On Sunday, October 1st the Epsom Playhouse was host to a day of Doctor Who chats and fun.
In an event entitled ‘Who’s at the Playhouse’ organised by writer and broadcaster Martin Parsons stars of this much-loved show came together to share their experiences with fans and to celebrate the 40th birthday of non-human companion K9. Heading the bill were fifth Doctor Peter Davison, sixth Doctor Colin Baker and companion Louise Jameson.
Doors opened at 10am for registration and goody bag collection and then it was straight into the auditorium for an introduction from Martin and the first of the day’s many interviews and Q&A’s. As always the Daleks and their creator Davros had to get in on the act.
First to take to the stage was Paul Lavers. Paul appeared in the 1978 story ‘The Androids of Tara’ alongside Tom Baker’s fourth Doctor. The chat included a look back Paul’s extensive acting career on British TV and his memories of a shouty Tom Baker on the set of Doctor Who. Paul and moderator Martin were then joined by Rosalind Lloyd and her pet pooch. Doctor Who fans will remember Rosalind for her role of the nurse in the 1978 episode ‘The Pirate Planet’ written by Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy creator Douglas Adams.
Alongside the Q&A’s were a series of photo opportunities and autograph sessions with all the guests including K9 and the man behind the voice John Leeson alongside the remaining members of Team K9, Bob Baker, Tony Harding, Mat Irvine and Paul Tams. Other guests at the event were Nigel Plaskitt (The Ribos Operation, 1978), Eric Danot (Invasion of Time, 1978) and Micheal Keating (The Sun Makers, Blakes 7).
The line-up was completed by young Lily Connors. Guinness World Record holder for the largest Doctor Who merchandise collection and the daughter and son-in-law of Alec Wheal. Alec was a highly regarded Doctor Who cameraman who passed away recently. His family have chosen to remember him in a collection of recently found photographs which charts his journey through the world of his chosen field and his time on Doctor Who.
First, of the headline guests to take to the stage was fifth Doctor Peter Davison. Davison took over the controls of the TARDIS from Tom Baker in 1981 at the age of 29. The youngest actor to take on the role at the time. This record was broken when Matt Smith was announced as the Eleventh Doctor in 2009, aged only 26. Even though Davison took on the role at a young age he had plenty of acting experience to fall back on. Many will know him from the TV series ‘The Tomorrow People’, ‘Love for Lydia’ and ‘Holding the Fort’. During the Q&A Davison remembered back to taking his first steps into the TARDIS and thinking how full it felt with not one but two companions in Janet Fielding (Tegan) and Matthew Waterhouse as Adric. Even though the 5th Doctor had two companions when asked about the companions of the future Davison comment on “how much of a rounded character” he thought Billie Piper’s Rose Tyler was written. “The special thing about Rose was that you saw the Doctor through her eyes”, he concluded.
After leaving the TARDIS in 1984 Davison remained on British TV in others programmes but Doctor was not far behind. In 2007 he teamed up with future son-in-law David Tennant to create a one-off ‘Children in Need’ special ‘Time Crash’. On arriving on set Davison realised that things had not really changed as everything seemed a “chaotic” as it did in his day.
Next, to grace the stage was sixth Doctor Colin Baker. The audience spent a very entraining half an hour listening to many stories from his days before Doctor Who and during. All accompanied by the exact date on which it happened. Baker has an amazing memory. Included was his reminiscence of the part he played in Doctor Who before he became the actual Doctor. In 1983 Baker played Commander Maxil in ‘Arc of Infinity’ a character that Baker thinks he gave too much importance too. A character that he gave a life to that found “this Doctor bloke as a blooming irritant”. Then Doctor Who producer John Nathan Turner didn’t like this and reminded Baker that the show was about the Doctor and not Maxil. ”So I stopped sighing heavily everytime Peter spoke and behaved myself”, said Colin. Not long after that Colin was asked to take on the role of the Doctor. So no harm was done.
Eventually, the delightful Louise Jameson took to the stage dressed in a bright yellow jumper and red shoes. Her panel was funny, revealing and generous. She talked about her time on the BBC drama ‘Tenko, The Omega Factor and Bergerac, her continuing relationship with Big Finish and her recent time on ‘Eastenders’ before chatting away about her years as Leela alongside Tom Baker’s fourth Doctor. When asked about Tom she says that “now I love him to bits. He can make go from laughing to crying in a nanosecond. But back then he was not very nice”.
One question that came from the audience was about the new 13th and first women Doctor Jodie Whittaker. Louise is very happy about this new direction. She asked the audience for a show of hands for those that were also looking forward to it. Approximately 80% of hands were raised. Louise also commented that she would love to write an episode for the new Doctor as she does now for Big Finish. Let’s see if Chris Chibnall takes her up on the offer.
After a busy day, it was time for curtain down at 6pm. All the guests including K9 took to the stage to say their farewells.
Blogtor Who very much enjoyed the day and would like to thank Epsom Playhouse, Martin Parsons and his team for putting it all together. Here’s to the next one!