Many of you have been waiting with bated breath for my full report on the PBS Sherlock screening on May 2. Rather than tell the story over and over, I have been promising that I will blog about it and post the link. It’s been a busy few days, so it’s taken me a while to get to this point. I must admit I’m a bit disappointed with my photos – the lighting was rather dim.
This was the first time I have ever attended such an event. I have gone to a few conventions, but never with any interest in meeting a celebrity. I had three goals in meeting Benedict Cumberbatch: shake his hand, make him laugh (or at least smile), and be remembered by him, although I will never know whether I succeeded in that.
Rather than dress up for the event, I elected to wear my Sherlock Hemlock T-shirt – the same one a fan sent to Benedict a few years ago and he has been photographed wearing several times, including at the taping of an episode of Cabin Pressure. I hoped he would notice it and smile.
Here’s the line behind me…PBS announced the morning of the event that people could come any wait as stand-bys, and the confirmed guests and the stand-bys were all waiting together in one line. Through the magic of text messaging (and being recognized from my photo), I found my Twitter friends @Scientits and @StormingTeacup (see photo below) and Ravelry friends rmartin and 4mpersand.
(So much for “International Knitter of Mystery,” hey? Such is life.)
@StormingTeacup took a photo of us with our drinks in front of her Tweet on the monitor, so later we could Tweet the photo and feel all meta.
Eventually the crowd in the room seemed to thin a little, and we saw a Tweet that said people were in the theater for the screening. So we high-tailed it to the theater. @scientits, @StormingTeacup, my guest (@EvieManieri) and I (@KnitMairwen) wound up in the 4th row from the stage. We got stiff necks watching the clip from A Scandal in Belgravia on the huge screen. I hope you can tell how close we were by the angle in this photo.
And here we are (circled area):
After the confirmed guests were seated, standbys were let in to fill the remaining seats.
Then the screen went up and away and Rebecca Eaton, Sue Vertue, Steven Moffat, and Benedict Cumberbatch came out. The video is available online (start with part 1 here) and better pictures than mine can be found here. I thought that the session would have been improved by the questions having been collected earlier (while we were waiting in line, or even solicited via email from the confirmed guests or on Twitter and Facebook from anyone, prior to the event) and asked by a moderator. It would have pruned out questions that were either not really of relevance to most of the audience or had been answered in prior interviews, plus cut out the long preambles we heard from a few people. In addition, those of us with questions wouldn’t have been distracted from the panel by holding our arms in the air and looking for the microphone wranglers. If I had been called upon, I would have asked Steven Moffat whether he would give us a three-word teaser for season 3 of Sherlock, in the manner that season 2 was teased with the words “Adler, Hound, Reichenbach.” I figured I would either get a good answer or he would say something funny, such as, “Don’t. You. Wish!” or “Not. A. Chance!” (We have since heard from Mark Gatiss that the first episode of season 3 will be based upon The Adventure of the Empty House, for what that’s worth.)
After the Q&A came the autograph session. We were told to form two lines: one for Benedict and the other for Steven and Sue. Of course Benedict’s line was longer, and in fact stretched back out the door onto the sidewalk (we couldn’t loop around and fill the stairs because that would be a fire hazard). I was assured by a staff member (though of PBS or the venue I don’t know) that we would all get through both lines. (Remember this, folks!)
Worried that she wouldn’t get to meet Steven Moffat, which was her priority, my guest @EvieManieri left me to get in Steven’s line. I stood with my friend 4mpersand and her mother in Benedict’s line. As we got closer and closer, it seemed more and more surreal that Benedict Cumberbatch was actually standing 20 feet away; when he was on stage for the Q&A, it wasn’t that much different from watching him on video. As I got close to the front of the line, I did get one good profile shot, featuring the Star Trek sideburns:
Just before I got to him, the handler assigned to him announced that there could be no more posed photos with Benedict due to the length of the line. Luckily 4mpersand and her mother volunteered to take photos of me interacting with Benedict, since @EvieManieri was still in Steven’s line and couldn’t take pictures for me. I am incredibly grateful for the action shots, though disappointed that I couldn’t get one with both of us smiling at the camera.
Finally, it was my turn. I stepped up to Benedict and held out my hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Benedict. I’m Catherine.” He shook my hand and thanked me. “Both Adam Robertson and Vaughan Sivell asked me to say hello to you.” He raised his eyebrows and said, “Oh? That’s nice.” I continued, “And Vaughan said you should do your Alan Rickman impression for me.” He smiled wide and said — 5 words I didn’t catch, since the pitch of his voice was so low and there was so much noise. I’m pretty sure one of the words was “Rickman.” Then he asked me to spell my name for the autograph (I brought a poster made my @myanglofiles (http://thelondonist.tumblr.com/), photo below). After he had signed it, he pointed to my shirt and said, “I have that same shirt!” I answered, “I know you do! Why do you think I wore it?” “It was out-of-print when I got it!” he replied. Then I pulled out my present for him: a plastic “champagne bottle” of Hershey Kisses. (see the notes at the end if you are unfamiliar with them – I do not know how well Hershey’s is known internationally) “I brought you this because it’s from Pennsylvania, like me,” I said, placing it on the podium. He thanked me again. “And now I can say that I’ve given you kisses.” He grinned, and said, “Yes, you can. I’ll give you a hug.” And then he put his arms around me and hugged me. To my surprise, he also kissed me, right on the point of my right cheekbone. I managed to give him a sideways peck on the neck, and got the chance to inhale his scent. When we parted, he thanked me again and handed me my signed poster. I thanked him and started to turn away. “Wait, this is your pen,” he said, holding out my silver Sharpie. “You can keep it if it will help,” I offered. “No, it’s fine, you take it,” he answered. I took the pen back, and he turned to the next person in line (4mpersand’s mother). 4mpersand told me that both she and her mom got photos, so I’d have two angles. I continued back along the line and encountered @scientits and @StormingTeacup, who squealed “He hugged you!!!” and gave me hugs and high-fives.
Buzzing, and still able to feel where Benedict had kissed me, I joined the line for Steven and Sue. I wound up talking to a lovely artist who had given him the button he’s wearing on his shirt in the photos with me. @EvieManieri came by and showed me the great photo she had taken with Steven and Sue. I was probably about 30 people away from Steven when I saw that they cut off Benedict’s line. Then suddenly there was an announcement that the building was closing at 11 pm. They were packing up immediately and leaving. (@EvieManieri tells me there is a union regulation that theaters in NYC close up at 11 pm) Benedict was ushered out the door, waving goodbye over his shoulder. I climbed the steps right behind Steven, but he didn’t stop long enough for me to say hello or shake his hand. Benedict, Steven, and Sue hopped into a waiting car, which had a crowd by it. (There’s a short video around of those last few minutes, and evidently Benedict misplaced that fantastic Westwood patchwork grey jacket. I hope he got it back.)
I will note that some confirmed guests did not get to meet everyone (like me and @EvieManieri) and some may have gotten to neither Benedict nor Steven, while some stand-by folks got to meet one or both guests. In my opinion, this wasn’t fair to the winners. It should have been obvious that, with the stand-bys added in, there were far too many people for the known limited time. I have written a note to PBS Channel 13 thanking them for the event but also pointing out some changes that could have made the evening run more smoothly. If they host another high-interest event, I hope they will organize it better. In addition, the autograph area was kept very dim, and it was hard to get good photographs with the average camera.
#1: yes, I realize that I have no shoulders.
#2: As I said, I don’t know if everyone who might be reading this is familiar with Hershey Kisses. The Hershey Chocolate Company is based in Hershey, PA, USA. Their chocolate is a basic, everyday chocolate, not a gourmet brand, in my opinion. The Hershey Kiss is perhaps their most famous product: a one-bite morsel of milk chocolate (they now make many variations, but the milk chocolate Kiss is the original) wrapped in silver foil with a paper label sticking out the top.
Here is a closer view of the package I got Benedict:
#3: Here is my signed poster. I really wanted to get Steven and Sue to sign it as well. I suppose I could mail it off to them to sign, but I am afraid it could get lost in the post.
#4: Both Adam Robertson (“Bill” in Third Star, @AdamRobertson9) and Vaughan Sivell (writer and producer of Third Star, @Mug7) actually told me to say hi to Benedict for them if I met him, and Vaughan did tell me to request the Rickman impression. I didn’t make any of that up. I was glad that I asked Vaughan how to properly pronounce his last name, because I would have guessed incorrectly (and sounded like an idiot).
I had a great time and I was thrilled to meet Benedict. I managed to remember what I wanted to say, but it was all a bit of a blur. I wish I had caught what he said in his Alan Rickman voice. I was completely gobsmacked that he hugged me and gave me a kiss on the cheek. And he smelled lovely. He was completely gracious during the whole event despite how tired he was (I know he was on live television at 10 that morning, and it was after 10 pm when I got to him) and how many autographs he had already signed. He took the time to chat with me a little, and hopefully he was a little amused in return.
I also enjoyed meeting some of my online friends. I wish they all lived closer to me! But @scientits lives in London, @StormingTeacup in Texas, rmartin in Maryland, @EvieManieri in NYC (both not so terribly far from me), and 4mpersand in Manitoba, Canada! I also got the chance while in NYC to meet up with some people I hadn’t seen in years and buy a pair of Fluevogs (happy birthday to me!). All around a successful trip.
And yes, I did wash my face that night, just like every other night…but if I concentrate, I can still feel Benedict’s kiss on my cheek.
Special thanks to @scientits, @StormingTeacup, 4mpersand, and @myanglofiles for photos and permissions and to PBS NY Channel 13 for hosting this event. Extra-special thanks to @EvieManieri, who put up with me disrupting her family life for two nights.