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Saturday, 12 May 2012

The Greatest Show In The Galaxy – Well Was It?

We all know that claiming to be the best is always problematic... If you’re at the top the only place you can go is down, so when an event is called ‘The Greatest Show In The Galaxy’ (GSITG) it sets itself a pretty mammoth task...

GSITG was organised by a new events company called Treble Ace Events, and as their first show it first came on my radar when they announced a number of Star Trek guests (it also helped that the event was due to take place relatively locally to me in Peterborough).

After the initial guest announcements I gave the event website the occasional glance, slowly but surely more and more guests appeared... Before long there was a massive line up including some big and rare names! I have no idea how the Treble Ace team managed to secure all the guests but it really was an impressive list!

So, a week prior to the event I bit the bullet and order myself a ‘Fast Track’ pass and write out up my ‘must meet list’.


Even though Peterborough is local to me I still traveled down the night before (called me old but I just like a lay in!)

I arrived at the East of England Showground at about 8.15am, the tweet I received from GSITG said that my Fast Pass would be available to collect from 8am, unfortunately when I got there the gates were closed and a large queue was beginning to form...

8.30am came and the gates still weren’t open, by this point the other Fast Track holders were looking about trying to stop a crew member as the website stated entry began from 8.30am... At the end of the day it's a new event so a slight delay can be forgiven.

It's a queue...
So here goes, my review:

Queues & Tickets:

First major glitch happened when I went to collect my pass, it hadn’t been printed! Disaster!! I spoke to Mark the event organiser, was given a wristband and told not to worry and if I had any problems to get the crew to contact him...

As soon as I was in I headed straight to the autograph and photo shoot ticket area. I had my list of 8 guests and ordered all my tickets. The intention was for all tickets to be purchased from this area to avoid the crew in the venue needing to worry about handling cash. This, while a good idea in theory, failed terribly as the issuing of tickets took too long and there were not enough ticket machines.

I’m so glad I was one of the first people in as I was able to avoid the queue, and a queue there was!! By 10.30am the ticket system had been partially abandoned and people were told they could also pay the guest assistants as well as the photo areas (although this did take a while to be fully communicated...). The reason for the change was that the ticket area just couldn’t cope and it became a massive bottleneck...

The main snag with people being able to purchase autographs at guest tables was that the buy 3 autographs get one free scheme ceased...

Me with Miranda Raison
On the Sunday there was a fault with the phone lines so card payments couldn’t be taken which was also a bit of an issue, but there were plenty of cash points on site so it wasn’t the end of the world.

Photo shoots:

Over the weekend I’d booked myself 8 photo shoots, 4 on each day, with a good amount of time between each one. What I was intrigued by was how the shoots were going to work, one the GSITG Facebook page it had been announced that as you left your shoot you would be handed your picture as well as being given a code to download an online version... This, to be blunt, I would believe when I saw it!

To my complete surprise, the show did exactly what it promised. You walked in, had your picture, were given a receipt with a code and as you walked out were given your picture in a presentation folder. I was impressed! Very impressed!

However... I do have one minor niggle, when I’ve been to other events the picture that is taken is double checked to ensure it’s perfect, if it’s not 100% it is retaken, the picture itself is then tweaked to ensure it’s not washed out and the colours are good.

Gene Genie and the Doc - Me with Philip Glenister
When the photo is printed straight away there is no chance for this to happen and as a result I felt that one of my pictures was a bit over exposed and my one with Freema is far too zoomed in for my liking. I would also have preferred so pictures to be portrait rather than landscape, but that’s just my preference.

The online version of the pictures was available with two days of the end of the show, which was very impressive considering the number that were taken. The online pictures also looked like they had been tweaked as the colours looked better than the printed versions.

Overall I was really impressed! The only delays came when the paper in the printers had to be refilled, but even then it only slowed things down for a minute or two!

Venue:

The East of England Showground is a really good venue and are used to hosting large events, plenty of parking and easy to access.

The other good thing about the venue is that there are a good number of refreshment stands as well as a restaurant with seating area (although the restaurant was a tad expensive).

One thing I do have to say is there is nothing better than having a cup of tea in a proper cup!! It just tastes better!

What I didn’t expect was that there would be sniffer dogs in the hall, but it did go to show that security was being taken very seriously!

Crew:

The majority of the event crew were old pros (and I know most of them). Some were rather green though and didn’t really know anything or were slightly unhelpful... A great example of this is when one of the crew at a photo shoot area had no idea what a Fast Track pass was...

But overall I couldn’t fault the show crew, they did a sterling job!.

Talks:

The talk area was really well set out there was a central stage with a large sofa for all the guests to sit on, it was also well lit making photos easy to take.

Star Trek talk
An unexpected bonus was that the talks were also streamed live to two screens in the main hall so people who couldn’t get into the talk could still watch it if they wanted.

The only potential grumble was that people could only do one talk a day, but this idea appeared to be scrapped and people were able to see the talks they wanted to.

My only actual grumble was having the Tim Russ band playing at the venue, the band were fine but the noise level made it difficult to talk to people and most of the guests that were sat by the talk area went home early...

Guests:

What can I say, what a line up!!

At last count I believe there were 80ish guests in attendance, the full main cast of Torchwood, majority of Star Trek Voyager, the main Ashes to Ashes cast and a number of stars from Doctor Who to name but a few!

All the guests I met were amazing and it made the weekend into a truly great experience (my guest highlights will follow in part two).

Overall:

Wow, well what can I say...

It was an amazing event with one of the best guest line-ups I’ve ever seen! There were a few glitches that I’ve mentioned above, but all events have them and as a first event from a new company it really has set the bar, not just for them but for everyone else as well! (I spotted a number of other event organisers wandering around taking notes)

Treble Ace are planning a second event in November, I really cannot wait, although I have no clue how they could possibly top what was ‘The Greatest Show in the Galaxy’!