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Whocon 1990 Reviews

Whocon 1990 Review

by Jeff Stone

When James Satherly and I stepped off the plane at Christchurch airport on the night before WhoCon, I remember hoping that the Con would be as good as Trakon, held the previous year. Well I was wrong - WhoCon '90 was better than Trakon, a fantastic three days that I enjoyed immensely. Congratulations to all the NZDWFC mob - you did an ice-hot job, guys, take a bow.

After a relaxing morning spent recklessly overspending at bookshops in Christchurch, penfriend Matthew Morris, James and I caught the bus out to the con's venue, the Airport Travelodge.

A few rather bored people were hanging around in the hotel foyer and I remembered thinking "Oh, God. Is this it?" But not to fear - within minutes, Andrew Poulsen and co. arrived and soon everything was all go, and by the time we had finished transporting stuff of all kinds across the hotel, a very respectable group of people had assembled.

Day one was on the whole informal. The first event was the Treasure Hunt, where we hunted the Five Keys. Most of Reich-fuhrer Scheib's cryptic clues had us eating our socks in frustration, but incredibly, we managed to complete it. (Largely by seeing a large landmark and hoping a Key was there. Nine times out of ten there was; a case of fitting the clue to the Key!)

After this James and I participated in the sci-fi pictionary, which we won. It is during these sort of games that one is supposed to work miracles, like drawing a picture that looks like Slartibartfast or Perelandra. Acting as 'Cheat-Busters' were the team from Rakaia Rough Riders organisation, who acted as the con's security outfit. A most impressive lot, I must say.

After the pictionary, nothing formal was planned until about seven o'clock that night, so I used the time to get to know some of the other convention attendees. Highlights of this period include hearing Neil Lambess's 'shock horror' revelation about 'Made is Singapore' (which involved blow-up dolls, Mr Potato Head Autons and Sontarans in drag), participating in the con's official 'Summon a Metebelis Three Spider' attempt (If I never hear 'om mane padre hum' again, it'll be to soon!) and, of course, talking to all the great people that I had only known before through letters or articles in TSV.

After several delays, the con's official opening got under way around 8pm. Following an excellent 'trip down memory lane' video compilation of various Doctor Who scenes we were introduced to Mark (Turlough) Strickson. Mr Strickson then gave the first of his highly entertaining and amusing speeches and proved what a great convention guest he was.

The 'Star Trek vs. Doctor Who' debate, like 'the Doctor should be a woman' debate last year at Trakon, soon lost all semblance of order, as both sides got well and truly stuck into each other. Top marks have to go to Dallas Jones, for the cool and eloquent way he delivered his side of the argument amidst the frenzied screaming of the opposition. The final event of Day one was the 'Matrix Reconstructions', the Doctor Who theatre sports. Our team, 'Who You Gonna Call?', did, I think, pretty well, but didn't stand a chance against the awesome force of Neil Lambess, David Lawrence and co. (Did manage to bring the house down, though, with my rendition of the classic 'Spanish Inquisition' Python sketch.)

Saturday, the best day of the Con by far, started with Paul Scoones talk on the Target books, ably assisted by the ubiquitous Mr Dallas Jones. After this, Mark Strickson talked about his work on Doctor Who, which was again excellent and also included the dreaded 'Tractators!' mime sequence! When this concluded, most of the attendees lined up to have various items signed by Mr Strickson by the pool. After attending Paul Scoones' writers workshop, it was time to meet (drum roll please!) the immortal one, Jon Pertwee. Mr Pertwee held the audience spellbound for the considerable time he was up on stage, talking about his life and answering audience questions. Jon Pertwee is the ultimate speechmaker and gave us a truly magic couple of hours. He then went on to sign hundreds of autographs, then departed, with us trailing him in awe like the rats in 'The Pied Piper'. Next came the quiz, where the amazing Mr Scheib produced a endless the barrage of difficult questions. Our team 'Who Gives a Sh*t', despite a valiant attempt to bribe the judging panel with money and offers of drinks, fell to the Teenage Mutant Ninja 505'ers by a measly few points. Revenge will be ours!

I enjoyed the following masquerade immensely - especially Stephen Murray's hilarious Master routine - a great job by all involved. Then I proceeded to dance the night away at the Con disco. The inevitable 'Doctorin' the Tardis' conga ensued, as well as several excellent Rocky Horror songs (someone teach me the words please!).

After viewing 'The Six Doctors' Australian DWFC video at Paul Scoones' 'Alternative Con', I retired to the video room, where a group of us late con attendees watched the classic Bad Taste. This was the beginning of 'Loonycon', where Steve Austin, Chris Girdler, James Satherly, Nick White, Susan Donovan, James Someone (sorry, forgot your last name) and I spent the entire night watching Plan Nine From Outer Space, wandering through the hotel at 2 in the morning and cracking hilarious jokes until we were evicted by the hotel staff at 5 am (Steve, James, Chris - Loonycon was a blast! We have to do it again!). Things like this really make cons enjoyable experiences, as many of you will agree.

On Sunday, Day three, things got underway with the Kaled/Thal paper-sword battle and the auditions for 'Sale of the Century'. After another Mark Strickson speech/panel, 'Sale of the Century' started. Once again, the insidious mind of Mr Scheib produced some real b-----ds of questions (many of which left us totally stumped. Where do you get these questions from?). In the end, I won, after fighting off both the attempts of the other contestants, and the bloody audience, to topple me (It just proves that no-one loves a smart-ass).

Before them auction commenced, a very interesting talk on the various Australasian fanzines was held. Of special interest was Dallas Jones' segment on Data Extract and Junkyard. The most inscrutable of all was Warren Butler, representing The Gallifreyan Times who pleaded ignorance about the fanzine he helped put together!

The last formal event of the con was the auction, where some extremely rare items changed hands for amazing sums. As I was down to my last fiver, having spent carelessly at the huckster's table, I could only watch in frustrated agony. Oh, well.

By far the strangest event of the convention followed - the banquet, where we had to decode more of Mr Scheib's cryptic clues and put them into order in order for us to eat. Many people, including everyone at our table, got the order totally wrong and while I tucked into part of main meal (without cutlery), My friends would be eating dessert, or the entree, or nothing. As the rather unsettling meal ended, so did the convention, save for the prize giving, which Mark Strickson hosted. After this, we all left to go our separate ways, after exchanging farewells and our addresses - WhoCon was over.

It's hard to say what I enjoyed most about the convention - what is certain is that WhoCon was a fantastic event, run and attended by some of the greatest people I've had the honour to meet. So thanks again to the WhoCon committee and here's to the next Doctor Who convention!

Whocon 1990 Review: Who Are We Trying To Con

by David Lawrence

On Friday morning I woke up three hours earlier than usual, at 7:30. After watching an episode and a half of The Ambassadors of Death I went around to Jacob O'Reilly's place, waited for a taxi, and got to the airport. Jacob's attire raised a few eyebrows (he was wearing his Sixth Doctor coat) as we waited for Ian Stewart and his father to arrive. They arrived, we checked in, we boarded the plane. As the plane neared take-off, Iain decided to start reading the book he had brought at the airport... but he changed his mind when he saw what it was - The Faceless Ones!

We arrived some time on Friday morning and eventually got to the hotel. After discovering and then making a list of all the faults in rooms 855 and 865 we wandered to the lobby where many various unusual people were doing various unusual things. One of the most bizarre of the group approached and asked if we were con attendees. "No," I said with a deadly serious expression, "we're just a group of weirdo's who dress up in Doctor Who costumes and wander around hotels." The bizarre person smiled and introduced himself as Richard Scheib. Genuinely surprised, I said, "I didn't recognise you without the dressing gown." Richard obviously thought my joke was funny, but I got the impression he got a bit annoyed with it during the course of the day, as I was continually pestering him with "When's the dressing gown coming on?" Sorry, Richard!

Jacob, Iain and I decided to put on our costumes and do a 'photo call'. Going outside, we did a series of photos by the pool. Then we went back inside. About 1:00, I went into Concorde B to find Jacob and Iain. There I met Joshua Preston and Adam Moffit. It was here that people began to arrive. It was obvious that the committee were under a lot of pressure. People were daring each other to ask Janine where their TSV's had gone.

Amongst the people I met, the notables were Chris Mander, David Ronayne, Craig Young, Gerald "Adric" Joblin... anyway, wandering into the lobby, I greeted a new arrival and conversed... only after he had left did I realise who he was- it was Mark Strickson (!). At 2:00, the registration opened, but Andrew Poulsen hadn't arrived with the con packs. "When he does turn up," says Janine "we can all attack him with large objects." Iain suggests, "Like baseball bats?" and Janine laughs. Around this time I met and conversed with many amazing people and used up most of my jelly babies. Chris Noaro and Graham Howard arrived. Then I met Jonathan Turner...or should that be Neil Lambess? What an amazing person! Wow! After being introduced to Warren Butler, I met Paul Scoones. Then Chris Noaro went into Christchurch to find Stephen Austin. Half an hour later Stephen Austin turned up to find Chris. It is here that I must award the "Greatest Liar" award to Neil, his wonderful 'Made in Singapore' synopsis was brilliant. And to think we thought it was the real thing! I spent most of the afternoon socializing.

At about six o'clock I went back to Paul Scoones's room with him to discuss my City of Death novelisation. Whilst I was there I saw previews of The Best of TSV Volume 1, The Doctor Who Listener Vol.2, Jon Preddle's original manuscript for Revelation of the Daleks, and the prologue to Paul's Resurrection of the Daleks. What can I say? F***ing amazing book if the three pages I've read are anything to go by. Please hurry Paul, I can't wait to see it! During this time I met Felicity Fletcher (Paul's fiancee, for those of you who don't already know), then Jacob and Iain turned up and almost successfully destroyed one of the windows for the police box which Paul was making. It is here that I must thank Paul for his extreme hospitality throughout the con for not killing Jacob.

The opening ceremony took place, then was the debate 'That Star Trek is Superior to Doctor Who'. Well it isn't! I took great pleasure in throwing a handful of jelly beans at the poster of William Shatner. The arguments for and against were both good...why do British actors hate William Shatner so much? I've heard Paul Darrow and Michael Keating slagging him, and so did Mark Strickson.

Following this was the Matrix Reconstructions. Being an amateur pro-Theatresports player, I was keen on entering. So, assembling with three people I'd only met that afternoon I entered. Our team the Tiny Teddies, consisted of Chris Mander, Neil Lambess, Felicity Fletcher and I was the team captain ("This was your idea so you can do it!" says the rest of the team.). In the first round we performed "Leela - Gallifreyan housewife", and it was a piece of utter rubbish! In the general round we did something to do with the Master... I can't actually remember it! I can remember that Felicity and I both played the Master - neither of us was sure which one should be which! My reaction when Felicity came on stage and said, "I am the Master!" was "Ah, you obviously read the works of Craig Young!" During the next round we did "Ace meets the Autons on High Street" or something, and in the finals...well, all I can really say is we won! Everyone bar me performed wonderfully, Neil stole the show with his second Doctor regenerating and Chris did the most brilliant Cyberman impression I've ever seen. I can't describe the sketch, I can just say that those of you who were there will know what I mean when I quote, "KILL THE GAMESHOW HOST!"

We were forced to do an encore, so we used the old always-guaranteed-to-get-a-laugh "Yes, it is a big one, isn't it!"

David Ronayne and I went to the video room for an hour or so, then we returned to our rooms.

The following morning I awoke after one of those nights where you want to sleep but you can't. Jacob was already awake and it wasn't long till our conversations awoke Graham as well. Neil and Jacob went outside and I took photos of each of them together, as they were both in splendid Colin Baker costumes. I then went on stage and assisted Paul Scoones in his novelisations discussion. I didn't actually do a hell of a lot (I'm sure Paul will agree with me on that one!) apart from sit around and get myself well publicised, but most people will know I'll do anything to get up before an audience, so there you have it. Following this was Mark Strickson's first panel, then his autograph session, both of which were interesting and informative. Mark can't see why I hate Peri.

After eating some lunch I attended Paul's writer's workshop, also an interesting session. I got more publicity concerning my City of Death novel, which was well worth it! I did enjoy the workshop. I love Paul's assertiveness - when criticising work in Timestreams, he always made sure first that whoever had written in wasn't present, or in the case of one person, he waited until that person had left!

Then Jon Pertwee arrived. His effortless charm made his panel delightful... he did all the old routines, told all the old stories... plus one or three I hadn't heard before.

I was on the Teenage Mutant Ninja 505'ers in the science fiction quiz, with Neil, Josh Preston and Nick White. Another victory we won! However, I objected to the way certain members of "Who gives a Sh*t?" (the team that came second) saw fit to hassle Richard Scheib. It was already obvious the pressure that Richard was under, and the way he was treated was out of order. Following this I went to the video room and listened to Slipback before changing into my seventh Doctor costume. I ran around the hotel (the Travelodge has great corridors, and I mean great!) trying to find Neil, but was informed he had gone out for dinner. I prayed (even though I'm an atheist) he would be back in time for our masquerade entry... but he wasn't, so Jacob and I had to "perform" on our own, without him... I luckily didn't get forced to do my rendition of "As Time Goes By" in front of the audience. I'd performed it already that night when Steve Austin's McCoy impression was being compared to mine. Neil turned up and got lynched! Ha! We performed our original "Baker, Baker and McCoy - Law firm" sketch, Mark Strickson played a role I myself have played when I was about ten - the wall in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Nights Dream". This was when Jacob told Mark to shut up, not something a lot of his fans claim to have done! After this we posed for endless photos then I changed back into my 'normal' clothing of jeans, T-shirt and black coat. I went along to the disco. When it finished at about 12:30, David Ronayne, Jacob and I were the only people left. The disco was quite good, it's a while since I've indulged in Rocky Horror audience participation, and this was the perfect time to start again. Dying of thirst, I joined David, Jacob, Graham, and Chris Noaro in a discussion concerning something I've forgotten and while Michael Smeaton (or was it Nicholas?) dared to brandish a bottle of Coca Cola we all got as much of it as we could! Eventually Michael "Don't Panic" Smeaton offered to take us in his car to a nearby 24 hour dairy (the 24 hour service station next to the hotel had closed about five hours beforehand) so I went with Michael, Jacob, Paul Scoones and (I think) Michael Chisnall for I drive around Christchurch at 1:00 in the morning. Some factual information for visitors to Christchurch: there is not one 24 hour dairy/service station open at 1:00 on Sunday morning! The dairy we finally came across wasn't a 24 hour one! It was worth the drive, just for the sightseeing (and the great conversation. We got back to the hotel around 1:30 and joined in a discussion on Dick Tracy in the bar, then Jacob, David, Chris and I watched some of Bad Taste in the video room. This would have to be one of the worst films I've ever seen. About 2:30, after searching the hotel for Chris's lost bag, we returned to our room and attempted to get some sleep. This did not prove easy, as I'd forgotten I'd invited people over to watch the last, and by no means the best episode of Season 26, Survival Part 3.

Graham, Jacob, Chris (who had crashed in our room) and I were forced to wake up. Several cups of coffee later David, Iain, Jeff Stone, James Satherly and someone else (I think it may have been James Campbell) turned up just after we'd been given an hours notice to get out of our room. We dumped all of our luggage next door in David Ronayne's room and after Survival we hung around the trading posts. I brought a Dapol Dalek, its the niftiest piece of merchandise I've ever had! I also got a couple of TSVs I didn't have. Just when I was enjoying the debate "That Doctor Who owes it all to real sci-fi" I went and auditioned for 'Sale of the Century'. Following this one of the bouncers told me I was a Kaled, and Jacob, David and I participated in the battle. I was only killed twice, and I even managed to survive the first attack, where David, Jacob, Stephen Murray, myself and two others snuck round the side of a building and took on an entire squad. As for the battle in general... well we won. Returning to the hotel, I was congratulated by Chris and Neil, and when I asked what for, they told me I'd scored the highest on the 'Sale of the Century' auditions. Then Neil choked me with my scarf, dragged me across the road with it and then tied me to a totem pole! That's what happens when you score higher than Neil! Paul Scoones came over for a gloat, then Jacob came over and took a photo. I freed myself after being there close to half an hour, much to Neil's surprise. "If I'd known I couldn't get free," I said, "I would have left ages ago."

Mark's last panel was good... "Tractators, Tractators!" Yes Murray Cramp we all know what you mean!

Then was 'Sale of the Century'. In my game I had a clean break... apparently I scored 95 or something, and I got into the finals. Neil, Jeff, Jonathan Wood and I were subjected to some rather difficult questions. Anyway, I came second, Jeff won, and I think Neil was third. We decided to lynch Richard Scheib, but Richard had obviously anticipated this and had no problems escaping when we tried to tie him up with my scarf.

During the auction I sat around for ages. Curse the scum who got the Doctor Who Cookbook! However, I got a hold of the one item I was determined to possess - a copy of Jon Preddle's Revelation of the Daleks. After the auction we changed into our costumes and Neil, Jacob, Joshua, a guy called Phil, Paul Sinkovitch, Jason Stevenson and Rosemary Shaw and myself went over to the airport. We got some weird looks, then we greeted new arrivals at the airport. About 6:30 we went back to the hotel, and Neil, Paul, Josh, Jacob and I went to the restaurant, in costume for dinner. Neil says that this was the highlight of the con, and it probably was. After discussing possible reasons as to why Mark Strickson might move to NZ (which some of us, mainly Josh, could have been more discreet and not so loud about, as one of these possible reasons was sitting at a table across from us), and what a prat Tom Baker is in reality, Neil happened to mention how much he hated the song 'Girl from Epinina'. During this, Josh went and spoke with the restaurant piano player when he returned he had a smug grin on his face. A couple of minutes later the pianist started playing 'Girl from Epinina', to Neil's anguish! Next Josh asked if the pianist could play Thunderbirds but she said no and said she'd find us another sci-fi tune. It wasn't long before she started playing music we recognised, which turned out to be the theme music to Star Trek 2 - The Wrath of Khan! When she finished the five of us gave her thunderous applause, and ten minutes later she played the Star Trek theme, which got her more applause (the other diners couldn't work out what the hell we were going on about). We wanted to provide her with a gift, so Josh got a con programme which we all signed and left on her piano. It was 8:05 when I paid for my meal, and that meant I had very little time left. My plane left at 8:40, and the latest check in time was 8:20! I ran as fast as possible, threw everything into my suitcase, changed into normal clothes and made a mad rush to get to the airport, held up on the way to get my Matrix Recon's certificate, and we checked in ten minutes later than the latest time. We nearly missed the plane. I wish we had; instead we missed the closing ceremony.

Anyway, thanks guys for a wonderful weekend. It's the best time I've had in my entire lives... well, this one anyway.

This item appeared in TSV 20 (December 1990).