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North West town hosts its first sc-fi convention

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Doctor Who, Star Wars Stormtroopers and Red Dwarf hero Craig Charles were among 10,000 people who boldly went where no man had been before – Rochdale’s first sci-fi convention.

The event, at the Wheatsheaf Centre, hosted stars of sci-fi film and television for a two-day event dubbed ‘Dale-Con’.

Charles, who played Lister in BBC cult classic, was among the big names – and fans flocked to get his autograph.

He was joined by six members of the original cast of Star Wars, including Alan Flyng who played a Stormtrooper and Pam Rose who played Leesub Sirln in the original 1977 film.

There were also groups re-enacting scenes from some of the genre’s biggest hits, including Ghostbusters and Star Trek in the old TJ Hughes shop where the convention took place.

Organiser Martin Bollard said the event sent the centre’s footfall into another dimension.

He said: “It went unbelievably well, with about 10,000 extra people there over the two days just for the convention. We were up 20pc on last year when we’ve been down on numbers all other weekends this year. Craig Charles was an absolute gentleman and it was great to see Ghostbusters and Daleks walking around. It’s the biggest event I’ve ever organised and I’m really proud of the people of Rochdale who came out to support it.”

Mr Bollard, the town centre’s manager, added: “We are going through a tough time with the recession and redevelopment but events like this bring people in.”

He said he is already making arrangements for a Dale-Con Two next year. Chris Clow, a security guard at the centre, said: “It was an interesting day at work to keep seeing Iron Man, Dr Who, his entourage and Clingons passing by.”

A Gerry Anderson puppet collection was on show alongside reproductions of the Tardis, Daleks, C3P0 and R2D2.

 
 
 

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