The Deathmatch

Once more, the arena of gore and smuggery becomes the final resting place of many strong and proud contestants (and more than a few weak and shameful ones)...

It nearly didn't happen at all: the Deathmatch was accidentally left out of the programme, then put in when we spotted the error, then taken out again because the slot we'd put it in clashed with something else. It then got moved around so much that we decided to drop it entirely. But as luck, fate and providence would have it, one of the scheduled panels was cancelled at the last minute, and the Deathmatch nipped in to take its place.

Anyway, as you may recall, con members were asked to nominate up to five contestants - real or fictional - for our Deathmatch. The nominations came in thick and slow at first, but picked up towards the end, with over a hundred and fifty names put into our equivalent of the goblet of fire.

The computer selected the sixty-four most popular of these names...

The Contestants:

Arnold Rimmer
Douglas Adams
Rik Mayall
Soap Distant
Andie McDowell
George Lucas
George W. Bush
Ronald McDonald
Stan Lee
Pat Kenny
Captain Scarlet
Bill, the Galactic Hero
Elvis Presley
Hong Kong Fooey
Jarvis Cocker
Mother Teresa
Eddie Bear
Sir Henry Rawlinson
John Constantine
Dan Dare
DR & Quinch
Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrue, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grubb
Jesse Custer
Peter Flint
McMurphy (from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest)
V (for Vendetta)
Brian Blessed
Ellen Ripley
Faith (the Vampire Slayer)
Sinister Dexter
Jonathan Creek
The Anti-pope
The Pope
Lisa Simpson
Marvin the Paranoid Android
Miles Vorkosigan
Professor Bernice Summerfield
Thursday Next
Captain Jonathan Archer
Cardinal Cox
Joel Schumacher
Bucky O'Hare
Druss the Legend
Fireman Sam
Lazlo Woodbine
Inigo Montoya
Mr Croup & Mr Vandemar
Neil Gaiman
Tank Girl
Judge Death
The Great Cthulhu
Tubbs Tattsyrup

Of all the characters in the contest, only one was present in person, the living legend that is Cardinal Cox, surely one of the nicest, friendliest people who ever lived. As the crowd began baying for blood, we wondered how this mild-mannered man could possibly survive against the likes of Tank Girl, Satan and Bucky O'Hare...

One thing's for sure, though: next time - if there is a next time - the contest will be fought between fewer combatants. Sixty-four is just too many to cover in the space of a single convention panel. Thirty-two would be a better number, I think... (They have to be powers of two, you see).

Round One:

The names of the contestants were placed into the legendary Hat of Wool and randomly drawn out in pairs, with the attendees present arguing for or against one or the other (or, occasionally, both). A show of hands was taken to determine the winner, thus spurring some rapid counting from your humble gamesmaster.

Miles Vorkosigan vs Andie McDowellAndie McDowell
Bill, the Galactic Hero vs Hong Kong FooeyHong Kong Fooey
Bernice Summerfield vs The Anti-PopeThe Anti-Pope
Lisa Simpson vs Thursday NextLisa Simpson
Pinhead vs Douglas AdamsDouglas Adams
Dan Dare vs Druss the LegendDan Dare
Bagpuss vs Captain ScarletBagpuss
Neil Gaiman vs John ConstantineNeil Gaiman
George W. Bush vs Brian BlessedBrian Blessed
Rik Mayall vs Pugh, Pugh... (etc).Pugh, Pugh... (etc).
Mother Theresa vs CatwomanCatwoman
Bucky O'Hare vs Cap'n Jonathan ArcherBucky O'Hare
Croup and Vandemar vs Eddie BearEddie Bear
Withnail vs BenderBender
Tank Girl vs SláineTank Girl
Stan Lee vs DeathDeath
Soap Distant vs Inigo MontoyaInigo Montoya
V vs SimoSimo
Ripley vs JesusRipley
Rimmer vs Cardinal CoxCardinal Cox
Cthulu vs TimmyTimmy
Faith vs Frank-N-FurterFrank-N-Furter
Peter Flint vs Elvis PresleyElvis Presley
Ronald McDonald vs Lazlo WoodbineLazlo Woodbine
George Lucas vs Sinister DexterSinister Dexter
Fireman Sam vs McMurphyFireman Sam
Jesse Custer vs SatanSatan
Joel Schumacher vs Tubbs TattsyrupTubbs Tattsyrup
Judge Death vs Sir Henry RawlinsonJudge Death
Pat Kenny vs D.R. and QuinchD.R. and Quinch
The Pope vs Jarvis CockerJarvis Cocker
Marvin the Paranoid Android vs Jonathan CreekMarvin

There were some nice surprises in this first round; such as Timmy beating the crap out of Cthulhu, and the drawing of Mother Theresa against Catwoman. Also, your humble gamesmaster was surprised to learn that those plasticine firemen are actually called Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb. I always thought that the first one was "Hugh". Apparently they're brothers. How come Barney McGrew is the only one who gets his full name read out, though? I mean, what makes him so special?

For most of these battles, the outcome was pretty clear, though one or two did require actual counting by the gamesmaster (which is a lot harder than it looks, mainly because some people - not that I'm naming any names, Angela McGovern - thought it would be funny to confuse me by using both arms...)

Round Two:
Eddie Bear vs Inigo MontoyaEddie Bear
Bagpuss vs Tank GirlBagpuss
Hong Kong Fooey vs D.R. and QuinchHong Kong Fooey
Judge Death vs Andie McDowellJudge Death
Douglas Adams vs Elvis PresleyElvis Presley
Bender vs SatanBender
Pugh, Pugh... (etc.) vs TimmyTimmy
Dan Dare vs DeathDeath
Lisa Simpson vs Jarvis CockerLisa Simpson
Marvin vs Frank-N-FurterMarvin
Lazlo Woodbine vs Neil GaimanLazlo Woodbine
The Anti-pope vs SimoThe Anti-Pope
Fireman Sam vs RipleyRipley
Tubbs Tattsyrup vs Sinister DexterTubbs Tattsyrup
Brian Blessed vs Cardinal CoxBrian Blessed
Catwoman vs Bucky O'HareCatwoman

It looked like the cartoon characters were going to win all of their battles until, at the end, Catwoman disembowelled Bucky O'Hare and left him on our doorstep.

A pity that Cardinal Cox and Simo didn't win their battles; I'd have enjoyed seeing how well they fared against each other!

It's also a pity that we didn't get to see Fireman Sam going up against his long-time rivals Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub.

Round Three:
Judge Death vs Tubbs TattsyrupTubbs Tattsyrup
Hong Kong Fooey vs Lisa SimpsonLisa Simpson
Brian Blessed vs The Anti-PopeThe Anti-Pope
Marvin vs CatwomanCatwoman
Death vs Lazlo WoodbineLazlo Woodbine
Inigo Montoya vs RipleyRipley
Timmy vs BenderBender
Bagpuss vs Elvis PresleyBagpuss

This round was really unsettling: of the eight matches, the first seven were won by the second name drawn. What are the chances of that happening? Luckily, we were spared a cosmic conspiracy when Bagpuss managed to out-slumber Mr Presley.

Sadly, Timmy (I mean, "Timmmmmmayyyyyy!") - who received by far the loudest cheer when his name was first announced - lost out to Bender. I'm certain that if he'd been drawn against someone else, he'd have gone a lot further in the contest.

Round Four:
Lisa Simpson vs Tubbs TattsyrupLisa Simpson
Bender vs The Anti-PopeBender
Bagpuss vs RipleyRipley
Catwoman vs Lazlo WoodbineLazlo Woodbine

Thank you, Ripley, for ripping the fluff out of that blasted floppy pink cat! Though I would have liked to see Bagpuss square off against Catwoman. Either they'd have torn the crap out of each other or they'd have mated...

Round Five
Lazlo Woodbine vs RipleyRipley
Lisa Simpson vs BenderBender

Oops! Your humble and incompetent gamesmaster made a bit of a blunder in this round, accidentally putting a loser's name in the winning pile! Luckily the audience were more awake and spotted the error (can't be entirely sure that the same error didn't happen once or twice before, though... This is what comes of having a crap assistant).

Final Round:
Ripley vs BenderBender

And so the battle for the position of Ultimate Champion of the Universe Forever And Ever was fought between the unkillable xenophobe Ellen Ripley and the unloveable humophobe Bender. This was no real surprise to me, because Bender received more nominations than anyone else (except Simo, but that was because someone who shall remain nameless gave all five of her votes to Simo).

Bender walks away - or, well, limps away - with the the grand prize: a lifetime's supply of life and time!

My thanks to all those who nominated, and all those who appeared in person to vote for their favourites.

Extra special thanks to my lovely assistant, me, for all his hard work and for the loan of the woolly hat.

So with two Deathmatches under our belt, we now have two winners: Dangermouse and Bender. Only another sixty-two Deathmatches to go before we can have one of those "all-winners" battles. At one battle every eighteen months, that should be some time around the year 2090. See you there!