Welcome again dear readers! It’s almost the middle of the month and we are getting really excited here! The 23rd of November is getting closer and if you do not know what we are talking about, you probably have been living under the rock!
50 years celebrations do not happen every day, but when they do, they are usually remembered for a very long time. And when it was announced that Doctor Who 50 years celebration will be held in Hereford, Rita and Mal started celebrating straight away!
Compared to other Doctor Who events held throughout the country, the Hereford one was probably very small and rather local. We didn’t have professional actors or special guests paying us a visit, nobody from the cast or crew arrived to meet the fans, there was no screening of the anniversary trailer either, but we have to say, we were absolutely blown away by how well everything was organized. The whole celebration was prepared by just a small group of Doctor Who series enthusiasts and it was a hit. No, we are not kidding you: at least thousand visitors arrived to Shire Hall on October 19th to meet the Doctor, his companions and enemies.
The Shire Hall located on Union Street in the heart of the city is a perfect spot for Doctor Who gathering. The building has been designed by Sir Robert Smirke, famous architect responsible for construction of Eastnor Castle, The British Museum and The Royal Opera House in London among many others. Shire Hall was built between 1816 and 1819 and stands on the site of a medieval gaol (city jail). This Greek-revival building is said to be one of the most haunted houses in the Marches, with ghosts of hanged criminals, former judges and members of the public roaming its vast corridors at all times. The Hall still serves as a court house and the workers have seen a lot of paranormal activity even during the daylight! We kid you not – this place is so spooky that when you walk through the door, you almost feel like entering The Twilight Zone. Also, the DJ hired to entertain the crowd had a truly wicked sense of humor: he was welcoming guests by playing short clips of music from well known horror movies or TV series. Our friends arrived to the main theme from “The X-Files”, “Psycho” or “Rocky Horror Picture Show” while we were greeted by popular tune from “The Ghost Busters”. “Who you gonna call?… Good question, Ghost Busters or Doctor Who?
Sadly, The Ghost Busters services were not really needed as we haven’t seen any ghosts or spirits. It was more of a case for Moulder and Scully or at least for Man in Black – the whole convention was raided by Aliens ! Some Extraterrestrials were friendly, some offered us strange looking refreshments, others were concerned about our health or moved swiftly behind our backs with suspicious intentions. One particularly nasty Space Traveler even attempted to strangle Rita! The vast majority of Outlanders however were not interested in any kind of close encounter with humans. All they wanted was to exterminate us and conquer our home planet. Luckily we had few Time Lords with us and nobody was harmed – but it was close! Never, ever trust a cyborg or a moving statue, we tell ya!
Once we got rid of the menacing strangers, we were free to walk around and take part in offered attractions. We had a meet-and greet with an (empty) Dalek shell, entered the Tardis and we posed for a commemorative photo taken by professional photographer Becca Wilkin. We have known Becca for years and had seen her in action many times so it was not a surprise for us that we had to queue for almost half an hour to say hello. Oh well, if you are friends with a photographer with skills out of this world, you have to suffer a bit. We couldn’t help ourselves and we returned the favor by taking picture of Becca hard at work at her laptop editing images. Standing in line at popular event can be quite fun. We chatted to a lovely couple who traveled nearly for three hours just to take part in 50 years celebration and several kids entertained us with short stories about the Doctor that they wrote themselves. If the series continue for another decade, we are sure they could become official script writers! One of the stories consisted of a living portrait, an aquatic monster, two lawyers from Exeter and the fictional King of England, Henry the IX. Brilliant.
To see Becca’s photographs, please visit her at: http://www.beccawilkinphotography.com
The highlight of the event was meeting with Mike Collins, the artist and writer for official Doctor Who magazine. Mr Collins started his carrier in early 1980’s by working for Marvel Comics. He was the penciller and cover designer for Spider-Man, Transformers and Zoids. He was also a frequent contributor to Judge Dread, Rogue Trooper and popular weekly comic 2000 AD. A decade later, his talent was appreciated by Americans companies and Mike Collins made his debut behind the Big Pond by joining DC Comics. He has worked on every important series in the business: Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, The Justice League, Teen Titans and many others. Outside of comics, his artworks have been used in Star Trek magazines, Harry Potter collectible cards and War Hammer 40 000 movie. Mr Collins joined Doctor Who magazine in 2006 and since then, he became one of the most important artists associated with the title.
Meeting such well established author can be an intimidating adventure, but Mr Colllins was very kind and approachable. He kindly signed autographs, answered lots of questions and even drew several caricatures of cosplayers and visitors. Rita had a long discussion with him about comic market in the UK, new media, marketing and events management. As we found out, he was aware of our blog! Before coming to Hereford, he did a little research on the Internet and came across our review of Malta Comicon and Herefordian Arts and Crafts market. We also have several common friends on Facebook (including a ridiculously talented Worcester based comic artist Steve Pugh) so the conversation quickly turned into a very personal chat. Mr Collins signed Doctor Who print for Helen Stringer, a British writer living in America and good friends of ours (from author to an author, as he described it) and in the end allowed us to take few photographs of hand drawn master copy of his book “The only good Dalek”. Thank you Mike! You are truly wonderful and if you are reading this know, that the signed print is on its way to the old good USA!
Mike Collins’ official website: http://www.freakhousegraphics.com/
Mike Collins on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MikeCollinsFreakhouseGraphics
While speaking to Mike Collins, we were told about a small display of rare Doctor Who memorabilia located somewhere in the building. The display was nowhere to be found in the main hall so our next mission was to locate the exhibition and investigate if there was something interesting to see. The task was not really hard to complete as the display was located in one of the back corridors but many people simply missed it not knowing they were allowed to enter. The rare collection consisted of books, audio dramas and mini novels released at the beginning of 70’s and 80’s. We have also seen Doctor Who Annuals, first copies of official Doctor Who magazines and hand made posters used to advertise the first series in 1963. The items most intriguing to us were the four little metallic figurines used in the production of series Four, Five and Seven: Dalek, Super Dalek, Cyberman and Davros sitting inside the Dalek shell. All figurines were the originals used by the TV crew and only several of them have been made. They were so expensive, they had to be kept in a special glass case borrowed from West Mercia Police. The owner laughed we wouldn’t be able to open it even if we used a sonic screwdriver!
We love talking to artists and looking at gadgets and memorabilia connected to the series, but the best thing about the Doctor Who convention is always the cosplay! Kids and adults prepared some incredibly realistic costumes and a group photographic session was so much fun. There was at least 9 Doctors (including Second, Fourth, Fifth, Tenth and Eleventh), two Daleks, one Davros, several Venetian Vampires, Clockwork Droids (Men and Women), two Weeping Angels and one lovely Sister of Plenitude who asked about our well-being! We haven’t seen all cosplayers as we arrived in the afternoon, but we were told there was one lady dressed as Jenny (Doctor’s daughter), two or three companions (including Rose Tyler the companion of the Tenth Doctor) and Susan Foreman – Doctor’s granddaughter.
Rita took several pictures of the whole group posing near the Tardis. Would you believe the whole photo-session took more than two hours? Time sure flies when you are having fun!
Doctor Who 50 years celebration in Hereford was a huge success. The food and drinks prepared by Hereford Sixth Form College and Whitecross High School students were excellent, the guests were interesting and the company – the best in the universe. What else would we want? The only complain we have is that such celebration do not happen each year and we will have to wait another half a century for a party like that!
Luckily, the birthday extravaganza is not over yet. We still have 6 days left to the premiere of the 50th anniversary special episode of Doctor Who, entitled simply “The Day of the Doctor”. It will be broadcasted on BBC One on 23 November 2013 in both 2D and 3D. Also, make sure you do not miss the web mini-episode “The Night of the Doctor” that shows the last moments of The Eight Doctor (portrayed by Paul McGann) and his regeneration into the War Doctor.
You can find see the episode here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-U3jrS-uhuo
BBC America has also released 26 photos from the “Day of the Doctor”. You can see them all here:
Rita and Malicia D.