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From Thisisbrightonandhove.co.uk


Fans’ fury at Angel fiasco

By Sam Thomson

Saturday 6 September 2003, by Webmaster

A vampire buffs’ convention was dubbed a dead loss by fans who forked out hundreds of pounds to see their heroes in the flesh.

Thousands flocked to the Brighton Centre at the weekend to meet stars from cult Buffy The Vampire Slayer spin-off TV show Angel.

But the first two days were a shambles - leaving organisers Jealous Events offering to hand out free tickets for a follow-up event.

Although yesterday’s event passed by trouble-free, even die-hard Buffy-philes were left furious when they:

Queued around the block for hours to get in and waited again for autographs Forked out £49 for a signed picture of Angel star David Boreanaz Sat patiently staring at an empty stage Watched a group of lookalikes performing a stilted re-enactment of the show Spent £79 on tickets for priority seating only to be sat beside others who paid less.

To add to fans’ frustration, two of the stars - Armin Shimerman, who played Principal Snyder, and Amber Benson, who played Tara - pulled out at the last minute.

Some obsessives spent £599 on tickets granting them the chance to meet Boreanaz.

But then they were told they could not touch him, request his autograph or pose for pictures alongside their hero.

One fan who attended Saturday’s event said: "Angel is my absolute hero but this was a complete disaster.

"Loads of people who had spent hundreds of pounds on tickets spent most of the day just sitting around because there was nothing to do.

"Everyone was waiting for something to happen but it never did.

"It was such a shambles. When I finally got to meet the cast they were really, really lovely - but the people organising it were hopeless."

As frustrations mounted on Saturday afternoon, the compère introduced a question-and-answer session with the words: "I’ve got a question. How do you run a convention? Answer: Don’t - it’s a headache."

Jane Wilkes, who was featured in The Argus for being Brighton’s biggest Buffy fan, was more positive about the event.

She said: "The long delays at the start of the day were not explained over the tannoys and those without patience and low heels were not enjoying themselves.

"The stewards, though, were friendly and helpful, the organisers strict and almost unflappable and, all in all, we had a great day."

Single mother Sue Karikos, 43, travelled from London after saving up for five months to buy her ticket and a signed photo.

She said: "I’ve spent £120 and I’ve got nothing out of it. We queued for over an hour and then they told us we weren’t even going to get a personalised photo, just his signature."

Fans attending on Sunday had better experiences.

Paula Welsh, 23, flew in from Cork in Ireland and said: "I think it has been great and the question-and-answer session with the cast was brilliant."

Executive producer Glenn Dellimore apologised to those who did not feel they got value for money and promised to learn from the mistakes.

He blamed many of the problems on underestimation of numbers attending and lack of information points.

Mr Dellimore said: "On Saturday I sat down with groups of people who were complaining and went through everything that needed to be done differently.

"This type of event needs more stewarding and a better way to provide information."

One idea was big screens to keep people informed of any schedule changes.

The David Boreanaz European Event 2003, Brighton Centre, August 29-31 Fans, true fans, will pay anything and put up with anything. At least, that was the impression I got from Jealous Events’ Angel convention.

True, there was a lot of complaining and the organisers received a lot of flak but that did nothing to halt the steady queues forming to receive £50 autographed pictures of the stars of this cult spin-off from Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

Ticket prices varied from £50 to £600 depending on whether you wanted a chance to actually touch the stars concerned, or you were simply happy to see them from a distance, sitting on a sofa on stage answering such vital, life-affirming questions as "What is the most supernatural experience you’ve ever had?" and "During episode 12 of season four, did you really fart in the limo?".

Even if you were one of the lucky handful taken up on to the stage to ask David Boreanaz, who plays the series star Angel, the one thing you had always wanted to know, there were some ground rules.

No questions about his wife or ex-wife, the excited pack was told firmly. No hugs. No kisses. No presents.

And yet this, and the brief exchange as they handed over their official photograph to be signed, was the high point for most fans.

Pay more and you got to meet the B-list stars in a champagne reception (well, Bucks Fizz and one glass only) in which they chatted, hugged you, had photos taken and even talked about their wives and children.

The main attraction, of course, rushed through the room, all smiles and handshakes. No pictures. No autographs. Definitely no hugs. But the fans were left happy.

They got to touch him or stand within a few feet. Or even caught his handsome, doleful eye through his blue-lensed sunglasses.

This was what they were there for. This was what one woman travelled all the way from Pittsburgh for.

But that was nothing. The real fans cottoned on to a more subtle way to spend time with their telly icons.

They worked as volunteers for the company as organisers, security guards and gophers.

Of course, they also had to pay the £50 ticket price. And their travel expenses. And their hotel bills. But at least they did get to see David and co behind the scenes.

The stock on offer at the stalls was laughable. Buffy The Vampire Slayer thongs for £6.99 nestled beside rubber stakes and Angel single-duvet covers. Strangely, there did not seem to be any doubles.

Despite this, there was a feeling, as the fans queued for the Brighton Centre’s poorly-stocked bar or discussed why there wasn’t more entertainment in the side rooms, that everyone was determined to enjoy the experience.

At the table next to us a gang from the roof garden VIP party playfully attacked other fans with their rubber stakes.

They weren’t disappointed but then they had laughed and joked with Nicholas Brendon, one of the stars of Buffy who had taken to acting as a waiter at the party, offering canapés and langoustine to the guests.

As they played, Nicholas continued to sign his name for the hundreds of fans who still queued, many sitting on the floor looking exhausted but hopeful.

They were about to meet the man of their dreams after all.

Review by Adam Fisher, adam.fisher@theargus.co.uk