Okay then. This weekend is Armageddon in Wellington, and Colin Baker is our feature Doctor. John Leeson’s here too, but we think he can look after himself well enough. Yes, it’s Old Sixie – robust, convivial, extroverted. A national treasure, yes? Well, any Classic Whofan would think the same if not moreso of Paul McGann when he visited a year ago, and yet In Our Humble Opinion last year’s Wellington event made a right ‘Pamela Nash’ of that.
Now, we’ve not organised an event any bigger than a video screening ourselves, but then we never went into business screening videos, so we plead ‘amateur’ anyway. Maybe it’s rude to tell someone how to do their job without the appropriate background ourselves, but hell, we’re cash-paying audience members from way back, and we think we know a little bit about what it is to be entertained, and how to tell when a rare opportunity to see a Doctor in the flesh in these remote regions offers itself. So then, courting controversy with common sense as our trusty lieutenant, here are Five Things you absolutely shouldn’t do to your Doctor Who guest at Armageddon. Informed by what happened to Paul McGann last year, of course.
1. The Lead-Up
Bearing in mind who your guest is – especially if they only played the part for a couple of years or one evening, and who they might or might not appear to be once they alight the stage (particularly if the years have altered their appearance from their Dalek-bothering days), DON’T settle for playing something on the auditorium big screen from another Doctor’s era. Or the present era. Or a one-off Comic Relief skit where the Doctor is played by anyone else but your feature act (let alone an established bona fideBBC-imprimatured Doctor). It’s confusing, and when your request for a show of hands regarding who had seen that flick before is met with a resounding number of hands, well you shouldn’t be surprised if further bewilderment follows for the main event. Here’s a tip: play something of theirs. Hey, even a fan-made You Tube mash-up of their greatest scenes to an emo track will do.
2. Introducing the Man
Announcing a few ‘housekeeping details’ and finishing with “Ladies and Gentlemen Colin Baker” might work for a regular Who fan gaggle of thirty years or more in vintage. But DON’T assume the audience is full of your chums paid up and ready to hear the eyepatch joke on more time. Think of the kids, the ones who don’t know much about Whopre-Eccleston, let alone pre-Tennant. And then think about the work your guest is going to have before them explaining that no, they didn’t meet the Ood. That way they won’t have to begin uncomfortably and apologetically, blinking under the stage lights and addressing a shuffling audience out there in the darkness, having to explain who they are again.
3. At Home on the Stage
Really push the boat out on this one. After introducing them and warming things up with a few patsy questions continue the good vibe by ensuring a smooth performance. For example, block off the ‘back of stage’ area so that twonk in the costume made out of KFC and pizza boxes doesn’t wander through the action on his way to the loos. And DON’T broadcast Twilight poster signing announcements over the PA every five minutes and over the top of your speaker. It’s really unnerving, and nobody on the day got up and rushed away to find a big marker pen for the occasion anyway.
4. Frequently Asked Questions
DON’T be embarrassed by this. Patsy questions and the like get things going smoothly, especially if your guest has a history of being uncomfortable in large convention situations. Even the UK events have the odd Gary Russell, Nick Briggs or Nick Pegg to get things going and steer the questions away from Yet Another Mention Of The New Series. Also, if there’s ten minutes to spare at the end of things, your guest isn’t then tempted to wander off resignedly, thanking the audience with a “you’re weird” remark.
and finally, on the positive side.
5. CLOTHES MAKETHED FOR THE MAN
Bespoke clothing for your guest, particularly if they’re known for not being mad about their original outfit is a surprising and rather cool idea. Hey, here’s another idea – didn’t Colin have what’s widely regarded as the worst clothing ensemble of all the Doctor’s incarnations, and hasn’t he often regretted not having his own input into the look of his incarnation? And DON’T you think it would be cool to help him out with this one too, and give him a sonic of his own as well?