Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Gallifrey One 2013

Wednesday (Day 1)

The 13th of February meant an early start for me 6.45am train to London then the comfort of the Heathrow Express. I was quite proud of the fact that I tackled the red tape of passing through the airport with ease, catching the plane didn't go as to plan. I was hanging out with a fellow Dr Who fan John who'd admitted to me be has a bad memory but after a conversation about what my seat was on the flight we ended heading to the non excistant gate 41. A literal mad dash back to departures led us to another run to the correct gate 21, we didn't miss the flight but boy was it close! Last two people to board and  appologies all round. We were on our way, not much of a view of London as we ascended into the clouds. I kept myself entertained by watching Frankenweenie, Dark Shadows and various things on my iPad . I didn't sleep so the 11 hours crept by slowly, eventually we arrived and had to face red tape all over again at LAX, some people are scared of flying. Flying, that's a doddle it's airports that scare the bejesus out of me, it's the officialdom and the complexity of the whole experience, hence I'll never be a frequent flyer and may only ever use them every couple of years.

Upon arrival at the hotel I was greeted with the immediate sight of friends I'd not met for two years so it was hugs all round even before check in.

My room was comfortable even though the view of the nearby main road wouldn't be to everyone's taste I found it fascinating and relaxing as views go.

The evening and night were a bit quiet, not as much sociable as I'd hoped so eventually I collapsed, sleep wasn't over quick to arrive due to my old friend jet lag.

Thursday (Day 2)

Sort of slept, awoke at 3.25am after drifting in and out of consciousness for several hours. Slowly woke up properly and had to make a move as I was starting a bus tour of LA from 8.30am. Met up with Jeff a friend I'd made through Facebook and fellow Doctor Who fan and we set off on the bus together. This tour was arranged differently to the one I went on two years ago and was christened "hop on hop off" the reality of this was explained by the driver as that at places we stop you could choose to stay there for a while but having been told we'd not be picked up for three hours we rapidly decided that that option wasn't for us. We began in character filled Santa Monica where we paid for out tickets before getting a tour of this beautiful Hispanic area. Our only other stop in this part of LA was a brief one near Santa Montica pier, we were warned not to head on the pier itself though as it takes fifteen minutes to walk to the other end. Our next location was Hollywood where we stopped for twenty minutes which doesn't sound long but was twice as long as I had before so I had plenty of time to take photos of the walk of fame and prints of the famous at Mann's Chinese Theatre, also while in this area the driver handed us 10% off coupons for a nearby souvenir shop so I bought a few items of genuine Hollywood tat to remember the place. I can't remember the exact order of the tour but other stops included Rodeo Drive where a short walk from the bus a Bugatti Veron the most expensive  car in the word had been parked and a very memorable trip up into the Hollywood hills to see both a view of LA itself and the world famous Hollywood sign. The driver got us back to the hotel shortly before 4pm and a tired me decided to hang out with friends in the lobby, while I did this an announcement was made that registeration for the convention was now open, a short bit of queuing in the basement and I had my badge. This meant ribbon collecting could commence. The ribbon thing with Gallifrey One is a little hard to explain but here goes, throughout the event you can collect ribbons to attach to your name badge from fellow attendees, some of them excist to promote things, I for example had a supply of them plugging the website of my Dr Who podcast, but others are far more random and entertaining ranging from famous quotes from episodes, catch phases or just witty phases related to the many forms of fandom. The ribbons are a creation purely of the attendees and the diversity of designs is at times quite awe inspiring. By the end of the convention I'd compiled a strip of over 40 of the things but this was nothing compared to the record holder a teenager a crossed paths with a couple if times in the basement who'd amassed an amazingly high collection of over 300, all different! All this ribbon swapping took place at an event also created entirely by the attendees "LobbyCon" as it's called is basically a crowded busy gathering of fans every night throughout the con(though it starts on Thursday the night before the con kids off) All sorts of antics go on at lobby cons from impromptu singing though to others more happy to sit in a corner and knit a scarf.

Friday(Day 3)

I'd bought milk in the hotel shop but a shortage promoted a walk to 7-11, a shop which seemed nearby but even though it was only a further ten mins up the road from Burger King where I'd had breakfast in the 84F heat it felt further. Once I grabbed nessesary provisions I headed back to the hotel, unfortunately this meant I missed the start of the first panel,  my friends from Radio Free Skaro's live show of interviews which they also recorded to podcast later that day, after this first event I opted to case the nearby dealers room, art show and cross paths with TARDIS Tara a lady who not only owns her own TARDIS but is also as far as I know the world's leading expert on the Dr Who scarf and can often be found knitting either one of the official designs or her own variants on the famous neck wear.  I returned to the main hall for Making Sarah Jane Adventures which consisted of three actors talking about their time on that Dr Who spin off, this was followed by interviews with Francis Barber and Shaun Dingwall. I took another break from the main hall after these to head to my room for a while before the main evening event The Opening Ceremony, a fun event in which consisted of info about the con from organizer Shawn Lyon and an on stage gathering of most of the weekend's guests, a late tea at nearby Denny's meant I sadly had to miss comedian Charle Ross's show "Geek like me" this was followed by Dr Who Live an improv comedy show of variable  quality the final event of the day was Mysterious Theatre 337, comedy commentary this time Daleks Invasion Earth 2150 was their chosen victim for mickey taking. More lobby con followed but not for long as tiredness had hit me.

Saturday (Day 4)

Day four began with an interesting presentation by Costume designer June Hudson, she's a rather important figure in Dr Who history having been given the responsibility of updating Tom Baker's iconic look for his final series. I met cosplayers a costumers who were chomping at the bit to ask her questions especially Tara I mentioned earlier who's driven on to compile the ultimate reference information on the Dr Who scarf. Hudson's presentation was made all the more interesting by its visual element, she'd brought along not just her original design drawings but paintings etc. that inspired those ideas. 

Stephen Thorne was next on stage, an actor who even most fans only know by voice as he's played several key roles while caked in make up, Thorne's interview was interesting a d fun, he rapidly started quoting Omega's line"I should have been a god!" at times during the weekend when learned on by the organisers to show off a little.

Phillip Hinchliffe was up next a name you may not know as a non fan(or not we as fans have started to call them) but he produced Dr Who in the mid 70s so is one of the key reasons I'm a fan at all having started watching the show at that time albeit at a v young age, his panel mentioned his battles with Mary Whitehouse and also the important role of teamwork in creating the show, the late Robert Holmes his script editor was paid tribute to in the knowledge and hard work he brought in to allowing his own personal influences to shape the programme.

At this point I dashed out of the main hall, one of the things that makes this convention so good is the diversity of the discussions going on, I headed off to see a panel called enlightenment about the upcoming final few classic series Dr Who DVDs being released including some which have taken a lot of work to bring them even near to how they looked on transmission, The Mind of Evil was sited as an example, the BBC wiped their colour tapes of this show back in the 70s, most of it has now been restored to colour using the almost dark art of a new technology called chroma dot colour recovery, sadly this technique couldn't be used for the stories' first episode as these chroma dots had been filtered out so two people have work long 16 hour days in recent months to colourise the whole of that episode almost by hand, computers can aid this process but tend to be a bit approxamite so need their work correcting.

I now dashed back to the main room for the last few panels of the day, the first of these was Dick Mills formerly of the now sadly defunct BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Dick held the audience's attention for an hour solid with his power point presentation about what it was like to work in this pioneering part of the BBC, Mills is quite the consummate public speaker both informative, witty and all out funny.

The next panel New Words, New Adventures was several actors who've worked on new who and to some extent a best of annecdotes panel but no the worse for that being the content of it.

Silvester McCoy then took to the stage or at least that was the plane but he had other ideas grabbed his radio mike and went on a slightly anacistic tour of the room answering people's questions face to face while the poor big screen cameramen and me tried to keep up with it all. Silv has never been one for rules having emerged from a fringe theatre background in the 60s, he was able to confirm one thing filmmaker Peter Jackson owns Silv's costume he wore in Dr Who.

Last panel of the day was Freema Agyman who'd played Martha Jones, she almost hadn't made it to the event at all as she's now starring in The Carrie Diarys a Sex and The City spin off made in New York. Freema was fun and bounced off her interviewer writer Gary Russel very well.

At this point there was a nice long gap of several hours so I went out to tea at one of my regular haunts Denny's Diner, Denny's is just ten mins walk from the hotel so home from home for many fans attending, its food is definetly filling more than healthy!

Saturday ended with what for many is a highlight of the con, the always entertaining Cosplay Masquerade. For over an hour cosplayers take to the stage, some simply to show off their creations, others have written sketches and come on in groups to perform them, entries ranged from the novice to advanced and many awards were handed out at the end to honour people's efforts. By this time jet lag had hit me so bad that I literally fell off my chair at one point, bear in mind I was nurse maiding my camcorder so was more active than most in the v large standing room only packed audience.

The day ended with a fan film recreation of Patrick Troughton story Power of The Daleks, it was quite good but jet lag robbed me of a full viewing of it.

Sunday (Day 5)

A relaxed start for me to the final day of the con as there was nothing I wanted to attend till lunchtime, so I used this to my advantage and had another walk found the extensive and large dealers room. The dealers had plenty you could buy back home but I was after rarer fare, Target Dr Who books these are becoming increasingly hard to find back home so I ended up buying 17 of them at knock down prices to fill gaps in my collection.

I then headed back to the main hall for a series of back to back panels that had caught my eyes. Anji Mohindra was up first, known to who fans for playing Rani in the Sarah Jane adventures, next was a panel called making Dr Who in the 1970s in which a wide selection of the con's guests related what it was like to work on the show at that time.

Churchill & the monsters was next on stage, actors including Ian McNiece who'd played the famous premier related their time on the show.

I then headed to a side room for an interesting discussion The Edge of Destruction about people's efforts to recover missing episodes of Dr Who, hopes were raised in this room by news of one man's long term project to investigate the archives of various African countries a slow, careful and by all accounts diplomatic process but hopefully one that will return some missing episodes at some point.

I returned to the packed main hall for the final panel of the convention it was entitled Revisiting the Legacy which makes it sound high brow but it was in fact another collection of entertaining annecdotes, it culminated in a moment I hope will go viral on you tube. Silvester McCoy was handed some spoons and finished the panel by singing and playing them on his fellow panellists!

I then haunted over to a side room one last time to catch an event that's grown from an informal gathering round a table in the basement to having its own room and place on the programme in just two short years The oodcast vs The Doctor Who podcast trivia quiz,I only had time to catch a few mins of this but the oods one despite the other team effectively having a highly knowledgable ringer in Luke Harrison whose knowledge is legendary!

A final dash back to the main all for the end of the year in review video presentation of Dr Who stars on various uk shows over the past year in interviews a lot of our American friends may have missed, this was followed by a special presentation a especially commissioned video interview with Stephen Moffatt head writer of the show right now and former attendee of this very con, not a huge amount to report from this interview but he seemed confident that the show's 50th anniversary would be celebrated in style later in the year. 

After that I wandered around the final v busy lobby con in an attempt to gather more ribbons and hopefully socialise more.  I took full advantage of the hotel's facilities and checked into my flight and picked the seat I'm typing this from. It was a late night so I could put a good dent in packing and clear space in the morning for one final breakfast.

Monday (Day 6)

The con was over but lobby con is unstoppable, after breakfast with Jeff and finishing packing I bade an emotional farewell to my room and base of operations for the con. Checking out itself was v fast and I soon joined my friends from the staggering stories podcast who managed to secure an interview with Dick Mills while we waited to catch the airport shuttle. LAX wasn't fun to negotiate I was among a few people give a full body scan and a pat down by security, thanks guys I was already shaking with nerves before then! Also baggage check in seemed woefully understaffed so there was a long it even before all the real red tape. The flight itself is going well, some minor turbulence but have slept well and as I finish this am watching Lincoln I say watching the picture is so dark I'm mostly listening. I'll return to Gallifrey One but will leave it a couple of years not only is it an expensive exercise but as you may gather me and airports(esp American ones) don't get on well. Can highly recommend LA as a tourist destination it's a city of great variety and character and I'm told from Venice Beach you can see the sun set into the sea.

You can see my photos of LA and Gallifrey One here

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