When Steven, Erika and I discovered we had enough money from our Patreon supporters to head over to the UK, one of the first things on our agenda was to film a video to tie into the opening of our (then) upcoming live show at Gallifrey One. Steven spent a productive day at work cooking up the story, the inestimable Simon Harries volunteered to shoot and direct, and I steeled myself for some serious editing time once I’d returned to Canada. But first, the shooting!
The plot (such as it was) revolved around the vile computer known as WOTAN (portrayed by the British Telecom tower, as it was in 1966’s The War Machines) and its successful attempt to hypnotize me and bring its evil to Gallifrey One. What that boils down to is an excuse to shoot in London (including a cameo in front of ‘221B Baker St’ from Stephen Moffat’s Sherlock) and at the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff.
After a most entertaining car trip spent playing archival television themes all the way to Wales, we spent the better part of a day filming outside and inside the Experience. We thought shooting inside and amongst the many props from the show would be frowned upon, but evidently the staff were used to such amateur hour subterfuge. As a result, we got all the footage we needed and were supremely grateful to change out of our “costumes,” which were beginning to achieve sentience.
We were also able to check out Eddie’s Diner on Cardiff Bay, better known as the American diner in both “The Impossible Astronaut” and “Heaven Sent.” Just below it is the Ianto shrine, which I desecrated thusly:
Former Doctor Who script editor and all around gentleman Gary Russell happened to be in Cardiff at the same time, and he was nice enough to give us a guided tour of outdoor locations used during the RTD years of the show. Since Doctor Who is filmed right across from the Doctor Who Experience, many of the iconic locations were a short walk away and Gary packed a lot of info into a short window for us.
Once back in London, we held a meetup at the College Arms, which acts as a substitute for the Fitzroy Tavern, a mainstay of the Doctor Who community for decades and sadly, under renovations when we were there. Still, we got to meet friends and fans old and new, and my liver is all the worse for the adventure.
Speaking of pubs, my hotel for part of my stay in London was located in an area haunted by George Orwell, and the barkeep at one such pub claimed it, and the patrons inside it at the time were the inspiration for the Victory Pub in 1984. They had a picture of Eric Arthur Blair above the bar, and regardless of the veracity of their story, I raised a glass in his honour.
Through clever Expedia-ing, we arranged to fly back home with a stopover in New York to attend L.I. Who, the east coast Doctor Who convention and all around good time in Long Island, New York (or Hauppage or something, hell I don’t know.) I was able to spend a day wandering around NYC proper, a city I love (and which I again got to visit just a few weeks ago for a few days.
But maybe I’ll save L.I Who for part III, and combine it with my more recent NYC trip. Until then, dear reader!