The Mark Searby Review: EM-Con Nottingham 2019 (Sat 4th-Sun 5th May, Nottingham Motorpoint Arena)

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The city of Nottingham continues to be voted one of the happiest places to live in the UK – it is unsurprising really when you look at one it has got to offer: great transport links, excellent nightlife and top sporting teams. Well, that list should now include EM-Con, the yearly convention that brings enjoyment to nerds, geeks and freaks in Nottinghamshire and beyond.

This year’s stellar guest line-up included the likes of Nick Frost, David Bradley, Toby Stephens, Benedict Wong, Jonathan Hyde, Kristine Sutherland and many more. The show also did a great line in bringing groups of cast members from genre shows for a bigger experience: STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION was represented by Gates McFadden, Michael Dorn and Marina Sirtis; if you are a POWER RANGERS fan then EM-Con pulled in the big guns with Jason David Frank, Steve Cardenas and Blake Foster; RED DWARF fans got to meet Danny John-Jules, Chris Barrie and Robert Llewellyn. There were even more guests, twenty-nine in total, not including artists and attractions – when the likes of Eddie McFlintock, Peter Davison and Ingrid Oliver get shunted down the Featured Guests on the show homepage, it just demonstrates how strong the line-up was.

As the sunny Nottingham sky suddenly turned grey and rain looked imminent, the security ushered the 11am ticket holders into the inside Waiting Area and then not two minutes later opened up entry for everyone. (I do love a con that lets people in early!) Nobody was pushing or shoving their way through, it was all very dignified. Upon reaching the Main Arena – after passing by many vendors on the outer concourse – it was clear that most people were drawn towards the Autograph Area. This is where things could get complicated with lines for guests bleeding into other lines; however, everything was perfectly managed by those able volunteers in red shirts (A Star Trek reference, perhaps?), calling out virtual queue ticket numbers and ushering anyone who wasn’t in line away from the area so as not to cause a huge crowd.

For my own personal experience, once in line to meet Nick Frost, it was interesting to listen to conversations from people around me. All of them upbeat and positive about the convention and the experience: zero moanings. How often does that happen? There was a wonderful exchange between two people behind me:

Person 1: “I’ve never been to a convention before. This is my first time.”

Person 2: “This is a good one to come to.”

Person 1: “Yeah, I’m really enjoying myself.”

That is exactly the type of reaction an organiser needs in-order to ensure longevity to their convention. EM-Con were making con veterans and newbies… Happy.

That also extended to myself upon meeting Nick Frost. He was an absolute delight to chat to and it didn’t feel rushed at all. There was no urgency from him or the EM-Con employee seated next to him. It was pleasing not to be rushed and be able to fanboy out about Hot Fuzz being one of the greatest films ever made (Don’t @ me – you know I’m right).

Exiting the autograph area meant time to wander around the vendors stalls inside the arena. It was pleasing to see brisk business at most of the stalls even so early in the day. There was certainly a large variety on offer and Geek Store had set up a towering store between the vendors and the autograph area that had some rather fun products available.

My time at EM-Con this year was rather short and I’m disappointed I didn’t get to any of the panels (something to be corrected in 2020), however, an entertaining time was had. EM-Con 2019 did something fundimental that a lot of conventions often forget to do: make it fun.


EM-Con has confirmed that it will be returning to The Motorpoint Arena for 2020, taking up the same Bank Holiday space in the UK convention calendar: Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd May 2020. Follow their social media for all the updates on this and the other EM-Con shows around the country, on Facebook, Twitter and on the official show homepage: https://nottingham.em-con.co.uk/

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