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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