Time Warp, a new convention which couples Q&A sessions with photo shoots and signings, comes to the South West this weekend (5th-6th July 2014), and Kasterborous caught up with the organiser, Ian Fraser.
The convention has an incredible guest list – but you can see that for yourself: Colin Baker (The Sixth Doctor); Nicola Bryant (Peri); Katy Manning (Jo Grant); Wendy Padbury (Zoe); Louise Jameson (Leela); Terry Molloy (Davros); Sarah Sutton (Nyssa); Mark Strickson (Turlough); Andrew Cartmel (Script Editor for the Seventh Doctor era); Will Thorp (Toby Zed in The Impossible Planet/ The Satan Pit); Deborah Watling (Victoria); Richard Franklin (Captain Mike Yates); Damaris Hayman (The Daemons’ Miss Hawthorn); Dee Sadler (Flowerchild in The Greatest Show In The Galaxy); and Derek Martin (HAVOC stuntman; Image of the Fendahl).
Though he’s arranged conventions before (and attended many across the UK), this time, Ian Fraser set out to make something a little bit different…
K: What’s the most exciting thing about TimeWarp?
FRASER: I think the guest list itself is exciting; in any circumstances having so many of the BIG companions all at one time rarely happens, because actors have very busy schedules. There were another couple of great companions on the list, but they simply couldn’t make the date because they were either abroad or travelling back from events abroad – but if it all goes well this time, then they have already said that they love the concept of doing this hybrid event.
It’s a signing in one sense, but then we’ve given attendees all the extra bits that they’d normally only get at a convention – but without the huge ticket cost! I don’t think it’s been done before – there’re two possible reasons; either no one’s really thought of anything like this… or people want one or the other!
How did you find organising an event now, compared to your first one in Weston-super-Mare?
It was a lot harder in some ways. When I did my first one, way back in 1997, I was younger, more naive and didn’t see problems as problems. As you get older and you realise the full extent of costs: needing it to work because, at the end of the day, it costs a lot to put on – everything you don’t think of when you’re younger and just do them as they crop up: insurance before you can go in the building, microphones, venue, hotels, actors, travel… It’s a big deal!
And now also I feel a sense of responsibility to the actors, that it should work for them, and that people attending can get to see and do as much as possible. We’ve given them choices, we’ve tried not to do it so that if you want autographs, you’re missing talks; if you’re listening to a talk, you’re not getting your photo taken. But letting people know that it’s on is easier now than it was then – when I did the first one, the series hadn’t been on TV since 1989, so there wasn’t a current Doctor, there wasn’t a series to watch and to get people interested in. Now Doctor Who is big news, and there’s a newly discovered respect for what these originals actors did and what they achieved, with no money and no hi tech effects… A great story is a great story when you’re a kid even if you can actually see that they just had to pin the arm back on the Sea Devil before they shot the scene or whatever. Who cares? It’s the excitement – making you jump – and just enjoying it without over analysing it.
What advantages does Weston offer for an event? I guess the chance to go to the seaside in the middle of summer is quite a draw!
At a previous event, there was no public transport and no parking! Weston offers everything, really, but especially a day out at the seaside. It’s British and it’s got a ethos of having simple fun: a laugh; quirky; British; candy floss… So what you need is a place that can cater for everyone, fans, families alike. You need to be able to get there, even if you don’t drive; you need to be able to find the venue.
And using a great theatre like The Playhouse means you can hopefully be a little bit more theatrical. It’s not a faceless conference room in a hotel (nothing against that!) but you feel like it’s more of an event – you’re being a kid again, you’re going to the pantomime. You’re meeting those people you actually watch on a quiet winter night when you pop on your favourite Doctor Who DVD… They’re there! You can talk to them, ask them questions.
That ‘Wow’ moment: that still happens to me. You suddenly realise who you’re talking to and you’re thinking, ‘yikes, when you left (in the one with those horrible green maggots) when I was a kid, I bloody cried – and now you’re here laughing and making me feel that it’s all okay.’
So if it is successful, you plan to do a follow-up?
If it’s successful I would do another. I’d like to get it back to being a regular ‘must go to’ and make it the most interesting event. There’s a lot of good will from the actors, which I’m flattered by, and there were things that were on the drawing board and progressing for this time that we realised we just couldn’t cram in… but we’d love to do it next time around and that would make fans sit back in their seats and think, ‘I never thought I’d see that!’
Joining the great cast of actors and actresses, you’ve got the superb Andrew Cartmel; if there are any follow-up events, would you like to expand and include further behind-the-scenes crew?
If we did more, then I’d love to get Terrance Dicks! All those people who were behind the scenes, making the magic happen, despite the restrictions on them… I think the actors learn a lot from it as well. A lot of the time, they don’t know that so-and-so had to write a script in three days because the other one fell through, and I think that’s interesting for them and fills in sometimes a bit of back history into why maybe something happened – or why a monster was a bit rubbish in design! – and I like the honesty it brings out in the actors too.
As someone interested in how it all happened, I actually want to know if the companions felt a bit neglected, or if a director was a bit of a git to them because they were seen as regulars and that director felt lumbered with them. When I watch a DVD for the first time, I always watch it with the commentary on!
I think Andrew Cartmel will be a mine of information and know what plans were, what did happen, what could have happened – but my heavy influence will always be to feature main cast and guest actors.
It’s with great sadness that we had the great Kate O’Mara to be announced as she’d agreed to appear alongside Colin and Nicola and that would have been outstanding. She was still so enthusiastic about it and determined that she WOULD bring the Rani back, so for me, I was flattered to be photographing her with this in mind. She was so kind, professional and made me feel welcome at her home and worked hard with me… That that’s a memory I’ll always treasure. Nobody can take that away.