Early US Fandom
The Sandbaggers One convention is remembered by the OpsRoom.

The Sandbaggers aired on Public Broadcasting System television stations in just a couple of American cities in the mid-1980s. But by the early 1990s, the number of cities with Sandbaggers broadcasts had grown, the series had been mentioned favorably in a few newspapers, and the Dalgliesh dramas starring Roy Marsden had aired nationwide as part of PBS’s Mystery! series.

As a result, interest in The Sandbaggers began to spread via word of mouth, especially among established American fans of British cult television — particularly Blake’s Sevenē— and organized Sandbaggers fandom was born. Its locus was on the East Coast, primarily the mid-Atlantic states.

A shirt, a game, and lots of zines
The organized fandom never was huge, and it only lasted a few years. Nevertheless, its members produced many clever and imaginative tributes, including:

A T-shirt. Designed by Jeanne DeVore, the shirt had a front which said Property of Sandbagger #2 and a back which listed the crossed-out names of all the Sandbaggers who perish in the series, followed by Run Mike Run! as a sort of graffito.

A hand-crafted Sandbaggers edition of the board game Clue--Cluedo in Europe. Some of the rooms were Peele’s plant filled office, Burnside’s office with artifacts from his adventures on his desk, including the ruler that John Tower Gibbs gave him, and Malta. This had a chalk outline on the patio in front of the Vidala Hotel.

Newsletters. One was called A Sense of Occasion, another was the bulletin of S.I.S., the Sandbaggers Information Service.

The team behind A Sense of Occasion produced an impressive 1992 fanzine, It Couldn’t Happen Then, It Couldn’t Happen Now.

The zine had fiction, poetry and artwork and is assembled so that a reader has to flip it over to switch from the 98-page It Couldn’t Happen Then section to the 123-page It Couldn’t Happen Now component. In the former, the fiction is set contemporaneously with the events of the televised series; in the latter, after the series.

The team who published the S.I.S newsletter also did some color-covered fanzines, which were called First Principles.


Sandbagger One
Caryn Dunkel and Michael Macomber organized and ran a convention called Sandbagger One in New Jersey in August 1992. Actor Ray Lonnen was the guest of honor.

One person who attended the convention told the Ops Room, Ray Lonnen was a charming guest. He posed for individual photos with everyone and didn’t mind people taking pictures all the time he was talking. There was also a video room: ‘We were able to see some of Ray Lonnen’s work that we had not seen on US TV.’

‘Also, he told us that Willie had not been killed in Malta in ‘Opposite Numbers,’ the last Sandbaggers episode. ‘If there had been another season, Willie would have had Neil’s job, and unfortunately would had been confined to a wheelchair. Neil would have had Peele’s job.’

Given the relative obscurity of The Sandbaggers, especially in the United States, did many people attend Sandbagger One? ‘It is hard to remember how many people were there, but I am sure it was over 100 people. They were coming and going and the con did last two days.’