Voyager: The Return

Blackpool, England - July 27-29, 2001
By Sabine Walz

Robert Picardo

Guest stars: Kate Mulgrew, Robert Duncan McNeill, Ethan Phillips, Robert Picardo,Tim Russ, Richard Herd, Keegan de Lancie, Fintan McKeown, Vaughn Armstrong,Alice Krige. and Rob LaBelle. Special appearances by Patrick Stewart, ManuIntiraymi, and Chase Masterson.

Thursday, July 26, 5:45 AM: Two dark and very sleepy figures were standing atBerlin, Tegel airport, Gate 10, waiting for the take-off to Amsterdam. What the heckwere we doing? There was only one answer: Going to Blackpool to meet most of theVoyager cast.

Lucky us -- the plane departed on time and Maria and me (Sabine) arrived atAmsterdam Airport. We had one hour to get to Gate D27, where our connectingflight would leave for Manchester. Maria decided to look at the monitor, where allflights were listed, and read two words: Manchester -- cancelled! Poor Maria, she wasso shocked, that she laughed! Well, I laughed too, but it wasn't funny! We couldn'tbelieve it and ran with warp factor 9.97 to the next counter.

"Please proceed to gate D25 and catch the next flight." the man said and gave us ourtickets back. Puuuh! Okay, acceptable, just one hour laterŠ but we'll get toManchester.

The next two hours (!) we were waiting for our plane, because this time the monitorstated that our flight was delayed. Ahhh! Just kill me please!

Well, in the end we made it to Manchester, where Sabrina and her mother werewaiting (since 9:00 AM), and we caught our train one hour later to Blackpool.

Yeah! Finally we were next to the Norbreck Castle Hotel, where the Conventiontook place.

Friday, July 27, 2 PM: We were standing one and a half hours in a line, waiting forthe registration to open. Ten minutes past, Maria and I ran to the table across thehotel where we could buy tickets for a photo session. I was so nervous because Ithought, I would never get any ticket! In the end I bought tickets for a photo sessionwith Bob, Robbie, Keegan, Tim, Ethan and Richard. Yeah! I'm happy! Now the Concould start.

I think it was 8:00 PM when the opening ceremony began. The organizer of the Con(unfortunately I don't recall his name) told us a few important things and gave themicrophone to Lolita Fatjo; from now on she would lead us through the Con. Andshe did. She presented the guests. I think Bob, Kate and Robbie received the mostapplause. Bob was so nice, he greeted us and thanked us for being invited. I think hewas also a little bit touched about the applause for him.

When Kate came on stage, she was so touched about the welcome for her, that shepromised no one would leave the Con without an autograph from her. Ethan toldus later, that she came down from the stage and said, "Oh, my God! What have Idone?" But she kept her word and everybody, including the daily guests, got theirautograph.

After the opening we watched "Endgame," the photo session with Robbie and Ethanstarted (yeah, I had one of the first numbers for both so I had the pleasure of meetingRobbie and Ethan this day) and at 10:00 PM the first party started.

Robert Duncan McNeill and Robert Picardo

Saturday, July 28: The day began with waiting in front of the main hall, because wehad to save seats in the first rows (there were no numbered seats) and really, we gotseats in the sixth row. Great! The first panel this day belonged to Robbie, followed byRichard Herd, Fintan McKeown and then Bob. Bob was so funny. I understood mostof his panel but -- if you believe me or not -- after one week I have no idea exactlywhat he was talking about! But I remember one thing: when he came on stage heasked if he should sing for us, and he did. He told us about his CD and I think thefirst song he sang was a parody about Voyager. As you all know, he is a terrific singerand we really loved his song.

After this wonderful beginning he answered the first questions. I'm sorry again, Ididn't understand most of the questions, but someone asked him about hisappearance in "Tinker Tenor Doctor Spy," where he sang "La donna e mobile" withthe special "Tuvok blood fever" lyrics. So Bob told us about the scene, but it wasobvious that he wouldn't sing it. So he just was answering the question and in amoment, when he was thinking about how to explain, someone shouted in thetotal silence: "Sing it!"

Ooops, the yell came from the sixth row, directly in front of Bob, and it was me! Ohmy God! How could I do this? And Bob knew exactly that I was the one whoshouted because he looked directly at me. Over 3000 people stared at me, includingBob, and I just added, "please." And that was the moment when Bob had no otherchoice but sing the line, because my "request" was emphasized with really loudapplause.

So he did it, and believe me, Bob, you were sooo good! We really love your singing!(Sorry if I was a little rude, but my mouth was faster than my brain!)

I don't remember the rest of the panel, but I laughed a lot and he did a wonderfulpanel.

The next chance I had to see Bob was during the photo session and the autographsession. I was really nervous about meeting him at the photo session and thought,"Oh my God, I hope I understand what he says, and what will I do if I can't, etc."And one important thing for me -- I wanted to tell him that I'm in his fan club andthat I really like his acting and singing. So when it was my turn he greeted me,shook my hand and asked "What's your name," which I gladly understood and justsaid, "Hi! My name is Sabine, I'm a member of your fan club and I really lookedforward to this moment."

Hmm? Sabine, are you all right? Someone kill me please! Ahhh! I did it! I thinkBob understood because he said "thanks" and gave me a really nice smile.

Later in the autograph line I met him again, I bought his CD and he gave me apersonalization and apologized (!) for not having more time. In this moment I wasso speechless that I only could say "Don't mind" and "Thank you." I mean, hedoesn't have to apologize! He was so nice and signed and signed and signed. Thankyou so much, Bob!

Later in the day I had the pleasure to see him again -- there was a meeting withRobbie backstage, which I joined, and guess who was there? Right -- Bob. He talked afew moments with Robbie and I took three wonderful pictures of both Robbie andBob.

Sabine Walz and Robert Picardo

In the evening there was the fancy dress show and Bob and Tim were so kind as togive us a very good show. Bad luck for me, because I was sitting far away from thestage and couldn't see anything. But it was enough for me to hear them singing. But,nevertheless, this day was so perfect!

Sunday, July 29: This day was a special day, because Bob and Robbie had a paneltogether. But first there was a big surprise for all of us, because when Kate had herpanel, she was asked -- by a mysterious voice -- which captain she liked the most.We were all looking around, but we weren't able to find out who asked thisquestion. First we thought Robbie or Ethan would ask for fun, somewhere, but asKate answered "Patrick Stewart" the stage door opened and Patrick Stewart himselfwas standing there! Ahhh! More than 3000 people screamed, yelled, cried, laughedand applauded like they were crazy!

Of course, Patrick could do a short panel of his own, so Robbie and Bob had to wait abit longer for their panel. But finally they appeared and we had sooo much fun!Robbie was laughing nearly all the time and Bob was doing the jokes. It was soterrific! Again, there's one thing I remember; the whole time they were makingjokes about a little village in England and we had so much fun, until someonestepped to the microphone and said, "Hi Bob, hi Robbie, by the way, I live in thisvillage!" The reactions of Bob and Robbie were so wonderful: Bob's face went toshock for a second, than he stood up from his stool and circled around Robbie withhis head to the ceiling and must have thought "Oh God, what have I said!" whileRobbie nearly fell down from his stool because he couldn't stop laughing.

Later, I don't know for which reason, they were talking about the differentnationalities and as they said something about "German," four people in the sixthrow yelled. You're right -- it was Maria, Sabrina, Irmgard and me. We were so loudthat Robbie and Bob gave us a surprised look -- typically German! I know they talkedabout us later in private, because Robbie told Sabrina at the autograph session.Wooops!

Well, after the panel the autograph session went on and it's very important for meand some others to thank Bob and the others so much, because our tough crew weresitting until 11:00 PM and everyone got an autograph. I know that especially Bob wasnear collapse, so -- a special thanks to him for signing!

My last words: it was the best Con I ever visited. Thank you all for your very goodperformances and I hope to see you again soon!


Report and photographs © 2001 by Sabine Walz. Report and photographs reproduced on the Official Robert Picardo Home Page with permission of the author/photographer.

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