Saturday, 12 September 2015

Barking Signing - 12th September 2015

Today I took yet another trip to Barking Library for the 10th Planet Events signing session.
Barking Signing - 12th Sept 2015
Over the past few months the guest list has been slowly expanding to quite a lineup, only for it to shrink back down.
In the weeks prior to the event Nigel Betts, Wendy Padbury and daughter Charlie Hayes as well as Carmen Munroe have all had to cancel. In the end even Sharon Duce, who was scheduled to attend, failed to show up! Maybe they’ll rebook them for future events so we’ll get to meet them.

Last minute additions who did then show were David Bailie and Nicholas Parsons no less!

NICHOLAS PARSONS played Reverend Wainwright in The Curse of Fenric.
Best known for hosting Sale of the Century and Just A Minute, he was awarded a CBE in the 2014 New Year Honours List.

I was struck by how frail Nicholas seemed when I was getting my book signed. He didn’t appear how he comes across when you listen to him on Just a Minute. then again, he is 91, so it is fantastic he remains active and engaged.

Amusingly, given that he played a vicar in Doctor Who, he remarked that my River Song diary looked like a prayer book! When I pointed out it’s cover is like the TARDIS, he got the reference.

DAVID BAILIE played Dask in The Robots of Death and later played the Celestial Toymaker in the Big Finish Productions audios. Outside of Who he is well known for playing Cotton in the Pirates of the Caribbean series.

I had a nice little chat with David and I asked him a little about being in Robots Of Death and the weird face-paint make-up.

JOHN NETTLETON played Reverend Ernest Matthews in the Doctor Who serial Ghost Light.

Like Nicholas  John Nettleton also played a vicar in a McCoy era adventure.

It’s like they had a thing for vicars that year!

SHARON DUCE played Control in the Doctor Who television story Ghost Light.

After waiting around for ages, and the organisers sending scouts out to find her, Sharon was a big no-show for this event.
Let’s hope she just got lost rather than intentional didn’t bother to come.

TREVOR MARTIN played a Time Lord in The War Games and an alternative Fourth Doctor in Doctor Who and the Daleks in Seven Keys to Doomsday. He also provided the voices for several characters in the BBC Radio audio story The Paradise of Death and for Professor Capra in the Big Finish Productions audio story Flip-Flop.

I met Trevor at The Day Of The Doctors back in March, so I didn’t need to get his autograph today.

ROBERT ASHBY played the Borad in the Doctor Who story Timelash.

Robert was something of a dark horse when it came to his panel discussion. He revealed that during her time on Doctor Who, Lousie Jameson was his partner, so he would have to sit through the episodes when they were shown, and he’s get set-reports of the goings on behind the scenes!

PETER ROY is a British extra who has appeared in several eras of Doctor Who, from the 1960s to the 1980s. He has appeared in James Bond movies, Superman IV and even being a part of the Harry Potter Franchise.

Peter is one of those seasoned jobbing background artists that you’ve probably seen in a hundred films, but never noticed.

He explained how owning a police uniform got him most of his work, resulting in over 1,000 film appearances!

 Once the panel discussion kicked of, Nicholas became the more out-going persona we know from Just A Minute.
he recalled being in costume on location and a member of the public coming up to him to ask about booking the church hall for a event, before realising he wasn’t the right vicar!

Robert told us how he was up for the part of Avon, losing out to Paul Darrow - who he then appeared with in Doctor Who.
He also told us how he lost a lot of weight due to the awkward facial mask-up he wore for his appearance in Timelash. Covering only half his face it made eating very difficult.

Trevor had vivid recollections of preparing for the Doctor Who stage play. With such a challenging production the technical run-through dragged on for almost a week, compared to one or two days for a more conventional production.
Ultimately the run was cut short due to IRA bombs going off on The Strand close to their theatre. Audiences stayed away from the West End, and the play closed.
Very sad.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Day Of The Doctors 2

I headed back to Slough today for the second Day Of The Doctors convention.

Day of the Doctors 2 - 8th August 2015
For me, last year's was a stalking horse event with a number of surprisingly interesting guests, all of whom were connected by having played The Doctor in one for or another, no matter how tenuous.

So I'm attending today very open minded to what's on offer and what may be instore.

Headlining is Tom Baker, who will be doing photoshoots, with and without Matthew Waterhouse and Geoffrey Beevers, as well as spending the rest of the day signing autographs. Sadly he's not doing a stage talk.

The morning is given over to an endless list of photoshoots, as well as autograph opportunities. I'm only going for one photoshoot with the Troughton brothers, David and Michael. I've never met them before and it's a wonderful chance to meet them both together.

While waiting for my call for the photoshoot, I gathered a few autographs in my book.

Edward de Souza, was notable for starring as Marc Cory, the lead character in the only Doctor Who episode to not feature The Doctor in any shape or form. Also starring in Mission To The Unknown was Jeremy Young, who was signing autographs next to Edward.

Next to Jeremy was David Garfield, who appeared in Leela's introductory story, The Face Of Evil. The moment I walked in the room I saw David catching my eye. I wondered if he had recognised me, as some twenty-five years ago I visited him a this home to interview him about his fleeting appearance in The Prisoner. He only had one line, but his memory of filming it was clear as day. He delivered the line perfectly, but his shot finished with a crash zoom on his face, but the crew had a problem with the camera and there was a shudder, ruining the shot. After over 30 takes they finally got it right.
David remembered me visiting him and we had a good chat about it.

Also attending is Sylvester McCoy, and although I have him in my book already, I want him to sign something special for me.

Back in 2010 I attended the Bonhams Doctor Who Auction and bought the Seventh Doctor hat and handkerchief lot. I subsequently sold the hat and two of the hankies, keeping one for myself which I have framed on the wall of my workshop.

I asked Sylvester to sign the mount, titling it with SEVENTH DOCTOR HANDKERCHIEF, and signing his name at the bottom.

Next to Sylvester were the two Troughton brothers, so I got them to sign my book on a page prior to where I have the autographs of their father's three companions, Frasier, Wendy and Debora.

Chatting to David it emerged that in the 1970s I had attended the same theatre club at the Arts Theatre in London. The brothers were at the Unicorn Theatre during the early 1970s, and I was there for the latter part of the same decade.

At 2pm it was time for us all to take our seats for the interview panels, which took up the rest of the day’s proceedings.

2pm Sylvester McCoy
The organisers of these conventions have learnt (maybe to their cost) that it is near impossible to wrangle Sylvester and do a sit-down interview with him.

So, at the very outset, all they did was introduce him, hand him a microphone, and set him loose on the audience!

In this format Sylvester is in his element, walking around; meeting the fans; holding the microphone so they can ask questions; then going off on his entertaining tangents before finding another eager fan to ask a question.

One of the first topics of conversation was the TARDIS. Sylvester explained how his TARDIS prop was getting old and battered, having served a few Doctors before him. It was cramped inside as there was often one prop-hand at the back holding up the roof in case it collapsed on them; another prop-hand would be sitting in a corner with a car battery and two wires to touch together to operate the lamp on the top; and - in a soft and lingering voice - there was Sophie....

He talked about filming Survival and how hot it was on location. he felt sorry for the extras all dressed as leopard people with thick fur costumes on. Finally one of the extras got claustrophobia and stripped her costume off before running over the sand dunes never to be seen again.

Sylvester told the ever popular tale of filming with Daleks under the arches of Waterloo station where the explosive special effects were mistaken for an IRA terrorist attack.

Someone asked about Dimensions In Time, and Sylvester remembered working with Louise Jameson. Shot in a weird form of 3D, it required the camera to be constantly moving to sustain the illusion of depth. So for his scene the camera encircled the pair of them, twisting the leads around their ankles. He didn’t seemed too upset at being pressed close together with Leela!

The subject of sonic screwdrivers came up - something his Doctor never had, so when he was required to use one briefly in the tv movie he wasn’t sure how to use it. As it turned out he was holding it back to front and the producers had to blur the head of the sonic to disguise Sylvester’s ignorance of how to use it!

Finally the subject of his costume came up and to illustrate what he was talking about, a cosplayer in Seventh Doctor costume was pulled from the audience to model for him.

THE HAT he explained was his own trademark and he wore one to the audition. It seemed natural for him to wear one in the part.

THE UMBRELLA was partly Sylvester’s idea, and he seemed quite pleased with the result.

THE PULLOVER was not his choice, and the excessive question marks all over it was a bit to blatant for Sylvester’s liking. He much preferred the waistcoat worn in the tv movie.
THE JACKET was nice and simple, but at his request it was given large pockets. These he used to keep his script pages, having them from one side to the other as they were finished with.

2:45pm Michael and David Troughton
This panel was undoubtedly the highlight of the day for me. I've been aware of the two Troughton brothers in a variety of productions down the years, and they have both made appearances in the new Doctor Who: first David in Midnight, then more recently Michael in Last Christmas.

You could feel the sparks of brotherly connection between them from the moment they sat down, playing with the interviewer as to which was which, leaving him and the audience confused from the outset.

Michael had written a biography of his father, so he took the lead discussing their dad. He talked about how prolifically he had worked, playing untold character parts for years prior to Doctor Who. The series had taken its toll on him, both with his nerves and private life. He was terrified of being typecast and never working again, something which his IMDB page clearly proves was unfounded.

3:30pm John Guilor and Tim Treloar
Interesting as this panel was, it didn't keep my attention for very long.

Both voice actors are very skilled, but I struggled to maintain focus as they told stories of being repeatedly asked to do comical impersonations of a number of Doctors. Big Finish are nothing if not prolific, but I still do not accept their work as being canonical to the main series.

3:50pm Edward de Souza, David Garfield and Jeremy Young
I was quite looking forward to this panel, as all three actors had played character parts in a lot of films and tv series I love from the 1960s.

Edward de Souza, of Portuguese and Indian heritage, starred in a couple of Hammer films (The Phantom Of The Opera and Kiss Of The Vampire) plus a number of appearances in The Avengers. He had an Avengers-off with Jeremy Young who also had made multiple appearances. Edward recalled Joanna Lumley, who he would say “Hello LumLum, show us your bum bum”. She never did apparently. They both remembered Patrick McNee fondly, though Edward chipped in that he was a nudist and went to America. “He’d show you his bum bum”.

4:30pm Matthew Waterhouse and Geoffrey Beevers
This panel proved to be a gem - not for anything of significance that came out of it, but just simply to watch Matthew make his usual prat of himself.

The panel opened with discussion about how each were writing novels. Yes, you did read that right.
Mathew would apparently speak his book into a recording device, performing the unfolding text like a live show akin to a talking book. Geoffrey, on the other hand, would just write it down.
By all accounts Matthew's finished book was quite tortuous, centring on a love story that sounded like teeth being pulled.
Geoffrey had written a piece in the 1980s, only publishing it now. Beginning in a monastery, it explored how the past views the future, and the future views the past involving a non-sci fi time travel.
Sometimes these a lot to be said for print-on-demand self publishing, and sometimes there is not.

4:50pm cosplay competition
The day ended with the usual cosplay competition which was won by the Ood!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Figurine Collection - Seventh Doctor

I haven’t reported on this publication much, but now for Seventh Doctor fans (and me) there is a good reason to talk about it.

Issue 51 has just been published, and it features The Seventh Doctor, complete with obligatory figurine.

Inside the accompanying magazine there are all manner of articles containing facts and information.

One of these is specifically about Sylvester McCoy’s costume.

I have a particular interest in this article - as I wrote it!

A little while back I was approached by the editors to take on the writing of all future articles relating to The Doctor’s costumes, and have been engaging in doing so for several months now. I have also been acting as a consultant on costume related things.

So far I have written a number of articles - but I am duty bound not to reveal what I have been writing, until after their publication.

Now finally, after issue 51 is now on news-stands, I can reveal my involvement.

Doctor Who Figurine Collection
The Seventh Doctor

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Original 7th Doctor items on eBay -
July 2015

prop gun

Meanwhile, someone is selling of their script collection on eBay this month, and here are the times relating to the Seventh Doctor.

Strange Matter (Time And The Rani)
Episode 4 rehearsal script

Listed is a original BBC Doctor Who Script once owned by the late producer John Nathan Turner.

The Rehearsal script is entitled Strange Matter, episode four, and was the original working title before changed to the now familiar Time and the Rani (Dated : 24.3.87) starring Sylvester McCoy as the 7th Doctor. The item is in very good order, although shows slight pin rust, and is fragile being 28yrs old. So take this into consideration.

The item was kept by John in a filing cabinet for many years until his sad passing, then sold by his friend TV presenter Stephen Cranford who provided a signed letter of provenance which accompanies this great collectors item whoever wins this.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Who Cares? I don’t believe it!

This weekend was the latest event organised by Tenth Planet Events.

I've been regularly attending their conventions and signing days over the past couple of years, and thoroughly enjoyed them all. Always well organised, relaxed and well attended - I keep an eye on what's next in their calendar.

The convention this weekend was a charity fundraiser in aid of Denville Hall, a retirement home for members of the entertainment profession, part run by none other than Lalla Ward herself. A previous event for the same cause sold out before I got myself fired up to go, so I booked this one nice and early, snagging myself the unenviable ticket number 13!

The way things have panned out I've ended up with a big, last minute rush job to remake some costumes for a National Theatre stage production that's due to open in less than a week. More on that later. So having already worked to the small hours I dashed over to Slough for the convention as I really didn't want to miss the chance of meeting the guests due to attend.

Sadly it would seem this event has been plagued by a spate of last minute cancellations. I was hoping to meet the Meldrews (Richard Wilson and Anette Crosbie themselves) but neither are now attending - so I'll avoid the obvious 'I don't believe it!' puns which were flying around all day after the news broke.
On top of this William Russell and Janet Fielding have both had to drop out.

Replacing them has been Hammer Horror damsel Madeline Smith and iconic villainous actor Julian Glover. He's a very welcome signature in my book, given the wealth of productions he's been involved from Doctor Who to James Bond and Star Wars.

Due to the fairly steep ticket price of £100, attendance was distinctly down, with only 80 convention goers turning up for the chance to meet the remaining guests.

Of the dozen or so guests that are coming, I only need a quarter for my autograph book, as I've met the rest or they are not Doctor Who names.

First up was a group photoshoot with all attending guests - well those who had turned up at this point. I'm not big into endless individual photos with actors, aside from a few special stand-out opportunities (the Meldrews would have been one), but a shot with a dozen makes it a worthy memento of the days event.

Back row: John Leeson, Jenny Hanley, Alexander Siddig, Lalla Ward, Richard Dawkins, Richard Franklin.
Front row: Simon Fisher Becker,Garrick Hagon, Sylvester McCoy, ME!, Deborah Watling, Claire Bloom and Carole Ann Ford
Now that was over it was time to hunt a few autographs.

Companions Carole Ann Ford, and Lalla Ward are already in my book, but I took the chance to get Lalla to sign opposite my Tom Baker page, joining Louise Jamison and John Leeson.

I took the chance to get Lalla's husband Richard Dawkins, who as well as being a renowned scientist, had a cameo appearance in The Stolen Earth in 2008, despite not being a Doctor Who fan!

Sylvester McCoy, John Leeson, Richard Franklin and Garrick Hagon are all in my book from previous events ranging from Gallifrey One in LA to Timey Wimey in Brighton.

Alexander Siddig and Jenny Hanley were of less interest, but we're absolutely charming to speak to, so I got Alex since he was in Torchwood.

This left Claire Bloom, Deborah Watling and Simon Fisher Becker, all of whom I needed.
Getting Deborah completes my trio of all Patrick Troughton's companions, which alongside my complete Peter Davison page makes my book feel like it's filling up at last.

Once we had all obtained our autographs, it was time for a charity auction in aid of Denville Hall. One of the star items was a TARDIS siege cube, signed by Perter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Steven Moffat, who donated it having sat on his desk. It sold for £500!

There were a lot of Big Finish CDs on offer, as well as signed photos and the occasional script.

The afternoon was given over to various panels and interview sessions, but given the work I have on at home I decided to make a sly exit and head back to finish the job in hand.

The job I had been asked to do was to rework two curious shaped fitted jackets made in Lycra and neoprene - not the best fabrics to tailor such garments from.

They are for Tweedle Dee and Teeedle Dum in Damon Albarn's reimagining of Alice In Wonderland, called It's all very high tech - if I say the concept is the rabbit hole is now the Internet, you'll get the idea.

The jackets had gone through some design changes, and there was less that 48 hours for me to knock them into shape ready for the opening of the show at Manchester's Arts festival next weekend.

Suffice to say it was hard work, but the costumes were ready in time - just!

A few days later I was amused to see a report on on BBC Breakfast, as well as follow up stories as the production opened to mixed reviews.
BBC News - Damon Albarn on Alice in Wonderland

BBC News - Damon Albarn's musical will be 'a little controversial'
After a two week run in Manchester, it will transfer to the Olivier theatre on the South Bank in November, by which time I imagine they'll iron out a few of the problems they had.
BBC News - Damon Albarn 'disappoints' with Alice in Wonderland musical