As a Dr Who fan for many years I held the view that “if it wasn’t on TV, it wasn’t cannon” and, although I have to admit that I really haven’t had much time in recent years to listen to many of their audio adventures, I have to say that quality of the Big Finish productions have changed that view in recent years.
I’d never been to a Big Finish convention before but the lure of appearances by Jacqueline Pearce and David Warner was far too good an opportunity to miss, I mean who could pass on the chance to meet the Supreme Commander herself?
The day started with a Q&A with Sylvester McCoy, who emerged into the main hall still wearing his pajama bottoms, “They’re very comfortable. They’re from Bum Face” (he meant Fat Face). It was good to see that he’d not lost any of his manic energy or humor, wandering through the audience to take questions and regaling everyone with tales of his schooling as a trainee Priest and working with Lord Olivier, all interspersed with “I’m in The Hobbit you know”.
A quick dash off then to the queue for the photo shoot with Jacqueline Pearce. Chatting with others in the queue it was clear that we were all already in a state of semi hysteria when suddenly the doors opened and out strolled Ms Pearce clad in a gorgeous faux fur coat. She’d been doing photos with Paul Darrow during Sylvester’s panel and understandably was taking a quick break between shoots. As she walked down the corridor she gave us all the most lovely smile while we all hugged the wall with mouths gaping. It was like the Queen turning up to inspect a rookie army regiment, but far, far more glamorous. Soon after we were going up one by one to have a photo with our icon, when it came to my turn I was greeted with the most lovely “hello baby”, well who wouldn’t melt at that? I found myself blabbering about how lovely she was and was rewarded with her classic “ooooh darling”. The day could have ended there and I’d have still been happy.
As I was between panels I took the chance to wander through the many dealers tables. There seemed to be the full back catalog of Big Finish CDs on sale in the main dealers rooms, with a few more vendors in the reception area selling the most wonderful prints, various film/TV related jewelry and books. I was delighted to get my hands on the last copy of the “Star Cops”scripts book.
Next up was my photo shoot with Lalla Ward. Given how well presented she always appears I was thrilled when she commented on how much she liked my black velvet jacket, this soon turned to embarrassment however when she also commented on how nice my jeans were, “where did you get them?” she asked, “errrr Tesco” I honestly replied, “oh”. Somehow I can’t imagine Lalla Ward popping into the F&F section of the local Tesco to buy a pair.
“The War Doctor” audios are some of Big Finish’s more recent and best received releases and the next panel, including Jacqueline Pearce and David Warner, provided some great anecdotes from both about their work with Sir John Hurt over the years and some great impersonations from Nicholas Briggs and Barnaby Edwards.
The next panel saw Lalla Ward claim champion rights on completing The Times crossword, “not like John Gielgud, he just filled in anything”, and a fond rememberence of the late Mary Tamm.
In stark contrast to that sedate panel chaos swiftly descended with the start of the Blakes 7 panel. After everything that he’s been through during the past 14 months it was great to see Paul Darrow back to his acerbic form, not taking any question too seriously. There was exciting news from Jacqueline Pearce that she had recorded an “In Conversation With”, aided with a bottle of champagne from 10:00am, to be released soon and I will now always refer to Hugh Fraser as The Master of The Universe.
I didn’t envy the judges picking a winner from the Cosplay competition entrants but in the end a young mini me Jon Pertwee 3rd Doctor deservedly took the honors.
Mayhem quickly en shewed again with the penultimate panel of the day with Kai Owen bringing his own brand of lary humour to the Torchwood panel. There were the inevitable tales of John Barrowman naked japes but also the team spirit and comradeship of the main cast was clearly evident through the tales of misbehavior.
The whole day was well run with very friendly and helpful stewards. As will smaller events like this there was a much more relaxed and informal atmosphere with guests happy to spend most of their time signing autographs and chatting with fans when not taking part in panels. I’d definitely be happy to attend more Big Finish events in future.