Day 7: Thursday, November 5
After the previous day’s excitement, what better than another long whirlwind of a day?
Simon and Warren headed to our place in the morning. We wanted to set off early to walk around London and shoot scenes for the RFS Gally intro video. At the time, the whole project was a big hush-hush secret, but now I can shout it from the rooftops! Rather than burying the lede, here’s the glorious finished product:
Warren’s plan was to check into a hotel later that day (after a few lovely nights at Simon’s pad), so he dropped his stuff off at our place first thing. We got our timing a bit wrong and we were out when he arrived. Whoops. We’d popped out to grab some groceries, and he had to wait outside for a few minutes. Luckily, those groceries included a box of Jammie Dodgers, so we placated Warren with some delicious Dalek-busting treats.
Meanwhile, Simon sat at Speedy’s, the cafe up the block. You may know it as the cafe outside Sherlock’s apartment on the BBC’s Sherlock. We found Simon having a cup of tea next to the great detective’s front door. (You can see this during a brief establishing shot in the video. It’s also the moment of my tiny cameo.) We brought Simon a Jammy Dodger too. Then Steven and Warren had some tea with him while we planned our attack!
First, we hit Fitzroy Square, where Simon shot some footage of Warren being taken over by WOTAN. I walked around the square for a while then sat on a bench and read a book. It wasn’t the warmest/sunniest of days, but it wasn’t too uncomfortable, and I had my Kindle loaded up with a John Scalzi book. I was well set.
After that scene was in the can, and before we went too far afield, we popped over to Speedy’s again for another tea. It was a bit chilly by then. I zipped back to the hotel to grab my Edmonton Oilers hoodie to add another layer under my jacket.
Next, we took the tube to Earl’s court to get some footage outside the police box there. Unfortunately, it was raining pretty steadily by this time. John Williams was in a pub across the street from the police box, so we chatted with him before heading out in the damp to shoot. I held the umbrella for Simon while he shot. Poor Steven and Warren just got wet.
Our merry party grew by one, as John joined us after the Earl’s Court scenes. We headed to Westminster bridge where John and I watched Simon get long shots of Steven chasing Warren across the bridge. I’m glad John was there to properly appreciate Steven’s Peter Davison-style running during one of the takes. I’m a Doctor Who nerd, but my detailed knowledge isn’t quite that deep.
From there we made our way to The Blackfriar pub, which felt capital-O-old (though really wasn’t compared to some others we visited). We had a quick soda there, but there was no time for food because we were already losing the light. Showbiz, man! So we walked over to St. Paul’s cathedral for some more exterior shooting.The building is every bit as gorgeous and impressive as we’d been led to believe. We didn’t go inside though. No time!
By then it was almost 5 o’clock so Simon and John headed straight for the College Arms, where we were all attending the monthly Doctor Who meet-up that night. (The “official” meet-up location, the Fitzroy Tavern, was under construction.) Warren, Steven, and I headed back to our place so Warren could grab his gear, walk back to his hotel, check in, and shower. We also changed clothes before heading back to the College Arms.
Bless Simon and John for scoping out the situation for us. Simon texted saying the downstairs room was reserved for us (as Steven had requested via email) and there was quite a bit of room. We were tired and starving, so we set out toward the pub as quickly as we could.
Upon arrival, we dropped off our coats downstairs, then headed up to the bar to order food. (That’s how it works at British pubs, which we were still getting used to.) It was just about time for the meet-up to start, but so far there was no one there except the one table of our friends (Simon and John had collected Len and Nick Briggs). I certainly wouldn’t have minded an evening chatting with those folks, but I was a bit nervous about the turnout.
At the bar, we met Judith Jackson, who bought us our first drinks of the evening! This was doubly nice because in addition to the nerve-calming Jameson and Coke, we were reassured that other DW fans were filtering in. These other fans included Scott, whom we met at the same time. What a relief to find two of our brethren at the bar first thing! They were both first-timers at Doctor Who night, and our podcasts had encouraged them to come and check it out. What an honor! I told them we were gathering downstairs, so we all descended to the lower level. I chatted with them and a couple other folks who drifted in until my food arrived, at which point I collapsed at the table to eat.
I had been looking forward to trying fish & chips the whole trip, and I quite enjoyed my meal (except for the peas); however, Nick informed me I wasn’t eating proper fish & chips. These were “poncey” fish and chips. It seems proper fish & chips come in a bag and have more chips than you can possibly eat. Sadly, I never did get any “proper” fish & chips the whole time we were in the UK, so I suppose we’ll have to go back!
I needn’t have worried about the turnout; it was a smash! Marcus Lionel Judge, who organizes the meet-up, said attendance was almost triple the usual, and many of the folks were first-timers, lured by the hopeful and glowing descriptions of the event on Verity! and Radio Free Skaro. Our Canadian humility took a bit of a rattling, and we were all Quite Overwhelmed by the response!
In addition to all the fabulous new faces, I got to reconnect with some friends I hadn’t seen in a while: Little Pete (of The Pharos Project fame), Aussie Nick, and Phil Cannon (Who’s He? Podcast) were all in attendance. And speaking of The Pharos Project, I finally got to meet Mr. Chris in person! I think I managed not to fangirl all over the place, but that could be the result of booze-colored hindsight.
Nick Briggs wasn’t the only Doctor Who luminary in the building. I got to chat with Ed Stradling and Steve Roberts, who were both as delightful (and sarcastically funny) as I’d remembered from various DW cons. And best of all, they both remembered me! (This is a thing I never expect. Especially when they’re people who mostly know Steven, like Ed and Steve do. I always appreciate when I’m remembered for being me, not just “Steven’s wife”.)
Two of my favorite Doctor Who writers also happen to be two of my favorite people: Andrew Smith and Rob Shearman both made it to the pub as well. Andrew was an invaluable resource when planning our trip, so it was great to thank him in person! (I had to tell my inner fangirl to Sit Down And Shut Up because she kept pointing out how many times I’ve watched “Full Circle”, and that was Not Helpful.) Rob gives the best hugs in Doctor Who fandom. I have said this for years, and he proved it yet again. He’s also well-known as one of the most skillful raconteurs of the DW world. He proved that as well.
This evening was one of the true highlights of the whole trip. I spent the night talking to many many wonderful fellow fans. My head was positively spinning! Better yet, my heart was overflowing. So much fannish joy in one room made me giddy with delight. I barely saw Steven and Warren the whole time. We scattered and mingled and ate and drank and were very very merry.
At the end of the night, Ed insisted we see the location of the “official” Doctor Who meet-ups, The Fitzroy Tavern. Sadly, the construction is well underway, and we couldn’t see the building. We commemorated the moment anyway.
It wasn’t the most climactic end to the night, but it was delightful nonetheless. Steven and I walked back to our hotel through the wind and scattered leaves. As exciting as we knew the next day would be, neither of us wanted the night to end. We were still flying so high on the joy of the evening we missed the turn to our street and ended up going several blocks out of our way. We didn’t mind a bit.
Photo credits: Marcus Lionel Judge (College Arms photos), Steven Schapansky (all the rest)