Captain's Log: Destination Star Trek London
|FEATURES - TV|
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Just after half past seven on the evening of Friday 19th October, history was made at the Star Trek Destination London event at the capital's ExCel centre; when Captains Archer (Scott Bakula), Janeway (Kate Mulgrew), Sisko (Avery Brooks), Picard (Patrick Stewart) and James T. Kirk (William Shatner) appeared together on a European stage for the first time.
This momentous event, which had occurred just once before, at the Wizard World Comic Con in Philadelphia, USA in June, not only lived up to the expectations of fans who had dreamed of this moment for years, but exceeded them by a good lightyear. The chemistry between the quintet of Captains was more potent than a cocktail at Quark's, but host John Barrowman (Doctor Who, Torchwood), a man with enough charm and charisma to fill the Gamma Quadrant all by himself, skilfully brought out the very best of them in the forty minutes that they held the audience in the palms of their high-ranking hands.
Scott Bakula, Enterprise's Captain Jonathan Archer, appeared to still be slightly in awe of the weird and wonderful world of Trek fandom even now, though clearly loving it, and playfully referenced his sci-fi history prior to making the Quantum Leap to Enterprise, as well as revealing that he overcame any potential nerves at having to follow the other four Captains by convincing himself that, if you think about it, he was actually the first Captain.
Kate Mulgrew more than held her own with the men by declaring that when she first signed up, Patrick Stewart had told her that, much as it had with himself, the next seven years would provide her with a body of work that would be the one she was most proud of, and that he had been right. She also revealed that she was very proud of making history as being the first female lead in a Star Trek series, and that since Voyager she had seen an increase in the number of women in science.
Avery Brooks proved that while Benjamin Sisko may have been perceived as the most serious of the five Captains, in real life he is a funny, droll and captivating raconteur; his measured, powerful drawl so mesmerising that when he spoke the whole room was engaged. Asked whether, unlike Patrick Stewart - who had been completely unprepared for it - he had expected a huge turnout at his first convention, he had the audience in hysterics when he simply said no, pausing for effect before humbly explaining that he knew that the fans had come because of the bigger picture, because of Trek, and not specifically for him.
Though he refused to pose alongside the other four Captains for the press photograph, Patrick Stewart dispelled any fears that he was going all luvvie on us by being commanding, captivating and funny on stage. Never afraid to ridicule himself, he revealed that his worst moment on Trek was right at the very start when he had thrown a tantrum on set after Denise Crosby had told him to lighten up and have some fun. Apparently, Stewart had bellowed at his fellow actors that they weren't there to have fun, they were there to work! Oh, and that his best moment had been the subsequent six and a half years when he learned from the rest of the cast that he could in fact be both hard-working and have fun as well. Proving this, he led the five Captains in a rendition of "Happy Birthday" after a cheeky request from a fan.
William Shatner, of course, needs no introduction, but to see him on stage along with the four keepers of his legacy - and the laughter and banter between them - you'd have thought that they did this every week over a glass of Romulan Ale. Proving that his comic timing is still razor-sharp, when asked by a girl in the audience whether he would come to Croatia with her, he replied, without missing a beat, that he would probably go anywhere with her, but that he was needed on stage right at this moment. He then waited to drop the other shoe until another audience member asked the Captains what they would have liked to have been if they hadn't become actors - Shatner's reply of 'I'd have loved to have been Croatian' brought the house down.
Shatner also proved that he could laugh at himself by saying that the best thing about having become a Captain was that he felt like it was a position of authority, a position in which people would listen to him, and the worst was discovering that actually they weren't.
Witnessing these five icons of Star Trek interacting on the same stage, it was obvious that they all have very different personalities, itself the perfect embodiment of the Trek philosophy of diversity, and that the Captains portrayed by each of them were essentially an extension of these personalities. Asked by John Barrowman whether they would ever consider working with each other in a film bringing the five Captains together, they agreed that they would, at which point Patrick Stewart revealed that Brent Spiner (Data) and John Logan (writer, Star Trek: Nemesis) had at one point been working on a script that did just that. Addressing a shout from the audience that “we're all behind you”, Scott Bakula quipped “I don't know if I want to work with Spiner,” to rapturous applause.
Quizzed by a member of the audience about their most embarrassing fan moments, Shatner deadpanned “I find every fan and their adulation embarrassing”, before recounting the time a lady offered her left breast for a signature. Stewart's most embarrassing moment was being asked by a young boy to marry his mother, while Kate Mulgrew was approached by a couple of women who wanted her to marry them. When she told them that she wasn't a real Captain they didn't seem to care, and so “being a good Irish Catholic girl” she married them! Brooks recounted the tale of his hair having been so badly cut on the first day of filming that the rest of the crew thought he had a terminal disease, but Bakula claimed not to have anything.
At this, John Barrowman asked, incredulously, “No embarrassing fan moments? No proposals? No signing of butt cheeks?” When Bakula replied, forlornly, “No,” Barrowman declared “Let me change that!” and proceeded to run over to the former Captain Archer, dropping his trousers so Bakula could duly oblige!
Just under an hour after walking on stage for the second and what could well be the last time that the five Captains are together under one roof, particularly in light of Scott Bakula's revelation during his individual talk the following day that he considered it highly unlikely that it would ever happen again because of the logistics of synchronising all of their schedules, the quintet of legends took their bows and were gone, leaving an ecstatic audience, well, ecstatic...knowing that they were part of a very select few of the millions of Star Trek fans around the world who would ever witness a gathering like this.
Shadowlocked feels very privileged to have been able to witness this historic event, and would like to thank organisers Media 10 and Showmaster Ltd, and Naz Williamson and Alex Davison at Stuart Higgins Communications for making it so.
All pictures are the intellectual property of Deborah Cosgrove, and are used with her permission. For more pictures - or to hire Deborah - contact her through her website...
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