This event was spectacular.
Anglicon was my first three-day con, as well as my first ‘celebrity’ con, by which I mean the sort where you pay extra for autographs and professional photos, as opposed to the we’re-all-one environment of Geek Girl Con and its more home-grown celebrity talent. My MO for GGC has been panel attendance: from writing and fandom to space travel and engineering, the con has been my place to learn new things about cool stuff. This con was different. The ‘educational’ panels were less compelling and informative than I’ve become accustomed to. The celebrity panels, on the other hand, were amazing.
The Sixth Doctor, Ace, and Jo Grant were in attendance this weekend – Colin Baker, Sophie Aldred, and Katy Manning – as well as monster man Jon Davey of the modern series. All of them were warm, delightful, hilarious, and fascinating human beings, with great stories of their experiences before, during, and after DW (except Davey, who doesn’t have an ‘after’ yet) and wonderful glimpses behind the scenes of their various eras. They all seemed to enjoy themselves as much as we did. For one panel, Davey shared the stage with the two companions, who were startled to learn that he, no small figure, operated a Dalek. Apparently the monsters have grown quite a bit in the new era. Aldred and Manning shared that they had chatted together throughout their nine-hour flight, and even by the end of the weekend seemed in no danger of running out of things to talk about. Baker screened ‘The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot,’ with commentary. Davey brought a slide show of himself as various monsters and UNIT soldiers, on set, at the Proms and the Symphonic Spectacular, in books and on trading cards. He also shared a short film he made with Ben Foster, a ‘Five(ish) Doctors’-style lampooning of Symphonic Spectacular host Peter Davison. It was all an immense amount of fun.
The highlight, however, was of course this:
I mentioned my husband’s wonderful Third Doctor costume; I may have neglected to mention his equally excellent voice talent. We had hoped he would get to meet Katy while dressed as Jon Pertwee’s Doctor. However, Katy is mostly blind; even if he got up to ask a question in her session, there was no guaranteeing she’d see him as he intended. But when the microphone came to him, he stood up and said, with perfect Pertwee charm, “Hello, Jo.”
She squealed and opened her arms. For the next ten minutes or so, he stood beside her next to the stage while she stroked his velvet jacket and talked about Jon Pertwee, and death, and her friendship with Liza Minnelli, and her time in America. Later, as he approached the table where she was signing, she leaped to her feet and called out “My Doctor!” We got the above photo, as well as a hug or two each, and a wonderful warm memory with my favorite classic companion.
And that was only Saturday.
The rest of the event was far from a letdown. Several full-sized and fully operational Daleks roamed the halls, occasionally facing off with various Doctors or each other, and at least once having a dance with Clara in her red Dalek dress. The cosplayers were as magnificent as I hoped. There was a couple dressed as Eleven and Clara who might as well have walked off the set, and a similarly dead-on Ten. There were multiple Missys and Osgoods; there were Roses and Rivers and Oods; a dozen TARDISes, two Twos, three Threes, an assortment of Fours, a family of Fives – one of whom wore my friend Kelly’s fabulous celery! – and a brightly colored Six who got his picture taken with Colin Baker.
We were of course not left out. My husband dressed as the Master on Friday (while he still had his goatee) and he had lots of excellent company:
On Saturday, yet another turned up to pose with his arch-nemesis:
On Sunday he dressed as Blofeld, complete with cat, though most people assumed he was Dr. Evil.
My costumes got less attention, as I don’t do character as well as he does, but still I had a good time. I entered the Masquerade in my TARDIS outfit, and might have had a decent shot except for one much-better, home-made version. The Dalek dress was much-complimented, and much repeated throughout the con in various shapes and sizes. The Tenth Doctor was one of a crowd, and mistaken for Clara to boot.
This one, however, was a win for me:
(I had planned to braid my hair, but I ended up really liking the ‘wild’ look.)
There were quite a few Ninth Doctors present, much to my delight: I saw two men, another woman, and a child, and there may have been more. It’s not a standout costume – I was once mistaken for Rose – but it was so comfortable, and I felt so very Nine, that I will happily wear this outfit again and again, whether anyone else appreciates it or not.
Here are a bunch more pics, including ‘official’ photos: Anglicon on Flickr
My artist sister tabled at the event, and though she was exhausted by her first three-day con, she had a good time and did reasonably well, in spite of the small and not-very-spendy crowd. I saw at least one large print of her Ninth Doctor out in the wild. Her new watercolor TARDIS did very well, as did – strangely – Furiosa.
- I really enjoyed hearing the companions talk about the special relationship each had with the (much more experienced) actor playing their Doctor. Each felt a special bond, a perfect friendship and working relationship. I got the same from Lis Sladen in her autobiography, with regard to Tom Baker. With all their differences, it was really interesting to note that each pair worked together, and cared for each other, as well off screen as they did on the show. Other pairings – Sladen with Pertwee, Jameson with Baker – did not always hit it off, so it was great to see that so many did.
- I keep hearing how special Doctor Who was as a show, for cast and crew as well as fans. Over and over I’ve heard people use the word ‘family.’ As early as Katy Manning’s time, people knew that what they were doing was a big deal. They had some idea of the impact their work was having. It’s really touching that so many of them come away with such a wonderful experience. It makes me feel good about this thing I love.
- Someone asked Sophie Aldred about her character’s sexuality. Nowadays, Ace is considered the classic companion most likely to be lesbian or bisexual. Aldred reminded us how different things were in the eighties – the height of the Reagan and Thatcher years, and well before many attendees were born – and that alternate sexualities were on no one’s radar at the time. In spite of this, she said, ‘Survival’ writer Rona Monro did intend Ace’s interaction with the female guest star to suggest something more than just friendship.
- Jon Davey’s ‘favorite’ and ‘most interesting’ monster roles: He spoke with delight of appearing with a green bag on his head and arm, in order to play the damaged Cyberman in ‘The Pandorica Opens.’ He also described playing the right arm of a harp-playing Shaneeth on The Sarah Jane Adventures while the main actor’s right arm was busy operating the head.
- When Manning and Aldred shared a stage to talk about their experience as companions, the moderator got in exactly one question in the first 20 minutes of the panel: the two actresses mostly interviewed each other, leading naturally from one experience to another, and completely delighting everyone involved – particularly the moderator, who sat silently between them on stage, wearing a smile of pure joy.
- Colin Baker, asked something about other Doctors, acknowledged Patrick Troughton’s career and contribution to the show, pointing out that without Troughton, “none of us would be here.” He confessed how honored he felt working with Troughton on ‘The Two Doctors,’ and told of a little mini-vacation they enjoyed together when their costumes got lost in transit.
All in all, it was a great weekend, and one I look forward to repeating next year. Watch this space if you’re interested!