Sorry I’ve neglected this blog for so long. I’d meant to update it a lot earlier, but real life just got in the way more often than I’d intended. But I’ve finally got a little time and have a really good reason to update. A friend and I attended the LI Who convention the weekend before last, November 19-20th.
My good friend Anna (@concetta at Tumblr and Concetta20 at AO3 – check out her awesome fanfic!) and I arrived at the con on Saturday just at the starting time. We saw Mr. PoppinTwist, the talented guy who makes balloon likenesses of DW characters, making one of the 5th Doctor. We chatted a bit with him and watched him work. When the balloon was all done, we had a picture taken with it.
We also saw Wendy Padbury arrive, and Frazer (who seemed to have already been there for some time) spotted her and gave her a hug (cue “awww). 😀 They were adorable together throughout the whole con.
The dealer’s room had a lot of great stuff. They were selling Doctor Who books and DVDs, some for charity. Kevin McNally was there selling and signing copies of his book, as well as autographs. There were also some really good sweets being offered, like cupcakes, blondies and a few other goodies. The vortex cupcake and pumpkin coffee cake were so good! Check out https://www.instagram.com/simplesweetsbymelissa/ , she really makes some great stuff.
We then got Wendy and Frazer’s autographs. I had Wendy sign the Jamie and Zoe pic from Mind Robber that Frazer had signed for me back at LI Who in 2019. I then asked Frazer to sign my copy of his book “Fifty Shades of Frazer.” He seemed tickled that I had the book and was skimming through it, stopping at various pages and commenting on some of the photos. There was a copy of a comic strip of his life that appeared in a magazine back in 1969 and there was a part talking about his girlfriend at the time. He said, “Oh she was my girlfriend, I’m going to meet up with her again and I’ll mention this.” “Oh, look, there’s Eric Clapton!” and then there was a pic of him on a horse during filming of Emmerdale where he’s nearly falling off and had his feet out of the stirrups, he told me how precarious that was. There was another pic of him in some charity car race with all this mud underneath him and he mentioned how muddy it was that day, that he’d dealt with a lot of mud while filming Emmerdale and now on his day off he was dealing with even more of it. He told me he’d nearly forgotten about this book and he’ll have to pick it up again one day. He signed one of the “Autographs” pages for me.
Anna and I had a photo op with the two of them. They were both so sweet and accommodating. I look a bit awkward and like I’m about to tip over, but we all kind of squished in together which I guess I wasn’t expecting at the time (though I wasn’t complaining at all ;)).
Before talking about the panels, I should mention that this con was very well-attended. It was hard at times to get a seat at some of the really popular panels. It would have been nice to attend the “5th Doctor Team at 40″ panel with Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding, but it had started during our photo op and by the time we got there it was totally packed to the gills so we waited outside, hoping to get some glimpses. Wendy and Frazer’s panel “The Astrophysicist and the Highlander” was after that one. The 5th Doctor team panel went a bit long and while we were waiting outside, Frazer and Wendy arrived. Wendy asked one of the con staff if it was going long. As they were opening the doors, Frazer did this little dance like he was going to just strut right inside. Someone cosplaying as a Time Lord with the costume they wore in “The Deadly Assassin” exited the room and Frazer joked something to the effect of, “did the people behind you get to see anything?”
We really enjoyed their panel. They talked a bit about doing the Big Finish audio adventures and how they’d come in together but would just go into separate booths during Covid. Frazer joked about Wendy coming in with a cigarette, stamping it out and then going into the booth and [imitates her higher-pitched voice as Zoe], “Oh, Doctor, what are you–” Wendy laughed, saying she didn’t think she did it like that.
They were joined by BH Barry, the stunt coordinator from “The Mind Robber”, who also shared about some of the work he had done.
They were asked about what they think about their time on the show compared to the show now. They both said they had chemistry and that they had time to bond, since they spent Monday-Thursday rehearsing whereas now you learn your lines and then walk straight onto the set. Wendy had also said that she’s probably alone but she doesn’t understand some of the stories now (I’ll probably get flak for this, but … *raises hand*… she’s definitely not alone). She said she finds them so complex. She said that she knows their particular stories are old, but she thinks they really stand up. Frazer also said that back then they had these proper sets and now it’s mainly green screen.
Someone had mentioned how they just kept working and working and didn’t have much time off. Frazer had said they would get a 6 week summer break and then 4 weeks off for Christmas. Wendy said that it took its toll on Patrick Troughton, having to work like that. Frazer said that they knocked a couple minutes off the running time for the first episode of The Mind Robber because they’d just come off a heavy shoot (The Dominators) and now it was just going to be the three of them in that episode.
Anna had asked them about what it was like when Wendy first arrived on set, was there instant chemistry and asked how they worked together because her character was so different from Jamie, and did they have fun creating that bit of friction type of dynamic. They both really liked her question. Wendy said it was pretty immediate and that she quite liked him, then got a bit coy and said “he was alright.” Frazer said he fancied her but she had this tall, strong boyfriend. Wendy looked at him and said “Did I?” Frazer: “Rex.” Wendy said to him, “You remember more than me,” and started to laugh.
She went on to say that it was pretty immediate but a bit daunting because before that it was Debbie (Watling) and Frazer and Pat, which was a great threesome, too. She said that although it was daunting, they made her feel very welcome. She then joked, “Well, Pat did.” Frazer said it was important to get to know your costars and be friendly with them because people could tell you “Oh, he’s a big star, don’t look him in the eye” and then you get all nervous. Wendy said that Pat told her that each week there was a new cast and new directors and you make those people feel as welcome as you possibly can. They brought up again about the differences between filming the show then and now, and about how you go and do your lines and everything is out of sequence and you can’t build relationships that way. They liked her comments on why their characters felt more alive than others.
They showed a clip from the scene in The Mind Robber where the Karkus appears and Zoe fights him, complete with her flipping him. They were both grinning and laughing and enjoying watching it. When it got to the part where Zoe was fighting him, Wendy leaned back and put her hand over her eyes.
Here are a few pics from their panel.
We saw about half of Kevin McNally’s panel. He talked about not just his stint on Doctor Who, but also his other roles such as in Pirates of the Caribbean, Supernatural and Turn. He was pretty cool.
That night we attended Frazer Con. I won’t say very much except that it was a lot of fun. Maybe a bit more fun than I originally expected, heh. 😀 Wendy made a guest appearance, as did Bhavnisha Parmar (Yaz’s sister in the new series).
On Sunday when we walked past their autograph tables, I had the cute dolls @puffins-studio at Tumblr had made for me and they got a kick out of them. Frazer took the Jamie doll and said “oh that’s brilliant!” He then took his sharpie and pretended to draw a smiley face on the doll, hahah.
(“They actually liked us, Jamie!” “Och, of course they did, Zoe.”)
First we stayed for Frazer’s panel. It was supposed to be about the Abominable Snowmen, which was newly animated, but that wasn’t going to be enough for an entire panel, so it basically became a look back on all the serials Frazer had done on the show. When he talked about The Moonbase, he said that all Jamie did was say, “the phantom piper!” and then he threw his head back and pretended he was sleeping, making snoring noises.
He also talked about the prop macra in The Macra Terror and how big it was and it was the price of a Mini but it was useless, and if you said “oh it’s got me by the leg” you’d have to stick your leg in between it because it couldn’t move. When they moved onto The Abominable Snowmen he talked about how they’d filmed it in Snowdonia. He said that he and Debbie were getting chased and then overtaken by a Yeti down the hill. They showed a behind-the-scenes photo from the filming of it that showed the TARDIS and a crew member. Frazer said that when they were filming the documentary for it (I guess for the animated episode DVD), and one point he went around the corner and there was the TARDIS in the same spot it had been in that photo and how great that was. They also showed the behind the scenes photo of Frazer sitting on top of one of the Yeti costumes. He mentioned his kilt and said he wished he’d kept it, that he didn’t know he’d be doing conventions so many years later and if he had known he would have kept it.
He mentioned The Web of Fear and how he and the Doctor had found something that Victoria had dropped. He said “Oh this is Victoria’s” and it was a pair of knickers, and Pat said “Oh yes they are” and Jack Watling said indignantly, “How do you two know??”
Wendy appeared about halfway through his panel and stayed for the rest of it until the start of her solo panel. Frazer had tried to tell a joke regarding the chameleons (a picture of one of them from The Faceless Ones was shown) and was grinning at Wendy. She deadpanned, “You know, I never should have come in.”
They talked about filming The Invasion and how they were filming at the Guinness factory. Wendy said she had some photos from it and there was one where Pat was running away from a cyberman who had only half his costume on. Frazer said that they had a liquid lunch there and they filmed a scene where he and Patrick had to look around a corner, and they kept falling over. He said the director said to them, “I know where you were for lunch, boys, but can we just do one take?” He said that’s why the two of them were hanging onto each other for dear life in one of the photos that’s in public domain.
Someone brought up the scene in The Macra Terror where they were all getting freshened up and Jamie had his scene where the ladies were admiring him. Frazer said that Jamie was a great one for the girls. He then said “in particular he fell in love with Victoria”, and he kept going on when Wendy suddenly broke in with “…And Zoe.” He said something else, I couldn’t make it out, maybe he repeated about Jamie loving Victoria, and Wendy said again, “And Zoe.”
Wendy talked about how she got into acting. She wanted to get into ballet but she had rather flat feet and hadn’t grown past 5 foot, and apparently you had to be at least 5’3 to be some kind of ballerina.
One of the guys running the panel had pictures up on the screen that he rotated through, and one of them was a group pic including a very young Wendy wearing a sash down across her shoulder with her name, among a group of other young women with similar sashes. She was so surprised to see it and said, “Where did you get that photo?? I look about 4!”
She said that when she auditioned for Doctor Who, Frazer’s girlfriend was also auditioning and he wanted her to get the part. She talked about how daunting the process was, how you had to look at the camera and say these particular lines. Wendy said she was there for Deborah’s last day of recording. She said it could have been intimidating coming in and doing the show, but Pat and Frazer made it not intimidating.
They enjoyed talking about the fun they’d have on set, especially during the Producer’s runs with going through the scripts. At one point the behind the scenes picture taken during filming The Dominators was shown (the color one where they appear to be in a lounge of some sort). Wendy said they were in some little area of the Green Room.
They then showed a picture from The Invasion where Wendy was wearing the cat suit. She said that it was the most practical and comfortable costume. And the one that was the most impractical was her costume in The Krotons that was made of PVC paper. She said the skirt had torn everytime she moved, like climbed up a rock or something. She also mentioned the outfit she wore in Seeds of Death, the leather one and that she had to pay for it and she only wore it once after that, about a year or so after she and Frazer left the show and she’d worn it to some event they attended, she thought it was at Selfridge’s.
I’m guessing this is the event she was referring to (image credit: Tragical History Tour):
When The War Games was mentioned, they both said they didn’t want to leave (Frazer said his agent had talked him into leaving and doing films and Patrick’s wife or girlfriend at the time had talked him into leaving too… he said something about how if they hadn’t had the advice of those women they might have stayed, ha ha.. Wendy had told them that if they were leaving then she was going to leave too), and Wendy said that when they wrapped it up there was a party in some room upstairs and that they each had to pay 50 pounds towards it.
After the animation of The Abominable Snowmen was mentioned again, the interviewer said that BBC America had pulled funding for it. At one point Frazer mentioned there was a rumor that Disney was going to be funding them. If that’s true, I’ve got mixed feelings: happy because I don’t want to see the end of any lost stories being animated. But a bit ambivalent because I’d heard somewhere that Disney has made it a point not to offer any physical media of any of the stuff they produce and/or stream. So that could potentially mean no animated lost stories coming to DVD (let alone any of the new Doctor Who series that will air only on Disney+). I really hope that won’t happen. If anyone has heard anything about this, please do let me know.
At one point they were asked about the aliens that were the creepiest, and Frazer had mentioned the Cybermen and how emotionless their faces were and you just had the slits for the eyes and the mouth. They both said they liked the Ice Warriors with the hissing voice and about how tall they were (maybe the Cybermen too?). Frazer had said something about how tall these aliens were and how short they all were, and he’d said that he was 5’8, “though I’ve shrunk a bit…”
Frazer left about halfway through her solo panel and after he’d left she said, “Oh he’s gone, we can talk about him now!” During her solo panel she talked a lot about how she got into being an agent and what an involved job it was. She talked again about leaving the show and said that she didn’t want to stay on without Pat and Frazer, and whoever came in after that she didn’t think they could recreate what she had with them. She said it ended up being the best job she ever had.
Some pictures from their panels:
Peter Davison was sweet. I got his autograph and he shook my hand, asking how I was doing. His panel was great as well. He was talking about the Doctor’s different personalities and how Patrick Troughton’s Doctor had that bit of vulnerability, and how the Doctor didn’t always know what he was doing or wasn’t always completely sure of himself, and so the companions would kind of rein him in (he mentioned this as he compared Patrick’s Doctor to Jon Pertwee’s, that Pertwee’s always seemed so assured of himself and he thought that was fine but that wasn’t how he wanted to play the Doctor). He said that when he played the Doctor he wasn’t given the whole script, just his part of it so he didn’t have much of an idea of what was going on.
The interviewer asked what it was like doing The Five Doctors since he was the Doctor at the time. He said that JNT thought there would be too many of them on screen if they had a lot of scenes together. Peter himself didn’t have any problem with it but JNT went out of his way to avoid that and the Doctors each had their separate strands. He was talking about the other actors’ involvement and about how Tom Baker wouldn’t come back — he didn’t really understand why, but thought that Tom figured it was too close to his time and he wanted to keep away from it. They showed the behind the scenes pic of all the Doctors together and Peter confirmed that wasn’t Tom in the pic, it was a wax figure from Madame Tussaud’s, and he said “You can’t really tell, right?” He also said Patrick Troughton gave him some good advice —only do 3 years.
He also told a funny story about a horseshoe-shaped car park at the BBC, and that it was only for the stars to park in, and how he was able to park there when he was playing the Doctor, but one day Patrick Troughton was there and was told he wasn’t allowed to park there since he was no longer the Doctor.
He talked quite a bit about his time on All Creatures Great and Small, and said that they’d brought animals to them that were ill and had to be cured, and they’d done so for each of them and the BBC paid for all of it (ha!!). Anna asked him about what it was like to act alongside Robert Hardy in All Creatures Great and Small and he said that it was great, and that Robert Hardy would get frustrated with himself because he was a perfectionist, and that’s why no one take was the same.
He’d also mentioned how he’d write songs and one in particular he’d sung, and Dave Clark from the Dave Clark Five had recorded it. He didn’t sing it for us there, but one of the guys who ran the panel had found an old clip of him singing it and playing it on the guitar (“Officer McKirk”).
Here is a picture of my autographed photo, plus a small gallery of pics from his panel:
Sorry about the quality on some of my pictures. Like I said, the panels were quite packed and sometimes it was hard to find a seat. But I did the best I could from where we were sitting. I actually took a lot of videos. I don’t think I can link to them all here, but if anyone is interested, leave me a comment or message and I’ll hook you up with a link.
All in all, we had a really good time. Everyone we met and saw was super nice. Thanks so much to all the folks at LI Who for making this such a memorable and fun event!