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.
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.
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.
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.