PHASERS were set to stun at an annual science fiction convention in Bournemouth at the weekend.

And cult TV enthusiasts from all over the world gathered to have a close encounter with some of their favourite stars, including the eighth incarnation of Doctor Who, Paul McGann.

The three-day SF Ball, now in its 20th year, saw hundreds turn out to take part in the fun.

Among them were members of Starbase 24, an independent group of Star Trek fans who meet up at conventions across the UK to take part in their passion.

Charlotte Kebbell - known to friends as Rear Admiral T'lar - and husband 'Admiral' James Mackenzie-Kebbell organise the group's meetings.

She said: “We have been meeting up for about eight years now, and we know that this event is very good indeed.”

Kevin Goldsmith - who uses the Star Trek name Captain K'vaar - added: “This event supports the Teenage Cancer Trust, which is fantastic.

“Our group also supports cancer charities. It's important to us to raise as much as we can for such good causes.”

For 11-year-old Tristan Moore, of Blandford, the convention was an opportunity to meet a hero.

With mum Jade, and grandmother Sharon, he had the opportunity to meet McGann, eight years after he first began watching Doctor Who.

Jade said: “Tristan's a huge Doctor Who fan.

“In one episode, Matt Smith gets into Pandora's Box and the audience thinks he might have died. Tristan was so upset by it that he wrote to the BBC asking them not to kill off the Doctor.”

But Smith isn't Tristan's favourite Doctor.

He said: “I really like Matt Smith, but my favourite is probably David Tennant.”

The schoolboy, who has a cardboard Tardis in his room, told his mum that his face hurt from smiling so much during the convention.

McGann, who met fans on both Friday and Saturday, said: “This is a really friendly event, and I'm enjoying it a lot.

“It's great that it's associated with a charity as well - that's not always the case, and conventions can be quite corporate. There are lots of volunteers working here to make it good fun for everyone, and people have come from all over the world to be here, so it's wonderful. I'm having a great time.”

He said similar events in the past had made him nervous.

“A lot of actors are quite shy,” he said.

“When I first started coming to these sorts of things, I felt quite nervous. But the people are always lovely and have a great sense of humour.”

Sophie Aldred, who played Doctor's companion Ace from 1987 to 1989, said she was enjoying her visit to Bournemouth, and had brought her husband and two sons along for the day.

“This is a very well-run event and I'm having a lovely time,” she said.

“What people can do at these sort of events is really express themselves and be who they would really love to be. There's not many places out there where people can do that.”

Chris Barrie of Red Dwarf gave a talk about his work on the cult show to crowds.

He said: “Going to conventions is a big part of science fiction, and I'm having a great time here in Bournemouth.”