Sunday 9th of September marked the launch of Vworp – an inclusive Doctor Who convention for all fans. Over 1,000 visitors flocked to Manchester’s city centre by train, coach, car or TARDIS from around the country. We were particularly excited to be attending a new event solely based on our favourite show and counted down the days till the TARDIS arrived at the Printworks, Manchester. If you couldn’t make the convention, we thought we’d give you an insight into what went down on the day in the form of Beth’s diary!
As we approach the Printworks building, me and my friend Jenny spot a male 13th Doctor cosplayer strolling along behind us. This is what I love about these events – the surreal cosplayers walking around the streets before and after. Watch out Manchester, you’ve got a Doctor Who invasion on your hands!
Result! We’ve picked up our passes and immediately bump into our pal Christel. Fans are milling around chatting and I make some new friends in the crowds beginning to build. Christel is about to host panel ‘Well that’s just Ace’ with Sophie Aldred, so we head to the green room to drop off our belongings. The sense of excitement and love is already surrounding the event and I begin to feel at happy and at ease that we’re all here to share in something wonderful together.
After casually spotting a few Doctors and companions in the green room, we head down to Christel’s panel. The Hartnell stage is on the unconventional club floor of The Lazy Lizard and fans queue outside excitedly. It wouldn’t be a first-time event though without a few teething issues – the tech refuses to work and things begin later than expected. Sophie and Christel handle this exceptionally and project their voices into the audience as best they can, with some entertaining question and answers. Sophie tells the story of how she got the role as Ace along with several other lovely anecdotes. The atmosphere is wonderful, and because of the setup of the venue, everything feels close and personal.
Now that Christel’s panel is over, it’s time to go and mingle with my pals on the convention floor. I visit the wonderful art stalls that some of my friends are running and make a couple of purchases. It’s lovely to see other young women being given the chance to sell their art and be involved in the con.
In the midst of chatting and taking photos I spot Katy Manning (AKA Jo Grant) wandering around all alone. Alone! Fans descend upon her and she looks flustered. Having met her at the recording for the Doctor Who on Twitch chat show, I make my way over to rescue her. We pop to her autograph table so she can meet some fans and I gladly help with passing her pens and liaising money. She hugs and fusses over every person she meets, gushing over them and making the meeting special. Somebody says, ‘Hi Beth, I love the Time Ladies!’ to which I respond, ‘you’re here for Katy Manning, you shouldn’t be talking to me!’ Katy lovingly says ‘No! You’re a part of the Who family now. Everyone should know you.’ I may have died a little inside at this point. What a wonderful woman! As she’s whisked away for photoshoots we excitingly exchange ‘See you later at the panel!’ hugs. I am star-struck.
As I wandered by the TARDIS with Dalek props scattered about, I’m invited to do an interview for the company ticketing the event. ‘This is my moment…’ I sing inside my head. They put me in front of camera and ask me why fans are loving the event. I’m more than happy to explain that we’re all just so excited to socialise together and celebrate our favourite thing in the world. The vibe continues to be wonderful and welcoming, despite the panels being slightly pushed back or changed.
I’d been aiming to meet Peter Davison and Colin Baker all day as I’d never had the pleasure before. By coincidence we bump into Colin in the green room, so I immediately jump on the chance to have a chat. I eagerly show him some images of me in a Sixth Doctor coat and explain what the Time Ladies is. He enthusiastically tells us he’s always advocated for a female Doctor and looks forward to Jodie Whittaker’s first series. Later at the snack table I’m discussing gluten with Nicola Bryant, telling her that I am a celiac. ‘Hi celiac!’ replies Colin to my genuine confusion. Well, dad jokes are very Doctor.
PANIC! Me and Kezia busily prepare for our ‘Women Who Lived’ panel. The line-up features Katy Manning, Nicola Bryant, Sophie Aldred and Christel Dee. We nervously prepare our pre-written questions and try to make sure that all the tech is sorted. There’s some confusion over what time it will start because things are delayed, and people aren’t sure what’s going on. Despite the chaos, we’re more than excited for our biggest opportunity yet, and the clock ticks on as the Time Ladies prepare for their panel hosting debut…
My heart beats frantically as we await the call from the MC to begin our panel – only half of the guests have turned up on time! We start late and there’s a tech problem so we can’t play the series 11 trailer as planned, or have our background photos. Thankfully the audience is on our side and cheers at ‘Well let’s pretend we’ve all just watched the series 11 trailer!’ Moments later Sophie and Katy make it to the panel and the fun begins… We ask about their feelings on the new series, Jodie and how she’ll be perceived. Christel gets to show off her new book all about the women of Doctor Who as Katy pours over the art inside. We hear stories of nostalgia from the women recalling their time on the show and ask how they think their characters helped pave the way for a female Doctor. Their answers are beautifully crafted and have the audience hooked. We’re asked to wrap the panel up 20 minutes early, so I make up a closing question on the spot. ‘If you could describe your character in one word, what would it be?’ ‘BOOOOOM’ shouts Sophie as the room erupts into applause. As the panel wraps up my heart beat finally calms down –it’s all gone okay! I hug Kezia and whisper ‘we did it, we did it!’ I find out later that security had to close off access to the venue as it was over capacity – standing room only.
After helping out as staff for most of the day, we decide it’s time to have some proper convention fun. We join the queue for the Night of The Doctor photoshoot and gush over Paul McGann and Emma Campbell-Jones while they take photos. As we near the front of the queue I say, ‘Let’s do a shocked pose!’ and we all run up to the 8th Doctor and Cass excitedly. We tell them how we’d like the photo and after we’re done Paul laughs and says, ‘We look like we’re on day release!’ It’s always such a joy meeting Doctor Who, and Paul doesn’t disappoint.
As the day nears the end, we run and say goodbye to the fabulous women who appeared on our panel. They all give us hugs and promise to see us again, to which we nearly spontaneously combust. Katy loves Kezia’s Jo cosplay and I watch my best friend beam as she chats with her favourite companion.
Back in the green room we say our sad goodbyes to friends we’ve made and pick up our belongings. I stare at Peter Davison across the room – I just cannot pluck up the courage to talk to him! I decide that breathing the same air as the Fifth Doctor is enough and make my way to my friends who are interviewing cyberman actor Mickey Lewis. He gives us a good laugh with some anecdotes (see them in Jenny’s vlog!) and we head downstairs to find the rest of our pals.
After taking photos with the TARDIS and friends old and new, it’s time to grab some dinner. I don’t want to leave this safe haven filled with my friends and positive vibes. I’ve met lots of blog readers, twitter friends Time Team fans and wish I could spend more time with everyone. As we make our way to Nando’s I get slightly teary-eyed. I can’t believe how happy today, these people and this show makes me. Thank you Vworp con, for a trip of a lifetime.