Sunday 28 July 2013

Perks of the blog - part two

Just had a great day out celebrating all thing Sylvester McCoy at the BFI.

You maybe aware that each month the BFI has been screening a Doctor Who adventure - and since this is July, the Seventh Doctor was in their sights.

Chosen to represent his era, Remembrance Of The Daleks was showcased with both Sylvester and Sophie in attendance.

Due to unpresidented demand the ticked for the past few screenings have been allocated by a ballot system, and unfortunately I missed out - or so I thought.

A few weeks ago one of my clients, Tom Nichols, who has a small business hiring out Daleks and TARDISs for event, got in touch to ask if I was going to the BFI screening. It turned out he had offered to display his Special Weapons Dalek in the foyer, and had received the promise of a couple of tickets in return. A spare was on offer - would I like to come? WOULD I??

Anyway, long and short of it if I helped set up I’d be welcome, so I was more than happy to lend a hand.

I also suggested taking the Dalek to the original filming location for its scenes, which were done barely three streets from the BFI. Tom hadn't made the connection in his mind, so jumped at the idea.

We met up at Windmill Walk underneath the railway bridge where the Dalek factions have their pitched battle. Tom had the Dalek in bits in his transit van, and it only took a couple of minutes for us to manhandle it together.

We had some fun getting some great pictures of the Dalek in situe, and a number of slack-jawed passers by also grabbed a few shape too.

It was amazing to see it on the very spot where 25 years earlier it had been trundling along, obliterating Daleks as it went.

We then drove over to the BFI, where we were welcomed by security and shown where the Dalek was to be set up.
Tom was very easy going about it, and was happy for it to sit there unattended for the duration of the afternoon as a talking point and photo opportunity for everyone passing through. Some ropes were supplied to cordon it of, so all was good.

To our surprise we were welcomed into the green room. Sylvester and Sophie soon arrived, Sylvester with a cat on his ankle and wearing a kilt! He had recently had surgery on a troublesome foot, and trousers were too difficult to put on.

Before too long it was time to take our seats, which for me were the best I’d ever had at one of these screenings - in the centre block, almost dead central, only half a dozen rows back.

The episodes were broken up by a couple of interviews with guests, the first of which was John Leeson, best known for his voice of K-9, but he also provided voices for this story too.

He can be heard as the Dalek Battle Computer (when you think it is Davros, but turns out to be the little girl) and later he is the continuity announcer who introduces he next episode of Doc.... before being cut off.

There was also an interesting discussion with Mike Tucker who worked in the BBC visual effects department during the McCoy run, and now is effect supervisor on the current series.

Finally, long term member of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Dick Mills, filled us in on how the department worked down the years; how new equipment made things easier, but harder to be imaginative with.

The main interview session was between Sylvester McCoy (who was asked to keep his knees together in his kilt by a member of the front row), Sophie Aldred and writer Ben Aronovich.

There were some great tales of how both leads got their parts; of how the script was written; how Ace became a regular companion over a brief guest appearance; how the series was cancelled; and of Sylvester’s return in the tv movie.

All in all it was a great day!
I just want to say a BIG thank you to Tom Nichols for letting me tag along and help him set up the Dalek - and for getting me into a screening I thought I had missed out on!

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