Once upon a time in Cardiff

At the weekend I went to the official Doctor Who convention. It wasn’t like other conventions I’ve been to. It was expensive, activities were more prescribed and there was less time for socialising. But that was more than made up for by the talks and guests. Normally at conventions, you get to meet people who made the show twenty years ago. Which is great and they’re lovely, but this convention was all about the people who are actually making the show right now. It was as if everyone at the Upper Boat studio had taken a bus ride into Cardiff and started showing off.

Danny Hargreaves, who has worked on every episode of new Who, Blew Things Up right in front of us and made it snow indoors. Niell Gorton turned actress Raquel Cassidy into a fleshy ganger in 45 minutes. Producers, writers, directors, set and costume designers were all there, discussing how they make the show. The creative juggernaut that is Steven Moffat took part in two panels, ensuring nobody let slip something they shouldn’t and refusing to be drawn himself. The three stars of the show, Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill, exhibited all the camaraderie that we’ve come to expect thanks to their appearances in the late, lamented Confidential.

Then there was the set tour. The actual TARDIS set. Where they film the show. They drove bus loads of fans down there, let us pull levers, twiddle knobs and stroke the doors. Not that I did that. *ahem* The working set, which we were repeatedly reminded would have lights and wires, is due to be dismantled for relocation to its new home in a new studio complex so they bravely let groups of geeks have a go at dismantling it first. We got to have tea in the famous Blue Box Cafe too, chatting to our tour guides who also happened to be engineers and extras on the show.

I had my photograph taken with Karen Gillan, who looked stunning and seemed to be made entirely of long limbs. The security guard inspecting the bobble hat that another attendee had crocheted for her with a non-plussed look on his face was marvellous. Karen was very friendly and didn’t seem to mind having yet another fan putting their arm around her for the photo.

I finally got to meet Barnaby Edwards in person, and he gave me a big hug, which was lovely. All the crew were good humoured, professional and friendly the whole day. The event was very well planned and ran like clockwork. The process for distributing the photographs was the only thing that didn’t seem to be very well thought out. It involved the big burly security guards with their heavy welsh accents wandering around, trying to match the geek in the photograph with someone from the crowd.

It was also great to meet so many other podcasters in Eddie’s Diner (location for The Impossible Astronaut, you know), who were warm and welcoming.

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    7 Responses to Once upon a time in Cardiff

    1. MaFt says:

      So jealous! Would have loved to have gone to that.

    2. Deana says:

      Great write-up! Thanks for sharing. :-) You even included some details that I didn’t glean from the Tweets I read, such as the fact that fans were bused to the set. That seemed really cool to me for some reason!

      There were some really annoying spoil-sport Twitterers who complained that the convention was too expensive, claimed the convention was “too exclusive,” and even started a petition of some sort to “do something about it.” Reading your post convinced me even further that the price was already set as low as possible, and limiting the number of tickets sold was an excellent idea.

      Thanks again!

    3. Hugo Mills says:

      I take my hat off to your geekiness. Keep up the good work.

    4. MarkC says:

      Sounds great – especially the (not) stroking of TARDIS doors and pulling of levers. Meeting the actors and listening to the Moff sounds great, but we all know that it’s the blue box that’s the real star ;)

      As for a Doctor Who post appearing on Planet Ubuntu? I can’t let that pass without putting in a blatant plug for my Ubuntu-made sci-fi webcomic… these two strips seem appropriate:

      Crash Test Dalek
      The Key to the TARDIS

    5. Clara says:

      I took my frail pensioner father on Sunday. The beginning was great the stars, writers, creators all talking. Then we wanted to see the costumes, my poor old dad was pushed against the wall unable to move. People were just shoving him out the way. We did not see a single delak, ood or angle. Tickets for Tardis tour were all gone, but still had to pay full price. I missed bits in afternoon as I had to get dad outside. It could have been organised better.

    6. Tony says:

      Hi Clara. I didn’t get the time to visit the exhibition but figured it would be much the same as the Doctor Who Experience in London anyway. Sorry to hear it was a bit of a crush though. The TARDIS tour wasn’t part of the event price, it was only announced as a free bonus for ticket holders after tickets had been available for a few months so I guess there wouldn’t have been any discount for people who didn’t get to go.

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