Comic-Con Day #5 – BBCA Panels Take Over Ballroom 20

The sun is blazing strongly and the humidity is up, raising temps into the 80s – a fitting end to what has undoubtedly been a hot & vibrant Comic-Con. But before we delve into today’s action-packed events (undoubtedly the busiest and most-exciting day of the Con for the BBCAers), let’s fire up our handy Tardis and journey back to last evening’s extra-special screenings of Torchwood: Children of Earth Day 5 episode, plus the U.S. premiere of Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead (currently scheduled to debut in mere hours on BBC America!)

Lines were wrapped well-around Room 6DE as crowds queued up to watch the gripping sci-fi shows as a group – and to get a glimpse of the promised “Special Guests” – who turned out to be none other than creator/executive producer/writer Russell T Davies and stars David Tennant and John Barrowman. Entering the stage to thunderous applause and screams, David and John celebrated both series’ home & huge success on BBC America (in the oft-repeated words of Tennant, the ‘truly natural home’ for iconic BBC sci-fi series Doctor Who). But undoubtedly, the most memorable moment came in a jaw-dropping liplock between the two heartthrob stars – a moment Barrowman eagerly pursued and had admittedly long-awaited! As if these special broadcasts weren’t exciting enough, these once-in-a-lifetime intros made it a night to always remember!

Cut to Con Opening Hours Sunday morning, as thousands of shoppers, eager to not leave San Diego without all the collectible figurines, shirts & DVDs they’d been eyeing all week, swung by the Booth to load up on products! Lines swung well around the booth as fans amassed 2-3 deep for their last chance for all the Con-exclusive goods. Must-have items like the Doctor’s sonic screwdriver and “I’m the Doctor” shirt quickly flew through all remaining inventory and sold out. After the last batch of super-sized bags were handed out and gobbled up, fans thrilled with special promotions, like the chance to score one of the remaining bags with a purchase over $60 – but with that sort of enthusiasm, even offers like that didn’t last long!

Upstairs in Ballroom 20, seating for over 4,000 went fast as fans flooded the rows of seats, many camped out since the wee hours of the morning, for the long-awaited Doctor Who panel. Moderated by the Los Angeles Times’ TV writer Robert Lloyd, the roar was deafening as Russell T Davies, exec producer Julie Gardner, director Euros Lyn and beloved star David Tennant settled in to chat and answer questions from both Lloyd and fans. After clearing up a widely-circulating rumor of a Doctor Who movie (“there is no announcement… but is that something you’d want?”), the lights dimmed for a never-before-seen first look at Tennant’s final 2 Doctor Who specials, coming this Christmas – an exclusive so spectacularly exciting and jam-packed, Tennant insisted it be played TWICE for maximum effect! Davies, who referred to his years writing & exec-producing DW as “the most brilliant and beautiful time of my life,” joked about his aging father listening to the BBC radio and counting Doctor Who references (“at least 4 a day!”) All agreed, though, that even with their wildest dreams and hopes, no one ever expected that the relaunch of Who would be as successful as it’s proven to be – a fact proven when the Editor-in-Chief of the Guinness Book of World Records joined the lot onstage to present Davies with a certificate naming DW as the “Most Successful Sci-Fi Show on TV.” And all agreed that 26-year-old Matt Smith, who has just begun production as the 11th Doctor, is great and will be phenomenal when he tries to fill Tennant’s shoes. All ended with another never-before-seen exclusive, this time of “The Waters of Mars,” the second of Tennant’s final 4 specials, due to air this Fall and co-starring Sandy Duncan. All the new eps look pretty amazing, definitely don’t want to miss ‘em!

Later that afternoon, fans returned to Ballroom 20, for a joint panel shared by the just-premiered series Being Human, and BBCA’s highest-rated series Torchwood, just coming off its hugely-successful & acclaimed miniseries third season, Children of Earth. Moderated by TV Guide Magazine’s Rich Sands (who proclaimed hat the best sci-fi programming on TV right now is on BBC America!), Being Human‘s stunning cast and creator Toby Whithouse took the stage, joking about the show’s far-fetched premise of a ghost, werewolf and vampire as roommates in Bristol, a leap saved only by the truthful, deeply-emotional writing and characters. Whithouse explained that the series began life as a non-genre-specific drama series about young college grads who buy a house together – and only came to include the supernatural flavor after developing each characters’ struggles and issues. The mix of darkness & light, comedy & horror proved to be a hit with the audiences, many of whom had found clips on the Internet beforehand and asked probing questions about specific episodes and story arcs for series two, to start production this Fall for a 2010 airing.

Then, it was time for BBCA’s reigning colossus Torchwood, which Sands referred to first as “the television event of the summer,” and then clarified as “of the year.” Lofty praise indeed! Fans cheered “We want Ianto” in the spirit of the childrens’ uber-creepy chanting in Children of Earth, but in his inimitably articulate and logical way, Davies took full responsibility for any fan disappointment over the beloved character’s death in the Day 4 episode, saying “Blame me… it was crucial for the progression of the story… we’re all sad but life has to go on.” Barrowman, cracking his expected naughty double-entendres and flirting with each of his panel colleagues (including the bashful and serious moderator), joked about searching on Twitter following each night’s broadcast and being shocked when Ianto’s death landed him above Michael Jackson on Twitter’s trending topics. He also continued his long-running plea to be cast as superhero Captain America and hinted at releasing his tweaked song “The Doctor and I,” a live favorite, as an iTunes exclusive or album bonus track, on his next album. All the panels seemed united in their praise of the first-rate crew and cast on Children of Earth, especially actors Peter Capaldi and Cush Jumbo, and though some fans seemed mournfully reluctant to give up their pleas for the return of Ianto, all left feeling extremely satisfied in the thoughtful exploration and celebration of what is undoubtedly some of the best sci-fi television of the last decade.

And that brings us to the bright sunshine in San Diego, which I’ll soon be leaving to return to the East Coast. I hope you’ve enjoyed traveling along with me (as my time-traveling assistants, say) as we made our way through the 40th Edition of Comic-Con International. Until next year, I shall follow the lead of our illustrious Doctors and bid you all a fond farewell, until we meet again.


Director Euros Lyn and executive producer Julie Gardner at the “Doctor Who”/”Torchwood” panel.


John Barrowman and director Euros Lyn at the “Doctor Who”/”Torchwood” panel.


The Guinness Book of World Records names “Doctor Who” the “Most Successful Sci-Fi Series of All-Time,” and Russell T Davies accepts the award.


An inside look at the “Doctor Who”/”Torchwood” panel


The “Being Human” panel


Fierce fashions: whose Dalek-inspired ensemble would rock the runway?


Various Doctors and a Cyberman.

Kevin Wicks

Kevin Wicks founded BBCAmerica.com's Anglophenia blog back in 2005 and has been translating British culture for an American audience ever since. While not British himself - he was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri - he once received inordinate hospitality in London for sharing the name of a dead but beloved EastEnders character. His Anglophilia stems from a high school love of Morrissey, whom he calls his "gateway drug" into British culture.

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