...a blog by Richard Flowers

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Day 2267: Invasion time again!


No, not another plug for the terrific Doctor Who DVD staring Mr Pat as Dr Who, this is a return visit to the Doctor Who convention in BARKING for my Daddies.

Last year, I had escaped from Lord Blairimort to the MOON, and had to send my Daddies to investigate the Invasion. Well they must have gotten a TASTE for it, as they are back!

This year was ESPECIALLY exciting as they had very special guest stars of no less than FOUR Dr Whos: Mr Paul from the Radio, Mr Colin from the Big Fish shiny discs, Mr Peter from that sit-com on Thursdays that Daddy thinks is funny, and Mr Trevor… hang on, you say, who the fluff is Mr Trevor. Ahh, I say, he was Doctor Who after Mr Twerpee… at least he was ON THE STAGE in a special play called "Oops, sorry, we've cast Mr Tom".

Because all these Drs were going to be so very popular, they decided there there should be TWO panels, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. This makes good sense from an OVERCROWDING point of view, but did mean that there were fewer things to watch in the hall. Although, this DID give Daddy Alex more queuing time!

Also unfortunate was that Ms Sophie Aldred got caught in a TIME LOOP or the Hammersmith and City line as EARTHLINGS call it, so she could not be on stage either.

Nevertheless, the hall was packed out for the Dr Whos and it was well worth squeezing in. It was interesting how different they were. With Mr Paul he is quiet a lot and you worry that he is not enjoying himself, but then he says something to make you think ooh there is a lot going on inside his brain! Mr Colin is very loud and always worth the money. He is funny and self-disparaging but also very bright and loyal.

Mr Peter has a very dry wit and also two young sons, one of who was having great fun playing with his toy EMPRESS OF THE RACNOSS. Mr Peter made much play of how his sons used to watch him all the time until the new series came along and then they DEFECTED overnight. I think he should know what daddy overheard in the shop earlier, though. Moffetts junior were looking at the Battles in Time cards and one demanded "do they have daddy cards too?" All is not lost, Mr Peter!

Mr Colin and Mr Peter also have a terrific chemistry between them. (Not to mention a shared companion: "What was it like working with Nicola Bryant?" was one question; "Dream on!" declaimed Mr Colin loudly.) They have a playful "didn't you kill me" by-play that they use to bounce off one another. I hope we hear them on a DVD commentary together one day. ("Arc of Infinity" Hint! Hint!)

Mr Trevor – who was of course a very clever stand in for Mr Sylv, who was caught in rehearsals for King Lear – seemed a little detached from the others, possibly because he is not connected to them in the usual regenerative way. Mind you, he still managed to top all of them with his Dame Laurence Olivier story.

The discussion ranged widely, covering favourite scenes and acting heroes who inspired them to get into the profession.

"I saw McCoy on stage…" said Mr Paul

"What SYLVESTER?!?!" cried both Mr Peter and Mr Colin, as one.

"…and I thought 'people get PAID for this?'" continued Mr Paul without missing a beat.

They were also asked about getting the role of Dr Who.

"Well, I was asked to meet a producer for a drink," said Mr Trevor, "and I thought well, that's always a good start."

"I think I ended up taking the job because of the convention that if you're offered a part and turn it down, you can never say, and I'd never have been able to say "I was offered Doctor Who"," said Mr Peter.

"Of course, I was offered the role before Peter Davison…" said Mr Colin at once "… not true, not true!" he quickly added.

And they talked about the different media that they have appeared in: screen, stage and shiny disc. Mr Colin said, as he always does, how Nicola remains as young and beautiful as ever and, thanks to the medium of audio, so does he. But he also had much praise for Maggie Stables and was glad that such a companion could only work on audio as, despite her many talent, Maggies would never qualify as "something for the dads" And Mr Paul spoke insightfully to how Radio is a much overlooked, undervalued medium.

"Radio writers get to write in paragraphs," he said, "television writers write in slogans".

This pleased Daddy Alex very much; he likes to write in paragraphs too!

As I have said, there were two sessions for the four Doctors and my Daddies went to the morning one, so they did not get in to the afternoon session, although people there said that that was probably the better one. Daddy Richard DID manage to loiter around outside though and listen to some of their remarks over the PA.

"Would you appear in the New Series?" was one question, and Mr Colin pooh-poohed it at once.

"They don't need us," he said. "In fact, the minute I get the call from Cardiff I'll be worried that the ratings are on the slide."

"What about Torchwood?" pipes up a voice from the audience.

"Could somebody PLEASE explain to me how Torchwood happened?" demands Mr Peter. "I mean, I think Russell T Davies is a genius and I love what he's done with Doctor Who which is totally brilliant, so how just tell me how they managed to produce Torchwood?"

There were many cheers from the audience in response to this.

"It's the age of re-cycling," murmurs Mr Paul. "Why let all those discarded Doctor Who scripts go to waste…"

Speaking of Torchwood, the final episode of Primeval was really good (even allowing for the Star Trek-esque "oh no we've changed the past and erased Claudia from history" paradox ending). They managed to reveal some of the layers of the relationships between characters in a way that wound up tension rather than deflated it. There were several scenes where the director and the lighting director finally managed to break out of the ITV straight-jacket to give us some interestingly composed, almost expressionist images. The fight between post-human bat-monster and pre-dinosaur Gorgonopsid monster at the end was absolutely tops. And with it keeping up its ratings at a decent six million let us hope that ITV will commission another six episodes for next year.

After the afternoon session with the Dr Whos, there were people on stage from the new series: Nisha Nayar from "Bad Wolf"/"The Parting of the Ways" (who was actually also in the old series – "How old were you when you were in "Paradise Towers"?" / "Do you think I'm going to answer THAT?!") and Raji James from "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday".

They were both MARVELLOUS. They were so enthusiastic for the new series, and so thrilled to have been involved in it. Asked whether it gained them kudos they said "only in the playground". "All my friends were mad with jealously!"

Plus, they both got exterminated by the Daleks.

"Would you rather have been killed by the Cybermen?" one forlorn Cyber-fan asked.

"No!" they both replied. To cheers.

Actually, we learned that the script for "Army of Ghosts"/"Doomsday" does NOT refer to the Daleks! For example, at the CLIFF-HANGER it just says "the SPHERE opens and… the ENEMY emerge!"

That is the sound of Mr Mad Larry's head EXPLODING that you can hear!

It was very uplifting to hear their positive reports of the production, how everyone involved is keen to go that extra mile just to get it good, better than good, brilliant. And how they always hear back from other friends who have been involved about what a wonderful and above all fun time they have had doing Doctor Who.

"And," said Raji, "now we have collectible cards too!" And he flashed his Battles in Time card. "I can use this as I.D. you know," he claimed.

The last panel of the day was three lovely people who had been supporting actors in the sixties and seventies era of Doctor Who: Mr Derek Ware, stunt coordinator, Mr Alec Linstead, UNIT Sergeant Osgood or villainous henchman Jellicoe, and Mr Michael Kilgarriff, original and real Cyber-controller plus robot K-1 (NOT the dog!).

Mr Alec talked about what a warm and friendly welcome he got from Tom Baker when they were together in "Robot", Mr Tom's first outing! And he said that, er, when he worked with Mr Twerpee it was at the end of rather a long run as Dr Who for him and he was rather tired and Mr Alec HAD kept giggling in their scenes… Mr Michael was, er, rather more blunt about Mr Twerpee. (Daddy says construct a popular phrase or saying out of the following words, not necessarily in this order: "donna prima") He had nothing but praise for Katy Manning, though, who made it her job to see that Mr Twerpee was settled and had everything he needed as well as doing her own acting too!

Mr Derek avoided any awkwardness by telling how he introduced Mr Twerpee to Mr Terry Walsh, famous as Mr Twerpee's EXACT DOUBLE who just LOOKED completely different. Mr Terry worked with Mr Twerpee for all the rest of the Doctor Whos that he did, and then went on tour with him, and THEN doubled for his stunts as Worzel Gummidge. Really did myself out of some work, there, ruminated Mr Derek, with a laugh.

And then it was all over.

Daddy Alex was the last person in the queue to see Mr Dr Paul and then we went home!

Hello to our nice friends who we met in Barking: Mr Dave, Mr Dave, Mr James and Mr Mark. And Mr Peter. Hope you had a fun time too!

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