The above short film began the festivities of the 2013 Gallifrey One convention, the 24th annual Doctor Who convention in Los Angeles over the weekend. It was made by Warren Frey of Freyburg Media before the weekend’s first event, a live edition of thepodcast Radio Free Skaro. This set the tone incredibly well, with a great mixture of guests, including Seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy, Tom Baker’s first producer Philip Hinchcliffe, Classic Series monster actor Stephen Thorne (Omega from “The Three Doctors”), and New Series actors Dan Starkey (Strax the Sontaran), Neve McIntosh (Madam Vastra and all female Silurians), and Richard Hope (Silurian dudes).
This was the first year the convention has had to be capped for attendance (at about 3,500 people), and it happened several months early. The convention has grown exponentially over the last few years, and that truly speaks to the way Doctor Who has grown in popularity in the United States since the first Matt Smith series in 2010. The convention’s programmers have done a fantastic job yet again, filling the con with guests and panels to cater to all the incredibly diverse ways people watch and enjoy a 50 year old science fiction show.
The guests, on top of the ones mentioned above, included actors Freema Agyeman (Martha Jones), Peter Purves (First Doctor companion Steven), Mark Strickson (Fifth Doctor Companion Turlough), Debbie Watling and Frazer Hines (Second Doctor companions Victoria and Jamie), New Series guest actors Mark Sheppard and Ben Browder (they’ve also been in quite a few other sci-fi shows, don’t you know), and Ian McNeice (Winston Churchill). There were New Series directors on hand as well, Saul Metzstein and Douglas McKinnon, and some Classic Series legends, costume designer June Hudson and Radiophonic Workshop special sound designer Dick Mills.
The panels talked about everything from cosplay and fan fiction to comic books and audio plays to DVD restoration and missing episodes. It’s always fascinating to me how people can love vastly different things about Doctor Who and still be Doctor Who fans. My personal preferences are for things having to do with the production and preservation of the series, but there are huge swaths of fandom that couldn’t care less about that. This is why Gallifrey One will always be my favorite convention, because it has less to do with being advertised at and much more to do with the love and appreciation of a common thing.
Next year’s Gallifrey registration begins on Friday, March 8th. So far, the confirmed guests include Sixth Doctor Colin Baker, Third Doctor companion Katy Manning (Jo Grant), UNIT members Richard Franklin and John Levene (Yates and Benton, respectively), and Ninth Doctor companion (for like a second) Bruno Langley (Adam). It will sell out fast, so if you’re interested, you might want to think about doing it sooner rather than later. It’s the best.