The new BBC series ‘Class’ will hit the interwebs early tomorrow morning, but your intrepid Blogtor Who correspondent voyaged to deepest, darkest Shoreditch to get the low-down on the new ‘Doctor Who’ spin-off on the day of its premiere.
Shoreditch, you say?
Specifically, we entered Rich Mix Centre, where we joined the fledgeling queue at 4pm. The crowd, particularly the ones who showed up as early as we did, were a narrow band of die-hard fans. We spoke to one young woman and her mum, who’d made a three-hour train trip down from Lancashire to be there. Since this was a premiere and not a convention, cosplay was understandably thin on the ground. Except one heroic man in full Captain Jack Harkness gear, appropriate since ‘Class’ is to air on the tenth anniversary of ‘Torchwood’. In the crowd we also met Ryan, who’d worn a vintage Purple Rain t-shirt; the same one that incoming companion Bill wore in her introduction.
Any famous faces?
As the evening turned cold and confused-looking office workers began pouring onto the streets, the cast arrived. They strutted the red carpet for the paps and then strutted the Shoreditch pavement along the queue. Fady Elsayed (Ram), Sophie Hopkins (April), Vivian Oparah (Tanya), Jordan Renzo (Matteusz) came out to chat and take photos with fans. Series creator Patrick Ness joined them, wryly commenting that most of the crowd won’t recognise him.
Greg Austin (Charlie) and Katherine Kelly (Miss Quill) were absent, Greg tweeting earlier that afternoon he’d had to drop out. Meanwhile, Katherine was tweeting her support as the photos started hitting the Internet.
I won’t be at the #ClassDW screening tonight… I’m honestly so upset. Can’t say why just yet, but I’m doing something I just couldn’t miss.
— Greg Austin (@Gregory_Austin) October 20, 2016
You are look Gorgeous! Wish I could have been there! https://t.co/RFCdg9rgw5
— Katherine Kelly (@katherine_kelly) October 20, 2016
Inside the Rich Mix Centre
Finally, we got filed into the Rich Mix Centre. The episode was played across two screens in the building. We got in to the same screen as Ness, the cast and various BBC folk, including ‘Doctor Who: The Fan Show’ host and all-around good egg Christel Dee.
Complimentary popcorn at the ready, the show began.
So how was Episode 1?
No spoilers here. This post is about the event itself. If you want a preview then you can check out our take on the episode. Suffice to say, it’s really very good. Full reviews to follow.
When the lights came up, Ness leapt to his feet, turned to the audience and declared, “Let’s go downstairs for drinks and free shit!”
We were all led down to the main space with a stage, upon which stood an enormous Coal Hill Academy crest in front of six empty chairs and a huge ‘Class’ logo. Before long, the attending cast members and Ness filled the seats to take questions put to them by the audience. Greg Austin’s absence was felt as most of the questions revolved around introducing an LGBT main character in Charlie. Ness talked earnestly about the importance of diversity on television, not just in terms of sexuality but also race, religion and physical ability. He said that if you’re going to create a drama that reflects the real-world, “just open your fucking eyes!”
Then what happened?
All the scheduled events were over and done with, so the rest of the evening was mostly just milling around with the other attendees. ‘Doctor Who’ executive producer Steven Moffat, who’d kept a low profile so far, emerged to chat with fans. A selection of signed ‘Class’ tie-in novels were handed out, written by regular Big Finish contributors A K Benedict (who was there and persuaded me to pick up her title ‘The Stone House’), Guy Adams and James Goss. The cast mingled around the room with remarkable ease and found time for a few friendly words with everyone. Given the bright future, these young actors are bound to have, it was nice to see how down-to-earth they all are.