This past weekend was Anglicon in Seattle! This was the first Anglicon in many years, resurrected via a recent Kickstarter, and it proved to be a great success–biggest Anglicon ever, apparently. Dara supported the Kickstarter, so she and Paul and I all got to have memberships.
Dara spent the most time at the con of any of us, but I did go down with her on both Saturday and Sunday, and so got to enjoy several things about it. It was in the same hotel where Norwescon is held every year, but since Anglicon was so much smaller than Norwescon, it was very odd to be strolling around the same space with so fewer people and with programming in different places than I’m used to. In particular, it was very strange having the area I’m used to thinking of as the dealer’s room, i.e., one big open space, actually reconfigured into three smaller spaces being used for panels.
On Saturday I didn’t stay too long, but I did attend the Q&A’s given by the three primary guests of honor–Colin Baker (the Sixth Doctor), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), and Sophie Aldred (Ace). This was the first time I’d ever laid actual eyes on any of the Doctor Who cast from any point in the show, and I gotta say, all three of them were quite entertaining and engaging in their own various ways.
Colin was charmingly self-deprecating about his age and repeatedly had to ask fans to speak up on their questions, admitting that he was old and deaf–he’s 72 now, so yeah, he’s pretty up there. But he was still quite lively on stage, and particularly amusing when going off on a rant about how he wanted to exorcise the word ‘favorite’ from his vocabulary. Not terribly surprisingly, this was motivated by his often ranking fairly low on “favorite Doctor” lists, and he had some snark to level about David Tennant: “oooh I’m slim and good-looking! I have stylish jackets and spiky hair!”
Which totally reminded me of Invader Zim’s ranting about Dib to an innocent bystander. In rather a similar tone, too. 😀
He perked up considerably every time someone in the audience asked him about his Big Finish work, and he expressed deep love and enthusiasm for working with them. It turns out he’s done quite a bit of voice work for Big Finish even outside the Doctor Who stories–he’s done a Dark Shadows and other work as well. He’s gotten a lot of positive reactions from the Doctor Who fandom for the Big Finish Sixth Doctor stories, though, and speaking as someone who’s heard one of these, I’m very much looking forward to listening to more.
Katy Manning turned out to be entirely adorable. And lively! She moved around like someone half her age, and was very warm and friendly to all the fans, too. Hugged everybody and called us all “darling”. I think my favorite story of hers that she shared during her Q&A was about Ron Delgado being seasick during the filming of “The Sea Devils”, and how she and Jon Pertwee kept totally giving him shit about it, swaying back and forth and dropping deliberate mentions of salted pork.
Sophie Aldred by contrast was a bit more restrained personality-wise than the other two, but she was still quite delightful as well. She talked some about her feminist background, which I hadn’t been aware of, and some about lesbian subtext in “Survival”, the final episode of Seven’s run–something which the writer of that episode later said was absolutely the intention, but nobody really got it at the time.
On Saturday Dara and Paul and I also spent some time wandering around the dealers’ room, and I wound up coming home with a jar of vanilla-pear-rhubarb preserves (just because they were tasty AND because it was something I hadn’t seen in a convention dealer’s room before), several bookmarks for books I want to investigate, and a knitted eyeball catnip jingle toy for George.
At least two different life-sized Daleks were making the rounds, which was awesome. One of them even came up to guest Jon Davey’s table, and it was kind of hysterical seeing it ask in Dalek Voice, “Can I have your autograph?” Also hysterical: the other Dalek specifically being Dalek Clara. It was wearing a wig on top of itself, too.
Paul and I left early, leaving Dara to spend the evening at the con. And kind of unsurprisingly, we came home to watch a boatload of Doctor Who: “Attack of the Cybermen” (with Six and Peri), “Survival” (and yeah I TOTALLY bought the lesbian subtext there between Ace and Karra, HA), and 4 of the 6 episodes of the “The Sea Devils”. Which I mention because this was totally pertinent when Dara and I came back to the con on Sunday!
We wound up getting in the autograph lines for Baker, Aldred, and Manning all so that Dara could get them to sign her program book, and I was pleased to tell all three that I’d just gone home and watched their episodes and quite liked them. I specifically wanted to tell that to Colin Baker, just because he’d also told a story the day before about a fan coming up to him and being all “well you’re not one of my favorites, but I’d better have your autograph”, and I mean damn, rude much? So I wanted to give him some positive feedback. And also because I did rather like the Cryons in that episode. AND, Dara and I both told him we wanted to hear the audio he’d done with Big Finish in which his Big Finish-era-Six plays off the TV-era-Six, which sounds like great fun. It’s The Wrong Doctors, specifically. He perked up when we mentioned that, too.
I was pleased to tell Sophie Aldred I’d gone home and watched “Survival”, too, specifically because she’d mentioned it, and that I did quite like the bits with Ace and Karra.
And Katy Manning again was totally adorable. She got up and hugged me and Dara both, twice even, and I wound up buying one of her photos and asking her to sign it for Paul–just because Paul after all has been my main conduit into the older era of the series! And Dara showed off the Second Doctor sonic screwdriver she’d built, which amused Katy quite a bit; she made jokes about it looking like an e-cigarette. This does, I believe, mark the first time I have ever been hugged by an actual actress in my life. <3
When I told her we’d watched most of “The Sea Devils” the night before, she went “ooh, tell me what happens!” To wit: LOL. (And later, when we got home, Paul was delighted when we handed him the signed pic, which was one of Jo and the Third Doctor on a motorbike. He proclaimed he’d frame it and put it up on his wall. YAY!)
After we got the autographs, we went to a couple of panels. The Big Finish panel was pretty much required, although that turned out to be pretty much a chronological overview of Big Finish, and wasn’t really much new to Dara and me since we’d become familiar with Big Finish courtesy of the Doctor Who Podcast. Who we specifically gave a shout out to as significant in getting Tom Baker to sign on with Big Finish, finally! SHOUTOUT TO THE DOCTOR WHO PODCAST! \m/
The “Defend This” panel was also quite amusing, in which the two panelists (one of whom was one of the guys from another Doctor Who podcast, the Happiness Patrol–GREAT name for a podcast) took turns trying to give two-minute defenses of various dodgy things in Doctor Who. Things like “Colin Baker’s coat”, the episode “Fear Her”, and Peri’s accent all came up, as well as “The Ballad of the Last Chance Saloon”.
Colin Baker did another big Q&A panel on Sunday, and it was during this that he got in a lovely interaction with a fan who asked him about the Dark Shadows audio he’d done with Big Finish–told him it’d scared her silly and made her afraid to go in her basement. He was rather sympathetic about that, told us how houses in Britain aren’t so much with basements, and proceeded to add how he’d actually listened to that audio himself later and gotten rather creeped out by it even though he knew what was going to happen!
I also liked his answer to a fan’s question about how, if he could switch costumes with any other Doctor, whose costume would he want? He was very firm about his answer: he’d totally want Christopher Eccleston’s costume, on the grounds that his outfit felt most like “clothes this guy would just wear”. And I gotta say, I rather like the mental image of Six in Nine’s outfit, even though I’ve also seen some very nice renderings of Six in the blue coat Big Finish has put him in in a lot of his adventures!
What was particularly charming of Colin during this Q&A though was how he told us all how our convention, to him, felt just like conventions from back in the 80’s–still a bunch of fans all gathering together to show our love of Doctor Who, with panels and costumes and all. He also spoke very highly of fan-made Daleks and Cybermen and such, calling out quite correctly that the actual costumes and sets and props for the show are often not nearly so sturdily made as fan work, since the fan work has to stand up to going to convention after convention.
The closing ceremonies were also very nice. We learned that this Anglicon had turned out to be the biggest ever, clocking in at just over 900 registered members, and that yes, they’d be running it again next year. Dara and I certainly had a great time, and chances are good we’ll be coming back next year!
Dara’s got her own report up on the convention, as well as a bunch of pictures on her flickr account. I think my favorite of her shots is this one of three guys cosplaying Nine, Ten, and Eleven, who all conveniently happened to wind up sitting in chronological order and so naturally had to pose for pics together!
All in all: lovely little convention! And as I said on Twitter: