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The best of Anglicon 2017   Leave a comment

 

Sylvester McCoy playing the spoons to live accompaniment was definitely a highlight of the event. (Is it just me or does he look a bit like Mark Hamill these days?)

Two years ago, at our first Anglicon, we saw Colin Baker, Katy Manning, and Sophie Aldred. As guests these three remain unsurpassed. Our delight in them is unmarred and unrestrained and may forever remain unmatched.

This year’s guests included Sylvester above, Peter Davison, and Bentley “the poor Corgi actor,” star of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency alongside Elijah Wood and that other guy. Bentley’s performance was of course flawless: he and his little sister put on a show for fans, and were joined by friends in the community for a Corgi parade in full holiday regalia, led of course by a Dalek. You can’t go wrong with Corgis.

The human guests were enjoyable, though somewhat less flawless. McCoy is delightful, hilarious, and energetic – he carried a microphone around the audience to answer questions himself, rather than let the moderator do it. He had some good stories about his acting career, including a production of King Lear with Ian McKellan and something weird with Robert Picardo in Edinburgh. He refused to answer a child’s question about his favorite companion, on the grounds that choosing one would not only be unkind but impossible. However, he was a bit more lecherous than I would prefer, making sexual jokes about both the new Doctor and Rose. Neither Baker nor Davison so much as dropped hints in that direction. For that I am grateful to them.

I did appreciate that both classic actors value Rose properly – both as a well-rounded companion and for her contribution to the success of the modern show. Apparently Davison’s sons – then 6 and 8 or so – loved her dearly. Hearing rumors that she was to die at the end of her run, Davison sent a concerned email to showrunner Russell T. Davies. Reportedly Davies replied, “You killed Adric, what do you care?”

Davison was also a source of concern. Going into the event, I considered not attending his Q&A sessions, knowing that fans would bring up both his (questionable) reaction to the new Doctor and his (TMI) personal life. Which they did – though I’m glad I went anyway, as he was very funny (mostly at Colin Baker’s expense) and had some great insights into the JNT era – particularly, the effect of JNT’s unfamiliarity with sci fi on the quality of stories at the time. I enjoyed his description of his time on All Creatures Great and Small as “up a cow.” That show – as well as the more recent Last Detective – might be worth investigating.

He did stand by his assessment of Whittaker’s casting as a loss of a role model for boys, pointing out how rare non-violent heroes are. He also expressed disappointment in the trend of politics infiltrating television. He did not seem to consider the paucity of heroic female role models, or understand that casting another white man would be as political a choice as anything else. I considered bringing up these questions, but decided I would rather just move on from them.

He also raised what I would consider a more valid concern: what does the BBC do next? If casting a woman were a purely points-scoring, checking-the-box maneuver, and the show goes right back to another 50 years of white men, then it was all meaningless. Likewise, 50 years of women in the role might serve more as book-balancing than valid casting. He is right, I think, that either of these would be a mistake. However, he is operating on the assumption that casting Jodie was an “inorganic,” forced decision. I think Chibnall put more thought into it than Davison wants to give him credit for, and that this new casting opens the door for all kinds of actors in the role: a mix of men and women of various ethnic (but invariably British*) and social backgrounds should provide lots of interesting Doctors over the next half century.

(I did observe, and one fan mentioned, that Moffat said some things recently about this topic. I did not read whatever it was; Moffat often opens his mouth when he shouldn’t, and I have no interest in his opinions on most matters.)

Regarding the personal questions, which I also didn’t want to hear, Davison is by now so used to being asked about his fan-favorite son-in-law that he actually bulldozed a question about “The Doctor’s Daughter” casting to talk about later events. On the other hand, his stories about the budding acting career of his 18-year-old son – and his humor at himself in that regard – were both amusing and perfectly appropriate.

Overall, neither actor was as funny or as sincere as Colin Baker, and of course there’s no beating Katy Manning. ❤

The other highlight of Anglicon is of course the costumes. Female Fifth Doctors outnumbered all others. There were a couple of excellent Cybermen – one a child who entered the costume contest as “Bill Potts” – and an astounding Empress of Mars. (She should have won the contest, really, but the top prize went to an unfamiliar character presumably from Red Dwarf.) The panels this year were also of higher quality than previous. We learned about reconstruction of lost episodes, played improv games, and heard about Douglas Adams from a writer who had conducted numerous personal interviews with him over the years. (Some of that material appears in DWM #313, which I will have to try and get my hands on.)

However, I don’t know if we’ll go next year. Seattle is becoming a more and more difficult trip, and we have some wonderful local cons bringing great Doctors right to our door. But I’m not sorry we went, and another visit is certainly not out of the question.

 

 

*Yes, I know some people feel that limiting casting to British actors is as bad as limiting it to white men, but I disagree. Doctor Who is an undeniably British show, full of British jokes and Britishisms in spite of its international following. However, the UK is 50% women and as much as 40% non-white in some areas. These people are British too, and the show does well to reflect that.

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Posted December 13, 2017 by Elisabeth in Classic, Conventions, Events

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The Doctor is IN…   1 comment

… my city!!

IMG_1785

Yes I was miles from the stage, and the lines to ask questions streamed past me out the door, so I was content to sit in my seat and take terrible pictures. It was worth it. The Doctor and Bill were delightful, sweet, good-humored, and generally everything you want the Doctor and his companion to be.

Highlights:

  • When asked his favorite Doctor, “except yourself,” Capaldi replied “Jodie Whittaker.” The crowd went wild.
  • One small child, maybe 6 years old, came to the microphone trembling in terror and unable to speak. Recognizing the situation, Peter and Pearl both did their best to put him at ease. “We did a photo, didn’t we?” Peter asked. “You’re cool.” They asked his name, allowing him to find his voice, and then he was able to ask his question.
  • The final question, also asked by an under-10, was “Who is your favorite companion?” In the photo above, I attempted to catch Pearl’s look as she waited to hear his answer. Instead, I captured her reaction when he said, “K9.”

Rose City is quite a good convention. The guest list was impressive; I might have seen more if the event didn’t directly conflict with my dragonboat team’s final race of the season. My husband saw Katie Sackoff, the Weasley twins, and William Shatner. My sister did very well in Artists’ Alley. My DW meetup group hosted a panel. I may reconsider participating in the race next year, if these two events continue to share a weekend.

Especially if they bring back the Doctor.

 

ETA some (better) coverage from Digital Spy

Posted September 12, 2017 by Elisabeth in Companions, Conventions

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Whose Day   Leave a comment

“Doctor Who’s Day Roundup,” appearing every Tuesday on BBC America’s Anglophenia page, is always great fun, full of DW goodness from all over the web. It’s actually where I first learned of the Doctor Who Fan Orchestra, several years and 7 videos ago. This week features a ComicCon roundup, and especially John Barrowman:

John Barrowman Owns ComicCon

Plenty of other good stuff too, but once you’ve seen Squirrel Girl… well, that’s all you really need, isn’t it?

Posted July 27, 2016 by Elisabeth in Conventions, Cool Stuff

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Anglicon ‘rules’   Leave a comment

I spent the whole weekend there and never realized how funny this sign was:

Anglicon Terms and Conditions

🙂

Posted June 17, 2015 by Elisabeth in Conventions, Cool Stuff

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Anglicon 2015   2 comments

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:

Jo Grant and her Doctor

Jo Grant and her Doctor

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:

The Masters Three

The Masters Three

The Master and Missy

The Master and Missy

On Saturday, yet another turned up to pose with his arch-nemesis:

The Doctor and the Master

The Doctor and the Master

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:

Nine

Nine

(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.

Other highlights:

  • 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!

More Squee   Leave a comment

Katy Manning loves me.

The event mentioned is Anglicon 2015: The Regeneration. As far as I can tell, this ‘British media con’ is the Pacific Northwest’s answer to Gallifrey One in Los Angeles. It first took place in 1988, hosting Paul Darrow from Blake’s 7, and in the following almost two decades hosted Nicholas Courtney, John Levene, Colin Baker, and Anneke Wills along with assorted guests from other properties. Membership lapsed in the mid-2000s, and Anglicon was finally cancelled in 2006 for lack of participation.

Little did they know what was just around the corner.

2015 is the first year of the con’s regeneration. The guest list so far includes Katy Manning, Colin Baker, and Sophie Aldred. All British media fans are welcomed, but the emphasis is clearly on Doctor Who. Located in Seattle, only three hours away, it’s much more accessible to me than Gallifrey One could ever be – considering travel and hotel costs, as well as the speed with which that event sells out. Not that I wouldn’t go, given the chance, but with Anglicon I don’t have to wait for an opportunity. I can just go.

Here’s hoping it lives up to its potential.

Posted February 3, 2015 by Elisabeth in Conventions, Fandom, Squee!

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