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Attending a Doctor Who event isn’t like anything else in showbusiness. You know you are among people who have studied the entertainment show you are all there to celebrate with a fervor and intensity that could, if put to other uses, sort out a cure for the common cold in a week. And they express this using the medium of dressing up.
So, in the queue for today’s Doctor Who TV special there were lots of fezzes, a fair few long tan riding coats (paired with red Converse) and quite a lot of blue dresses with black and white panels on them (and a lady with a yellow cup on her head). Some had been there all day, all were incredibly keen to get inside and take part in an historic moment in Doctor Who history: the revelation of the Twelfth Doctor.
Elstree Studios had never seen anything like it. Far more used to medical dramas and the ongoing soap EastEnders, to suddenly be under siege from Whovians in full cosplay (some of whom were still waiting outside the gates as we came back out afterwards), must have been unnerving.
Still, we were taken into the studio along a long and enticing corridor with Doctor Who signs up for hair and makeup and costume on doors we were not entitled to open. Once inside, a remarkable spectacle. Not just a spinning TARDIS hanging from the ceiling, but a set comprised of old TVs, each one playing footage of a different Doctor, and right at the back, every now and again, the time vortex itself.
And that’s the point, with mouths hanging open in shock and excitement, that the warm-up man chose to tell us that the balcony to our right was the exact same one used by Statler and Waldorf in The Muppet Show, which was filmed in that very room.
It was already a weird day, that was the shine on the cherry on top.
It was around this time that a poor gentleman dressed as the Fifth Doctor developed a nose-bleed. Ill portents were in the air. Then there was poor Rufus Hound, who, once the show was underway, managed to fumble the amount of knocks Wilfred gave when fulfilling the prophecised end of the Tenth Doctor, which was treated with kindness until he referred to Christopher Eccleston as “Peter Eccleston” (sharp intakes of breath to my left and right).
Interesting choice of wrong first name, given the subsequent revelation, is it not? Could he have spotted a familiar face in makeup before taking to the stage?
THIS familiar face, perhaps?
And with this sudden excitement and release of tension came relief. I can’t speak for everyone in the room, but there was little in the way of scepticism and outrage. Judging from the immediate reaction, and subsequent comments, it was clear that, for the Whovians present, a good choice has been made.
But we still had one last twist of the knife to sit through. Matt Smith’s speech of good luck to the man who congratulated him on his first ever performance as the Doctor. Matt coming across as infinitely weary and sad, but also encouraging and friendly to his successor. Well, there were audible sighs.
By the time we filed out, slightly dazed by the glitter cannons and feeling quietly excited about the future, it was as if we’d all emerged unscathed after a gruelling emotional experience. The future of the TARDIS, the galaxy and Doctor Who is in safe hands.
Let’s leave with a strange thought. By this time next year, one of these gentlemen will probably be wearing something very different and may even be affecting a Scottish accent.
Although probably not the one in the middle.
See more posts by Fraser McAlpine
Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.
He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.
Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic