, it was nice to see them in person. Both of the ladies looked to be aging very nicely; you should have seen J.P's hair, it's getting nice and long, and it makes her look younger. We also attended a panel with Colin Baker and Peter Davison, and these two were very good about telling stories and joking with each other. The questions were flying, and the applause from certain responses seemed to surprise and delight the two. There was a story about how C.B. got the director to do an extra take after they had gotten a scene down to his satisfaction and to signal C.B. and let him know. Then, instead of splashing Nicola Bryant with a little water to 'revive' Peri, he dumped a bucketful on her... and she just kept on acting to finish the 'take'... They answered personal questions, they wandered off topic, it was great fun to watch (when you could get a glimpse from behind the large heads and cameras in front of you).
[SC]: The pro dealers' room was smaller than last year, I think. There were plenty of videos, magazines, shirts, and trinkets of all kinds. I bought the last 6 B7 tapes and The Airzone Solution (a non DW story starring Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Peter Davison, Sylvester Mccoy, and Jon Pertwee).
[AR]: The fan dealer's room was smaller, and the best (and most crowded) table, of course, was Bill Hupe's. I had previously called and talked with him, and he ran down a list of B7 zines he would bring for me to look at. I got to the table, and he hands me this _huge_ box full. Gack. I spent a happy amount of time putting the zines in a "Definite" pile (medium sized), a "Maybe" pile (Huge!) and a "Nah, maybe later" pile (very small pile there, of course). Then I took nominations from our group and passers-by/browsers as to what zines they thought were good ones. My "Definite" pile was growing by the minute... After another visit to the table (we had to leave for the J.P./J.C, panel), my total ran up to almost three hundred dollars! Well, I guess I won't be buying zines for a while now... Well, at least until I've finished reading these (that should take a couple of months ;} So I carried a carton of zines back up to the room...
[KW]: I beg to differ. There was a lot of stuff in the Dealer's rooms, but not much of it was interesting. Much of our time in the Dealer's Room was spent sitting on the floor in front of Bill Hupe's table digging through his boxes of zines, and he only had a few, if any, that he hadn't had at Media West.
[SC]: Once, I walked into the fan dealers' room and no one from our group was sitting on the floor in front of Bill's table. Once. Whenever we got separated, we knew where to meet up. Although there were few new zines and just as few used ones, it didn't stop us all from scouring each and every box.
[CS]: His table was the one redeeming feature of the fan dealers' room, and I finished reading the book version of Star Maidens 1 got from him. It really should have been filmed that way!
[KW]: Other than Bill, the zine selection was limited to those that Horizon had brought, one person had two boxes of used B7 zines, and a handful of new Dr. Who zines (none of which were the ones that had been recommended to me.) On the other hand, there was a good selection of Gareth Thomas photos, which made others of us quite pleased. (I bought one picture of Avon, one of Avon and Vila, and none of Blake:-) There was also lots of video tapes, books and magazines: Dr. Who, ST, Red Dwarf and B7.
[AR]: The art show was interesting, and it actually had *some* B7 art, which is new to my experience because the people down here have taste in their mouths. The art, however, was not the best. I luckily (forgot to mention this) had acquired a Suzan Lovett piece; a picture of Avon with 'Death' looming over him in another frame in the picture. There's an inscription in Latin running across the bottom in a banner; I'll have to post it when I get home and see if anyone can translate it (I can figure out a few of the words) I went to bid on a picture of Al with a poem in caligraphy next to it for a gift, but after the auction, learned that if the piece hadn't had three bids, it goes to the last person who puts an offer on the paper. I had made the first bid, and someone else bid a dollar over myself. I figured that would be enough for it to be auctioned as the people would hardly like to have two people writing several one-upmanships on the paper, so I didn't put in another bid. Pity, that. Oh, well. The art show wasn't anything to write home about; there were a few tolerable portrait-style drawings. And I remember one nice B7 cross-stitch, but the minimum bid was astronomical ($300?). Most of the pieces didn't get any bids at all.
[SC]: The art show, IMO, was pathetic. Both MediaWest and Zcon had much larger selections and better quality overall. This art show really showed the lack of Suzan Lovett, Karen River, and Jean Kluge, whose work was some of the best last year. I was especially disappointed that none of the fan dealers except for Bill Hupe had any prints for sale. I WANT those Powerplay covers, damn it!
[CS]: Of course GT's absence was the most depressing aspect, followed by the sad state of the art show. But the fabulous company in our room (and the Avonite camp :-)) made up for it. (did I actually say that??) Well, made up for everything but his absence anyways. :-) The only addition I have is that it was wonderful meeting Nicole and Amanda and seeing Sue and Karen again, It's amazing how much fun a con can be with like-minded folk. As for protestations of innocence, I did nothing I shouldn't have and no one would believe it anyways. :-) And if they did, it was all Sue's fault. :-D
[SC]: Well, I had a wonderful time and hated to come home. It was great meeting Amanda and seeing Catherine, Nicole, Angie, and Karen again. I do wish the con had a spirit message board like MediaWest so we could have looked for familiar names and left messages, though. Hanging around in our room was the best time, the official con events were just a bonus.
[CS]: I must agree with Sue. The best times were video and chat sessions in the room in the company of friends and fellow appreciators. Thanks again to Sue for saving me from having to make those indignant protestations. :-)
[KW]: Not surprisingly, the company was much better than the con.
[NV]: Ah, visions of...and only visions, since the original reason for going to the con was to meet Gareth Thomas and he wasn't able to show... Well, now, I have been to exactly two cons as a stay-in-the-hotel kind of guest: Zcon and Visions. And I must say that we really turned Visions into a mini-slash con, which should tell me something. Like, Escapade, here I come! (Yes, the check is still in the mail, Christine.) I had a great time with the other listees, especially since we were so 'focussed': talking B7, talking story, talking gossip, talking trash. I've never been with a group quite so compatible in time - everyone up early, performing ablutions with grace, and on time or early to any scheduled event. Amanda, type A personalities are much more Avonic than Blakeian. Of course, for myself, I find much to identify with Avon. Which is why I love Blake.Had I not had such entertaining companions, I might have gone to more panels, or bought much more 'stuff at the dealers room. I was quite surprised at the paucity of the fan dealers, and the embarrassing thinness of the art show. Our private video showing was excellent (of course, I would have like to have seen several other vids, but certain people didn't load them into the truck along with the VCR ;-)). Now one might say that 3 hrs 53 min each way in an airplane, and the monetary cost, and the familial cost (my husband had to tolerate his mother by himself this Thanksgiving) might not be worth watching a few videos; but then again, meeting you all and sharing the madness most certainly was! 
November 25-27, 1994
1994: Con Reports
[excerpts from a much, much longer group report which is Blake's 7-centric]:
We skipped the Friday session in favor of gathering supplies (i.e. wine), but Saturday queued up to get [Paul Darrow's] autograph. I took my hardcover copy Avon: A Terrible Waste of Time. For the entire time I was in line I was afraid he's ask me what I thought and I'd tell him. But he didn't ask. He gave me a hard time over how to spell my name and then told me to take my clothes off. He says that all the time, so I didn't take it personally. Besides, it was cold in the room. I did, however, take it as a cue to unburden myself about the wretched sex scenes in the book. He still signed it with "love" from him to me, though, right before he latched onto Joan's photo of him in "Rescue" and quickly changed the subject. Some people just can't take constructive criticism. [Beth, by the way, claims I was in fact very polite and constructive so I have a witness that I didn't harass him, no matter what Joan says)....
Fan Dealers' Room: Practically empty. Bill Hupe had the usual sprawl of zines but all the good stuff (slash and adult) had to be kept behind the table. There weren't really many new Blake's 7 zines to be had and there were very few zines at all in the room. I think there were only about 7 tables and a couple of them were more SCAish stuff. The Prydonians of Princeton and a Robin of Sherwood group had tables, someone had lots of weaponry and there were maybe one or two miscellaneous collections. I got a nice button of Blake as bounty hunter — a miniature version of the 8x10 photo. Very nice. It went well with the other buttons I was wearing — a Blake portrait, "B/A: the Ultimate Adventure," the mandatory "Blake is so unappreciated, poor baby" button, etc I also picked up a nice sketch of Blake and Avon that we saw T shirts of later. I've forgotten the artist's name... Warren something? Joan and I almost got matching T shirts that said "Psycho Amazon Warbitch from Hell, with an attitude." But we figured why give people fair warning. Since there was little enough to throw money at, I overbid on a full set of Morgan's Boy tapes. EP, off the air copies converted hum PAL to NTSC There are a few lines and blips, like any off the air tape, but much better than what I had and all the episodes.[Bill had lots of stuff I didn't. Then he had less stuff and I had more stuff. Then the next day he had even less stuff and I had some more stuff. Then I had to stop because I had no more money. Get the picture? Nearly a month after the event, and I not read 1/4 of the zines I bought. I almost purchased a couple of pictures of Tarrant and Vila carrying Avon about the place during what looked like the episode Headhunter; there were lots and lots of photos - on Horizon's table (from which I 'had*; to get a fanzine. Hey, I'm not one to be totally exclusive! and two or three others. Alongside the photos on one table were mementos made from photos, many signed, mostly Doctor Who. There a very nice photo of Patrick Troughton and his recorder... Most of the other stuff was SCA as Sue mentioned] ...After all of this — the sheep, the man in drag, kissing Gareth, and some short reference to meeting Liberace in Toronto, I thought there was a definite theme developing [in Paul Darrow's talk] ... but before I could pursue the idea, Darrow smiled a perfectly Avonic smile and I had to resuscitate Joan. [Yeah, there's always a bit of that to short circuit the memory as well. Re: the photo shoot: 1 literally have no memory of my camera flash going off. I've only the proof of the photograph that it did...] Oh, sure, she says "I'll never forgive him for not taking better care of Avon's body" and then one Avonish smile and I'm sitting next to a puddle of hormones that used (o be Joan. 
Visions 95 was held November 23-26, 1995 and was billed as "A Convention Dedicated to Unusual Television." An electronic progress report detailing some of the proposed activities was posted to rec.arts.tv.uk here. Among the proposed activities were: celebrity luncheon, fan led panels, a variety show, two video rooms - one for aired episodes and one for "fan-made versions of Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, Star Trek: The Next Generation, The Prisoner, Mystery Science Theater 3000, and Monty Python's Flying Circus."
Convention photos by Paula Gross are archived here.
1995: Con Reports
The panels with Gareth Thomas, Paul Darrow, and Brian Blessed were entertaining. I hope Visions comes out with videotapes, since a lot of the mugging and upstaging won't come through on audio. But there are some nice moments on audio, too. Blake fans might especially enjoy hearing Brian Blessed explain that from his lofty eminence in the British theatre he looks down on Paul Darrow, at which point Gareth chimed in with "When I look down on Paul Darrow, I'm blinded by the glare from his bald spot."
There's a philosophy which says that when you total everything up in the world, light and dark, good and bad, it all comes out even. If that's the case, then as long as Brian Blessed is alive there are several hundred people in the world condemned to catatonic depression, just to balance him out.
The variety show keeps getting better. I think this year was the best yet. After what Gareth Thomas and Paul Darrow did to the gravedigger scene in Hamlet, I may never be able to sit through that play again without being seized by inappropriate giggles.
This year was the first time I did much hanging around in the bar, for which I give thanks to Dawn. It's easier to walk in with someone I know, rather than looking around for people I can intrude on. And it was also the first time I actually spoke to the actors. Gareth Thomas was charming but not overpoweringly so--very approachable and human. I hadn't planned to say much, figuring I couldn't make too big a fool of myself with my mouth closed. But late Saturday night I found myself telling him a somewhat tasteless joke which earned me a penetrating (yet not intimidating) look and a promise that that joke would be all over Scotland in two weeks' time.
He and Paul Darrow reminded me of profs who've got tenure in the same department: the current state of their personal relationship is less important than their shared history and sense of being in the same boat. But I don't really know either of them, so this may just be my viewing them through lenses ground during my stint in academia.The only thing that worries me about Visions is that I like it better and better, and the attendance figures keep dropping. I like more intimate cons, but I'm not at all sure this preference is shared by the organizers. Anyway, I hope Visions continues. 
Looking back, the old year may be gone but it's definitely not forgotten! I had one of the best convention experiences ever over the Thanksgiving holiday — getting to spend the weekend with Kath, Sue, Teri....and of course, Gareth and Paul! Not to mention hundreds of others, as well naturally, I'm talking about that fannish Thanksgiving tradition — Visions!.
Paul and Gareth were at the head of a guest list (Kath's husband might disagree since his favourite SciFi series had cast members in attendance) which included a famous Dr Who, duelling Holly's from Red Dwarf and a legend in British television! Seeing Paul and Gareth on the same stage was exciting for this relative new-comer to B7 fandom. Thankfully, there was plenty of opportunity to do so and both of them were quite accessible off stage, too — a Visions specialty. Our little gang was lucky enough to have the company of Brian Blessed and Terry Walsh (Robin of Sherwood) in the restaurant — I was both astonished at their ease and thrilled that they decided to share some off duty time with us! Though I must admit that Sue Clerc, our favourite editor, was a very lucky lady indeed to throw a quiet party and have Gareth Thomas and Paul Darrow attend! Both men were entertaining and relaxed, staying much longer than anyone thought possible —just spending time with the friends assembled.
Admittedly though, the person who stole the show and put Paul Darrow on his knees in prayer, was that man of many (acting) parts — Brian Blessed. His booming voice and exuberant personality took hold and didn't let go. In his first US con appearance, Brian had plenty of tales to tell and believe me, I don't think we heard a tenth of them An actor and a mountaineer, Brian spoke on everything from Shakespeare to his climbing of Mt Everest! And the best part is that it's all true — the man really is a living, breathing example of the Victorian age!
The first of the year always brings the "Best Of lists, so I thought I'd take a stab at at my own:
Best Breakfast Bunch — This award is for those early-risers who sacrifice sleep in order to feed the body and to be one of the first into the Dealers room! This year's dubious recognition goes to our own gang, Kath, Lou, Sue and myself for snagging not only a passing waitress but Brian Blessed as our breakfast companion!
Best MC — This should actually be an award for Best Con MC Ever! Norm Lovett, of Red Dwarf fame, kept the audience in stitches and the entertainment moving sprightly along, capping his triumph by ending the evening in the allotted amount of time!
Most Dramatic Retelling of a Classic — This one goes to Brian Blessed for his entertaining and dramatic re-enactment of H.G. Well's classic novel, War of the Worlds. Brian doing Queen Victoria was a priceless scene.
Best Photo Op — This weekend was full of them! Just having Paul and Gareth together in the same room sent flash bulbs into action. What must we have looked like from their POV's ??? -a milling sea of camera-faced aliens, no doubt!
Most Unforgettable Scene Not Captured On Film — Gareth sticking his tongue out at Paul during the photo session! This shot was acted out while my camera was cycling but luckily Madam Editor managed to capture the moment for posterity!
Most Gareth Encounters — One word - Teri!Best Room Party — This one goes to Madam Editor, Sue Clerc, for her spectacular coup of having both Paul and Gareth in attendance. For those of us lucky enough to be included, it was quite an evening! 
Visions '95: Dinner with Darrow, Tippling with Thomas, Breakfast with Blessed, Lunch with a Lump:
Thursday night, I had dinner with Paul Darrow, Teri, and three other people from Cleveland. Mr. Darrow was very entertaining and schmoozes really well; he paid attention to everyone at the table and was really quite...what's the word I'm looking for that I never associate with Avon...oh, yeah, charming. In a sort of self-consciously smarmy way that I really enjoyed. The problem with cons is that, while they're marvelous events, is that many of the best moments are of the "you had to be there" variety and don't translate well into print—repeating the stories he told isn't going to work because you can't hear the timing and voices, and a lot of the verbal parrying and thrusting that went on would lack the spontaneity that made it sparkle at the time (not to mention the liberal doses of alcohol that made a lot of things seem terribly clever at the time). It was an engaging performance and a good time was had by all.
There were a few things, though, that might be of interest: As he also said later at one of the panels, he's writing/has written another book called The Huntress. It sounds like a mystery—a theft occurs at the beginning but the bulk of the story is set 20 years later as the main character tries to solve the case. Apropos of authors, he said that Chelsea Quinn Yarbro had written a book for him, a western. He gave the title and I remembered it as Love and Chains. When I got home, I looked in WorldCat and it's The Law in Charity. Avon, chains...it made sense at the time. He also said he and Jacqueline Pearce have provided the voices for a computer game called "Genderwars." Pressed for more details, he could only say that they're CD-ROMs from Sony but gave us no idea about Mac or PC compatible, what happens in the game, or availability. Horizon doesn't seem to have any more info, either. At one point, he referred (unconvincingly) to the fear that people might be disappointed because they come to see Avon and there he is, looking rather unlike Avon (not his words) and without the black leather (his words). We all voiced our regret about the black leather, but I told him about Joan's reaction to seeing him last year. OK, I left out the part about never forgiving him for not taking better care of Avon's body (an unprecedented display of tact) but did tell him that when he'd given one particularly Avonic smile, I heard a small moan and when I turned around there was just this puddle of hormones where Joan used to be.
After dinner, the best part of the weekend started because Donna and Kath (and Kath's husband Lou) joined us. I wish everyone could've been there because we had a such a great time hanging out in the bar planning ButtCon and going to the panels.
The first thing we went to Friday was the Opening Ceremonies. A waste of time as usual except for the priceless moment I failed to capture on film: PD was about the 5th one out and seated in the front of two rows of chairs, GT was about the fourth one out. He stopped at the podium and prepared to speak, when up stood PD and pulled out a bright yellow squirt gun.
The first B7 panel included Brian Blessed, The Man Who Stole The Con. BB tells wonderful stories in a huge booming voice, he's exactly like he is on screen, big voice, incredibly energetic and exuberant. The only news bite I remember is about Mentors. GT said that they were trying to raise money to make the series (the pilot hasn't aired yet, it's being used to raise funds?) and that if they make more, GT will get to direct some. Sheelagh was in the audience and said they'd raised 3/4 of the money now. [Am I the only one who keeps thinking Mentos for Mentors? Next on MST3k, Mentos: Hands of Fate.] He seems pretty keen to direct from things he said throughout the weekend, so I hope that comes through. PD said something about being bored with talking about B7, and GT said something similar at the party that night. They never did talk about the series and each other, really, until the Sunday panel and then it was precious little. But they were delightful together overall, warm, friendly and comfortable with each other. My favorite public moments with them were at the autograph session. They took the big picture from "Space Fall" I brought for them to sign for Catherine and GT said "Who says he can't act? Look at the love in those eyes." PD replied "What I'm really thinking is 'What do you mean you're coming back for another series?'"
At dinner Thursday while PD was flirting with one of my friends I joked to her that they could have my room since I was on my own. Of course, I wanted the video rights. I didn't think he was listening but he picked up on the part about my having my own room and kept asking me about it every time we met. When I handed him the picture I wanted signed for me (this really cool dissolve from "Shadow") he wrote "Keep the room free! Paul Darrow." He forgot the "free" at first, though, so it looks like "Keep the room! Free Paul Darrow." Is that like Free Willy or Free Beer and couldn't I get a better ransom than that...
Friday night, thanks to the efforts of several wonderful people, we had a small party in my room attended by both Mssrs. Thomas and Darrow. GT was the first to arrive and the last to leave and they were both there for a lot longer than I expected (I was in denial that they'd show up until they were standing there, shaking hands with each other and joking around. My only coherent thought at the time was "Oh my God, they're BOTH in my room at the SAME TIME! OH! MY! GOD!!" I am the Queen of Cool.) It was a nice little party, relaxed but lively, especially when PD went into his party shtick and started telling stories about Coral Brown. You have to imagine PD puffing away on a cigarette and doing a tight, bitchy voice while describing a 9 foot penis. He also did a flaming Vincent Price later that I thought was hysterically funny. GT was an excellent audience for him, laughing and egging him on. It was lovely seeing the two of them together that way. It was an occasion I'll never forget. Embellish out of all recognition, but never forget. See me at MediaWest for newly invented details.
GT moments were scattered throughout the weekend because he's very accessible. All of the times I gave my impersonation of a barfly ooze together and overlap with the party but I do remember him talking at different times about why BBC has never rerun B7 but has on UKGold (if it was on BBC they'd have to pay the actors a lot more); how much fun he had doing the last episode of London's Burning he was in; more about directing Mentors if it's picked up; the repercussions of having a reputation as a drinker; the even higher than usual unemployment rate of British actors at the moment; evaluating the performances in (he thought Ed Harris was best); scads of other things I'm kicking myself for not committing to memory. I think I bought htm a beer, too. Just call me Rae Milland.
Saturday started with breakfast in the appalling hotel restaurant. Luckily, Brian Blessed sat at the table next to us or we would still be there waiting for menus. Donna, Kath, Lou and I were carrying on as usual and he joined right in. At one point, he was telling us about Everest and said that the mountain grows 4 meters every year, and he wanted us to ask him about that at the panel. "So, Brian, you want us to ask how big it is?" If you get the videotapes when they're out, we're the "4 Amencan ladies" (Lou was granted a promotion) he had breakfast with who were obsessed with sex...
After the panel, (no, we didn't ask), we lined up for the photo session. GT pretended to tongue PD's ear...
Catherine talked me into buying a ticket for the celebrity luncheon and I will never let her forget it. I was stuck at a table with Michael Praed. Beautiful to look at, lovely voice, but oh my dears, maybe his friends could all chip in and buy him the Big Box o' Witz for his next birthday. He talked about ice cubes for 20 minutes. You know, we laugh about the scarcity of ice in the UK but he was serious, droning on and on about how he was looking forward to getting a Maytag refrigerator. At the end of this monologue, he held up a glass and said, as if delivering a profound though, "You know, if you asked for a glass of ice in the UK you'd only get 1/4 of this." And he set it down with great dramatic flair and waited for applause. I suggested that the guy with the recipe had died. He was not amused. Thank God Terry Walsh was also at our table. He was the unsung hero of the con for me and we ended up seeing a lot of him. I asked if he'd done any work on B7 and he said no because he'd been working on Dr. Who at that time. Besides B7 didn't do that much action. We briefly discussed First Knight. He didn't take offense. Brian was at the next table and was booming away toward the end, I commented that we were all at Brian's table and that he really needed to come out of his shell.
The next event was the charity auction and it took forever for the B7 portion to come 'round. When PD finally came out, the first thing he auctioned off went for more than all the previous lot together. We were proud. GT joined him and together they auctioned off plans for the Liberator. They hugged at the end and I missed the shot! I could've screamed. I think I did scream. Mr. Darrow also auctioned off a part in their segment of the variety show, the part of Catherine's maid in the wooing scene from Henry V. He said the lines were in french, then he said the winner would be kissed by him. I muttered the logical question raised by these points of information and one of my friends shouted "Hey, Paul! SUE wants to know if the kiss is in French, too!" With friends like these, who needs enemas...
On the other hand, another friend made it possible for me to sit in the front row at the variety show and thanks to the free seats, all of our party got to attend it. Brian Blessed went on at length but told some hilarious stories, once he finally figured out what he was going to do. He started out telling us about tips from famous actors, like wet your lips before speaking. PD crucified him with this repeatedly the next day. (You know who I'd like to see PD go toe to toe with? Hattie Hayndge. I really liked her during the panel she and the other Holly did with GT and PD after the auction.) PD & GT were on last doing bits of Shakespeare: GT gave us his MacBeth, PD did the St. Crispin's Day speech from Henry V, then the two of them buried the skull bit from Hamlet (PD used a picture of Tom Baker for the skull), and then came the wooing scene...
The last panel they did, on Sunday, was probably the most entertaining. (I'm sorry you missed it, Donna and Kath!) They kept pretending to fall asleep during each others' long-winded answers and at one point, when BB was telling a story, GT & PD got up and left the stage, then sat in the audience to heckle him. They really can be so good together. B8 molested PD but I can't remember why—I just have this photo of PD's feet in the air with BB bending over him. Definitely one for the caption contest at MediaWest. At this panel, frustrated by the lack of B7 talk we'd heard during the weekend, I wrote out two questions and gave them to the person distributing mikes. They weren't used but the question Sheelagh asked was like the insider's version of them. It was great and did get them started a little but it didn't last. It might have been at this panel (and it might not) that they talked about GT joining PD in these "corporate entertainments" he does...I got the impression they're similar to the variety show skits since he mentioned doing Shakespearean bits in them.
Let's see...what else. Well, overall, I thought they were great together. PD seemed to have a restraining influence on GT's Falstafian tendencies and GT gave PD someone to work off (I loved him mouthing "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry" during GT's sillier moments on Saturday and Sunday) and he seemed happier than last year. I wish they'd talked more about each other and the series but it was fun all the same. I spent a lot of time wishing Catherine was there as planned (especially at lunch...). It wouldn't have been half as fun without Kath and Donna. I owe Jennie my first born child for everything she did to make the weekend a joy, but maybe she'd like something nice instead.During the last panel, all three of the guys were playing drop that name, dropping a saucer onto the stage every time they mentioned knowing other actors. I've been dropping saucers all over the place. Saturday night I started worrying about the insidiousness of the groupie thing. It suddenly hit me that when I arrived on Thursday, I was happily anticipating seeing my friends and how we'd go to the panels and have fun together, maybe get the guys' autographs...and by Saturday night, I was subconsciously keeping track of my points, constituted by time units spent in the company of celebrity guests. That doesn't mean I didn't have an absolutely wonderful time, as always, with my friends but in addition there was this competitive thing going on. At some level, it became a contest and it worries me a bit...I came this close to taking my room for another night just to hang around. That scared me. On the other hand, I racked up a hell of a score and the groupie thing would probably be bothering me a lot more if I hadn't. 
All right, here is a bit of a con report. I've left out lots, partly to spare the reader, partly because some of it will have to be wheedled out of me under the influence of something or other.
Gareth said at one of the panels that he spent most of his off-program time in the bar in order to be accessible to fans. It took me a while to work up to taking him at his word ~ I'm not a bar type. In fact, having eventually decided to give up on any pretense of reserve and simply hang around till Gareth showed up, and then hang around until he went away, I spent more time in the bar at Visions than I have since I turned 21. Gareth was easy to find because he was always standing up, I believe so that more people could get at him. I didn't see him sit down in that bar till Monday morning.
I'd like to say how grateful I am to my fellow fans, especially those in this APA, and especially Kath Sanders (for her description of Gareth's behavior in RC #13) for reassuring me about Gareth's incredible friendliness. My going on to make a fool of myself is entirely my own fault, of course. I expect Teri would have hit me over the head with something if I'd been seriously annoying to Gareth. But one of the things I had promised myself while on the last fearsome leg of the legendary doctorate (which I completed in less time than it took Jacob to earn both Rachel and Leah) was that if I ever got the chance, I would get a hug from Gareth. When I told him this (reticence? What's that?) his response was, "Good God! Why me?" I don't suppose any of you are mystified, but what I told him was that the work had taken everything I had, and he seemed, from what little I knew, to be someone who still had something to give. "Something to give? Here," I got my hug, "when I don't have something to give, I'll die."
I've never in my life met someone who was so precisely what I'd imagined he'd be, only more so. That's because of Teri's play . I'd picked it up in the middle, intrigued by the ending on the last page of the APA, and started to leaf through it. I went back and read it through and then cast about wildly to find out if it were something Teri'd written for Gareth, or for some other purpose, or if it was some miraculous found artifact. I found that I couldn't get it out of my mind, so I sat Misha down and read it to him. Then I threw myself down on the bed and sobbed for a while. It's an experience, that play.
The first time I spoke to Gareth at Visions was in the Dealers' Room on Friday night; he popped up behind me as I was looking over old postermags, and I nearly swallowed my tongue, but luckily I had commissions to carry out ~ or, rather, I'd bullied a shy Australian fan into giving me some, just in case. She admitted to wanting to tell Gareth that Morgan's Boy was the best television she'd ever seen, even though she'd only seen the last episode. I highly recommend this as something for shy people to say to Gareth. It set him right off: descriptions, anecdotes, that lovely voice soaring and hushing for effect. I just stood there and stared at him, all ears and eyes, and hadn't a word to say. But at that point I didn't know if I was ever going to get the chance to speak to him again, so when he paused and looked at me, I told him that I'd read Teri's play.
Gareth was thoroughly enthused. So that Teri needn't boast, I'll report what he said: that he wants to perform the play, along with one other short serious play that he has in hand and something lighter that he needs to find. And he used it to illustrate what he was saying about acting: that it isn't as easy as people think, especially when it goes that close to the bone. He said straight out that Teri's play was closer to his own self than anything he'd ever done, and that performing it would be intensely difficult because it was, even more than acting usually is, laying his soul bare. I believe at this point I shut my eyes in bliss, Eshva fashion. All right, enough of this, before you send someone to lock me up.
[...]I will mention something else I noticed about Gareth at Visions, though, when he was doing Shakespeare monologues in the variety show and when he was acting out an anecdote at some ungodly hour of the morning to an audience of four. He doesn't need his audience to be in the mood for what he's going to do. He can yank them out of wherever they are in the space of a breath, and then change moods on them again, as rapidly and as thorough/, and bring the audience with him. I don't know why it should have surprised me that he can act, for heaven's sake, but I hadn't realized just how impressive he was. 
And Then I said to Mr. Thomas... Being a True Account of the Author's Journey Through the Wild and Pagan Landscape of the Visions Convention, Chicago, 1995.
After a boring flight and a chilly wait for the hotel van, we arrive at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare. The necessary preliminaries are taken care of and then we set out for our room.
But behold! Our first sight of the Man himself, crossing the lobby. I flag him down and . greetings are exchanged. Then he goes off in search, it seems, of lunch and we take our travel-rumpled selves to the room.
One dresses up a bit, of course, both for the planned Thanksgiving dinner to come and the contributor's reception. But after leaving the room, the first stop is, as always, the hotel bar. There we find (surprise!) Mr. Thomas himself. Also, Paul Darrow. Conversation and alcohol flow freely and somehow when we go to dinner, Mr. Darrow comes along. A good time was had by all—well, I think so. The alcohol, as previously stated, had been flowing freely.
The next item on the agenda was the contribber' s reception. The stars were there, mingling in a friendly manner with the payees. I managed a short chat with Gareth.
Frankly, the rest of the evening is a bit of a blur, so I shall end it here.
Well, let's face the truth. This was aeon, after all. Details tend to blur. I do remember attending the Friday photo session with Gareth, Paul, and Brian Blessed. Ever solicitous British gentlemen, they were. Paul insisted upon dragging a chair over for me to sit in (he remembered my rather shaky condition from the previous night) while Gareth and Brian checked my pulse, etc.
As for the rest of the day—well, if Gareth was on a panel I saw it. If he was in the bar, I was there: I'm a woman of simple tastes, easily pleased.
Friday night, several members of this pretentious publication gave a room party and scored the social coup of the con by having both Gareth and Paul in attendance. The two of them held forth for a time, then Gareth managed to keep the group entertained on his own. A magnificent occasion!
Saturday ... hmm. Well, if GT was on a panel, I was there. If he was in the bar, I was there. (Is a pattern beginning to emerge?) I think the charity auction was on Saturday, wasn't it? I bid on several items, but lost them all: Most painfully, I had bid up to 200$ for a copy of Brian B.'s book—was only outbid at the last moment by a Welsh-accented shout from behind the curtain. The cabaret was lovely, even if my seat was so far back I could barely identify who was who. (Somehow, everybody I knew managed to be down front but me. But I'm not bitter.)
Afterwards, I have a memory of gathering in the bar ...
Sunday at a con is always a sort of winding down day. Spent some time at a panel, I suppose, and probably some time in the bar ...
After some last minute packing, I adjourned to the bar, for some conversation with Gareth, finally off-duty from the con and mercifully unencumbered by the brigade of fans that were there previously. We had a lovely chat, uninterrupted (for the most part, there was one "fan" ... well, never mind.) That went on from about 11:45 until we had to leave for the airport around 4:30. We chatted and had lunch, joined for part of the time by Michael Craze, of DR. WHO fame. Well, all good things must come to an end and we finally tore ourselves away and caught the airport van. It was just starting to snow. We arrived to find that we had less than ten minutes to make our flight—well, I thought I had the time right! Maybe my mind was clouded. After racing through the whole bloody airport to reach the gate, we found that the flight was delayed .. . it didn't take off until sometime after the time we were supposed to be landing in Cleveland.
All in all, a fine time. Gareth was, as usual, charming to a fault and Mr. Darrow was on his best behavior—the Prozac is working wonders!!!! It was great seeing the two of them together, something we had given up hope of ever doing.Sorry, this is late and so I have no time for mailing comments or anything else. Printer problems, combined with the flu and hubby's pneumonia, and the feet that I'm finally getting the novel ready to send out into the cold cruel world means this is it for now. 
Visions '96 was held November 28 - December 1, 1996 and was billed as "The Unconventional Television Convention." An electronic progress report detailing some of the proposed activities was posted to rec.arts.drwho and cane be viewed here. It was the conventions 7th year.
1996: Con Reports
This marked the 6th consecutive year I have attended the Visions convention. One might ask,"Why? Is there any star of Doctor Who or Blake's 7 you haven't met after six cons?" If you're asking this question I'm going to presume you haven't been to very many conventions. Meeting celebrities is only one reason to attend a convention. And probably not the most important one. Simply put a well run convention is vastly entertaining. The dealer rooms are a veritable mini-mall full of goodies you just can't get anywhere else (except mail order). And finally you get a chance to mingle with your fellow fans. I find it refreshing one or two weekends a year to be able to wear my Blake's 7 paraphernalia in public and not have to explain myself. For the sci-fi fan a convention is a place to meet other people who think the same way you do (scary, huh).
A case in point, where else but at a con could the following conversation take place? Seven of us pile into an elevator hoping to make for the lobby. Except for Paula, I have never met any of these people. The elevator indicator reads "UP". Your clueless reviewer pushes the "L" button and the lift obligingly heads down in defiance of the "UP" indicator.
One rider asks, "Did he use the manual over ride?" And Paula leads a group of strangers in a chorus of, "NO! He reversed the polarity of the neutron flow."
Like I said, pretty scary. But a GOOD kind of scary.
This years guest list contained the usual mix of Doctor Who, Blake's 7, and Robin of Sherwood. In addition Babylon 5 had a big presence and Forever Knight was represented. The complete guest list follows:
- Colin Baker (6th Doctor - Doctor Who)
- Lalla Ward (Romana II - Doctor Who)
- Sarah Sutton (Nyssa - Doctor Who)
- Deborah Watling (Victoria - Doctor Who)
- Yee Jee Tso (Chaing-Li - New Doctor Movie)
- Philip Segal (Executive Producer of Fox's New Doctor Who movie)
- Gary Russell (Former Editor of the Doctor Who Magazine)
- Claudia Christian (Commander Ivanova - Babylon 5)
- Richard Biggs (Dr. Franklin - Babylon 5)
- Stephen Greif (Travis I - Blakes 7)
- Michael Keating (Vila - Blakes 7)
- Ben Bass (Vachon - Forever Knight)
- Mark Ryan (Nasir - Robin of Sherwood)
- Jessica Kindzierski (Freelance Colorist for X-Files and Conan)
- Chesca Potter (Artist Guest of Honor)
As a rabid Blake's 7 fan I knew I'd love Michael Keating (and I was right). I was really surprised at what an impact Stephen Greif made on me. I shouldn't have been, look at the impact he made on B-7 in only four episodes. Stephen is well respected amongst his fellow actors and for good reason. He proved to be a versatile talent and a witty conversationalist.
The popularity of Claudia Christian and Richard Briggs proved that Bab 5 is a fast growing fandom. Their panels were packed, partly because of the blooper tape they brought, but the Bab 5 autograph lines challenged all time champ Doctor Who for length.
The Doctor Who contingent was led by Colin Baker, who is everything you expect in a Doctor - larger than life, humorous, and a fascinating entertainer. Deborah Watling's vivacious personality is a marked contrast to her best known character, Victoria. Lalla Ward spent as much time shopping in the fan rooms as she did at scheduled appearances, as did Sarah Sutton, looking for gifts to take home to her daughter.
Mark Ryan (Uncle Marky to those who attend Visions) is a regular fixture, and was this years host at the Variety Show.
The variety show is an annual favorite at Visions. This years big hit was Ben Bass of Forever Knight. His R&B guitar act complete with original songs brought a huge ovation and a demand for an encore. Michael Keating, perhaps in an attempt to break his Vila stereotype, gave a riveting reading of Edgar Allen Poe's "The Premature Burial." Colin Baker sang an original song. Sarah Sutton showed just how great a tragedy it is that she is no longer acting, as she performed the prologue to act 5 of Henry V. Kenneth Brannagh could have used Sarah instead of Sir Derek Jacobi and not missed a beat. Philip Segal recreated two Monty Python sketches to the delight of all. Mark Ryan was the MC and showed his versatility by singing, telling jokes, and generally being a marvelous host.
A first at Visions (or perhaps any convention) was the Fan Variety Show, where convention attendees got a chance to show their stuff. In addition to a variety of wonderful costumes there were dramatic readings, stand up comedy, and original songs.
The Visions Video Rooms offered a varied choice of viewing. Almost anything one could want was shown, including Doctor Who, Babylon 5, Red Dwarf, from Forever Knight to Rik Mayall, Alexei Sayle, MST 3K, and Dave Allen. Conspicuous by absence was Blake's 7. Oh, well, I have all the episodes on video anyway.
I love to shop so the dealer rooms are always one of my favorite attractions. The Pro Dealer Room completely filled one ballroom with such merchandise as Books, Photos, Video Tapes, Zines, T-Shirts, Costumes, Swords (real ones), Jewelry, Posters, and more than I have room to mention. The hot seller this year seemed to be the wide variety of Dragon T-Shirts. Blake's 7 and Doctor Who videos were also selling well according to my friends at The Sci-Fi Continuum.
The fan dealer room was rather sparse this year, but Quality can make up for Quantity. Conspicuous by absence was any large fanzine dealer. The largest array of goodies in the fan dealer room was offered by our dear friends at Horizon (see Judith's links and visit their homepage). The best new products were the audio cassettes, "Blake's Back: Liberatored" (an interview with Michael Keating, Paul Darrow, and Gareth Thomas) and "The Mark Of Kane" (original "radio" drama starring Gareth Thomas and Brian Croucher). Also present were the usual lot: The Spirit Of Sherwood, The Prydonians of Prynceton, The Elizabeth Sladen Information Network, and a Forever Knight fan club.
It's hard to say where you'll have the most fun at a con: listening to the actors answer fan questions at the panels, watching the entertainment at the Variety Show, the celebrity auction, the art show, or just mingling with your fellow fans. But the point is, you *will* have fun.
The best of Visions 96, in my own humble if somewhat bigoted opinion:
Best celebrity quote: Lala Ward offering her opinion of the New Doctor Who: "A Doctor should never kiss a companion,. and he should never ever marry one.
Best goodie at the celebrity auction: The Sea Devil Head brought by Philip Segal.
Best Costume: Mary Alice Ladd as "Mad Rimmer In a Red Gingham Dress," complete with a Mr. Flibble puppet.Best American Accent by a British actor: Stephen Greif 
Visions '97 was held November 27 - 30, 1997 and was billed as "The Unconventional Television Convention." An electronic progress report detailing some of the proposed activities was posted to rec.arts.tv.uk here.
- Babylon 5: Julie Caitlin Brown (Na'Toth)
- Jeff Conway (Zack Allen)
- Patricia Tallman (Lyta Alexander)
- Adam "Mojo" Lebowitz (CGI & FX artist)
- Doctor Who: Peter Davison (Doctor #5)
- Frazer Hines (Jamie)
- Blake's 7: Sally Knyvette (Jenna Stannis)
- Sheelagh Wells (make up artist and friend of B7 fans everywhere)
- David Maloney (Producer)
- 2001 A Space Odyssey: Gary Lockwood (Frank Poole)
- ST Voyager: Jeri Ryan (7 of 9)
- Starlog Magazine: Dave McDonnell
- Joe Nazzaro (also the husband of Sheelagh Wells with whom he co-authored "Blake's 7 the Inside Story" and another friend to Blake's 7 fans everywhere).
1997: Con Reports
Since no one else has reported on Visions, I guess I should put in a few words. I hadn't actually planned on going, but at the last minute Donna Wilson persuaded me to join her (this is the same hospitable lady who hosted Judith just before MediaWest Con). I drove to her home in East Lansing, MI, on Wednesday, and she drove us both to Chicago on Thursday. The hotel offered a spectacular Thanksgiving buffet, and I was very sorry that I'd eaten a sandwich on the way. It was the first of several expensive but extremely good meals that I ate in their restaurant.
The B7 guests were Sally Knyvette, series 1-3 producer David Maloney, and Sheelagh Wells and Joe Nazzaro, all of whom gave good con. David Maloney in particular was a happy surprise-- charming and articulate. It was interesting to hear about the making of the series from the viewpoint of a producer as opposed to an actor or writer. He, of course, was the person responsible for keeping the costs within the very tight budget, and for getting everything done on time, and even for matching a scriptwriter with a compatible director, a thing that could sometimes be difficult.
At Sally Knyvette's solo interview, I worked up my nerve and asked her which of the three fannish theories of the relationship between Blake and Jenna she considered the most probable:
1) they were merely working colleagues, and nothing happened between them that we didn't see on screen; or
2)she was interested in him, but he didn't reciprocate; or
3)they were really having a steamy affair behind the scenes, which we didn't see on screen only because it was supposed to be a children's show.
She said, as I recall, "Definitely option three!" However, David Maloney said on another occasion that there was not intended to be anything between Blake and Jenna, and furthermore that Avon was not intended to be a sex object. So I suppose the fans who see nothing sexual in the show are picking up on the intentions of the producer, if not perhaps those of the actors. Actually, I rather like this possibility for multiple interpretations.
Sally Knyvette also mentioned that although she didn't know whether anything would come of it, she and Jan Chappell had been approached by someone who had the idea of doing a continuation of the original series starring them. I thought that idea made a lot of sense. Certainly Jenna in particular could be easily resurrected, and Sally still looks plenty good enough to star in a major series, especially now that female spaceship captains of a certain age are a more common and acceptable thing. :) I could definitely see Jenna coming back, perhaps accompanied by one of Cally's clone-sisters (after all, we don't know for sure that Zelda was the only one) and leading a new group of rebels against the Federation to avenge Blake et al.
But the highlight of the B7 panels has to be Sheelagh Wells's showing of a videotape-- which had been handed to her just as she got on the plane-- of the scene at the Wolf 359 convention, when JMS received his award for B5 from none other than Gareth in full GP Blake costume! It was truly amazing how well Sheelagh had recreated his appearance of 16 years ago. And JMS was stunned. He said "That show was so f***ing cool," and was then literally at a loss for words, a thing that apparently hardly ever happens to him. Claudia Christian, who was MCing, was very funny. Gareth said that as Blake he'd never gotten a kiss on screen (I guess Cousin Inga didn't count!) and asked her for one. She obliged, and after he'd left the stage she said in a "nyah nyah nyah" kind of voice, "I kissed Blake, I kissed Blake!"
Sheelagh and Joe were selling copies of Blakes 7: The Inside Story (their book on the making of B7, highly recommended to any of you who don't already have it), as well as photos of Gareth in his Blake makeup for the awards ceremony, and very attractive bookmarks with photos of various characters; I bought several of those as Christmas presents.
I didn't go to the variety show, and from the reports I had of it afterwards I was just as glad to have missed it. Apparently some of the B5 and ST guests were pretty bad. However, I'm told that Sally Knyvette did a lovely job of singing "Summertime." Sheelagh also showed the video again-- what I'd seen was an unofficial preview at her makeup workshop, since she had to be sure the tape was OK.And as usual at cons, it was nice to see old friends and meet new online friends in person for the first time.Visions '97 - report by Sarah Thompson, Archived version </ref>
Sally Knyvette offered a mouth watering rumor for Blake's 7 fans during her panel. I'll try to report this as I heard it. I apologies in advance if I start any untoward rumors <grin>. It seems that just before leaving for Visions her agent informed her that she and Jan Chapel had both been approached to perform together in a new Science Fiction production. Unfortunately Sally had no other details. She thought they might be portraying Jenna and Call again, in a "Direct To" video similar to "The Stranger" series or Jan Chapel's appearance in "Shakedown." That she and Jan have been approached to do some sort of sci-fi production was reported as fact. Anything else seems to be speculation at this point, so don't get too excited. Sally was quite interested in portraying Jenna again and working with her good friend Jan Chapel. A plot line of "This time the girls run the show" also appeals to Sally. (Girls, was her word). As a rabid Blake's 7 fan and proponent of strong female characters in sci-fi, I for one will be waiting impatiently, credit card at the ready (and trying hard not to drool). Sally seemed somewhat surprised that the fans at this panel were so interested in such a prospect. I think she underestimates the show's popularity as well as her own.
Fan Panels: Fans groups may also host a discussion panel. The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), held a very entertaining demonstration of medieval and renaissance armor and weaponry, but my favorite was a quiet discussion group dedicated to the memory of Terry Nation, held by Tom Beck of The Prydonians Of Prynceton.
Dealer Rooms: Visions turns one of the hotel's Grand Ball Rooms into a massive Pro Dealer Room, affectionately referred to by me as "my personal toy store." Visions also offers a fan-dealer room. Attendance at the latter was down this year. See my "Rant" section below.
Variety Shows: Visions offers two variety shows for convention attendees. The Saturday night show is extremely popular and features the celebrity guests. The Friday night show is put on by the fans as a sort of Amateur Night. The Fan variety show grew out of the costume ball and is really taking off. Last year was the initial Fan Variety Show and to be frank, things were a little ragged form both an organizational point of view and an entertainment perspective. This year's show was incredible. In addition to some great costumes the talent level was up tremendously over last year. Best of show was won by "The Great Rassalon" a magic act with an obvious Doctor Who theme. All my attempts to describe the brilliance of this act have failed miserably. Ya had to be there!
The big attraction is the Celebrity Variety Show. This year's show was hosted by Peter Davison. In addition to playing guitar and keeping things moving, he provided much needed comic relief with his "Doctor" puppet, and did a hilarious routine explaining Pantomime to the "American" audience: "After two hours of having candy and eggs thrown at them, the British audience brushes themselves off and goes home. You lot would sue the pants off me. That's why pantomime had never become popular in the States."
Sally Knyvette promised to do something she had never done before at the variety show and she did not disappoint. She began by reading a poem. Then in her own words, she sang in public for the first time in her life (and I was there, heavy sigh). To any who know her mannerisms she was obviously a little nervous as she belted out "Summertime" from Gershwin's "Porgy And Bess." She has a clear strong voice and once she got over a slight case of the "I've never sang in front of 500 people before" jitters, she displayed a commanding stage presence. As a former music teacher I give her high marks for artistic impression and fair marks for technical merit. In other words she has the hard part down pat. I remain skeptical as to whether this was indeed her first singing performance. While not as polished as a Broadway veteran (who is?), she was far too good for an amateur. I absolutely adore Sally (This will come as no surprise to Horizon members). Nevertheless there's something about "Porgy and Bess" with a British accent that I find disconcerting. Are there any musicals in her future? Sally was also wise enough to leave the audience wanting more. A fine point of showmanship lost on two of the American performers.[much snipped] 
Random notes, thoughts, and observations about this year's Visions convention. My perspective was a bit different from most attendees, and I thought some people might be interested. Forgive me for a great deal of rambling, though...background info might help.
For me, Visions'97 began about three months ago when I started working on the transcription of FOUR TO DOOMSDAY for my live "Mysterious Theatre 337" show scheduled for ConFriday. Transcription is the first step in the completion of a working script for the show...the show itself is basically quite similar to MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000, with a few major differences: 1) we perform the show live; 2) we watch a Doctor Who story; 3) we're all human; 4) no skits (although this may change in the future). When Visions started in 1990, I was asked to DJ a dance to follow the costume contest/Masquerade. Each subsequent year saw the dance attendance falling, until finally the decision was made to cancel it (perhaps due to complaints from rec.arts.drwho people who thought the music was too loud while they were trying to have a meeting in the same room). I proposed "Mysterious Theatre 337" at that time for Visions'96. That year we ribbed REVENGE OF THE CYBERMEN - it was well received, but it began way too late to keep an audience. By the time the show was over, it was around 1:00 and there were about 6 people left in the room. Okay, enough background on that, and I'll get to this year's show in due time.
Other preparations involved the Opening Ceremonies. Last year's script was written by Jennifer Kelley while pregnant/giving birth/raising a newborn just before the convention, and our rehearsals were limited to the night before and the morning of Opening Ceremonies. This year we were able to get a jump on things. The script was written primarily by myself and Peter Heimsoth (with Jennifer tying it all together), and we incorporated live music and sound effects into the show courtesy of Robert Warnock. Rehearsals were every week for two months prior to the con, and we also had to go to a train station to shoot the "Live from O'Hare Airport" video inserts. Even with all the advance preparation, we were revising the script up to the last minute due to a few changes. Our first stage rehearsal was Wednesday night prior to the con. Our full dress rehearsal was Thursday night and we were actually comfortable up on stage for Opening Ceremonies at 9:30 on ConFriday. Happily, we've received some good feedback from the Opening Ceremonies. After that, Jennifer asked me if I wanted to host the Masquerade - I said I'd think about it.
Shortly after that, I registered for the Con. :) Next was the first of many Dealer's Room visits. Spend money. There was something lacking this year...not many videos (no SF Continuum or Trekker), and only after did I realise I didn't see the telemovie soundtrack anywhere. None of that stopped me from overspending, of course.
I peeked in on Jonathan Blum's BBC Books panel enough to see that it was crowded. Another afternoon thing was Peter Davison and Frazer Hines autograph line, which ended just in time for my next duty: the Masquerade Organizational meeting, at which time I decided I would host the show for Jennifer. Then at around 6:30 or 7:00 things get real hectic - the Masquerade is to be followed directly with "Mysterious Theatre 337" with no real time allotted for setup, so we have to prepare as much as possible in advance. We set up a riser in front of the screen this year, which I think helped quite a bit. Masquerade began - I made a few mistakes (those forms are hard to read!) but hopefully got everyone's name pronounced correctly - and the whole thing was quite enjoyable. This year, instead of having dead space for 45 minutes while judging was taking place, I put together a tape for entertainment, which included Ryan K Johnson's "Star Trek: The Pepsi Generation" (shown with permission), a commercial for the Federation production of "The Reign of Turner" to be shown on Sunday, an older Federation project called "Doctor Who and the Holy Grail", and a commercial for "Mysterious Theatre 337" which was to follow the prize awards. Sorry about the glitch in "Pepsi Generation" - it was in the master tape that Ryan sent me back in 1988.
The Masquerade was good, as I said - my favourites were The Great Rassilon (some good gags and terrific timing and delivery), Maleficent (the costume but not the performance), and Erin Tumilty.
So the Masquerade was finished, and we frantically set up microphones for "Mysterious Theatre 337". Participating this year were my friends Dave Broucek (as "Tycho") and Ricky Kellerman (as "Yads") along with me ("Wilsen") and Robert Warnock ("Glum") who had his "It's my only line!" in Opening Ceremonies. Providing invaluable assistance was George Zahora running the tape, mixing board, and cameras. This year's show went very well (and it started at a reasonable time!) and we had an attendance count of about 75 at the start and 50 near the end. Thanks to those who were there. After that, we went to the bar to relax, where we proceeded to choose the worst possible songs on the juke box. Some of the celebs showed up at the bar after getting back from their downtown Chicago trip, but I think our bad juke box selections drove them out again. :) After the bar, we took our traditional Plummet - we get in the elevator, go to the top floor, then press Lobby, and scream on the way down. George got a kick out of the faces of the desk staff when we got there - they could certainly hear us screaming!
ConSaturday: First I attended the Internet panel, which was held together nicely and could have easily gone on for the better part of the day. I was a bit sceptical of some people (not present) being referred to by name in sometimes unfriendly terms, but it didn't appear to bother anyone else. Saturday afternoon was basically devoted to the line for Jeri Ryan autographs. I was acutely disappointed that they had no pictures of her NOT wearing her costume and makeup. Jeri impressed me quite a bit - she signed for many hours, sick with a cold, and she was certainly under no obligation to do so.
Next duty, the Variety Show. First comes stage preparation... move the piano, move the mics, move the chairs, fill the water pitchers, go get the projector from Video Room 2 and swap it with the projector from ABC and set it up in DE for the show, tape the curtains, clean the green room... then comes the waiting for the celebs to arrive.
This year the host for the show is Peter Davison. He paces while backstage, almost always with a smile on his face. In my opinion, the variety show was okay this year, with some of the acts going on far too long. Gary Lockwood was a lot of fun backstage, as was Peter. Paul Simpson was clearly having a great time. I was quite impressed by Jeff Conaway's poems, and I usually hate poetry.
ConSunday: Today was another day I had been preparing for for a long time. The Federation film "The Reign of Turner" was being shown at 11:25 in the video room, and I had brought 28 copies along with to sell. I needed to sell 16 to recoup duplication costs alone, let's not even go into production costs. 14 people attended the showing, and it was mostly well-received. I sold 12 copies all weekend, so I'm in debt on the whole thing. :( I'm hoping that people who bought it will write a few reviews (good or bad) and send them along to me! A quick lunch meant I had to miss most of "Time Rift" which I've seen bits and pieces of in the last few years. I should have asked Jon if he'd trade a copy for a copy of "The Reign of Turner". "Time Rift" looks okay. Thanks for buying our movie if you did. If you didn't, see http://shill.simplenet.com/feds.htm for some information.
Also on Sunday was Jon's Fan Video panel which I had been invited to. Jon clearly learned a lot of the things that the Federation had learned years ago, but above all when doing a fan video, have fun and don't lose friends. :) Another thing I learned over the weekend from those who have seen "The Reign of Turner" is that people don't realise it's me as Colin and JN-T! (Having almost no hair these days makes it hard to associate me with those parts, I guess.)
The only other thing on Sunday was the closing, which is followed by an hour of hard labour, then a staff pizza party. Peter Davison was happily snapping photos, and the other remaining guests appeared to be having fun too. And that was about it.
I met quite a few of you this weekend, but as I warned most of you, I'm terrible with names, so forgive me for not mentioning everyone. Elsa, Meg, Chris, Chris, Andrew, Suki, Tom, Neil, Jon, and more, many more (including a few I've known for a while like Kathy and George).
The other good thing - for MANY years we've wanted to do our first SERIOUS fan video (all we've ever done are parodies and comedies) but we've been unable to come up with a concept. Well, while waiting for pizza on Sunday, Jennifer and I worked out a very nice idea and plot, and I've already outlined it. If we work hard, we might have it ready for next year's Visions convention. Working title (likely to change): "Reality Warp".Anyone in Chicago interested in working on it? Contact me. 
- International Fandom. An examination of how global fandom has changed over the years, particularly with the advent of the Internet. FRIDAY 11:30am
- Doctor Who Internet Fandom Gathering. Meet your fellow Netizens... Users of the rec.arts.drwho &
alt.drwho.creative newsgroups, the DRWHO-L, Allen Road & Doctor Who Alliance mailing lists, IRC users and AOL/CompuServe online members, come hook up and put faces to those names you've seen forever! SATURDAY 9:00am
- The Future of Dr. Who Fandom In North America. Doctor Who fandom in the U.S. and Canada is maturing as the long days continue since the show's cancellation. How is this fandom progressing; what can be done to keep it going? We'll give you the lowdown on the current state of affairs with Who fandom through clubs, conventions, the Internet and local fandom, and show you some of the ways we're changing it for the better, including the new Doctor Who Alliance of North America. SATURDAY 1:15pm
- Missing Episodes: Is the Truth Out There? Is it true that some episodes were found in a church? Was the Jon Pertwee episode 'Invasion' mistakenly destroyed with a Patrick Troughton serial? Why did the BBC destroy many of the episodes in the first place? A discussion of the many stories (and even more rumours) surrounding the missing episodes of DOCTOR WHO. SATURDAY 2:30pm
- Who Fandom: The Next Step. How can you become an active participant in fandom by more than just sitting through convention panels? We'll look at a variety of ways, such as fan fiction, fan videos, telesnap reconstructions and video projects, and more. SATURDAY 3:45pm
- Making a Fan Video: A Survival Course. This panel will present some key points to understand and remember when considering the creation of a fan video. The concepts presented are important for any video - dramatic or comedic, Doctor Who or Star Trek or Buffy - because they encompass the creative and technical aspects of the process. SUNDAY 9:30am
- Dr. Who On The Internet: A Guide To Getting Started. Our panel will tell you where to find the information you are looking for on the 'Net and the World Wide Web, including the low down on the best websites, mailing lists, newsgroups, IRC, the online services and more. SUNDAY 10:45am
- Into the Canon's Mouth! Just for fun... a huge roundtable debate on the Doctor Who novels, Virgin version versus the BBC. A two-hour free-for-all; come have fun and join the caucus! SUNDAY 12 noon
- Note: another panel, "Filking a Mystery" will involve some Doctor Who but we were unable to get hold of the moderator by press time.
A 1996-1998 fan forum can be read here.
- "An Entirely Biased and Unashamedly Single Minded View of a Convention" Teri White in Rallying Call #14
- a joint report by Amanda Rothman, Catherine Salmon, Sue Clerc, Karen Williamson, and Nicole Vifian in chat form, it was transcribed in Rallying Call #11, was posted to Subject: Visions report on Lysator dated Dec 2, 1993. It was also printed in Tarriel Cell v.7 n.2, Archived version
- from a con report by Sue Clerc, with comments by Joan Crenshaw, Beth Friedman, and Amanda Rothman, printed in Tarriel Cell v. 8 n.3 at Tarriel Cell, Archived version
- from a fan in Rallying Call #16
- from Rallying Call #16
- from Rallying Call #16
- "Interview with a Monster," printed in Rallying Call #15
- from Rallying Call #16
- a very coy report by Teri White, from Rallying Call #16
- VISIONS '96 CONVENTION REVIEW by Brad D. Black, Archived version
- Visions '97 - report by Brad Black, photos by Paula Gross, Archived version
- posted to rec.arts.drwho: Not Your Normal Visions'97 Report by Steve Hill