The GW Convention
Wingin' It was the name of the Green Wing Convention which took place in January 2007 in London. It was organised by a group of enthusiastic fans to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital. The events included a Spoon of Destiny game, a game of Guyball (refereed by Stephen Mangan), an illuminating question and answers session with some of the writers and a auction of Green Wing memorabilia.
Committee member Terri Nixon (otherwise known as TheTalespinner on the GW forums) kindly provided us with the below insight into all the hard work that went into organising the event and an interesting account of what happened on the day...
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness..."
Yes, lots of foolishness, and just enough wisdom sprinkled throughout the planning to ensure a good day was had by all. And I'd just like to point out that the "worst of times" can be solely applied to my own brand of foolishness in consuming too much wine the night before Wingin' It finally happened.
But let's go back a few months, shall we?
A forum - somewhere on a monitor near you, belonging to the Channel 4 comedy zone - a throwaway comment amongst thousands of others that somehow took hold and settled in the minds of a few, quite disturbingly mad people. A get together? A convention! Yes, why not?
Within hours a forum was set up, those same people found it and registered, and "Wingin' It" was born.
The thrower of the original comment; Ann (known by the forum name of Spence) selected her 4 fellow committee members; Kate, Jess, Heather and Terri (yours truly). A name was quickly decided upon, a logo designed and then came the long slow process of organising. Many, many MSN meetings took place over the next 9 months since none of the committee live anywhere near each other, hailing as we do from Birmingham, Reading, Brighton, Glasgow and Plymouth.
At first most of those meetings descended into hilarity, fuelled by excitement, alcohol and Green Wing quotes hurled with lightning speed, but eventually, when we realised how the idea was taking hold amongst those interested in attending, we settled down and started to take things seriously. We chose our charity - Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, and from that moment on the focus was on how we could raise as much money as possible for the cause, while providing Green Wing fans with a day they would talk about for months if not years.
We were enormously excited to discover that Victoria Pile and Rob Harley were apparently "delighted" to hear about the planned event, and that gave us the confidence to approach various other people connected with the show. Richard Preddy gave us a huge amount of support right the way through, registering on the forum under the name "Lance Percival" and then letting the committee members know who he really was so we'd take him seriously! He donated auction items and put us in touch with Patrick Schulenburg who, in turn, was incredibly helpful. And the lovely Billy Sneddon was in touch during the planning stages too.
Hark, is that the sound of names crashing to the floor?
Wingin' It (The Preparation)
The chosen date seemed such a long way off, having the buffer of Christmas to separate us from it, but once the excitement of the TV screening of The Special wore off, things got a bit nerve-wracking. We had been joined, in the few weeks leading up to the date, by some absolutely wonderful forum members who put their all into helping us. The added numbers steadied our nerves, and somehow we all ended up in The Brook Green Hotel, Hammersmith around 4pm on Friday 12 January 2007, looking at each other in a slightly bemused fashion - or maybe that was just me. The lads booking us in certainly had a bewildered look about them, but were later heard to declare themselves madder than us. Oh don't say that, boys, don't ever say that!
Saturday 13th January
We'd spent a good deal of the night before blowing up balloons - both Green Wing and GOSH ones, and putting stickers on yo-yos, and now the decorating had to be done. On a personal note I would just like to say that climbing up a huge stepladder to tie balloons onto a swinging chandelier while suffering from a debilitating hangover is not recommended. Just in case you were ever tempted...
But the balloons, posters advertising cellos for sale and enquiring after yogurts, as well as the brilliant memos made the atmosphere absolutely perfect, and as time crept on towards midday we were anxious for the off.
Once the guests began arriving things moved very quickly. We presented them all with a fiendish wordsearch to keep them occupied, along with the offer of some "very cheering" chocolate cocks, a yo yo, sticker and a form on which they could place their vote for their favourite episode - the winner to be screened in the evening.
The quiz began shortly after 12.30, with teams being drawn randomly from a topmiler upon entry. This was to get people mixing, and talking to other fans, and seemed to work nicely. Late arrivals meant fewer people than planned on some teams, so James Henry (oops, there goes another one) was gracious enough to join Team Caroline and completely fail to help them win. To be fair we were probably more familiar with the script than he was, since we still watch the programme avidly and it's been a long time since he wrote for it. So he was unanimously forgiven, and we'd like to thank him for coming along, joining in the spirit of it, and for staying throughout the event.
After the quiz - lunch! The pub did us proud, bringing out fresh hot food at intervals and leaving it along the bar for everyone to dig in. Except most of the committee, because we'd just heard of the imminent-ish arrival of a very special guest and most of us were now quivering wrecks!
Spoon of Destiny
This went off brilliantly, with much cleaning up between heats, but the bowls stayed put despite the blu tack holding them getting full of sugar. During the game I looked around to see a very familiar, dark curly head hovering by the door, and when asked what name he would like on his badge, replied "Swiss Love God." Yes; Stephen Mangan had arrived, as promised, and he was an absolute charmer. I don't know how many fans he had when he arrived, but when he left I'm pretty sure everyone would have lain down in front of a train for him. He agreed to play the winner at spoon of destiny later in the afternoon, so that upped the stakes considerably!
Patrick chivvied those of us who'd come armed with topmilers, out onto the park across the road, where he'd hoped to film us having a game of Guyball. However, as no-one could remember the rules, we just simplified them and raced to the maison with the geometric stickle loaded in someone's topmiler - our team scored first, unfortunately it was an own goal as we'd run to our own parish. Can't have everything! Stephen was refereeing (Geneva rules of course) and decided we all needed a spot of training in Splicing The Matterhorn - at which point it all got a bit filthy language-wise, and probably not something you'd want your mother to watch if it ends up on a GW DVD!
So Patrick and Finn filmed us all running up and down the grass, one casualty went down in the... er... mud and sustained the only visible Guyball injury of the game. But she didn't seem to mind as Stephen had already told her she'd had the best topmiler, which must have taken the sting out a bit.
Once back inside, our invited guests graciously signed the various items - mostly script books - handed to them by the conventioneers. At this point I would like to thank everyone for the respect they showed our guests in not crowding, but waiting patiently in line - it helped that there was no feeling of anything being rushed through, but everyone had time to talk and pose for a picture, so thanks go to both guests and conventioneers for that, I'm sure it was appreciated on both sides.
While all the signing was going on heats for Chocolate Towers began; contestants had a massive bowlful of chocolate bars and a square marked out in masking tape in which to build their tower. They were timed to 30 seconds at which point "Sue White" would come in with her extra long arms and "harsh their buzz" by sweeping the two towers aside into waiting topmilers. The bars were counted, totals noted and the winner (Lisa D) was able to choose their own total (in this case 38!) in bars as their prize. Thanks go to Kim for creating such a wonderful "Sue!".
Spoon of Destiny Final
Stephen dutifully ambled up to the Spoon of Destiny table to play the winner, and announced he would play as Guy - which was when the person announcing the heat (um, that would be me) found the words "curly-headed git" slipping out over the mic. Mortified! The winner (Hannah) seemed delighted to be playing against Dr Secretan despite being accused of cheating by the biggest cheat in the game! All was hugs and smiles at the end though, and the video is available for viewing in our gallery.
Questions & Answers
A short break was followed by an amazing Q&A session with writers Richard Preddy, Oriane Messina and James Henry, and the coolest editor in town Billy Sneddon. One question I didn't ask during the session but which I put to Billy afterwards,concerned Mark Heap's miraculous parking skills. I was told that, not only was it done in one shot, but also, through necessity, in one take! And also that Mark's exit from the back of the car was unplanned, as was his walking across the top of the car in front and denting the roof. This car was not part of the scene, nor did it belong to anyone on the unit!
The questions could have gone on all night, but eventually the hilarity had to end to make time for the most important event of the day...
How lucky were we to have Rob Harley (writer and actor - aka CEO Charles - yes that one!) to step up to the podium and conduct the auction. After calmly announcing that Julian Rhind Tutt couldn't make it as his cat was ill, he went on to help us raise £2,205 for Great Ormond Street. Thank you to everyone who bid, and to the forum member Cello who turned out to be something of a gem with her help and advice throughout, and congratulations to those who won their items. Also thank you to Mark at the British Comedy Guide, who donated three script books which fetched £115 between them once they'd been signed by those present.
After a break for dinner, the winner of the favourite episode was announced: a landslide victory for Season One, Episode 5. It was screened a little after 9pm, and due to popular demand Episode 6 was also shown, then it was: Dance Like No-one's watching, with an awful lot of wolf-dancing going on!
It has been widely acknowledged that the words "resounding" and "success" are not entirely out of place when describing "Wingin' It" the convention. A fitting farewell to a show that has had so many of us talking, delighting, arguing and speculating since it first aired on 3rd September 2004.
Special Thank Yous: The Brook Green Hotel, Hammersmith - for serving all our needs so brilliantly throughout the weekend, and for their generosity in providing the venue free of charge. Kim (Chatterbox), Tracy (Baggie Bird), Jools and all the other forum members who leapt in and helped so willingly with various aspects of the day. Their creative skills really made it something special. Green Wing personnel: We know we've thanked over and over again but it can never be stressed enough, how grateful we are that you all climbed on board and stayed with us throughout!
Thanks to Terri Nixon for the great report and the photographers who's photos we've used.
For many more photos see the Wingin' It PhotoBucket album
The Convention DVD
The team behind the convention are shortly going to be releasing a DVD of the event to help raise even more funds for Great Ormond Street hospital. It promises to be a wonderful memento of the Green Wing event of the year!
Here's some of the DVD blurb: "On Saturday January 13th 2007, hardy souls from all over the UK gathered in a pub in Central London to celebrate Channel 4's Green Wing and to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital in the process. Join them as they play Guyball in Brook Green Park, coached and refereed by Stephen Mangan and as they take part in quizzes and games based on the hit comedy. Watch the auction of memorabilia raise much needed funds for the charity, urged on by our guest auctioneer - writer and actor Rob Harley. Learn secrets from behind the scenes, as writers Richard Preddy, James Henry and Oriane Messina, and editor Billy Sneddon answer questions about the show."
The team are hoping to have the DVD ready by Christmas. It's likely to be in the region of £15. Stay tuned to our GW area for more details (or send us an email and we'll email you when we have the ordering details).