Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tea and High Dudgeon

It must be said that I slept better than I thought I would (in fact, we were getting up not long after some of the people we'd been drinking with the night before had just gone to bed). A sense of foreboding hung over brekkie as I contemplated the potential train-wreck of the afternoon's festivities, which our morning encounter with Sylvester McCoy did nothing to dispel. Apparently he wasn't very well all weekend, so that must be taken in to account, but getting his signature was a rather awkward experience for some reason.

Colin Baker was as lovely as the last time we met him and we had a coded discussion about his appearance in the Inspector Morse stage play, much to the bemusement of those around us who hadn't seen it. Bless him, he'd piled on to a train on Saturday night straight after a performance in Derby, not arriving at the convention until 1.30am Sunday morning. Yet there he was, just after 9am, smiling and signing away. We chatted with Jennie Linden, who played Barbara in the Peter Cushing movies, about how much we'd enjoyed them (I don't care if they're not canon, they're fun and pretty to look at) and with Nicola Bryant's signature we Pokemon'd out (gotta catch 'em all, y'know!).

As promised, the contact sheet by Niki Hunter, provided so that everyone had a handy way of getting all their signatures. Sadly, we didn't get Mary Tamm as she couldn't attend. Neither could Paul Darrow, who wasn't actually on the sheet for some reason.

Our one interview of the day was Nev Fountain, writer of "The Kingmaker" (reviewed by your resident Pixie here), one of the two Big Finish audios that the Prof used to introduce me to the Dr Who range (the other being "The Chimes of Midnight" by Rob Shearman). As with Rob and Nick, Nev was very amusing and a pleasure to talk to. We even helped (accidentally, admittedly, just by being geeks) with his research for his next book.

I did feel very guilty about not asking Lisa Bowerman & Beth Chalmers for interviews, but we had kidnapped rather a lot of Big Finish folks over the weekend and after all, we do have to leave someone to talk to the next time we go to one of these things. We did ask for an interview with Mr McCoy, but were politely told to go away (in as many words) by the official handler, which was fair enough really.

For the rest of the morning we attended workshops, first with Beth & Charlie Ross on audio drama, then with Charlie & Keith Temple on comedy. Once we'd found the room, we settled in for two informative and cosy chats with on tap drinkies and biscuits and we weren't forced into doing anything embarrassing at all. Charlie's a hoot, and was very forgiving of the Prof's weird taste in comedy. I would have liked to interview Charlie & Keith too, but as official guests they were incredibly busy. Let's face it, I would have liked to interview pretty much everyone there; I enjoy talking to interesting people.

Then it was the tea. The event we'd been dreading all day. Finally.

We knew it was going to be a bit fraught when the guy told us we didn't need to show him our certificates to get in; we'd made that much of an impression on the Friday night, apparently. John, Neil and Rob were all hiding somewhere else so it was down to the four of us not to stick our feet in it any more than we already had. Things got off to a bit of a shaky start, but feeding cream cakes to people seemed to help a bit. Once Mr McCoy got warmed up, the stories started to flow.

Now sometimes people really annoy me. We weren't the only ones at this tea; there were raffle and auction winners there as well. Sadly, some of them were socially inept at best and downright rude at worst, completely ignoring and in some instances talking over Daphne Ashbrook and Yee Jee Tso when they attempted to answer questions. They seemed determined to have Mr McCoy trot out all the same old stories - heck, I'm not a fan, but even I'd heard most of the ones he related over the profiteroles. We tried our best to ask questions that would make sure everyone was included in the conversation, but when you're up against people asking Miss Ashbrook if she's ever known someone who comitted suicide, you know you're on a hiding to nothing.

(This might sound dreadful, because Miss Ashbrook & Mr Tso were very nice, entertaining people, but we were sort of wishing we could have gone to the tea with Jennie Linden instead. It would have been far less painful in the long run. Sadly, I get the feeling that Mr Tso is quite used to people pretending he isn't there, which made me feel ashamed on behalf of human beings in general and Dr Who fans in particular).

But we stayed and eventually asked one of our favourite questions: if you could be a biscuit or cake, what sort of biscuit or cake would you be? Although we don't have any audio, for posterity the replies were: Nesquick biscuit mix (Miss Ashbrook, 'cos her Mum used to make them for her when she was little), Walker's butter biscuits (Mr Tso, because apparently they're very rich and buttery) and custard pie (Mr McCoy, because he was on Tiswas with the Phantom Flan Flinger).

We emerged relatively unscathed after an hour (the scary man who'd muttered angrily at us all weekend turned up at one point as well, just to really make it as odd an experience as possible), full of cream cake and, as the convention was officially closed by the time we escaped, ready to say our goodbyes. We were tired but content, if a little weirded out. No matter how good these things have been though, there always comes that point when you just want to go home. So after many hugs and exchanges of details, we did just that.

My only real grumble for the weekend was the location. Not that there was anything wrong with the hotel. Far from it; it was warm, clean and comfortable and the staff were lovely (although the Ladies loos could do with some redecoration). Its just that the North East is a beautiful part of the world and it really wasn't showing it off to its best. Once you were there, you were there. At least if it had been in Newcastle, or Durham even, people could have seen just what this area has to offer. Yes, it would have made it more expensive but I think it might have been worth it (especially for the invited guests).

Overall though, it was a smashing weekend, full of generous, warm people who we instantly felt at ease with. Neither of us have laughed so much in ages. The Big Finish team really made it for us, along with Richard, Alan, Neil and John (our pub quiz partners in crime) and the lads from Saturday night. Its easy to see why Dimensions in particular has such a good reputation with the fans and why so many people keep on coming back year after year. We certainly will.


Anonymous November 18, 2010 at 8:53 PM  

Well, you kept saying don't ask. Now you know what's going to happen.
The beans. Spill'em.

Fuschia Begonia November 18, 2010 at 9:14 PM  


Well, there were some very nice beans with breakfast but I never spilt any ;)


Post a Comment

WebMaster: Terry Lightfoot
WebDoctor: Oolon Sputnik
Blog by Terry Lightfoot
Back to TOP