The Doctor Who Festival, London Excel – November 2015

Tom Project Indigo at The Doctor Who Festival
Beware the flying TARDIS

‘Ello me Old Chinas and welcome to East London for The Doctor Who Festival at London ExCel! I was really excited to be going to an official Doctor Who Festival and was honoured to be given a Press Pass to report on the event for my Project Indigo readers.

The Doctor Who Festival ran from the 13th-15th November 2015. I went to the festival on Saturday and spent the night before in Greenwich as the festival opened its doors to the public bright and early and I didn’t want to miss a thing. I travelled to the Excel via Docklands Light Railway and got off at Custom House station. The Excel lives up to its name as it is XL! It is so big that there are 2 DLR stations either side.

Tom's Press Pass for the Doctor Who Festival
Look at this!

As soon as I collected my Press Pass from the Boulevard I went up to the Press Lounge on Level 3 to introduce myself and say thank you to BBC Worldwide. I was really happy to meet Cath who arranged for me to have my pass. It was a spacious room with free refreshments, and new merchandise on display. I was also able to take home boxsets of Doctor Who Series 9 Part 1 and The Ten Christmas Specials in exchange for a donation to Children in Need.

Entrance to the Doctor Who Festival, London Excel
Welcome to the Doctor Who Festival

The Festival goers were divided into Daleks and Cybermen. I was part of the Dalek stream which meant that I went to the Main Theatre shows with the writers and cast in the morning.

First I went to the Drama School for the ‘Act Like a Monster’ show with voice of the Daleks Nick Briggs and Dalek actor Barnaby Edwards. They needed three victims volunteers to perform in a show about ‘Davros’ Diabolical Daleks’, playing a Dalek and UNIT soldiers. Barnaby said that there has been no change in how to operate a Dalek in 52 years. A Tenth Doctor Cosplayer called Ash played the Dalek – that’s the only time there’s ever been a Doctor inside a Dalek apart from Into the Dalek (2014)! Ash said that it was hot and claustrophobic inside a Dalek. The Dalek came apart like a wedding cake and I got a good look inside.

The show was a laugh and good fun to watch. Afterwards there was a Q&A and someone asked what other Doctor Who characters they would like to play. Barnaby said The Brigadier and Nick said The Doctor! I got to meet the Dalek himself, Barnaby Edwards, which I was really pleased about.

Tom Project Indigo meets Barnaby Edwards at The Doctor Who Festival
Meeting a Dalek, Barnaby Edwards!

After the show I had to rush off to the Main Hall to Meet the Writers! I was really looking forward to this part as I am considering being a writer myself. I already have lots of ideas for Doctor Who stories and I would love to develop the scripts and see them on the TV screen one day. On the way in everyone was given a script from The Magician’s Apprentice (2015).

Meet the Writers at The Doctor Who Festival. Steven Moffat, Sarah Dollard and Peter Harness
The Writers catch up on the Doctor Who banter

The writers on Saturday were Steven Moffat, (Steven says his title is not Showrunner as the Press call him, but Head Writer) Sarah Dollard and Peter Harness. There was a Q&A and they offered advice for other writers. Steven says he cries a lot and thinks he can’t finish a story – and his wife once filmed him to remind him he thinks that all the time! Someone asked how to cure ‘writer’s block’ and Steven said there’s no such thing, it just means you are stuck! Steven needs a Swear Jar because he has a potty mouth – Ha Ha.

Sarah said that when she learnt about ‘Trap Streets’ she knew she had to write a story about them and Face The Raven (2015) became an ideal story for Doctor Who. The writers talked about a ‘terrible event’ that she had to write into the story – we know what that is now. Poor Clara, and poor Sarah for having to write it!

Peter wrote The Zygon Invasion and The Zygon Inversion (2015). I really enjoyed those stories and would be really happy if he writes more about the Zygon stories in the future.

Peter Capaldi at The Doctor Who Festival
The Doctor will see you now!

After the trio went off the stage there was a short break then time to Meet the Cast! Out came Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Michelle Gomez and Ingrid Oliver along with Steven again. There was a big eruption in the room because everyone was so excited to see them. It was a definitely a day out for the Peter Capaldi Fan Club!

Peter bowed to Jenna as she is currently playing Queen Victoria. I wonder if she will set up Torchwood in the story?

We watched some clips and looked at some pictures, then the cast answered some questions. Steven was amazed that there was a petition to bring back the Sonic Screwdriver. I quite like the sunglasses, I think the Doctor should stay with them. I think sunglasses are cooler than screwdrivers.

Someone asked Steven if he would set a story in Ireland. Steven said that Wales can look just like Ireland and if they went abroad to film it would have to be as different to Wales as possible to be worth the money to film there. That makes it easier for me to visit Doctor Who locations!

The cast were asked what monsters they would like to bring back? Peter said the Zarbi and the Menoptera and Steven said the Sea Devils.

Later they were asked what companion they would like to bring back. Peter and Steven said ‘Clara!’ at exactly the same time. They made Jenna feel guilty for dumping them!

Meet the Cast was a great opportunity for everyone to ask questions about Doctor Who and daily life on set, the team really know how to look after their fans.

After a quick lunch (veggie sausage roll) I went to Stage One to a talk about the game Lego Dimensions. Mark Warburton from TT Games was there to tell us about bringing the Doctor Who characters into the Lego Dimensions world and answer questions from the audience. Stephen Moffat helped create the Doctor character so that he was just right.

Mark said everyone felt it ‘was about time the Doctor had his time in the sun!’ He also said that as Whovians they put Missy in the game when her identity was a secret, so that they could find out who she was!

Whilst I was at the Lego talk I met my friend George aka Mini Matt Smith! I have been friends with George online for yonks but it was finally time to meet in person. As Mini Matt Smith he is a Youtuber with lots of fans and he has interviewed many Doctor Who stars including Peter Capaldi onstage at the Series 9 Premiere! George invited me to visit him in his TARDIS which I hope to do. Sadly we live 200 miles apart but I will definitely take him up on the offer one day! It was really nice to meet George and his family.

Tom Project Indigo meets Mini Matt Smith
Guess who this is? That’s right, Mini Matt Smith!

After the talk and hearing about the features of Lego Dimensions I was convinced I wanted to play it so the Press Lounge was my first stop. The graphics were amazing, like everything else about the game, and I really liked the way they made the Daleks out of Lego. I played as the Twelfth Doctor and also saw K-9 and Batman. The chemistry is still forming between the Doctor and Batman, but they will make it!

I played for as long as I could until I had to let someone else have a turn. I hope Father Christmas brings me the game because I CAN’T WAIT TO PLAY AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After I left the lounge I went back to Level 1 and explored an Iconic Room Set. This was Davros’ Sick Room from the Series 9 two-parter opener The Magician’s Apprentice and The Witch’s Familiar (2015). It really felt like you were in the episode and Davros looked real, but I was brave. It was a bit smaller than I expected and I wondered how they fit the cameras onto the set. The props looked so hard to make so Millennium FX must be very good at their job.

Next I went to the MFX area to see them at work. There I met my mate Jon Davey! Jon is a Doctor Who monster actor who has been in over 30 episodes and I’ve met him a few times now. I always like to try and spot Jon when I watch a new episode. Recently he had a staring competition with Doctor John Disco in The Zygon Inversion (2015). In Series 9 he also played The Mire and I got to try on the costume! It was dark inside and my eyes couldn’t reach the visor so I couldn’t see a thing. It was really fun and I’d love to make a Mire costume at home for a Cosplay, I think I would need some help from the guys at MFX though. Check out this video of all of Jon’s performances in one go – it’s awesome!

The last talk of the day was the Millennium FX Show with Special Guest Mark Gatiss. Mark is a writer and actor, he has appeared as both Professor Lazarus and Gantok in Doctor Who and written 8 episodes. Fact fans – 38% of Project Indigo readers chose Mark Gatiss’ episode Robot of Sherwood (2014) as their favourite episode of Series 8!

In the show Mark and the MFX Team talked about how they create the monsters and take them from script to screen. Mark came up with an idea for a parasite that feeds off of parts of the brain that we don’t use and two designers created their own versions on the stage.

Mr Sweet from The Crimson Horror (2013) made a guest appearance and Mark explained how he worked. Mr Sweet was much more cheerful in real life and seemed really cute.

Next they brought out The Mire, and Mark Gatiss threatened to show the ugly creature inside. He took of The Mire’s head and underneath was …. Jon Davey! A volunteer came onstage and Jon taught him how to move like an Ice Warrior. Jon has been in many episodes so has lots of experience.

All of the sudden the lights turned out and a Spoiler Alert came out from behind the sofa! It was a Sandman from Sleep No More (2015), Mark’s latest episode that was airing that day.

The final thing I did before I left was play The Doctor and the Dalek. I played a custom level that had been created by another guest and had to shoot Daleks. I was having a great time playing but sadly it was time to go.

Playing the Doctor and the Dalek at the Doctor Who Festival
Playing the Doctor and the Dalek

I was really sad to leave but I hope they do another Festival one day. The Doctor Who team have really made their fans happy. On the way out I met a man who had his photo taken with Michelle Gomez and he was so chuffed that it made me so happy to see how happy he was. This event was something that Whovians will remember for their whole life and I was ecstatic to be part of it!

See you again for my next adventure – a Classic Doctor Who location next time. Rattle n hum back soon! Laters!

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Competition – Win Doctor Who: The 10 Christmas Specials LIMITED EDITION BOX SET! Now closed.

Tom presents Doctor Who: The 10 Christmas Specials!
Tom presents Doctor Who: The 10 Christmas Specials!

HO HO HO! Christmas is coming and to celebrate I am giving Project Indigo readers the chance to win an amazing prize –

A Doctor Who: The 10 Christmas Specials LIMITED EDITION BOX SET!

 

 

THANK YOU so much to BBC Worldwide for donating this very special prize which one lucky reader will win!

To be in with a chance of winning , here is the question that you must answer!

Now Clara is leaving the TARDIS, who would you like the Doctor to have an adventure with? You can choose anyone in time and space!

Please leave a comment on this post with your answer and one winner will be picked at random. Only one entry per person please. I will e-mail the winner to confirm the delivery address. Sorry but I can only post within the UK.

Closing date is 11.59 pm on Sunday December 13th 2015.

Good luck!

This SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION BOXSET (DVD) contains all 10 Christmas specials plus a set of 5 graphically illustrated Christmas cards, exclusive bonus feature & accompanying booklet.

In these action-packed episodes, the Doctor must save the world from an array of monsters including Killer Santas, The Sycorax, Rachnoss, The Wooden King & Queen and The Dream Crabs.

Tenth Doctor David Tennant in
THE CHRISTMAS INVASION / THE RUNAWAY BRIDE
VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED / THE NEXT DOCTOR
THE END OF TIME (PARTS ONE & TWO)

Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith in
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
THE DOCTOR, THE WIDOW AND THE WARDROBE
THE SNOWMEN / THE TIME OF THE DOCTOR

Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi in
LAST CHRISTMAS

BONUS FEATURE: TEN CHRISTMASES
In this exclusive new feature, Rufus Hound journeys through Christmas past to show many of the greatest moments and monsters. Also includes personal reflections from Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat.

This Boxset and Doctor Who Series 9: Part 1 are now available to buy on DVD at  bbcstore.com .

West Wales Museum of Childhood, Carmarthenshire – August 2015

The entrance to the West Wales Museum of Childhood
Welcome to the West Wales Museum of Childhood

Croeso and welcome to the West Wales Museum of Childhood in ….West Wales! We are travelling back in time to August 2015 for a trip down Memory Lane. I visited the West Wales Museum of Childhood during my summer road -trip around Wales, and I popped into the museum when I was leaving Newcastle Emlyn on my way to visit Conwy. I got a big surprise when I discovered there were a lot of Doctor Who toys there – I was expecting all the toys to be old fashioned.

The West Wales Museum of Childhood is at Pen-ffynnon, 1 mile from Llangeler in Carmarthenshire. There is a tea room and a gift shop and the museum has 10,000 exhibits! A warm welcome is offered to ‘everyone who is – or ever has been – a child’.

The museum was created by Paul and Hilary Kennelly and Vic Davey to display the toys and memorabilia that they have been collecting for most of their lives. They bought the farm, Pen-ffynnon, in August 2002 and gradually turned it into the place I am reviewing today. I had a good chat with Hilary and she told me that she met the Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, many years ago when he was playing Worzel Gummidge.

When I arrived I went into the ‘Oriel Amser’ (Gallery of Time ) which is a timeline of the 20th Century with memorabilia and displays of toys to look at.
Next to this is a stable where you can see costumes and traditions from Wales, and an antique toyshop window ‘Siop Deganau’ displaying Welsh toys.

Metal toys at the West Wales Museum of Childhood
Spot the TARDIS!

Next door is a barn full of little metal toys and an old school room that shows you what school was like in Wales’ old days. Next is the carthouse which contains train sets and a huge collection of Action Man toys.

The school room at West Wales Museum of Childhood
Hope I don’t have to wear the Dunce’s Hat!

Finally we come to my favourite bit – the Doctor Who stuff in the Television and Film Gallery! This was originally the kitchen in mid-Victorian times. It contains lots of merchandise from film and television over the last 60 years. At the entrance is a magnificent mural painted by Paul, depicting a Dalek exterminating a TV , whilst the Eleventh Doctor and James Bond have a sonic weapon-off!

The TV and Film Gallery at West Wales Museum of Childhood
The TV and Film Gallery

The room is crammed with Sci-Fi treasures including an original Dalek Dress-up suit from 1965. I dressed up as a Cyberman but deleted nothing as I was a good Cyberman. I would recommend any Doctor Who fans who live in, or visit West Wales, to go and see this collection. There are A LOT of special Doctor Who treasures to treasure which have been happily collected and displayed for you to enjoy. It was lovely to look at the toys and imagine what it would have been like to be a Doctor Who fan 50 years ago and I even saw some items from my own toybox.

This museum was an amazing place to visit and I really enjoyed riding on the kiddy cars. If you are ever in Carmarthenshire make sure you stop off and see it for yourself! If you have been already please leave a comment and tell me what you liked best.

Tom playing at the West Wales Museum of Childhood
I’m a little kid again!

In other news, I am off to London this weekend to go to the Doctor Who Festival! There will be lots of stars there including Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, Michelle Gomez and Ingrid Oliver. I hope you will come back soon so I can tell you all about it.

Goodbye!

No Man’s Fort, The Solent, Hampshire – October 2015

Tom and No Man's Fort in the background
Tom and No Man’s Fort in the background

Ahoy there and welcome to No Man’s Fort – a fort in the middle of the Solent, filming location for Classic Doctor Who episode The Sea Devils (1972) ! I was very lucky to be a guest of AmaZing Venues and Solent Forts so that I could report on No Man’s Fort for my Project Indigo readers.

In case you haven’t heard of The Solent, it is a strait, or narrow channel of water, that separates the mainland from the Isle of Wight. I left my house early in the morning to travel to Portsmouth and parked my TARDIS at the Historic Dockyard. I checked in at the Solent Forts office at Gunwharf Quays and mooched about the shops until it was time to get the boat.

City Quay at the Spinnaker Tower
Look at The Spinnaker Tower!

We embarked at City Quay and caught the boat called the Ashleigh R. While I was waiting I had a great view of The Spinnaker Tower which was being painted. It was covered in people dangling off the tower that looked like little ants wearing crash helmets! The waves were very bumpy and on the way out to sea we followed a ferry on it’s way to Spain. The sea rippled like snakeskin and on the top deck it was like walking on a moving bus. First we dropped people off at Spitbank Fort then carried on to No Man’s. The poor Doctor had to get a dinghy to the fort as he couldn’t use his TARDIS.

Approaching No Man's Fort by boat
Approaching No Man’s Fort

In The Sea Devils the Third Doctor and Jo Grant visit the sea fort to investigate why ships in the area are mysteriously disappearing. In the episode the sea fort was being converted to a SONAR Testing Station. As we approached the fort it looked smaller from the outside than I expected. Jon Pertwee and Katy Manning had to climb a ladder to get on to the fort which looked very dangerous but I was relieved that I had to walk up a ramp instead! I was expecting the fort to be dark and gloomy – instead it was light and cheerful as it has been converted into a luxury hotel which opened in April 2015.

On arrival at the fort the Doctor and Jo were attacked – but I was very kindly greeted and welcomed onto the fort with a drink and a chance to relax in the Atrium. The adults were given a glass of Champagne. Children are not normally allowed on the fort but they made a special exception for me!

Next all the visitors were given a guided tour of the fort and learnt about it’s history. No Man’s Fort is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is one of 30 forts built to defend the UK from the French under the orders of the Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston. Work started in 1865 and continued into the 1880s but it was never used and a shot was never fired in anger. The forts became known as ‘Palmerston’s Follies’ because by the time they were completed the threat had passed and the technology was out of date. The fort is now owned by AmaZing Venues, founded by Mike Clare, along with Spitbank Fort and Horse Sand Fort in the Solent. Spitbank is also a hotel and Horse Sand is currently home to lots of sea birds but will become a museum in the future.

Lunch in the Mess Hall at No Man's Fort
Enjoying my pudding!

After the tour it was time for lunch. We had a buffet lunch in the Mess Hall on the Lower Level, and I filled up on delicious bread and butter and Indian rice as I have a wobbly K-9 tooth. I did manage to eat chocolate and nut brownies and apple for pudding.

Scrabble on the Deck Level at No Man's Fort
Scrabble on the Deck Level

After lunch we were free to explore wherever we wanted. My companion and I took Scrabble up to the top-deck and played a game whilst enjoying views of the Isle of Wight, which I had only just visited on holiday. It was definitely the most picturesque setting for a Scrabble match and I won-thanks to a triple-letter score on the last round! Also on the deck were a boules track, Jacktar’s bar, a Hot House, a Fire Pit, a BBQ area and some Hot Tubs. There was even a Helipad which could be useful for materialising a TARDIS!

There was an even better view from the top of the lighthouse – it was panoramic and I could see the Isle of Wight and the mainland and I used some binoculars to see clearly.

he panoramic view from the lighthouse on No Man's Fort.
Checking out the panoramic view from the lighthouse.

Next I went down to the Upper Level and explored the luxurious hotel rooms. The rooms were named after famous ships. My favourite was HMS Victory. There was a portrait of Horatio Nelson on the wall – in the Sea Devils the Doctor says that he knew Nelson personally.

Nelson at No Man's Fort
Horatio on the wall

The walls in the corridor were decorated with quotes by Winston Churchill – but I didn’t see my favourite ‘K.B.O’! There lots of places to relax including a snooker room, a pool room and a games room. In the episode Clark and Hickman played cards to relax whilst they were staying on the fort, until they were interrupted by a Sea Devil. I bet they would have liked having all these rooms to play games in. There was even a French Bar on the Lower Level.

The bottom level was the Sea Level bunker and the tunnels felt the most likely place on the fort to run into a Sea Devil! I saw a LaZer Battle arena which looked like it would be a lot of fun and a war museum where I bumped into the Doctor’s old pal Churchie aka Winston Churchill! I could hear the sea rippling against the side and I wondered if I was standing right above the Sea Devil’s base which was discovered beneath the foundations of the fort.

In the Sea Level Bunker of No Man's Fort
Is there a Sea Devil round the corner?

Sadly at 4 o’clock it was time to go back to Portsmouth and it was back to the Embarkation Hall to board the Ashleigh R on the bumpy sea. I really enjoyed my special trip to No Man’s Fort and would love to return another day. All the staff and my fellow visitors were so friendly and welcoming and the whole day was a real adventure.

Thank you so much to AmaZing Venues and Solent Forts for making it possible for me and my companion to visit such a special place, we are both very grateful. If you would like to visit No Man’s Fort yourself, for lunch or to stay overnight, please find out more here.

In my last post I said I would be writing about a special museum – that will actually be NEXT time as I was so keen to tell you about my visit to No Man’s Fort straightaway! I hope you will join me for my next adventure through time and space.

Anchors Aweigh!

(Disclosure – my companion and I were invited guests at No Man’s Fort but all words and opinions are my own.)