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Almost Nerd Wars: 'Doctor Who' & 'Star Wars' Fans Have Spat

Darth Vader or The Doctor? Pick your champion.
Lewis Whyld/Andrew Matthews
PA Photos/Landov
Darth Vader or The Doctor? Pick your champion.

Some stories are indeed too good to be true.

This BBC headline had us punching the Two-Way control board to go to light speed in pursuit of appropriate puns:

"Star Wars and Doctor Who fans clash at Norwich convention"

We were all ready to write that "the force" had to be used to save these aliens from going to the "dark side." We were imagining a battle between combatants wielding plastic light sabers and sonic screwdrivers. The phrase "nerd wars" came to mind.

But as Yoda might say, "Less than meets the eye to the story there is."

It seems that while police were called Sunday to the Norwich Sci-Fi and Film Convention at the University of East Anglia in the U.K., there was not a brawl between fans of the good doctor and fans of the Star Wars movies.

Convention organizers say this is what happened:

"There was a 'minor' verbal altercation between a member of the Norwich Star Wars Club (NSWC) and a member of the Norwich Sci Fi Club (NSFC). Police were called to prevent any escalation and this was so. The 2 members of the NSFC who entered the UEA event did so to obtain 2 signatures for a Diary that is to be auctioned off for good causes.

"The press would have you believe that there were 12 people all brawling outside the event and chaos ensued and this was clearly not the case.

"Both groups, shook hands at the end of the matter and have both agreed to put any differences aside and to work together for good causes."

Norwich Evening News 24 dug a little deeper:

"Officers were called at around 2.30 p.m. on Sunday when members of the Norwich Sci Fi Club were refused entry at a fair co-hosted by Norwich Star Wars Club at the University of East Anglia.

"More than a dozen sci-fi fans from both groups — including several in fancy dress — were involved in a bitter exchange outside the venue, sparked by the arrival at the event of Jim Poole, treasurer of Norwich Sci Fi Club.

"He was asked to leave the convention as he approached Doctor Who actor Graham Cole for an autograph, leading to a stand-off which was only calmed by police and university security. He and organizer Richard Walker exchanged words inside before taking their dispute outside."

There apparently has been, Evening News 24 adds, "a long-running rivalry between the two groups and the events they organize."

We don't see any mention in various reports of any Star Trek fans being involved. Perhaps logic prevented them from attending.

The lack of a fracas leaves unanswered, of course, a question that sci fi fans might wish to debate:

(H/T to NPR's Kevin Beesley)

Update at 2:15 p.m. ET: And thank you, commenter "General Specific," for suggesting that "sonic screwdrivers" would be a better reference than "phonic disruptors." We've made that change above as well.

Update at 12:15 p.m. ET: Thank you, commenter "Lonnie Veal," for suggesting a tweak to our original Yoda-ism. Above, your edit now is.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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