So Saturday 23rd March 2013 came and went and 100s of fans, guests, writers, cast and myriads of others made their way to Barking Abbey School (which we learned was Carole Ann Ford’s old school). Despite the sleet and snow we gathered in our masses for Big Finish Day 3!
In my case it has been many (very many!) years since I went to a convention and as I walked from Barking Station to the school I spotted many others in their ones and twos all converging on the same spot. Given the weather the turn-out for just after 9 am was impressive.
When I try to assess how good a convention has been there are three measures that I think are worth applying – How good was the programme; how was the atmosphere and were there any surprises? How did Big Finish Day 3 stack up?
There was a good mix of things to do from panels, various side rooms with merchandise, the gym for signings and Big Finish purchases and the Writer’s Room. There were also photo shoots and a tea room. Plenty to do and I found I couldn’t do everything I wanted to which is a good sign!
I enjoyed Nick’s opening welcome and the 50th Anniversary panel which had a lot to say about the Destiny of the Doctor series. I also enjoyed the Vienna panel (notes here) and the Writer’s Workshop (I blogged about it here on my other blog) though it did mean I missed the Jago & Litefoot panel. I also managed to miss the Treasure Island panel with Tom Baker and Barnaby Edwards.
Panels aside I caught up with several people and put faces to names (Paul Spragg and Kris G included). I was not able to stay until the end so missed out on taking part in the Big Finish Day 3 podcast.
The school seemed buzzing – queues for signatures, a patrolling Dalek and many people in costume. Nick Briggs and Jason Haigh-Ellery were continually chatting as they strolled around between events and everywhere people were clearly enjoying themselves, getting the most outlandish things signed and spending money!
I myself get overwhelmed in crowds and need the odd moment to sit and reflect – luckily the smaller merchandise rooms and tea room fitted the bill wonderfully.
For lunch I popped out (still snowing) to a local café to stretch my legs and even there were several other sets of fans discussing purchases and the afternoon’s programme. I was very much reminded (in a small way) of the large conventions I attended in the 70s and 80s.
It’s nice to be surprised and for me I enjoyed a conversation with Alexander Vlahos talking about not only Dorian Gray but also touching on Merlin and Privates. He even provided my one signature of the day – for my daughter. Subsequently I have purchased the first Dorian Gray story.
In the merchandise rooms I caught up with Simon Barnard of Bafflegab and talked Vince Cosmos. I hadn’t realised he would be there so that was a bonus, as was the chance to chat briefly with many writers. I also surprised myself by managing not to spend all the money I came with – unlike previous conventions I have been to!
I had a really good day out, and wished I could have stayed to the end. Eamonn in his review here mentions that next year it will be in Slough which works well for me so I am already planning to attend.
The only other question is do I go to any more conventions this year!