I headed off to the Invasion conference in Barking today for another major overload on Doctor Who. While I’ve been to several UK Who conventions before, this was the first since the new series got broadcast and Who shifted from cult favourite to mainstream obsession. Here are the random highlights with the customary appalling photos:
Waris Hussein and Derren Nesbit: Astonishingly, while Hussein directed the pilot episode, the broadcast version of An Unearthly Child and the now entirely lost Marco Polo, this was his first convention appearance. Best quote: “It’s a great shame you can’t see how brilliant the sets and costumes and stories were [for Marco Polo]”. Me, I’m not so sure. Nesbit turns out to be the missing link between Who and the Bee Gees, while Hussein directed Barry Manilow in the TV version of Copacabana.
As ever, the Big Finish crew were happy to discuss their approach to Who and how it differs from the TV series (in essence, happy to take the odd idea but don’t see the point of direct duplication). Best quote: Gary Russell on the odd approach to DVD releases: “Every other series in the world is available in box sets except Doctor Who — there’s just no logic to that.”
Given his long-running career, it’s no surprise that the chat with Richard Briers only briefly touched on his Who role in Paradise Towers. Like many a Who actor, he complained about the influence of reality television. Best quote: after talking about backstage information: “You guys like all that shit, don’t you?”
Kev McCurdy, who co-ordinated the fight scenes for The Christmas Invasion, revealed that a 5:32 scene took six days rehearsal and 90 minutes recording time (though four-and-a-half hours were scheduled). He then re-enacted the scene with a colleague in the grounds of Barking Abbey School, where the convention was held. Great stuff.
Over lunch, I checked out the props display elsewhere in the school. Nice stuff, albeit with a clear late-series bias.
First up after lunch was Leslie Grantham, who noted that working on Resurrection Of The Daleks directly led to his role on EastEnders via director Matthew Robinson. Unlike every other guest, Grantham didn’t take audience questions, which I’m guessing was so he wouldn’t get asked about his webcam exploits. Best quote: “I don’t like the new Doctor Who. I think it’s the fact he had a northern accent.”
Sarah Sutton was charming (if obviously practised at this sort of thing). For once, I overcame my shyness and asked if she had the same low opinion of Matthew Waterhouse (Adric) as her co-star Janet Fielding. After identifying me as an Aussie, she noted that Matthew was “irritating” at the time, but these days she finds him quite amusing. Best quote: “I’m probably a bit more diplomatic than Janet.”
Without a doubt the most popular guest of the day was Camille Coduri, who plays Rose’s mum Jackie, making her first ever convention appearance. Having been driven in overnight from filming in Cardiff, she seemed almost insanely energetic, and happily handled all kinds of fan questions while being careful not to reveal anything about Series 2. Best quote: when asked whether (a) Jackie or (b) she preferred Christopher Eccleston or David Tennant: “I think Jackie, definite threesome. For me, nowhere — married, very loyal.”
Last in for the day were a series of supporting actors who have collectively played several roles in the most recent series, including Steward in The Longest Day, multiple Daleks and several other villains. All great fun, even if by now I was freezing in the school auditorium. Best quote: Nicholas Pegg: “Sometimes there’s just not enough vomit in the world.”