Jill Ubdegrove, event manager for Massive Events, tells the story of how a last minute celebrity addition can shake up a show.
It was Monday afternoon, and Sherlocked, the Sherlock convention, opened on the Friday evening.
The schedule was published and the visitors were excitedly planning their weekend. We had announced more than 10 guests, photo shoots, talk schedules were confirmed and actual sets and costumes had been acquired. Ten months of hard work had resulted in a carefully constructed official event celebrating popular BBC TV show Sherlock, organised in association with Hartswood Films.
This was the second time we had run this particular event, and we felt confident that with the guests, the programming that was in place and the content on show, that the event would satisfy the biggest of fans.
Then, in one email, everything changed. It was the sort of message that makes you do a double take from excitement and panic in equal measure. It simply said: “Mr Cumberbatch wants to attend”.
You can hardly say no to an email like that, and I can confidently say at no point was that ever a consideration.
After a few hysterical moments of laughter and disbelief, we immediately set to working out how, in less than four days, we could make this work. Discarding what had already been published and confirmed, we needed to make the announcement as soon as possible, look at the on-the-day considerations (including almost doubling the size of our keynote theatre), and make a total schedule change to accommodate our new guest.
We had Benedict for one day, and he was not in London. We had the choice of either picking him up by car, meaning he would arrive mid-morning, reducing his time at the event, or we could consider a 35-minute helicopter journey. Of course we opted for the helicopter – expensive and extravagant but ensuring more of his time at the event.
So, in less than four days, we met the challenge with long nights and a lot of teamwork. We pulled it off and up to 2,500 fans got to meet the man himself, thanks to our last minute frenzied efforts, Sherlock’s not the only expert at problem solving!
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