This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending The Day of the Doctors 2 Doctor Who convention, hosted by Tenth Planet Events in Slough. In attendance were no less than four actors who have portrayed the Doctor; Tom Baker, Sylvester McCoy, Tim Treloar, and John Guilor. I had a chance to interview quite a few of the special guests and had a good chat with Tom Baker himself.
Conventions like this can be somewhat exhausting, especially if, like me, you drove down from Lancashire to be there, setting off at half past five in the morning. However, the journey was well worth it and I came away feeling as if the whole experience was pretty much top notch.
The organisers were friendly and adaptable, very much able to think on the spot and point you in the right direction, so they must be given our warmest thanks. The whole event was mostly centred around autographs and photograph opportunities, however, there were stage shows, Q&A sessions and plenty of merchandise on offer to keep you occupied rather than just queueing all day.
Indeed, the queueing system here was much more efficient and comfortable than I have ever experienced at a convention of this size. Rather than standing around in a hot, sweaty corridor for hours at a time, we were urged to sit in a comfortable, well air-conditioned hall and were directed to the much smaller standing queue later on. This made the whole thing a lot smoother and you didn’t feel like you were waiting around all day.
In the main hall there were props on display, too. A Dalek, an Ice Warrior, a Cybershade, and a whole collection of costumes. But the centrepiece, and the one almost everyone needed a photograph with, was the TARDIS. This was put to good use later on as Sylvester McCoy playfully got himself ‘trapped’ inside it during his stage performance and Q&A session.
The photograph sessions were held up by sheer numbers, but the staff were gracious and thankfully most of the attendees were understanding of the situation. But Tom Baker’s photos were very much in demand and the man himself seems to revel in them. He lovingly greets every visitor, shakes hands, gives hugs where needed, and always has a smile and a joke ready. People were roaring with laughter in the room with him as he held court, adoring his fans as they adored him.
Sylvester McCoy (whom I interviewed not too long ago), is as bouncy and spry as ever! Leaping through the audience during his Q&A, grabbing people out of their seats to dance and point at, and even breaking into song occasionally. He talked about his favourite episodes, working with Sophie Aldred, and later with Ian McKellen on the Hobbit. I asked him about how close he came to getting the role of Bilbo Baggins himself in the 2001 Lord of the Rings film trilogy. Very close, it came down to just him and Ian Holm. Sylvester isn’t too upset about not getting it, and indeed, being considered in the same rank as the infamous Ian Holm seemed to give him energy and pride.
About the convention were fans in costume, of course. Doctors, monsters, companions and more were all roaming around together with only minimal battles for the fate of the planet…
I was lucky enough to interview a number of the special guest stars at the convention. These will be uploaded soon, so keep an eye out for them. Meeting Matthew Waterhouse, who played Adric, companion to the fourth and fifth Doctors, was a truly enjoyable experience and he had a lot to say about acting, writing, and the industry over the years. Geoffrey Beevers, the Master (Keeper of Traken), was charming, witty, and an awful lot of fun.
Then there were the ‘audio-Doctors’. Tim Treloar, who gave voice to the third Doctor in the Big Finish 50th anniversary special The Light at the End. His career and voicing ability were the subjects of our talk and he gave some really nice anecdotes from his time not only on Doctor Who, but in Midsummer Murders and elsewhere. John Guilor, voice of the first Doctor in The Day of the Doctor, and the reconstructed episodes of ‘Planet of Giants’, was a tremendously entertaining fellow. His stories and perspectives were a delight and to hear of his upcoming projects left me immensely curious.
I managed only a few minutes with Tom Baker while he was signing autographs and we chatted a little about his career. Tom told me about being asked to be in The Lord of the Rings films, meeting Peter Jackson (who had been sitting on the floor during their meeting – something Tom did not like at all!), and ultimately turning down the opportunity. He did not fancy leaving a home and family with whom he was so happy for two years. He also mentioned his upcoming role in Star Wars, which we reported on here.
All in all, this was a tremendous experience. Tenth Planet Events host a plethora of conventions all year round and it’s well worth seeing if there is one coming to somewhere near you any time soon.