Happy birthday Doctor!

November 25, 2013 by Tony

We were ushered into something the size of an aircraft hangar, surrounded by fezzes, buzzing sonic screwdrivers and a variety of Amy Ponds. I have never seen so many Doctor Who fans in one place, and I was only seeing half those at ExCel for the “Doctor Who Official 50th Celebration”. It was similar in feel to the convention in Cardiff last year, but turned up to 11. Only the BBC can bring together so many actors, directors, special effects people, costume designers and so on in one place. People who are actually working on the show now, demonstrating their craft.

Jenna Coleman Tony Whitmore

Although the main sessions were pretty distant and not really revelatory (although Nick Briggs did a superb job wrangling four Doctors at once), there were so many other events going on in stages and screens that it was impossible to see everything in one day. At 5:15pm the whole convention stopped to mark the moment when, 50 years ago, the opening titles of “An Unearthly Child” appeared on tiny TV screens around the country. I had been speaking to Carole Ann Ford herself just beforehand. While I did spend a fair amount of the day queuing and would have liked to have had more time to spend in the side stages, I am glad that I got the chance to meet some legends of Doctor Who.

Daphne Ashbrook Tony Whitmore 50th Celebration

As someone who grew up in the wilderness years, I learnt to hide my fandom. It was fantastic to see so many kids running around waving screwdrivers, acting like Daleks and generally revelling the show. There was a small group of teenage girls on the tube discussing Verity Lambert. It reminded me just how far Doctor Who has come since 1989. I hope they go on to take over TV like she did.

Katy Manning Tony Whitmore 50th Celebration

How better to watch the 50th anniversary episode than at the BFI, where I have watched screenings almost every month this year? Well, with Matt, Jenna, Steven and John Hurt in the audience. Yup, they were all there for the screening, having also hot-footed it over from ExCel. If you haven’t seen “The Day of the Doctor” go and watch it on iPlayer now.

And if you haven’t seen “The 5(ish) Doctors Reboot”, go and watch that straight afterwards. It it one of the highlights of the anniversary year for me. Superb performances from Messrs Davison, Baker and McCoy and a script worthy of “Extras”.

The BBC 3 after party was held in one of the bars at the BFI right after the screening, but if you weren’t inside the bar area, it was impossible to tell what was going on. Although the twitter commentary showed that perhaps I wasn’t missing very much!

You can hear the podcast we recorded straight after the screening over at The Doctor Who Podcast site. You can also hear our review of “An Adventure in Space and Time”, the superb drama recreating the early days of the show that I wrote about last week, on The Doctor Who Podcast too.

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    An Adventure in Doctor Who

    November 18, 2013 by Tony

    November is really going to be Doctor Who month for me. It’s been Doctor Who year really, but things really ratchet up a notch this month, as I am off to lots of events to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the show.

    Last week I headed to the BFI for the preview screening on “An Adventure in Space and Time”, by Mark Gatiss. It tells the story of how a small team of inexperienced people made magic, despite the hindrance of the old guard in the BBC. As bizarre as it might sound to say about a drama set so long ago, I won’t spoil it for you. I will say that it was a magical way to spend an evening, ninety minutes of joy watching the excellent cast wearing familiar costumes in loving recreations of vintage sets.

    The engagement from the audience was intense, and there were lots of sniffles and tears throughout the drama. The standing ovation was well deserved. It’s on BBC Two at 9pm on Thursday, and you should watch it!

    Mark Gatiss introducing the BFI screening of "An Adventure in Space and Time"

    Yesterday saw stand-up comedian, presenter and fan Toby Hadoke perform a double-bill of his two Doctor Who-related comedy shows “Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf” and “My Stepson Stole My Sonic Screwdriver” at the Garrick Theatre. Although they are ostensibly about Doctor Who, and there are more than enough jokes to keep fans happy, both shows tell a much more human and personal story. It was clear that both stories were affecting and again there were a few tears amongst the audience. It was nice to see a fair few Doctor Who alumni in the audience, including Katy Manning, Nicola Bryant and Dan Starkey, and a pleasure to join what has become a little family of Doctor Who podcasters at yet another event this year.

    It’s hard to imagine after this week, but the best this month is yet to come!

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      A photograph is a portrait painted by the sun

      November 11, 2013 by Tony

      Photographs used to be either portraits (taller than wider) or landscapes (wider than taller). Because paintings used to be portraits and landscapes. But at some point, portraits and landscapes stopped being called portraits and landscapes. Instead they became “verticals” and “horizontals”. Certainly less poetic, less wistful than the older nomenclature, the change represented a shift away from the preconception that a portrait must be taller than it is wider, and that a landscape can only be photographed with the camera oriented horizontally.

      Lane of trees vintage wedding portrait

      Sun behind lens flare wedding portrait

      In fact, most of the images from the weddings I photograph are horizontal. And most are portraits of one sort or another (candid, groups, couples etc.) There’s something about the horizontal format that gives the shape of a person room within the frame. It helps place them in the context of their surroundings and show how they are interacting with their environment. In a vertically oriented photograph, the temptation is to fill the frame with the subject and you end up with a great image of the subject but nothing much else.

      But I like to try and stretch myself to find images that work when composed as vertical images. Accompanying this post are a few photos in vertical orientation from weddings and engagement photo sessions I’ve been lucky enough to photograph over the past couple of months. Different events, different settings, but each one has something to say. I hope you like them!

      Silhouette couple portrait

      Couple guard of honour swords jumping wedding portrait

      Two young boys playing up wedding portrait

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        Cooking up something special

        November 4, 2013 by Tony

        I’ve been thinking about how to raise money for my Malawi Mission in aid of AMECA. Just tweeting and Facebooking the relevant links has done a pretty good job so far (I’m already at 40% of my target thanks to the wonderful people who have donated already) but I figure I’ll need to put in some extra effort to raise the rest. If you’ve any creative suggestions about how I can help raise more money for AMECA please leave a comment. 🙂

        One idea I had was to inflict my culinary skills on people in exchange for money. I enjoy cooking and, although not sophisticated about it, I think I’m OK. But I’m not really a baker. This evening I set about trying to change that, and make some rather nice chocolate orange biscuits. These were a trial run, but on this evidence it might be worth pursuing!



        Chocolate orange biscuits


        Last week I wrote about how I’m giving away tickets to the official Doctor Who convention this month. Well, absolutely no-one has donated yet, so it’s basically an open goal if anyone wants to go for it! This week the BBC announced some extra guests for Sunday 24th, the day of these tickets:

        • Maureen O’Brien (Vicki)
        • Peter Purves (Steven)
        • Wendy Padbury (Zoe)
        • John Leeson (voice of K-9)
        • Lalla Ward (Romana II)
        • Mark Strickson (Turlough)
        • Bonnie Langford (Mel)
        • Michael Kilgarriff (Cyber Controller)
        • Julian Glover (Richard I/Scaroth)
        • Stephen Thorne (Omega/Azal/Kastrian Eldrad)
        • David Graham (Dalek voices/Kerensky)
        • Donald Tosh (script editor/writer)
        • Anthony Read (script editor/writer)
        • Andrew Cartmel (script editor/writer)
        • Andrew Morgan (director)

        That’s in addition to the various Doctors and companions already announced, including Matt Smith and Sylvester McCoy. Go enter!

        Donate here to enter the draw.

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          Tickets for Doctor Who 50th anniversary convention up for grabs

          October 28, 2013 by Tony

          I’ve got a spare pair of tickets for the sold out official Doctor Who 50th anniversary celebration convention and I’m going to give them away as a thank you to someone who donates to my Malawi Mission. The tickets are adult tickets in the Ice Warrior entry group on Sunday 24th November.

          Next summer I will climb the highest mountain in southern Africa to raise money for the AMECA Trust. I am going to get bitten by a lot of insects and generally have a tough time of it. Why am I doing this? The AMECA Trust don’t just hand out cash or pills. They have built a financially viable hospital in Malawi, where those who can afford to pay for healthcare make it possible for children to receive theirs for free. It’s an amazing feat. As if that wasn’t enough the AMECA Trust give nursing students from the UK bursaries to work in Malawi, making a real difference in the lives of people who have so little, and helping UK medical workers gain vital experience.

          Just donate £10 (or more!) to my charity fund between 28th October and 10th November, mentioning “convention” in the message to be in with a chance to get your hands on the tickets. Remember to leave your e-mail address when you donate: Don’t donate anonymously!

          If you are a UK tax payer, please give using Gift Aid. This helps charities reclaim a whopping 20% extra on top of the amount you donate.

          Donate here to enter the draw.

          I’ll pull a lucky winner out of the virtual hat and e-mail them the eTickets.

          AMECA logo

          Terms and Conditions

          1. You are donating to support the work of The AMECA Trust, Registered Charity, No. 1121240. You are not paying any money for the tickets.
          2. All donations including anonymous donations are accepted in good faith. Refunds are not possible.
          3. Each eligible donation will be entered into the draw once. You may donate multiple times to increase your chances.
          4. These are eTickets. They will be sent by e-mail. You must print them yourself.
          5. The winner will be contacted by 13th November. I am not responsible for problems with e-mail delivery.
          6. My decision on the winner is final.
          7. No cash alternative offered.
          8. You are responsible for getting yourself and your guest to ExCeL London Sunday 24th November 2013. And remembering the tickets.
          9. This charity draw isn’t endorsed by the event organisers nor the AMECA Trust.
          10. The event organiser’s T&Cs apply.
          11. Yes, it is OK to pass tickets on to other people.

          If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments.

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