London, 7th August 2014. It was a gloriously sunny early evening as I approached along the riverside, with a twinge of nostalgia seeing the long tables selling books outside instantly taking me back the best part of a couple of decades. Had there been something called My Wibbly Wobbly Booky Wooky it may have been especially appropriate, but they seemed to have the wrong franchise there instead…
More interesting was my target, which I remembered as the National Film Theatre but since renamed the BFI Southbank. It may have been well in advance of the event itself but already there were others milling around, not just me being eager and avoiding risk of lateness!
Meeting point had been advised to be the Atrium, and being early I had a wander round… there may not have been any cinema banners for the evening’s entertainment, but there were some intriguing notices up! And also a taped off random bedroom set, which didn’t look like it would belong to either Clara or the Doctor… exactly what was this documentary involving?!
I needn’t have been worried about being there too early either, outside the exit from the Atrium there were eager onlookers some of whom had been there since 10am! As numbers built up both outside and inside so did the buzz, and there was an excited and friendly vibe among the fans as well as some excellent tshirts and alot of TARDIS blue.
Soon though, it became evident we weren’t alone, and a pair of Cybermen arrived to the delight of everyone there – their random attack being barely a hiccup! 😉 It’s a bit weird hearing them make the noise when they move too, it may be quieter than when it’s on TV but it’s still slightly disconcerting…
Soon enough, it was time to go to the auditorium and get settled in my excellently central seat, and the excitement around was really palpable, with information sheets on the way in and the poster image projected onto the screen.
With the 450-seat screen buzzing, controller of BBC1 Charlotte Moore took to the floor to set the stage for the “visceral, emotional and epic” adventure to come. Cue one Deep Breath – you can see what I thought about that here – but the cheering and applause the episode garnered was soon drowned out when after the lights came back up Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman and Steven Moffat joined Boyd Hilton for an on-stage Q and A. Lasting about 45 minutes, we learned that the Moff wasn’t keen on the flirting between the first Doctor and Barbara, that filming had only finished the day before starting this World Tour, that Peter Capaldi had to go in on his day off to watch a Dalek attack, that his favourite part of making his first series had been working with Jenna (aw!) and that he has no intention of bringing his talent for writing or direction to Who as he prefers acting and the writing/directing is just something he “had a go at”, prompting an exclamation of “You did win an Oscar… that doesn’t happen every time!” from the Moff.
Other highlights included (but were not limited to) the idea of putting a kettle in the TARDIS prop, a very quick (too quick?) answer of “no” from the Moff to a question about bringing back the Master, “What’s the word for, like, unmannered?” “Rude! Unmannered is better!”, Peter’s words to his 8-year old self as “Don’t Listen to what they say about you” and “wear your anorak with pride”, and his introduction of Ms Coleman to a visiting Ms Jameson as “Jenna… Louise… oh, that’s funny!”
With the Q and A wrapping up, it looked like the gang were staying for autographs (and I’m sure I spotted Mark Gatiss about!) but I had to dash off to get my train. But to quote something set a scant month after the first time Doctor Who appeared on TV screens – oh, what a night!
Huge thanks to the BBC and the BFI for the organisation of a fantastic evening, and, of course, one Mr Eddie McGuigan!