Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Keep Your Friends Close

I’d never been to a Doctor Who convention. Roleplaying ones, yes (some quite big ones, in fact), but never a Doctor Who one. And it ever so slightly passed me by when Terry mentioned during the news that there was one at Temple Park on 6th June, which is a bit embarrassing as Temple Park is only a few miles up the road from us.

The weather on the day was a bit grim, so me and the Prof decided that what the heck, we’d go and give it a try. After all, Nicholas Courtney would be there, along with Colin Baker, Terry Molloy and Sophie Aldred. The fact that Oolon had expressed a desire to get hold of a Davros sound-bite for the podcast did spur us on a little, so, armed with only the Prof’s trusty iPod Touch, we set off on our adventures.

We were a bit late getting there due to the Prof trying to find his bow-tie and failing, so we missed most of Mr Courtney’s talk, which was a massive shame as I’ve always had a huge soft spot for the Brigadier even though I’ve seen relatively few of the stories with him in. The only one I could have seen him in at the time on the telly was “The Five Doctors”, unless my toddler self had some dim recollection of “Robot”. That to me speaks volumes about his charisma in the role. In real life, he was even more charming and more than willing to humour our requests.

Next, I screwed up the courage to go and talk to Colin Baker. Sadly, thanks to previous difficulties with another podcast (who remained nameless), he wasn’t willing to let us record him. To be honest, I don’t blame him at all; I try to guard my professional reputation very carefully, so I completely understand when other people want to, too. However, he was utterly charming, polite and good-humoured about our asking and even commented that the Prof’s golden curls were indeed ideal for portraying his Doctor in live roleplaying events. And for the rest of the day we got nods and smiles, so at least we hadn’t offended him.

We also had a lovely chat with Terry Molloy, who was heartily amused at the idea of Brian Blessed doing a sat-nav voice-over, treating us to a very fine impersonation of the bearded giant himself. He also very kindly did a recording for us, which you will find as part of the Cold Blood review for your listening pleasure. I giggled like an utter fan-girl, I’ll happily admit that, but it was rather cool. And as with Mr Courtney and Mr Baker, he was good-humoured, charming and consummately professional.

I don’t know exactly what was going on, but it became obvious that the organisers were having one of those days where nothing goes quite to plan. Sophie Aldred was very late arriving due to train problems, road works and flooding, but gamely plonked herself on stage minutes after arriving to talk about her life and career. Terry Molloy compèred many of the talks for them to help out, but whatever was up, they tried to make sure it affected the attendees as little as possible.

Having heard Graeme Harper and Nicola Bryant chatting about the new series when we went to see “Caves of Androzani” in Derby earlier this year, it was interesting to hear Messers Baker and Company’s thoughts on the matter. Universally, they loved what Matt Smith was doing with the role and were pleased that Steven Moffat had stuck to his guns in securing him for the part. You won’t hear any argument from me on that score.

The cross-section of people attending was very interesting indeed. There were loads of children there, some obviously with fan-parents, but also some scarily knowledgeable ones as well. One tot asked a very good question of Mr Baker about chameleon circuits and got a very honest reply (as ever with the Beeb, in the end it was down to money). There was also a very relaxed atmosphere, with no-one rushing about (other than the organisers and yet they still seemed to radiate an odd sense of calm as they sailed past).

Speaking of sailing past, let us come now to one of the other highlights of the day: Dalek Mack. He was far too charming for a Dalek, kept the vast majority of the children entertained all day with his witty quips and even let us interview him (not that he could manage my name, so we agreed that “Petal” would be a good alternative). When confronted by one small human waving a Sixth Doctor action figure, he squeeked in a most unbecoming way for a destroyer of worlds. The little boy hastened to reassure him that it was just a toy, to which the suddenly emboldened pepper-pot replied “Oh, I thought he looked a bit small. I just thought he was far away.” His interactions with Terry Molloy were brilliant to watch and you can find him on Facebook. He’s very sweet. No hang on, that can’t be right. He’s a Dalek, for heaven’s sake!

A special mention must go to Steven Caldwell, a fabulous artist who also had a booth at the con. His artwork is amazing, the level of detail eye-watering and we bought several pieces so we can have a geeky display going up the stairs. I had to restrain the Prof from buying one of everything. We may have to buy more once his proper website is up and working.

So, was this convention worth attending? Most definitely, yes; we had a great day talking and listening to some very interesting people. Would I go to another Dr Who convention? Well, Dimensions is on in Newcastle in November…


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