Mike’s excellent convention report this week has inspired me to take a look at some of my own archived convention reports, so I have dug out the following from July 2008, included here now as a historical curiosity.
The first convention I ever went to was one of the last Panopticons, and until this year that was the only one I had ever been to. Earlier this year I decided to give another one a try, encouraged by a rare Tom Baker appearance at Invasion 2008. I enjoyed that so much that I thought I would go to Bad Wolf as well, which is organised by the same people (10th Planet).
The convention was at the Hilton Metropole by the NEC in Birmingham, which is a nice easy place to get to (although a long drive for me, but motorways and dual carriageways all the way). There were special room rates for convention-goers, so it was an opportunity to stay in a posh hotel without breaking the bank. The Dinner, Bed and Breakfast deal was a must, as food and drink prices are obviously very high at that type of hotel. What couldn’t really be avoided were the drinks prices (although according to Kai Owen some brave people brought a bottle of cheap vodka to the bar!) so it was a choice of sipping very slowly during the evening or spending a lot of money. Other than that, the hotel was a wonderful venue, with excellent food and very pleasant staff.
As usual I prioritised the stage interviews. There were coffee lounges and photo shoots throughout both days for the people that wanted them, but I didn’t want to miss seeing most of the guests being interviewed. The main stars on Saturday were Peter Davison and his daughter Georgia Moffett. They were interviewed separately in the morning and together at the end of the day. They were both very entertaining, particularly when they were together as there was some very funny father/daughter banter going on. Peter talked with enthusiasm about the current series and was very funny when talking about David Tennant, who he pointed out can return to Doctor Who at any time in the future because there is another version of his Doctor, aging normally in the alternate universe. Georgia was asked about the possibility of a spinoff series for Jenny, which she denied – I got the impression that she was a bit hesitant about answering the question so perhaps something has been mentioned to her, but maybe that’s me just reading too much into it. Let’s hope there is something being planned, but of course it would be all hush hush at the moment.
Sunday’s main guests were Colin Baker and John Leeson, both of whom are wonderful entertainers and were fantastic. John Leeson very touchingly took photos of the audience and said that now he had pictures of ‘the family’. He spoke with great enthusiasm about Doctor Who fans and their loyalty. Colin was brilliantly funny and also made some very valid points about the new series, which he has obviously been following very closely.
There were lots of other guests over the two days, but I will only mention a few of them or else this will become the longest blog in history. Kai Owen was clearly having a great time – he was there for both days, hosted the evening entertainment on Saturday and the time he spent having a laugh with the fans went way above and beyond the call of duty. Terry Molloy was the only guest I felt compelled to ask a question during the questions-from-the-audience part of his panel, because I wanted to hear his thoughts on the Scarifyers CDs, which nobody else had mentioned. I do feel that they deserve greater recognition and was pleased that Terry was obviously very happy to be asked about them and spoke with great enthusiasm about their creator, Simon Barnard. He also said that another one is due to be recorded very soon. If I had to pick out any guests for special mention though, it would be Mat Irvine and Mike Tucker, who gave two stage talks, one each day. It was a great shame that they were so poorly attended as they were absolutely fascinating, particularly the second when there was no interviewer present, just Mat and Mike chatting and taking questions from the small but enthusiastic audience. Mat was also very interesting to talk to during his autograph session.
That brings me on to the autographs, which took place at the same time as the panels. They were well arranged so that there was never a main star signing autographs while another main star was on stage, although that did mean that some panels were sparsely attended. Autographs are always the one part of conventions that causes difficulty and quite frankly I don’t think there is any way to do them that will work 100%. The system was a good one here: we were called to the autograph hall in order of our guest numbers, with announcements on the big screens in the main hall. That worked fine while it was stuck to, but when there was nearly everyone wanting a guest’s autograph, such as Peter, Colin or Georgia, the system was abandoned for first-come-first-served. This led to having to queue for a long time for each guest so I think it might have been better to keep to the plan and ignore the people who didn’t like it. It was also a shame that Sheridan Smith’s interview was cancelled in favour of autographs. But really I think we have to lower our expectations of autographs and either be prepared to queue all day if they are that important to you, or else just get some of them and be happy with that… which was exactly what I did.
It was a wonderful weekend and I very much enjoyed meeting some other Doctor Who fans – as friendly a bunch of people as you could ever hope to meet.