Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Celebration
On Friday, the 22nd of November, we made our way in the freezing cold through London for a very special event. Everywhere we walked we saw fezzes, bowties and 15ft multi-coloured scarves. The trains were packed with Doctors, young and old, male and female. For what? The Doctor Who Anniversary Celebration in the Excel Centre! For many years now, the Excel Centre has housed MCM Expo, but for this weekend, it belonged to the Whovians.
After registering for the convention and grabbing our ‘Ice Warrior’ passes, we were led into an incredibly large theatre. Every seat had been filled, and we all waited in anticipation for what was about to come. To get us all hyped up for the event, we were given an amazing pre-show with the special effects department for Doctor Who! They demonstrated everything from exploding Daleks to exploding Cybermen to fire and to exploding.. actually, it was mainly explosions. A lot of explosions. This really gave an insight into how much work goes into the special effects, considering minimal CGI is used. As the SFX show finished up, we made our way to the main convention, and oh my, what a sight it was.
As we entered the main convention hall, we walked through the junkyard at Totters Lane, from 1963 pilot episode; An Unearthly Child. Right at the door was the TARDIS, but then the convention floor was in sight. There was so much to see, we didn’t know where to look first. The hall housed the ‘junk TARDIS’ and Idris’ dress from ‘The Doctor’s Wife’, the third Doctor’s car, ‘Bessie’, and a huge range of costumes from the show! Time Lord robes, Doctor costumes, companions’ clothes and even Silurian armour!
The props included Smith’s TARDIS console and various other bits, but perhaps the highlight of the hall were the cosplayers. Everywhere you looked there were tweed jackets, multi-coloured coats and twelve foot scarves! There were costumes of almost every Doctor, which was one of the most amazing things to see. Normally at a convention, you’d see a couple of Elevens and maybe a Ten, but here, every single Doctor was represented.
After a good hour of just absorbing everything, we got to make our way around the merchandise stalls. There was everything you can imagine for sale, such as TARDIS bags, audio adventures and even a spiffy Tenth Doctor figure designed by our own Nick Roche from Dublin! But the highlight of the merchandise was getting to chat to the amazing guys behind the Doctor Who Roleplaying Game. After a bit of banter about how Declan, our lovely editor, managed to send London back in time in our last adventure, they talked to us about upcoming projects. ‘We’ve just released the source books for the First and Second Doctor’s era, so if you’re looking to run a campaign set back when the Doctor was still in his first body, these are perfect. We’re aiming to release one for every Doctor, and aside from that, we have the U.N.I.T. source book for those looking to run an adventure based around the organization in question.’
Not long after this, we made our way to the ‘Classic Lounge’. A brilliant idea, this room is where all the panels relating to ‘Classic’ Who were being held. It was quiet and intimate, but still a huge space that was packed for every panel. Getting to see the old companions and villains still so enthusiastic about the show was absolutely brilliant, and most were happy to take photos with people afterwards.
I can’t stress just how many people were at this event. It was so incredible to see every kind of Doctor Who fan under one roof. From young children to much older adults, everyone had a place here. One thing I really must remark on is something we saw en route to the Classic Lounge for a panel. There was a massive line of people stretching all through the halls for the opportunity to have their photo taken with Matt Smith. This line was unlike anything I’ve seen. It stretched through the entire top floor. We glimpsed Matt as he was making his way to the photo room, clearly in a hurry to get the photos started, but the thing that really made me smile is that a young child also spotted him, clearly over the moon to see him. Matt took the time to talk to the child and take photos with him before heading to the photo room for probably hours of photos with fans. It’s things like that that really make a difference with actors, especially one playing the Doctor. To see such genuinely amazing behaviour from them is really inspiring.
We had the most wonderful experience getting to meet Peter Davison, the Fifth Doctor, along with Anneke Wills, who played the First and Second Doctor’s companion, Polly. Both were such lovely people and a genuine pleasure to interact with. I think the real pleasure was getting to meet the Doctor Who wardrobe department, who gave us some incredible tutorials on how to make various costumes from the show, so that’s my Silurian sorted!
It was such a brilliant event, and congratulations to all involved in running the event. Let’s all hold out for the 100th Anniversary Convention where we can walk around and talk about how ‘back in our day, Matt Smith was the Doctor!’