Our adventure was coming to an end. My very best companion and I collected our belongings and slipped away. As we approached our means of departure, the double doors opened as if by magic. We stepped in and I went to the controls to set us in motion. As the doors began to close, a man came running to prevent us leaving and another man slowly followed. My eyes lit up: it was my old friend Ian Chesterton. He stepped in and smiled. The first man released his grip on the doors and they closed. I was too surprised for words as we vanished from one place and appeared in another. The double doors opened, and Ian and the man left without a word. As those double doors of the elevator closed, I smiled; my trip to (Re)Generations Who 4 ended on a very happy note. And my mind flashed back to everything I had seen…
William Russell is 93 years young. He walks the convention circuit without aid; no cane, or walking apparatus. He signs autographs. He’s still every bit Ian Chesterton. When I had seen him the previous day, I was delighted. The Ian Chesterton, in front of me. I told him as much too. I told him that my kids and I loved the Hartnell era and that Ian was a hero… no a legend. I shook his hand and got his autograph. How could I not? This man had been there at the very beginning! He seemed genuinely surprised by my sentiment! He may not be viewed by the modern fans quite the way Tennant or Capaldi would be, but if he had not been a successful part of that team, we wouldn’t have Tennant and Capaldi in the roles we love.
Yes, this was one of those weekends! I don’t get many of them because they tend to be a bit too far away, but Maryland from New Jersey… only 150 miles. It was worth it for a weekend getaway with my wife. Like so many of the Doctor’s own brief encounters with legends, I had the chance to shake hands with Peter Davison and Colin Baker again. I met them a year earlier with Paul McGann and stood at McGann’s TARDIS console with them. These men are immortal, legends! While walking the floor of the convention, I made my way over to Matthew Waterhouse, aka Adric, and was able to spend a few moments with him. I thanked him for his contribution to life on earth. We chuckled, but that was about it. Then there was Janet Fielding, aka Tegan. She wasn’t keen on getting to the airport this time. I remember when I started watching the Davison era, it was with Mawdryn Undead and here I was shaking hands with Tegan! Though they were there somewhere, I missed Nicola Bryant and Mark Strickson, sadly. I hope to catch them one day in the future. And though I was close, the Valeyard escaped me as Michael Jayston was being escorted away as I arrived. I sat with author Nev Fountain and talked about Big Finish right after Jason Haigh-Ellery, the Director/Producer from Big Finish came and sat with me, my wife and new friends Lisa, Ellen and Nate. I shook hands with K-9 too. Not the dog, but the man behind the voice; and what a kind man he was too.
Steve Gostelow sat with us discussing his time in Doctor Who. I later attended a panel where he talked about the props and costumes that he’s worked with.
My highlight conversation though was unexpected for me. I always liked the various companions, but when I stopped and spoke to Sarah Sutton, she amazed me with how genuine she was, how easy to talk to. We talked about when I started watching some 30 years ago, and how I showed my kids and they loved the classic series. She shared some of her artwork with me; I wanted to buy some but still didn’t have my room in the hotel yet – a failing on the hotel’s part, so foolishly I waited and missed the opportunity. She works with calligraphy and does an amazingly beautiful job with it. I will be on the lookout for her return. Like Daphne Ashbrook back at LIWho 5, the ease of talking to another legend was surprising. Thank you, Sarah! I don’t suppose you’re reading, but if you ever find this, I really appreciated the chat. (And same to you, Daphne!)
Plenty of cosplayers were roaming the halls and they looked amazing. A couple of Clara’s in alluring red dress and one Rose circa The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End looked particularly amazing. Of course, with a gun as big as the one this Rose carried, I’d be hard pressed to say otherwise. Many of the Doctor’s costumes really made me wonder how they make them – both finding the attire and having the bravery to wear it. Colin Baker’s coat especially. And a Doctor Who game show was one of my favorite parts of the night. My wife coerced me to take part in Jeopardy and I didn’t just win the round, but won the highest score of the night winning me two Big Finish prizes. Go on, I can take it. I’m a geek, nerd… whatever. If you’re on this site, you’re a fan too; don’t try to deny it! (We’re all allowed our moments of victory!)
At the end of the night, I had a chance to listen to the social media manager of the con, Kara Dennison and the art, design and publications guru Ginger Hoesly talk about self-publishing. I hope they make it to our site. They did an amazing job. Ginger is apparently responsible for the special artwork created for the convention and it’s a stunningly vibrant piece. I’ll be hanging that in my office soon.
The most exciting part of the excursion is also the one thing that I had a complaint with. I had a photo scheduled with Peter Capaldi and Michelle Gomez, which is amazing unto itself. Gomez may be crazy, but she is utterly lovable. I think she’d be awesome to talk to and I’m not sure that Missy is a character and not actually her real personality! Capaldi may be the best ambassador for the show in its entire history and he knows how important it is to be the Doctor. He does an incredible job, unwavering in his enthusiasm. But those pictures are not cheap and the orchestration behind the scenes makes a lightning-fast production out of it. I would have liked a moment to say something to these two actors. I’m not looking for a discussion but let’s face it, we go to these events to see our childhood (or adult) heroes. Saying thank you and shaking a hand is worth every bit as much as the picture. No such luck; they get you on that spot for the picture so quickly and out so quickly, that I was lucky to have gotten a hand shake out of it. And poor Peter, he was blinking to get the incessant camera flashing out of his eyes! I didn’t want to be responsible for blinding one of my heroes! I know the schedule is impossibly tight but I think a little more planning might be needed to give fans a chance to be a part of the actor’s day too. When I went to LIWho 5, I had a chance to speak to Colin, Paul and Peter (Davison). I say “speak to” but we’re talking maybe 15-20 seconds. For this convention, not even that. In that regard it may make the autographs a better value because you have to speak to the actor for them to write something down but my contention there is, why go to a convention for something you can often find online for a lot cheaper?
The pictures and autographs are expensive which is unfair considering most of us don’t have the kind of money to drop on each of these guys and it’s nearly impossible to decide who to get and who to ignore. If I had my way and a lot more money than I make, I would have done a photo and autograph with everyone, but the cost is prohibitive. And the worst part is that I found out about the convention late in the game. I don’t know how people typically find out about these but I’ll be keeping my eyes open for more in the future. Regardless of cost, the enthusiasm is exceptional. For a chance to hang out with fellow Whovians, it’s tremendous fun. It’s already one week later at the time of my writing and I’m still overjoyed for having gone.
And leaving last Sunday, I realized I traveled with Ian Chesterton on my way out. It was a great way to end the weekend: with the man who was at the beginning. ML