There seems to be something inherent in human nature that makes us want to collect things. Whether it’s stamps, cigarette cards or autographs, our urge to catalogue and store individual items as part of a collection is a trait that’s common enough to support plenty of businesses who buy and sell collectible items.

Geeks and sci-fi fans are no more immune to this psychological imperative than anyone else. Whilst we may scoff at the collectors of Steiff bears or Beanie Babies, we’re more than willing to spend money on boxed sets of films – even if we know that some of them are rubbish. Then there are collectable trading card games, series-expanding comic books and, of course, autographs.

It’s the autograph collectors that I don’t really understand. I’m sure it’s a hobby that starts out innocently enough – spending a few pounds to meet your favourite movie or TV star at a convention. You get them to autograph something, just to prove that you met them and as a memento of that special moment. But then something inside you decides to go further. You have an opportunity to meet their co-star at another convention, and your descent into hardcore autographilia has begun. Another co-star here, a supporting cast member there, and before you know it you’re in a queue to spend ten pounds to meet the wardrobe designer.

But even that isn’t enough. Now you’ve descended into a hobby that will never be complete. That actor who appeared as a special guest in episode 12? Yes, the one who died a couple of years ago. Your collection can’t possibly be complete without his autograph, so you buy one from a trader. Just this once. But now that you’ve got a taste for it, you can’t stop.

It’s scary seeing autograph collectors swarming round traders’ stalls, parting with ridiculous amounts of money for the scribblings of people they’ll never meet. That way madness – and probably bankruptcy – must surely lie.

No. I’ll never start collecting autographs. I’ve got better things to spend my money on – like collections of films and TV series.

Having said all that, however, Brian Blessed is coming to Collectormania in June. Maybe I’ll just get this one autograph. Just because it’s Brian. It’s not the start of a collection, honestly…

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↓ Transcript
Teenage Grey: Mum, Dad… I've got something to tell you…
…I want to be an actor

Dad: Ah… such a noble profession… playing the greatest of characters… Kirk, Avon, Ripley…

Teenage Grey: No, I want to be taken seriously as an actor

Dad: Hmmm… maybe not Kirk then

Teenage Grey: No, you don't understand. I don't want to do sci-fi… I want to be a proper actor.
I want to tread the boards as Hamlet or Macbeth…
perform the works of Coward, Ibsen and Shaw…
and rise to prominence amongst the darlings of the West End and the songbirds of Broadway

Dad: I'm just thinking of your future prospects — do you realise how many serious actors are out of work, or waiting on tables in run-down restaurants?
Yet with even a bit-part on a sci-fi programme there's money to be made travelling the world, autographing overpriced photos at conventions!