Dr Who in Aldbourne
Saturday, 7th August 2021

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I grew up watching the BBC programme Dr Who. Compared to modern American SF programmes with loads of resources thrown at them what I watched must seem amateurish and slipshod. But at the time it was the latest and greatest. Even now the storylines shine to me set against the poor writing in the big budget American offerings.

On one of the forums I frequent a guy posted about attending a Dr Who day organized by Who's At the Playhouse. This seemed like something I ought to do once so I started following the Facebook page An Afternoon With. When a Dr Who event was announced celebrating the making of the Jon Pertwee "The Daemons" serial at Aldbourne I signed up. Due to Covid the day got postponed a little but it did arrive and I found myself there.

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There was a bit of queueing on the day. I took pictures and delayed joining the first queue to be registered and receive a blue sticker at the Aldbourne Memorial Hall base for the event. It may be 50 years since the shooting of "The Daemons" but the event is still remembered. A local blacksmith made Dr Who wastebins to address a litter problem in the village which I captured as pictures. Aldbourne is a very pretty village, a very traditional one or so it feels. After getting my blue sticker I signed up to have a picture taken with Katy Manning, John Levene, and Richard Franklin. Normally I wouldn't pay to have such pictures but it felt right to have this as a memento here. I was surprised by how popular having pictures taken with the actors was, one blonde girl seemed to have be having every possible permutation going. There was quite a spread of ages of fan there, and they knew their Dr Who stuff. I felt a little bit of an intruder! There seemed to be a number of groups organising these retrospective events, even a slight sense of competition.

We congregated on the village green in different groups to hear the actors reminiscing. The actors have aged of course (and getting older is a bad idea) but some were impressively active and lively like Frazer Hines. Unfortunately the heavens opened and we beat a retreat to indoor venues. My trousers got soaked, I stood to let them try. I didn't notice but somewhere along the line I lost my gardening cap I had brought with me to defend myself against the sun. The reminiscing underlined the camaraderie among actors, they were virtually chatting among themselves and we were listening.

I had a scone and tea at the Time at the Forge tea rooms. I sat close to the blacksmiths next door, and both the sound and the smell of hot metal made themselves noticed. The blacksmith brought out a crumbling sign with "Devil's End" on it which Jon Pertwee had apparently bestowed - fans relished this piece of history.

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It was then time to queue for pictures in St Michael's Church. When they got going these ran pretty fast - one guy checked your ticket, another guy took it, another guy took your bag and/or coat, you sat down, 1 2 3 smile picture, then time for the next person. The actors made this experience a real performance and put energy into it.

As I got up after being photographed I said Thank You to the actors, hoping to convey at some level my appreciation of their impact on my life. Katy Manning said "No, thank you!" which I was impressed by - the way she said it was more vivid than mine, I guess actors have to be more vivid than normal people to convey things. They have to convince their audience so they have to convince themselves. I hope I think the actors enjoyed these days it was more than a gig arranged by their agents. They must appreciate mixing with those on the other side of the fourth wall.

More queueing before being able to collect the picture and heading for home. The hall was full of people meeting and greeting and getting autographs. Perhaps I should have stayed for this too - my life is full of perhaps.