Official Doctor Who Convention – Review, Part 2

(link to Part 1)

Saturday.

My ticket for the Official Doctor Who Convention was in the ‘Sunday Ood’ stream and the main events of the day, in my mind at least, were due to be the three panel discussions taking place in the main theatre. As a frankly magnificent extra, I had also booked on to TARDIS set tour scheduled for 5pm on Saturday. As I was making my plans for the convention, by comparing schedules of the various events (as listed in the previous blog entry) and the times that each of those events were running, it became apparent that I might not be able to fit in everything that I wanted. For example, at 10am on Sunday I could have been half way through the Ood stream’s “Creators & Directors” panel, in the first “SFX Studio” of the day, watching the Prosthetic Demonstration on the Glanfa Foyer stage, or queuing to meet Nick Briggs and Ian McNiece who were scheduled to be doing a signing. This is not to mention the games demonstration, the prop and costumes display, or the obligatory little shop. (“I do love a little shop”).

So, even though some of these events were repeated at various stages throughout the day, I needed a cunning plan. Was it as cunning as a fox who’s just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University? Not really but it worked amazingly well. I arrived in Cardiff in the warm sunshine at about noon, checked in to my hotel, dumped baggage in the room and headed down to the Millenium Centre to get the lie of the land and see what I could see. To be honest, there wasn’t much going on outside the building Doctor Who-wise, although the start/finish of the Sport Relief Mile was being set up that would add to the crowds on the following day. You could see the Ood and Silurian entrances, plenty of standees behind the windows and nice little snippets of dialogue printed on big yellow stickers that all went to inform casual passers-by that there was a Time Lord in town. Now this is where it took an unexpected turn, I wandered up to the chap manning one of the doors intending to ask him how things were going… and he waved me inside, with a cheery “There you go”.

Not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I headed in to the foyer to almost immediately bumped in to Dalek-operator extraordinaire and gifted MC, Barnaby Edwards. Photograph, autograph and quick chat followed before I’d even had a chance to look around. Given that I had about four hours to kill between then and the scheduled coach departure for the tour, I decided to make the most of it. The Prosthetic Demonstrations were happening right there in the foyer, so I sat down to enjoy Neil Gorton, Ruari Mears and the team’s handiwork and even got the back of my hand smeared with blue silicon as part of proceedings. It had a Heamovore-ish look to it. No sooner had that ended then the Restoration Team of ‘Content Producer’, Steve Roberts and ‘Director of SVS Resources’, Peter Crocker took to the stage to talk about their work. Before you know it, I was watching a clip of Underwater Menace episode 2 that hasn’t been seen by too many people since 1967. Amazeballs, as they wouldn’t have said back then.

As I strode back down in to the reception area after the Lost Episode Talks had concluded, I noticed a queue for autographs. Peeking to the front, I spied Stephan Pehrsson and Michael Pickwoad, cinematographer and art director respectively: more chats, more autographs and more photos followed. And about an hour later (after trips to the shop and general mooching) I found myself queuing again and this time Raquel Cassidy, Mark Sheppard, Nick Briggs, Gary Russell and Simon Fisher Becker were waiting. Thinking the day could get no better, I figured nothing ventured nothing gained, so I asked a steward where the Props and Costumes display was, not only did I get to see it (a sort of cut down version on what was on show during the Doctor Who Experience) but I also met Stephen Nicholas (Supervising Art Director for the last 7 years) and Lindsay Bonaccorsi (Costume designer), who were just about the nicest people you could hope to meet and we happily talked for ages about their work.

As I was leaving the Props and Costumes display and reflecting on what had been an amazing few hours, I had a sudden thought that I still didn’t know whether Steven Moffat had arranged to do any kind of signing or personal appearance, so I found the nearest attendent to ask them. A quick word of praise here for all the yellow-shirted staff; they were, to a person, well-informed, polite and cheerful throughout and made the whole event all the better for their professionalism. Anyway, here’s how the conversation went

  • Me: “Excuse me. Do you know whether Steven Moffat has arranged to appear?”
  • Crew Member: “Yes, he’s just along the corridor and over to the right.”
  • Me: “You mean he’s there now?” (Trying not to look incredulous)
  • Crew Member: “Yep, let me show you”
  • We walked over to the end of a very small queue of 3 or 4 people.
  • Crew Member 1 to Crew Member 2: “One final person for the Steven Moffat signing, if you can squeeze him in”
  • Crew Member 2 to Crew Member 1: “No problem”

I turned a corner into a room and then this happened….

That left me (a) speechless, (b) delighted, (c) with just enough time to get out to the collection point for the TARDIS tour. Speaking of which, that too was lovely highlight. There were 50 of us squeezed on to a coach and were treated to the first half of “The Doctor’s Wife” on the way to an inconspicuous looking industrial estate. On arrival, we were split in to two groups, one who went straight to the set and the other, going to the infamous (for Doctor Who Confidential viewers) Blue Box Cafe. After half an hour the groups swapped round before getting back on the bus for the second half of Idris’ finest hour and being dropped off in Roald Dahl Plas. That, of course, does not begin to describe how lovely and thrilling and generally wonderful the set visit turned out to be. Look (that’s me in the corner)…

Many more pics of the TARDIS can be seen on my Flickr here.

So, considering that wasn’t even my ‘proper’ day at the convention and considering that I haven’t even mentioned the fact that I had a great evening with some Who-loving Tweeters and ended up in a bar in the early hours of Sunday morning with Matt and Arthur (< fact), I’ll just have to return in Part 3 and tell you all about Sunday soon. Oh, and other folk have been writing about it too…. Guardian link. I’ll try and collate some links for you.

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    • Kristi
    • August 7th, 2013

    By far the best review I’ve seen of this convention. I have tickets to the 50th, and have been trying to find out what to expect. You have successfully made the 2,000$ worth of hotel and flight tickets from Canada seem worth it!

    Just out of curiosity, what was the policy for photo ops and autographs? The way they have it worded on the website is odd, and I heard someone say that you were only allowed to get one. It looks as though you were able to get photos with all three main stars. I’m hoping you can give me some insight? Also, how much merchandise was there available?

    Thanks! Keep up the great reviews!

    • Hi Kristi, thanks for the comments.

      The guaranteed photo & autograph opportunities went on sale via the ticketing site, after the main ticket sale but weeks if not months before the event. These came with specific time-slots so that you could fit them in to your day’s plan.

      However, I managed to get 1 or 2 photo ops by simply asking the stewards if I could join the back of the queue. So, I guess these were UN-guaranteed opportunities as they could easily have said “no” (and the stars were incredibly busy).

      Some folk had bought two tickets for the same time and, in these cases, the stewards allowed them to jump to the front of one queue before being sent to the back of the next one. To be honest, I did find this process all a bit haphazard (and I fed this back to the team after the event), so I wonder whether it will be the same this time round.

      I think the only op so far sold at the 50th Celebration has been the Matt Smith photo op. This is sold out, but I got my pic with Matt last time. I’m going to the 50th too, but thankfully, it’s only a drive away for me.

      May be I’ll you there!

  1. March 27th, 2012
  2. March 28th, 2012
  3. March 30th, 2012
    Trackback from : Amy Who? « Demon's Run

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