|My absolute favorite line.|
Doctor Who day!
I confess I didn’t dress up. Unless you count my long, fuzzy, red-white-and-black striped scarf, but I wear that all the time, so as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t count as a costume. (Your opinion may differ.)
|The crowd growing at the Millennium Centre.|
I was disappointed to see that not many other people dressed up either. I’d expected a lot of bowties, but when I arrived outside of the Millennium Centre at about 8:45am, the crowd looked dreadfully normal. A couple of fezzes; one or three tweed jackets; a few fellows with really long brown coats and foofed hair. (Note: You cannot pull this off unless you are at least six feet tall. Sorry.) One gal with a fez had painted hatch marks on her face as if she’d been counting Silence – clever! Oh, and there was a fully-decked-out Pertwee look-alike with cape and silk tie.
There were a lot of people. I heard later that there were some people who’d scrambled in with the hope that there would be tickets available at the door – but it was sold out.
One point of interest to me was the age breakdown of the crowd. I’ve heard that in the UK Doctor Who is considered a kid’s show (lucky kids). But at a guess I’d say the mode age was somewhere around thirty.
|Unfortunately I think the entrance to the Torchwood hub was under a tent.|
The Wales Millennium Centre is a very cool-looking building but what I think is even cooler is the fact that the plaza around it is named Roald Dahl Plass after the author of one of my favorite books, Matilda. (Though his name and heritage are Norwegian, Dahl was born in Cardiff.) Even if you don’t know Matilda (you should!) you probably know Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or James and the Giant Peach. The fact that there’s a major plaza named after someone who writes twisted kid’s books is just all kinds of fabulous.
|And this was just a partial view – of half of us!|
As soon as the doors opened we were immediately siphoned up the stairs into the first panel, which was with the writer, director and prosthetics designer for ‘The Girl Who Waited.’ That isn’t one of my favorite episodes, but as is usually the case, as I learned more about its creation the more I came to appreciate it.
I was wondering if they would touch on the decision not to grey the older Amy’s hair. She’s trapped in a quarantine facility, where is she getting her hair done?! Neill Gorton of Millennium FX, who made the prostheses to age Karen Gillan into the older Amy, said that he had been pro-grey. Good man. Too bad he lost; it bugs me every time I watch the episode.
While we had been in our seats waiting for the panel to start, I had chatted a bit with the gal sitting next to me. When the panel was over we both scrambled for the bathroom. It seemed like we were sort of tagging along with each other so why not wander around together? Hi out there, Crystal from Swindon – if you ever find this! Hope I caught your name right, it was awfully loud in there. Find me on Facebook, won’t you?
Crystal and I poked our noses into the vendor tent. Which is when I discovered that Michael Moorcock wrote a Doctor Who novel. What?!
And it’s very weird. Review to come.
After that we took a look at the props room.
A word here about the photos. The light was about as bad for photography as it could be: pitch black with small glaring spotlights in the ceiling designed to generate minimum ambiance and maximum lens flare. Was this mood lighting? I don’t know. Suffice it to say, to get decent photos I would have wanted at the very least an SLR, tripod, remote release, flash, multiple flash bouncers, and then a tall assistant to hold up a sheet of black paper to block those damn little ceiling lights.
What I had was an iPhone.
And when I tried the flash all I got were grey blurs, so I couldn’t even use that.
But I figure you’d probably rather have horrible photos than no photos. So please don’t judge.
The first thing I saw in the props room was a little boy playing with a sonic screwdriver. I don’t mean a cheap plastic toy screwdriver; I mean one of the ACTUAL PROPS from the show. There was a glass case containing all of the screwdrivers, with a jolly gentleman behind it.
‘You’re letting people hold them?’ I said, rather flabbergasted.
‘Oh, why not. If you ran off with it I might have something to say, but – ‘
‘In that case, I’d like to see that one when he’s done with it!’
So that was how I got to play with Matt Smith’s sonic.
It is heavy. Supposedly it’s not a weapon, but it’s solid metal and you would not want to get bashed on the head with it.
‘How do you make it go up and down – oh, does it have a button?’
‘Well,’ he said, sliding the claw bit up and down, ‘it goes, but it doesn’t stay down anymore. Er, well – I don’t think I’m giving away any secrets to say that Mr Smith is a bit clumsy with the props.’
Authentically broken by the Eleventh himself. Somehow that makes it even more special.
It wasn’t my intention to make you all die with jealousy, so I hope you’re feeling strong.
‘Cause it gets better.
There were not one, but two TARDISes. (There was an informal raise-your-hands-if poll in one of the talks of whether it should be TARDII or TARDISes; TARDISes won.) One TARDIS was Matt Smith’s and stupidly I did not take a photo of the sign on the other one, thinking, ‘Oh, I’ll remember’ and now I don’t.
|Whose? Do you know?|
Possibly I didn’t remember because after I took the TARDIS photos I GOT TO WEAR TOM BAKER’S SCARF and who would remember details after that?!
As I was looking at the older TARDIS a gentleman stepped behind the scenes and without any sort of fanfare brought it out. IT.
‘Is that IT?’
‘Yes, that’s it, the real thing,’ he said with nonchalant pleasure. ‘Of course there were several as the series went on but this is one of them. Looking a bit worse for wear these days.’
Again it was a little boy who got to try it out first – then his sister, as I looked on enviously and took photos of the other costumes – then ‘Oh, mum, you should have your picture taken with it too’ and at that point I felt it was okay for us adultish people to ask.
‘You’ll need to drape it – I’ll help with the kids but I’ll leave you to it.’
And then he did help me drape myself up because goodness, it’s long. If you twirled it around me you could twist me up from toe to crown and back again. I gave Crystal my phone and asked her to take a photo.
I knew it would be a godawful photo but I’m going to show it to you anyway because otherwise you might not believe me.
|Oh, that’s the Fourth Doctor’s screwdriver in my hand, by the way.|
Then I went around snapping more terrible photos:
|Time Lord costume.|
|Creepy, creepy Silence.|
|Oooh. Creepier weeping angels.|
|This is my favorite, I think.|
There were prosthetics demonstrations going on all day in the foyer, which happened to be next to the café. I popped in but there was not a single thing I could eat. Sandwiches, muffins, cakes, cookies, ugh. I found some potato chips (crisps) which, if not healthy, are at least a source of calories. And they had wheat flour in them too. For crying out loud!
However, a negligible quantity of wheat is, for me, better than hypoglycemia, so I had a bag of the onion flavor while watching the demo.
|The gal in the white suit sat very patiently while they slathered her face with goo and plaster.|
The demos were interesting – making life casts in various kinds of foam and plaster – and I caught bits and pieces of them throughout the day. The photos, autographs, and panels were spaced about 15 to 30 minutes apart, so the chairs for the prosthetics demo became my resting point between events before I went to queue up for the next. Over the course of several visits I never saw the same thing twice.
The café saw me a few more times as well. Thank goodness I’d had three eggs for breakfast, because over the course of the day what I had to eat was…those crisps, and four chocolates containing unidentifiable nuts. About an hour before the end I was so desperate that I was going to get a sandwich and eat the filling out, but by that time they were all gone. So I had this, which gave me a good laugh anyway:
|I think this is the local vernacular for “Barbeque Flavor.”|
Of course when I left the center I noticed that there was a Sainsbury’s right across the street. Stupid woman.
Stupid HUNGRY woman.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. At noon, Crystal and I both had tickets to get our pictures taken with Arthur Darvill, so we sought out the proper room and got in the queue. As it transpired, Crystal was having her picture taken with both Darvill and Gillan, who was off in a different part of the building, so she got shuffled to the front of the line so she’d have time to make it to both. And I lost her!
Arthur Darvill seems rather oddly similar to Rory: a quiet, sweet guy likely to allow bigger personalities to take center stage 95% of the time (I’m looking at you, Mr Smith) but, as he showed in the panels later, capable of a hilarious zinger when you least expect it. He shook each person’s hand as they came up one at a time, asked their name and made a bit of conversation.
‘Oh, I like your earrings,’ he said to me.
I thanked him and after we’d had the photo taken I said: ‘My friend Pam told me to tell you that you’re much hotter than Matt Smith.’
He chuckled and said self-deprecatingly, ‘I’ve heard that from a couple of people.’
‘I was commissioned to tell you – all the way from America.’
And then of course I was shooed out. And I have a confession.
I FORGOT TO PICK UP THE BLINKING PHOTOGRAPH.
The program said, “available after 2:30 at the front desk.” Well, when you’re bopping from panel to panel, you forget things like that. I didn’t remember until 6:30, three-quarters of the way back to the center of Cardiff, the towers of the hotels in sight, and not enough time to walk a mile back and then back the other way before I had to meet my mother for dinner and catch the train.
I don’t think I’ve ever actually facepalmed before. I’ve always thought it was more of a theatrical gesture than something one actually did.
But, reader, I facepalmed so hard I think I left a dent.
But never fear. I will eventually get the photo. There was contact info on the convention website, and I got through promptly to an actual person who said he’d email it to me. Bless your soul, Tom.
After the photo session I went to the ‘Meet the Stars’ panel. I like the fact that Stephen Moffat and the newish producer Caro Skinner were considered ‘stars’ instead of cast. That seems as it should be. Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Arthur Darvill are all fantastic, but without Moffat’s storytelling genius, and the people who organize the insane amount of stuff that goes into making an episode, Who would not be what it is.
– Stephen Moffat is just as funny in real life as he is in writing.
– I don’t think Matt Smith has to act very much to play the Doctor.
– Ditto Arthur Darvill with Rory.
– But Karen Gillan is a lot more giggly than Amy.
– They all do, really truly like each other a lot – as surprising as that is, considering what you hear about working in TV. But you could see it in everyone’s faces, in all the panels – from the writers to the FX guys to the actors. They love their jobs and they genuinely like the people they work with.
– The cast have been filming upside down the last couple of days. ‘It seems fun at first,’ said Darvill, ‘…and then all of your blood tries to explode out of your head.’ No hints as to the contents of the script that required this.
– Q from the audience: ‘Was your casting brief for the new companion anything other than “Young and pretty”?’ A, from Skinner I think: ‘I’m not even sure the word “young” was in there.’ But of course the new companion is young.
– Moffat in A to several Qs: ‘You tried to get us to tell you something about the new series? NICE TRY. BWAHAHA!’ (I paraphrase – but only slightly.)
We were told to stay in our seats for the next panel, which we obediently did, even when it became clear that that meant we would be sitting for a half hour looking at an empty stage.
I’d seen Crystal waaay down in the audience earlier but she was right smack in the middle of the place surrounded by a sea of people on all sides so there was sadly no chance to go down and say hi.
Finally the next panel came on, hosted by Barnaby Edwards, the man who squeezes himself into a Dalek! My goodness, he didn’t look particularly small either.
There was some discussion about putting together an episode, which was pretty much what you’d find in an episode of Doctor Who Confidential. Which they’ve scrapped! I didn’t know. I am sad.
And…the pièce de résistance. The world premiere of the first SEVENTH SEASON TEASER. Can I say that we were all a wee bit excited?
There will be cowboys. And cyborgs. And Daleks!
There was, of course, tremendous applause when it had done; and the people on stage joked about ‘should we run it again?’ but they were, you know, joking.
Until Matt Smith, who was up hiding in the gallery with Moffat, Darvill and Gillan, shouted ‘RUN IT AGAIN!’ which was pretty freaking fabulous. So they ran it again and all I can say is it’s going to be really hard to wait until Fall.
I don’t even care if it turns out to be bad. Bad Stephen Moffat zaniness is still better than almost anyone else’s best. Bless his crazy crazy brain.
The teaser’s circulating now so you may as well watch it yourself.
Then I queued up again, this time to get Karen Gillan’s autograph. When I’d bought the ticket for it, I hunted high and low on the ‘Net for something suitably cool for her to sign. Action figures, photos, cards all seemed rather mundane. Most of the official art is rather gaudy, and most fan art is…well.
But at last I found this lovely poster by Colin Capurso on Etsy. It’s beautiful and subtle enough that I actually want to put it on my wall.
Bear in mind I don’t even have any of my own photographs on display. Most of my walls are covered in bookshelves so I covet that small bit of empty space that’s left. But this poster is…lovely.
And so was Colin, because he made me a custom order at a smaller size to fit in the space I had for it! Thank you, Colin!
Oh, and Karen Gillan. Is loveliness itself.
There’s a reason why I wanted her autograph rather than having my picture taken with her. I would not come well out of that one.
The last stop of the day was the Special FX Studio with Danny Hargreaves, who has worked on every single episode of the last seven years.
Mr Hargreaves likes to blow things up.
Had I known this, I would have gone in later so I could sit farther back from the stage. Because it was a live demo and when I say ‘live’ I don’t mean like ‘live TV’ or ‘live plants,’ I mean ‘DON’T PUSH THAT BUTTON UNLESS YOU MEAN IT’ kind of live.
I hope there was no asthmatics in the audience, because the smoke lingered!
I was tired and had almost skipped the demo, but I was very glad I hadn’t because it was one of the best things in a day already filled with fantastic stuff. Mr Hargreaves was a good speaker, and when the Cyberman visited, that was the icing on the cake:
|‘He likes to have his photo taken.’|
|‘He also likes a kiss.’|
After another mosey through the vendor tent I finally had to face the fact that I couldn’t stay any longer. I needed food, and in order to get that I needed to go back to the train station to meet my mother.
I also needed to empty my pockets, because in addition to not believing in street signs the Welsh apparently don’t believe in garbage cans either. Or rubbish bins if you want to call them that. Finally I found one, one! in the plaza. Wales, what’s up with that?
The way back to the station was down Bute Street, which is a redundant statement because in Cardiff everything is named after the Bute family. Unfortunately this particular Bute St was not a charming walk – low-income housing, I think. At some point I want to go tour the Welsh countryside which I somehow suspect will be a much prettier view.
And a nice end to the evening – seeing Crystal with her own mum in the train station café. I’m glad I got to say good-bye properly!
One last photo for the night:
|Taken in the London Underground.|
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