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Memorabilia at the NEC: 29th & 30th November, 2003

I don’t know how many of you have been to the Memorabilia events at the NEC (and in various other corners of the UK) but they are just about the BEST fun a Cult TV/Film/Sports/Comic fan can have standing up!!

I’ve been to dozens of these fairs over the years: sometimes as a punter and sometimes as a trader. In the capacity of a trader I have sold copies of the Doctor Who fanzine Shockeye’s Kitchen and acted as Tom Baker’s ‘Minder’ (which made me money) and as a punter I have bought lot’s of ‘valuable’ items (which has COST me TWICE as much money!).

On Saturday, 29th November, at 6.30am, Andy and I were motoring along the M42 in the dark and the driving rain, bound for the NEC. Once again we were attending a Memorabilia Fair but this time we were attending with Cheryl Burfield and Spencer Banks – this was to be their first public appearance for 10 years and their first EVER Memorabilia Fair.

The biggest problem with trading at the NEC is finding your pitch! Even with a map it is a pain and when you have armfuls of gear it is even more frustrating! Anyway, we soon located our tables at set to work laying everything out in preparation for the arrival of our guests.

(Left) Some of the props we took along    (Right) Andy enjoying himself

All of the celebrities tend to be gathered together in one part of the hall for these events and Andy and I goggled at some of our neighbours. Next door on one side were U.N.I.T. stalwarts Richard Franklin and the ever good-natured Nick Courtney and on the other side – representing the sporting contingent – were Jimmy Greaves, Pat Jennings and Sir Geoff Hurst. Across the way we had my old pal Tom Baker (I managed a few words with Tom on the Sunday) Louise Jameson (who gets BETTER looking at the years progress) and next door to them, everyone’s favourite smeghead, Craig Charles. To our rear was the ever beautiful Caroline Munro (who was very charming and chatty), Shane Rimmer (who stopped by a chat during the morning), David Hedison and horror actor Ken Foree (sporting the obligatory Hollywood shades despite the dreary and rainy morning).

Steve, David Hedison and Andy – and not a
sign of a rubber squid!

Other near neighbours included Fenella Fielding, Kenneth Cope and Paul Darrow (accompanied by his wife Janet Lee Price)
The doors opened bang on time and an anorak-clad tide swept into the hall buying all before it… the only problem was Cheryl and Spencer hadn’t shown up yet! Spencer had rung me to tell me that they were stuck in the traffic – victims of their own success, I hoped! Eventually they fought their way into the venue and – after being guided by phone (the place is BIG!) – made their way to the table.

(Left) Cheryl busy signing    (Right) Spencer makes his mark

Business was very brisk all day and lots of people were delighted to see Cheryl and Spencer after so many years. Some old friends dropped by to say hello, including David Convery and Martin Cofill and his daughters (who seemed a bit bemused by it all but were having fun all the same!) The biggest question of the day – and indeed, the weekend – was ‘when are the DVDs coming out?’ A good question… pity we couldn’t answer it.

Other visitors of note to the table were Miranda Robinson and her mum Heather. Miranda is the youngest Timeslip fan we have met and to celebrate this discovery we took a picture of her for the site. David Thompson called by with his daughter Miri who he claimed was the youngest Timeslip fan but as a babe in arms we thought she’d probably miss some of the more subtle nuances of the programme… We were also visited by Jackie Clark our ‘opposite number’ from the Tomorrow People Scrapbook website

(Left) Miranda hangin’ around    (Right) Miranda and Heather meet Spencer and Cheryl

The day flew bay and before we knew it the crowds were thinning out and the fair was closing for the day – time to head for home! Cheryl and Spencer were stopping at a nearby B&B but Andy and I were off home to soak our feet and have a slap-up feed.

The following morning saw us back at the NEC but at a more civilised hour (the table was still set-up form the previous day). Sundays always tend to be a bit quieter at the Memorabilia Fairs but there was still a steady stream of visitors to the table and plenty of photographs being taken. Later in the day we were joined by our own Paul Lacey, who brought along his camera to take a few snaps.

During the course of the afternoon we were approached by a young lady who introduced herself as Sara Heather. She was at the fair with her husband – none other than Roy Heather who plays café owner and acting Nag’s Head landlord, Sid in Only Fools & Horses. Roy was busy on the OF&H stand (a brilliant re-creation of the Trotter’s flat) so Sara was having a wander when she came across our table. Sara revealed herself to not only be a huge Timeslip fan but she had also been very close to the late Denis Quilley. She had acted as Denis’s driver over a period of some years and the two had become good friends. Sara told us lot’s of anecdotes about Denis and spent most of the afternoon hanging out with Cheryl, Spencer, Paul, Andy and myself.

Sue Holderness, Roy Heather and a couple of
right plonkers!

Another member of the Only Fools and Horses cast that was in attendance that day was Sue Holderness who plays the ‘friendly’ Marlene Boyce. Sue had starred in Tightrope with Spencer, which had been made in 1972 shortly after Timeslip. When things began to wind-down during the course of the afternoon we were joined by Sue and Roy, giving Paul a chance to get busy with his camera!

Andy and Danny John-Jules, lookin’

Before too long it was time to pack up and Cheryl and Spencer took their leave of us. Before we departed Andy and I took the opportunity to visit chez Trotter and have our pictures taken with Roy and Sue. We also called on David Hedison and Danny John-Jules (who was doing the Sunday stint on the Red Dwarf table) and I made it my business to have my photograph taken with Caroline Munro and her assistant Jane (who is gorgeous in her own right).

(Left) Steve, cheesy grin and Caroline Munro    (Right) Steve gets to grips with Jane

Finally it was a battle through the dispersing traders in the hall and across the rainy and windswept car park with armfuls of boxes and stands to the car. After several journeys we were all set for the return home. It had been a brilliant weekend from every perspective and everything had run smoothly… Well, ALMOST everything. I was just a pity that Caroline Munro didn’t ask for my phone number…

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