Saturday 14 November 2015

Doctor Who Festival 2015

Just spent a fantastic day at the ExCel Centre in London's Docklands, attending the first day of the Doctor Who Festival.
I was in the Cyberman stream. Got there around 9.20am. Fairly easy journey from where I live - just over an hour and only one change (from the Overground to the DLR).
A few cosplayers in evidence even before I went into the venue. A very good 4th Doctor, loads of Osgoods, a Davros and a couple of 12th Doctors - going for the red velvet coat look (see next week's episode) and talcum powder in the hair. Not a shortage of fezzes either.
We were all given a handy little guide which had a map plus an itinerary - and the all-important lanyard that let you get in and out.

Things kicked off at 10am in the main hall with a 45 minute panel looking at the work of Millennium FX. Kate Walsh from the company, who you will now know well from the last two issues of DWM, and Mark Gatiss were on the panel - he to talk about how monsters and aliens are created in the mind of the writer, and she to say something of how they are realised physically on screen. As well as an appearance from a Mire, we also got to see a sneak preview of the Sandman from Mark's next episode, which airs this weekend. The clips seen so far imply that it will only be glimpsed and not dwelt upon, but today I got to see it in its full glory.
Mark came up with an idea for a new monster, and two of Kate's team had just half an hour to devise something that fitted his description. I'm glad to say that the more old-fashioned 2-D artist's effort got a bigger vote than the 3-D artist's one.
Next up, I was lucky enough to have bagged a photo-op with Peter Capaldi himself (they sold out pretty quick). My Facebook fans will have seen the result. Yes, I opted for the Pertwee pointing pose. (Surprisingly not many did today). Turns out Peter's cousin comes from my home town. Yes - you do get the chance to have a quick chat at these events.

Mire components - incredibly light-weight actually.
I only had a small opportunity to visit the main hall afterwards, as I had another photo-op booked with Mark Gatiss. (We should have checked with each other beforehand, because we were both wearing plaid shirts - which probably wrecked the camera). This was just to get the lie of the land for a more leisurely look round either side of lunch. On the opposite side of the venue from the hall where the panels were taking place we had the main hall. One area was devoted to talks by the visual effects crew - yes, Danny Hargreaves was blowing things up - as well as the computer animation gang.
There were about a dozen merchandising stalls - selling everything from life-size Daleks and exact replicas of Doctor costumes, to figurines and magazines. DWM was there. Big Finish was there. Forbidden Planet, Sci-Fi Collector, Underground Toys...
I had lunch in the Fanzone area, where there was a running Who quiz going on all day. I didn't take part - for fear of causing young children to burst into tears when I won. I am nothing except caring - and modest.

It wasn't all merchandising. There was a recreation of Davros' infirmary from this year's opening two-parter to explore for a start. We also had a Drama Workshop section, a Production section (laid out like the Viking hall from another recent story - with Odin's costume on display and the wooden dragon prop close by).

Two sections I did linger in were the prosthetics and costumes departments - as the following pictures will demonstrate.

The thing was - you actually got to prod them. They weren't stuck behind a glass case or a "Do Not Touch" sign. We were encouraged to touch and try things on. 
I must admit - I squeezed Davros' Nose.

After lunch, my first panel was the writer's one. Hosted by the excellent Matthew Sweet, the panel comprised Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Catherine Treganna. It included a (very brief) exclusive preview clip from Sleep No More. Interestingly Sweet read out an earlier draft to the conclusion of her episode - just to show how much changes during the writing process. (Ashildr would have had descendants - one of whom would have featured in this, and Leandro would have appeared human throughout - only becoming lion-ish at the very end).

Next panel was the hugely entertaining "Meet The Cast" one - Peter Capaldi, Michelle Gomez, and Ingrid Oliver - hosted by Toby Hadoke. Just one example of a question - a lady from Belgium wanted to let her know that she wasn't at all offended, but did want to know if Michelle would ever consider dropping a plane on to any other country (Death In Heaven having featured Missy intending to drop the Doctor's plane on that country...). Michelle referred the matter up to her boss - Mr Moffat. As always with these things, the best and cleverest questions came from the youngest attendees - of whom I'm glad to say there were many. (This became a bit of a running gag throughout all the panels - as today was supposed to be a school day, and parents in the UK get fined if their kids don't show up. Doctor Who is worth a fine - and a two-fingered gesture towards the unimaginative plodders who now run our schools).
After these two panels, I had another photo-op - with Michelle Gomez. My goodness, but she is a very funny person all the time. I think every one of us got a different expression from her and she just did what she wanted for each photo. I fully intended my pic with Peter to be my new Facebook profile picture, but the one with Missy is the better one. We did the Masterly back to back to pose, in case you're wondering.
Some other pics coming up - costumes this time...

Ohila of the Sisterhood of Karn
Didn't I see this bloke in "Count Arthur Strong" as well...?
Actually, that last bloke (who did indeed feature in an episode of Count Arthur Strong - as the Count has paid me to mention....) was made by the prosthetics team. But talking of costumes brings me to my last session for today - the cosplayers competition. 
There were three groups, based on age. This was presented by Kristal - she of the very popular You Tube video-blogs. The under-10's section was won by a very shy little boy called Bertie, who appeared as the 12th Doctor replete with sonic shades and guitar. The teen section was won by a young lady who had made a very nice (but a bit too green) Silurian mask, and the adult winner was a cardboard-box-TARDIS-wearing lady.
The overall winner for this first day of the Festival was a Missy.
I finally set off for home just before 6pm.
Cue some totally gratuitous pictures of Daleks just to round this post off.

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