Hello all! I’m Gina and Elkee has kindly asked me to write a review on the Doctor Who Official 50th Anniversary Convention that I attended in London last week. I have been a Doctor Who fan for a short two years and in those years I have consumed as much as I could about this amazing show.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with Dr. Who I’ll give you a brief description of the show. Doctor Who is British a science fiction TV program produced by the BBC. The program depicts the adventures of the doctor, a time traveling humanoid alien. He explores the universe in his TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimensions In Space) a sentient time-traveling space ship. Its exterior appears as a blue British police box, which was a common sight in Britain in 1963 when the series first aired. Along with a succession of companions, the Doctor faces a variety of foes while working to save civilizations, help ordinary people, and right wrongs. The program originally ran from 1963 to 1989. After an unsuccessful attempt to revive regular production in 1996 with a pilot in the form of a television film, the program was revived in 2005. There have been 11 actors that have played the Doctor, with Matt Smith being the Current Doctor.
My journey to London and the convention started a few months back. I contribute reviews to WhoBackWhen, an amazing Doctor Who podcast that discusses and reviews every episode starting from the very beginning of Classic Who in 1963. I had already planned a trip to be in London for the 50th anniversary. Since the convention was sold out, I was hoping for a miracle. With the help of fellow Whovians from the WhoBackWhen podcast, I was able to acquire at ticket for the convention on the anniversary November 23rd. After a stressful ride on the tube to the Excel Centre, I met up with J.D (@marisukane) and Leon (@ponken) from the podcast to start an amazing day of Doctor Who Fandom. The Excel was brimming with Doctor Who fans of all ages, many with amazing and detailed Cosplay. From babies to geriatrics dressed as K-9s, 10th and 11th Doctors, U.N.I.T soldiers and 4th Doctor scarfs a plenty (including mine!). I literally had a 24 hour nerd-gasm…
After registering, we ran to the first panel at the Classic Lounge with Frazer Hines and Deborah Watling, who played Jamie McCrimmon and Victoria Waterfield respectively. Both actors were companions of the Second Doctor played with exuberance by actor Patrick Troughton. It was lovely to hear them discuss their time as companions and their deep love, respect and admiration for Troughton who died in 1987. Throughout the panel, they showed clips from Enemy of the World (which was just recently discovered) and Tomb of the Cyberman.
After some needed coffee, we went to wait in the biggest line I have ever seen to head into the Regenerations panel. The panel consisted of 4th Doctor Tom Baker, 5th Doctor Peter Davison, 6th Doctor Colin Baker, and 7th Doctor Sylvester McCoy. They discussed filming their regeneration scenes and handing off the role to their successor. Some joyful, some still bitter (Colin, I’m talking to you). Tom Baker as usual stole the show by being funny, enigmatic and definitely a bit crazy sharing his belief that he “is and will always be” the Doctor. Word.
We stayed in the theater for the Eleventh Hour panel with the show’s current Doctor, Companion and Show runner: Matt Smith, Jenna Coleman and Steven Moffat. They discussed their excitement about the 50th anniversary special with the always charming Smith reflecting on his time in the Tardis and his eventual exit in this year’s Christmas Special. Moffat expressed his nervousness about how the anniversary special will be received by fans who are so deeply invested in the show.
After a lovely lunch and more coffee, we headed to the main arena where we were transported back through time to the original episode, An Unearthly Child. We were delighted by the sight of the TARDIS hidden away in a junkyard at 76 Totters Lane. The arena was full of people waiting in line to get autographs from Daphene Ashbrook (8th Doctor Companion) to William Russell (1st Doctor companion). Merchandise booths were selling Eleventh Doctor coats, action figures, stamps and a full size Dalek! I had to restrain myself from buying everything. Eventually, I gave in and purchased a 50th anniversary canvas bag. Further inside there were displays of costumes from the various periods of the show’s history, including outfits worn by all 11 Doctors and many companions. Alongside monster masks, the Time Lords costumes, and the 3rd Doctor’s roadster Bessie, there were Yettis, Daleks, and Weeping Angels. The great thing about Doctor Who events like this is the merchandise exclusive to the con. If you have chance to attend one of these, I suggest you take your time walking through the various stalls and their wares.
With everything I experienced, my personal favorite has to be the last panel in the Classic Lounge featuring Classic Who director Richard Martin and actors Carole Ann Ford and William Russell who played companions for the first Doctor. They shared their memories about the early days of Doctor Who, filming in the 60’s with a small budget, and 1st Doctor William Hartnell. It was great listening to the people who worked on the show in the very beginning and discussing their memories of line flubs, technical problems, and the uniqueness of this “little sci-fi show”.
The night ended with a screening of the 50th Anniversary Special with 4000 people in attendance! Overall, it was an great convention celebrating fifty years of Doctor Who. I am eternally grateful to have been in London for this event with other die-hard Whovians to discuss and enjoy my favorite show!