gingerenvy (gingerenvy) wrote,

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My first Doctor Who convention

Two weeks ago, I took the train up to Birmingham for the Return to the 11th Hour convention. I wasn't sure what to expect as I hadn't been to a DW convention before and the only other convention experience I've had was way back in 1992 for Star Trek: TNG back home in Vancouver. My main reason for going was that Catherine Tate was scheduled to be there on the Sunday and I couldn't not take the opportunity to meet one of my favourite people in the world and frankly, a person that has cheered me up and kept me going when I was homesick or frustrated with the job search in my new country. I couldn't believe my luck that I was able to go to this and it was her very first convention appearance.

Saturday was the first day I was there and I quickly made sure I bought a ticket to the photo session with Catherine on Sunday. After that, I took in most of the talks and Q&As with the other actors appearing at the convention. Most of them were from the Eleventh Doctor's era, but I'm pretty much a fan of all the Doctors (that I've seen so far), so I really enjoyed them. My favourites would have to be Neve McIntosh and Catrin Stewart (Madame Vastra and Jenny). They did both of their talks together and they have such a great camaraderie and banter that it was simply just fun to listen to them chat and answer questions. Another favourite was Gary Russell. He wrote my favourite DW book, Beautiful Chaos, and he's really knowledgeable on Who in general so it was interesting to hear him speak.

After the talks, all the guests were signing autographs and I met most of them. It was a fairly small convention, only 300-400 people, so you actually had a moment to chat with the guests. They were all so warm and grateful to the fans, it was a genuine pleasure to see them. I was able to tell Neve and Catrin that my friend, who hadn't watched DW in years, is now hooked back on it after watching The Crimson Horror with me and love Vastra and Jenny so much. They seemed really pleased with that and Catrin said that that was her favourite episode to film this year.

On Saturday evening, there was a cosplay competition in which the celebrity guests were judges. Some people are so creative! Cosplay is not my cup of tea, but some of the costumes were so elaborate, it was incredible. There was a group of 11 women who all dressed as a different Doctor and a fabulous Idris, complete with big hair and an even bigger dress, who won. My favourite was probably the DW family; dad was dressed as Ten, mum as Rose, little girl as a pink Dalek, and a little baby TARDIS.

Sunday was the big day. I was so excited when I got to the hotel, I couldn't believe I was in the same place as a person I have come to admire and respect so much. The morning was for the photo sessions. I was in the fourth group, so I was anxiously waiting outside the ballroom to be called in. When they did and we went in, I caught my first glimpse of Catherine and I was just so happy. She looked amazing, laughing and smiling with everybody. I met a lovely girl and her parents in line behind me and we fangirled together about the Tate. She had seen Much Ado About Nothing on stage and met Tennant and Tate outside after, I was so envious!

Then the moment had arrived, I was actually meeting Catherine freaking Tate! She put her arm around me for the photo and it was taken so quickly, I didn't really know what was happening (as I saw afterwards when I got the photo back, see below). Then I asked if I could please have a hug and she said of course and I just... I was overwhelmed. She was so nice and genuine even though she had probably seen 200 people already and it wasn't even 11:00am yet.

Afterwards, I sat in on a few more talks. There was one about Classic Who that was interesting even though I haven't really watched any, so I was clueless when they were talking about specific episodes. Simon Fisher-Becker, who plays Dorium (the big blue guy), was an excellent panelist. He answered a lot of questions about acting in general and he was genuinely happy to chat and meet fans and really seemed to enjoy himself.

Then it was time for Catherine's autograph session. When I finally got around to my turn, I was very glad that I had brought my DVD cover of her sketch show instead of something DW related as most everybody else had done. She saw the post-it with my name on it (Samara) so my item could be personalised and she remarked that it was unusual and lovely and she asked where I was from. I told her Canada, but that I lived here now, and told her how much I loved her show. She gave me a big smile and then it was over. I wanted to tell her how much her work cheered me up when times were tough and all sorts of other things, but of course the time is short and I was a bit speechless to be honest. Again, I can't stress enough how kind and genuine she seemed (as she perceives to be in interviews, etc.).

Catherine's interview and Q&A was the last scheduled event of the convention. She talked about her background, her show, acting, DW of course, David Tennant, working with Bernard Cribbins and Lis Sladen, and much more. The fan questions were mostly good and nothing embarrassing or rude, I'm glad to say. The best was when the older man got up to ask a question and he accidentally called her 'Karen'. She gave him a shocked face and then said, "and your name, sir?" He told her, "Les." She said, "WOT?" He said it again and again she replied, "WOT??" Then she proceeded to call him Alan, Bob, everything under the sun except Les. It was absolutely hilarious.

There is a pretty good recap of the Q&A here. Apparently, David Tennant convinced her to do the convention and for that, I thank him profusely. Hopefully, they will do one together someday.

I went to dinner that night with a big smile on my face, so grateful that living here had afforded me some new opportunities that would have never been possible back in Canada. I really liked how the convention was a small one, it afforded a more intimate setting and the actors didn't seem too tired or overwhelmed by everything. I would definitely go to one again.

Tags: catherine tate, catrin stewart, convention, doctor who, gary russell, meeting famous people, neve mcintosh, personal, return to the 11th hour, simon fisher-becker
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