If you’d told me a year ago, no, even six months ago, no, even four months ago, that I’d be going 3,000 miles to a Doctor Who convention, I’d have thought you mad.
When Teri Sears, a long time Whovian, first told me of Gallifrey 2012, I thought it sounded good. But it wasn’t until after her urgings prompted me to go to the website that I saw how much it had to offer. My stars! The website was chock full of Doctor Who and general science-fiction goodness. My family and friends are fannish enablers and they all said I should go. Eventually, I caved to my desire and plunked down my membership money and let the pre-convention anticipation commence.
Thanks to the kindness of Teri and her already booked roommate, Theresa Miller, I didn’t have to go hunting for a room at an off-site hotel. The convention hotel had been sold out for months! What a great hotel for a convention it is. The event facilities were all on one floor except for the con suite and the autograph room. Autographing got a little crazy, so having it away from the events area was a very good thing.
Anyone who’s read my columns before, is sure to know that I love costumes. That love was well requited. There were many Daleks but they mostly seemed friendly. One offered Jelly Babies and another offered tea. The Tiki Dalek was my favorite. It was just such a funny juxtaposition of things to have the menacing form of a Dalek paired with pastel leis and flowers.
Of course, there were Doctors aplenty. I think the 10th and 11th doctors were most numerous but there were a fair number of the earlier ones as well. Quite a few female fans dressed as the Doctor. This is well accepted in Doctor Who fandom. There was even a panel on cosplay and cross dressing as the doctor.
There was a lady who had made an Adipose costume which was a favorite with many fans. The costume was adorable. Everyone, including me, wanted to hug her. She left the costume on display in a hallway for a while on Sunday afternoon and many of us took the opportunity to have friends take our pictures with it.
Gallifrey has KaffeKlatches at which you and 10 or 12 other fans can sit and chat with one or two of the guests. I sat in on one with David Gerrold and one with Jane Espenson and Doris Egan. We had a little excitement at the David Gerrold one when a poor fellow who must not have known David is a liberal kind of guy made the mistake of commenting with what turned out to be a very unpopular conservative view. David is known as a champion for gay rights but he also speaks out for women’s rights as he did in this instance.
Jane Espenson and Doris Egan talked mostly about the actual processes involved in writing for television. Jane would not give specifics about her current project, “Once Upon a Time,” but she did say that viewers will get the answers they seek for questions posed in the first season.
Because I like to jump in feet-first, I volunteered to be on some panels and I was lucky enough to get one of the ones for which I asked. It was titled “Why Aren’t There More Captain Janeways?” Having been a fan for more than 40 years, I have seen what has changed and what has not and sadly, not enough has changed as far as women being represented as people in power in science-fiction. I could expound on why I think this is but that’s another column. It was a lively panel with great audience participation. I’ll probably steal the idea for the convention on which I work.
Many people at “Gally” trade or just give you ribbons for your convention badge. They are rectangular ones that have sticky stuff on them so that you can affix them to the bottom of your badge for the first and then to themselves to form a ribbon stream. Some people had veritable Tom Baker, Doctor Who ribbon scarves by the end of the convention.
I had a lot of fun with the Hidden Whos Scavenger Hunt. The con staff had place 30 portraits of characters from “Doctor Who” around the convention function space. In the program book, there were two pages on which you were to put a description of the portrait’s location for each of the pictures. When you had found them all, you went to member services and they verified the correctness of you answers and then gave you a ribbon with “I found the Hidden Whos,” on it, as well as a ticket for a drawing for a membership to next year’s convention.
Because of my limited vision, I got some help from friendly people when I’d find a portrait that was too high for me to be able to tell who it was. Though the convention staff had said we should not team up because helping friends lessened your chances to win, many people did help each other. I think that most were like me and didn’t really care about the prize. They just wanted to find all the Whos and get the ribbon saying they had.
Did I meet any of the actors, you ask? Why yes, I did. I got to talk with Louise Jameson (Leela), Simon Fisher-Becker (Dorium Maldovar), William Russell (Ian Chesterton), and Eric Roberts (The Master from the 1996 movie). I had my picture taken with all of them too, due to the kindness of one of those old friends I’d just met a couple of weeks before the con at Time Lord Fest near my home in Florida. John Chambrone was in what he called “stalkarzzi mode.” He took many pictures, some of which he’ll be able to sell to a magazine for which he works as a freelancer.
I had a kind of doh moment involving Simon Fisher-Becker. I was on the escalator going down to the convention floor from the lobby when I heard a man’s voice speaking about Croydon. I knew of Croydon as I had stayed in East Croydon with my friend Vanessa while I was on both of my trips to England. So, I waited at the bottom of the escalator and spoke to the gentlemen who’d mentioned Croydon, telling him that my ears had pricked up at the mention of that town.
We chatted a bit and then went on our various ways. Because my vision is poor and because I’d only seen Mr. Fisher-Becker as a bald, blue man on the telly, I didn’t realize with whom I was talking. It wasn’t until seeing him on a panel later that I knew. When I saw him in the hall at the end of the convention and asked him if I might have my picture taken with him, he remembered me from the Croydon chat.
Eric Roberts was a real sweetie. He might have been that evil, dastardly villain, The Master, in the 1996 “Doctor Who” movie, but he’s anything but evil and dastardly in person. If you get a chance to meet him, you really should take it.
Gads, but I have gone on, haven’t I? There is so much to tell but I think the music is playing and my time is up for now.
See you next time with my thoughts on why there aren’t more Captain Janeways.