Photos and autographs
My schedule this year was a lot less packed, probably because other than CT and JB, I completely skipped photo shoots. I’m finding that I get less interested in getting photos with celebs as time goes on. CT and JB were must-haves, and I’m sure there are a few others I’d like to get pics with (Arthur Darvill comes to mind, and Mark Strickson), but in general, I’ve gotten pics with a good number of the DW celebs, I don’t care to get pics with people I’ve gotten a photo with before (except DT - he’s the one person I’d debate getting another pic with), and there aren’t many left that I’d care to spend the effort on. I think I realized this year that because I dislike seeing myself in photos (because I don’t like looking at myself and because I don’t feel any need to look at pictures to bring back memories), I never look at the pics, so why spend the money on them?
Autographs, on the other hand, I enjoy. Funnily enough, I tend not to get autographs on pictures of any kind. I prefer memorabilia. I am currently working on getting the autographs of everyone who worked on “The Light at the End” on the cover of my vinyl box set (everyone except Tom Baker, who I expect I’ll never be able to get), and managed to get seven new ones this year. JB signed my Captain Jack Funko Pop, which now stands next to my custom Alec Hardy (only because that’s the only other signed Pop I have). CT signed my collector’s edition of the Tenth Doctor Adventures set 1. I also got her autograph on a prop tenner of the type that was used in “The Runaway Bride”. (A prop tenner of Ten worth ten satsumas for $10? Of course I bought one. I bought two, actually.)
And I finally got Paul Cornell to sign my copy of “Human Nature”. I’ve been bringing that book to Gallifrey One for three years now and kept missing him.
The best autograph was Katy Manning. She was one of about five celebs in what’s called Autograph Alley, which is a crowded little corner of the dealer’s room, and the way they handle that is to queue everyone outside in the hallway, then when there is space at a celeb’s table, they come out and call people for that celeb. It’s actually a relatively efficient setup.
So we were all lined up and getting called for various celebs, but not her. After about thirty minutes, the only people in line were for her, and the line was not moving. It turns out that she wasn’t there at all - and she’s known for being late for things, probably because she hates leaving the thing she’s doing before that. She finally showed up forty minutes into the hour she’s supposed to be at the table, and the handler tried to get her to take her booth, but she refused - she wanted to go and hug every single person in line. She walked up to each of us and hugged us and thanked us, and the handler was very patiently following her. She got about two-thirds of the way down the line and the handler said, “Katy, you need to come to your booth now.” She refused, “Oh, no. I’m almost finished,” and she kept on. Finally, at the end of the line, she turned to the handler and said, “Oh, and you need one, too!” and hugged her. Then she started heading back to the booth, walking back past us, and she spotted the other con operator, who sat in a chair on the opposite wall of the hallway making sure that everyone was behaving, and she went, “Oh, you poor man! You need a hug, too!” So he got up and she hugged him. And THEN she turned to the potted plant next to him, said, “You need one, too!” and hugged it as well.
And then, of course, you know that she hugged me after the autograph. She just loves her hugs.
Not going to photo shoots meant more time for what I really love about Gallifrey One, which is the panels. I didn’t get to hit as many of the Big Finish panels as I usually do because they were scheduled against other things I wanted, but there were a lot of writing panels this time. Two that I especially enjoyed were “Writing Tie-In Fiction” and “Writing for Audio”. Both were filled with published authors who discussed how they write for DW and other franchises, for specific media. I took notes, but there’s too much to tell, so here are some interesting tidbits.
- For tie-in fiction, the franchise will usually give you lots of information and background that you can use in your story. The rule usually is, “You can take all the toys out and play with them, but you have to put them back in one piece.”
- That said, for DW, you usually cannot use Daleks or other classic monsters because then the BBC would have to pay for them.
- If your fiction is going to be BBC-branded (for example, one of the BBC books), you cannot have religion or terrorism in it.
- When you’re writing for audio, it might feel like you can do anything (like 1000-man battles) because there are no special effects to pay for, but in many cases, small, intimate casts and plays are more successful.
- You have to learn how to paint the picture for the audience through the dialogue without making actors spell it out like, “Oh, here comes John! Look, he’s got on a brown suit with a red tie.”
- You also have to assume that people are listening only tangentially or have come in halfway through. Most people don’t give audio the same attention they give TV, so you have keep making things obvious.
- Characters’ voices need to be distinguishable, so the audience can tell them apart. It often helps to picture certain actors in roles to help establish the voice for yourself, and it’s possible that they might be able to get that person for the role!
- Don’t start at the beginning. Write the first three scenes, then throw out the first two and begin with the third. (Yeah, this technique is probably too advanced for a beginner like me.)
- An interesting rule given at both panels, passed down from the BBC: Don’t make the Fifth Doctor funny. He does not tell jokes. (Think about it. Compare him to the droll humor of the Seventh Doctor and the puns and witty wordplay of the Sixth Doctor. He really doesn’t.) They designed him with no overt sense of humor, and the humor in the Fifth Doctor’s run stemmed from Peter Davison’s physical humor (for example, heading off in the wrong direction), and thus, to stay in character, you need to keep it out of his dialogue.
There was one, well, for lack of a better word, absurd event during the tie-in fiction panel. An audience member asked the panel the following question (paraphrased): “I’m writing a book and I’ve gotten about two-thirds of the way done, but I’ve gotten stuck. What advice can you give me to motivate myself to finish?” The first panelist to answer was Lisa McMullin, and she said, “Well, I’ve always found that my best motivator for writing is being able to eat. If I don’t meet my deadline, I don’t get paid, and I don’t have food. I used to be a schoolteacher” - (I think she was a schoolteacher) - “and I found that I didn’t have the time to pursue my writing, so I left that career to devote myself full-time, and that’s what got me here. So I guess my advice to you would be, quit your day job.”
The other four panelists jerked straight in their seats, and one of them, Tony Lee, jumped up and barely kept himself from leaping off the riser at the audience member to implore her, “NO! NO! Don’t do that!” He spent the next five minutes giving panicked explanations why she should not do that and disclaimers on the advice being given by the panel. He was in the audio-writing panel later on and started it with the advice to not quit your day job. And at the closing ceremonies, when all the celebs are brought on stage to say goodbye and each one gets to say something, Lisa said, “During a panel this weekend, someone asked for advice for their writing career and I told them that they should quit their day job. Now, I did that myself and it worked for me, but please understand that it may not work for you.”
The fanfiction panel
One other panel of note that I attended was the fanfiction panel. It was scheduled for 11 p.m. on Saturday night and specified that no one under 18 would be allowed in, so though it was billed as a celebration of fanfiction of all types, I was sure it was going to concentrate on smut. I was not wrong.
Don’t misunderstand me: I enjoyed it a lot. It was nice being in a room with people who were passionate about writing and reading fanfiction. I enjoyed celebrating this thing that I love as much as I love DW in general. The thing is, the entire 1.5 hour panel can be summed up in one sentence: “Fanfiction is good because writing it allows me to explore my sexuality.” All four panelists talked about how they worked through their problems through fanfiction, including one particularly touching story from Riley, a trans woman, who told us about how she expressed what she was going through in hormone therapy - the changes in her body and her enjoyment of sex - by writing stories about the Thirteenth Doctor going through the same things.
The panel was interesting and uplifting and empowering - and left me feeling more alone and awkward than ever. It really just cemented the feeling I’ve always had, that no one is interested in stories that don’t have a ship in it. I mean, I’ve always known this. At Montreal Fan Expo, I was chatting about fanfic with a group of people in the line for the DT panel. They asked me what ships I write and I said that I don’t, and those were the last words they said to me entirely. I guess I just really thought that a panel that purported to be about celebrating DW fanfic of all kinds would pay a moment’s attention to anything other than ships and sex.
(Yes, okay, I know I’m being overly self-absorbed about it. No need to say anything like, “Oh, no, I read your stories and they’re lovely.” I know that, and thank you. That’s not the point. I just wish anyone else was like me, who wants to write DW fic without ships and sex, and wants to talk about things like themes and characterizations and how it all relates to DW in general.)
I did get to meet nonelvis, one of the main moderators at Teaspoon. She was one of the panelists, and she recognized my pseud when I told it to her! :) Meeting her was one of the highlights of the weekend.
Gallifrey One started running an academic symposium last year, which is a couple of hours of people giving research talks on various DW topics. To me, it all sounds pretty damn pretentious, but then I’m pretty cynical when it comes to the idea of being academic about DW. However, there was one talk that I was interested in, given by nonelvis (mentioned above). She did some data diving in Teaspoon and talked about some interesting trends she’s seen in DW fanfic.
You can see her results at the website for her talk, nonelvis.com/gallytalk2019, and I’m not going to go over it here, but I will mention one thing that she said in her talk that she didn’t mention on the site. In talking about Teninch fic (fics that pair Rose Tyler with various DT characters), she noted that the most common pairings were with Alec Hardy and Peter Carlisle, followed by Casanova and Peter Vincent, and then a short list of other characters that appear rarely. Her theory is that authors like to give Rose either a broken character she can fix or care for (Hardy, Vincent) or a lovable scamp the reader can’t help but root for (Casanova) or both (Carlisle). In her talk, she noted that authors don’t choose DT’s unredeemable characters: for example, there isn’t a single Barty/Rose story, even though HP is the biggest franchise of all the things that DT has been in (other than Star Wars, I suppose) and DW/HP crossovers are very popular. I would also note that neither Kilgrave nor Cale Erendreich appear as well. (Some of those do appear on AO3, but not on Teaspoon.)
I do find it funny that I am sure that she’s counting one of my fics as a Teninch fic. I wrote a short with the Doctor and Rose meeting Casanova, as an explanation of why the Doctor owes Casanova a chicken. Teaspoon doesn’t allow the author to choose Casanova (or any other non-DW character) as a character, so to get this data, she would have had to query the database for stories with both “Rose” and “Casanova” in the text. Assuming she didn’t go through and read every story to discard those that weren’t actually ships, mine would be included.
Every time I see Nick Briggs, the more impressed I am with him. We attended his Kaffeeklatsch (my husband was able to score a seat directly, and I got in as an alternate), and he’s simply amazing. Most people know him as the voice of the Daleks (and more on that later), and I primarily know him as the executive producer of Big Finish, the writer of “The Light at the End”, and an excellent Ninth Doctor voice mimic, but you know, he’s primarily a sound designer. What he likes to do is produce sound effects and do the background sounds for audios - his acting, voice work, writing, music work (he also writes music for the audios, though he doesn’t have any musical training), and producer work are all secondary to him.
I also really get the feeling that though he’s so closely tied to the DW franchise, he still feels like an outsider looking in, especially when it comes to the TV series, and he doesn’t quite realize just how much the fans consider him as a core part of the franchise. He told the following story, I think in the Kaffeeklatsch: When he got the part playing the ministry man in Torchwood “Children of Earth”, he finally got a chance to meet Peter Capaldi, who he’d always admired as an actor. He was at the set and he saw PC standing to the side studying his script, and started having a fanboy moment, and got up the nerve to approach him. He started walking toward him and PC looked up at him, and he was convinced that he would say something like, “Go away, I’m busy studying right now” or something similar. PC lit up and strode over, saying, “Oh my lord, Nicholas Briggs! The voice of the Daleks! I’m so honoured!” It never occurred to him that other people would be looking up to him. (He said that he and Capaldi are great friends now.)
Catherine Tate and John Barrowman
The headliners at Gallifrey One this year were CT and JB, and they were as fun as you'd expected. The convention scheduled them for two panels each in the biggest auditorium and asked the convention goers to attend one or the other, so that the room isn't overpacked and everyone gets a chance to attend. They can do this at this convention - everyone is gracious and plays by the rules. Last year, they had an incident where they had to ask the entire big auditorium to leave for 30 minutes and said to mark their seats so they can return to them afterwards, and you know, it worked. Everyone returned to their seats and no one tried to steal seats or got into arguments about it. So yes, everyone got to see CT and JB.
JB's an old regular at Gallifrey One, while this was CT's first time, and JB started a ribbon war with her. The tradition at Gallifrey One is to create ribbons that you can stick to your convention badge that have sayings on them and to trade them with others for their ribbons. JB challenged CT to a contest of who could collect the most ribbons, and so they both begged the audience for ribbons. Then, during JB's panel, CT crashed it and unrolled her chain of ribbons, asking the audience to help as it was way too long for her to do it herself. The thing stretched from the stage to more than halfway down the audience, just to where my husband and I were sitting. In her words, "Suck it, Barrowman!"
I got the requisite photos and autographs with them. JB was very friendly, pointed out that his sister and I share names (which I already knew), and put a dimple on the chin of my Jack Harkness Funko Pop. And my photo of him is a stunning butt shot. :) CT was disappointingly cold. She said hi, asked for the items I wanted to get signed over what I was saying to her (which was simply, "It's such an honor to meet you"), signed the items, and turned immediately to the next person. I still adore her, but it was simply disappointing.
And lastly, the Deathmatch
One of the most fun panels we attended last year was the Deathmatch, which is a process-of-elimination game where the panelists figure what is the best X. Last year’s was “What is the best season of Doctor Who?” and it was so much fun, we vowed to attend this year’s Deathmatch come hell or high water.
This year’s was “Who is the best companion?” and it was just as much fun as last year’s. This time, however, I took notes, and the results are too long for this post. See you next time!