Doctor Who Convention, Cardiff, 2012

Meet the Stars panel
Meet the Stars panel
As thousands of Doctor Who fans descended on Cardiff at the weekend, the glorious Welsh capital took on a slightly TARDISy shade of blue.

“Whovians” from across the world came to the city to attend the convention and to get a chance to see the cast and crew in person and discuss their views on why their job is the best in the world.

But I was promised tea!

While some fans had an early highlight on Saturday morning when Matt Smith offered them a jammie dodger at the Meet the Stars panel, the event, in all its glory, did at times feel like a big ad for the show. Now let’s be clear, Doctor Who is easily one of the best shows on British telly, but surely repeating so over and over again at a dedicated con really is preaching to the choir?

Yet despite the constant self congratulation the panels and demonstrations were indeed inspiring and informative.

The odd encounter with a suspicious Judoon, a submissive Ood or a slightly aggressive Silurian delighted young and old, and the Cardiff’s Millennium Centre, a stunning building which itself featured in the episode The Girl Who Waited, was an excellent set for the various events.

Parting of the Ways

The star studded panel with producers Steven Moffat and Caroline Skinner, and dashing actors Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill was easily the most anticipated of the day, and was indeed exciting and hilarious, but it was at times marred by sudden strikes of melancholia with the Ponds set to make their exit mid-season. Both Gillan and Darvill appeared sad to leave the show, even if by mutual agreement.

Their swansong is episode due to be filmed in New York later this year and is expected to feature the Weeping Angels!

A suspicious Judoon
A suspicious Judoon

I think you call me… Sexy

Despite the panels all being extremely interesting the special effects demonstration really stole the show for me.

Between explosions, pyrotechnics and guest appearances by Daleks and Cybermen the 45 minute show, lead by sexy special effects guru Danny Hargreaves, mesmerised those in attendance.

As well as covering the more exciting and dangerous aspects of creating special effects for the show, Hargreaves showed every group how his team creates atmospheric effects such as snow and smoke.

The special effects chief also shared one of the most touching anecdotes of the whole event. He said one of his best memories of filming Doctor Who over the past six series is when David Tennant morphed into Matt Smith.

After Tennant finished filming his scene in the exploding TARDIS, he said, everyone in the crew cleared the set and left the tenth and eleventh Doctors alone. Hargreaves told the audience that Tennant then showed Smith around the set and introduced him to the TARDIS.


Something old, something new…

And so we come to the TARDIS.

As exciting as the total geek out of the convention was, many ticket-holders also got a tour of the set which houses the Doctor’s best asset, that sexy blue box.

The TARDIS has been a constant ally to each of the eleven doctors from the very first episode 49 years ago. Visiting the current incarnation and setting foot in the legendary spaceship was guaranteed to return even the most cynical of adults back to childhood.

From the detailed walls to the old school phone installed inside the door to the hundreds of artefacts and random objects adorning the console, being allowed to even just stand inside the control room was everything most of us expected and more.

For the short time it’s been based at the BBC’s rented Upper Boat studio, about thirty minutes from Cardiff Bay, the TARDIS will have rarely seen as much first hand adoration as it has over the three days last weekend.

Best Jammie Dodgers ever!
Best Jammie Dodgers ever!

I don’t want to go…

Each group had a half hour to explore every corner and touch every inch of the set, take as many photos as possible and, while it was plenty of time to tour the blue box, very few of us were ready to leave willingly at the end.

Visiting the control room of the TARDIS, and the famous Blue Box Cafe, at the location that has been their home for the past six years was definitely a once in a lifetime experience as the set is about to be moved.

The whole Doctor Who set will be transferred to a new purpose built studio just minutes from the Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay.

Were you one of the 3000 lucky sods who got tickets for the convention? Tell us your highlights in comments.

Images © Cristiana Theodoli, All Rights Reserved. Reproduced here with permission.

Follow the links for our review of the Doctor Who novels The Coming of the Terraphiles, The Silent Stars Go By and Shada

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