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Sydney University, 13-15 January 1990

Report by David Bishop

Times like this I wish I had won Lotto before departing NZ for the UK. I needed the extra cash to cover my merchandise purchases at WhoVention. But what about the con itself?

More than 200 fans turned up over the course of the weekend from across Australia (mostly Sydney, Brisbane & Melborne) - I was the only Kiwi delegate. Guest of Honour was Nicholas Courtney - the Brigadier - who has acted with every Doctor bar Colin Baker, first appearing as Bret Vyon in The Dalek's Master Plan. He proved very affable, approachable and friendly - never condescending or rude - the perfect guest. Some of his anecdotes were a little well worn for readers of his previous interviews, but the audience lapped them up nonetheless. He signed autographs for hours, fueled only by a plastic glass of Australian white wine, which magically never decreased. Since alcohol was not at the venue, I never got to take Nick on in the serious drinking games which made Trakon such a blur for me, so none-lovers of boozy stories will be spared any vomiting accounts.

The con began with a barbecue at the venue informally on Friday. Nick made the first of many appearances and while some watched the disappointing Battlefield, I went into bat at a Doctor Who cricket match. I top scored for my team with 7!

The venue was well away from public transport so I was late for the formal opening. Instead I went straight to the huckster's room and failed to find a copy of the elusive Fury from the Deep, but picked up 20 DWB back issues and also the first 4 Doctor Who Weeklies for A$20.00 (NZ$26) in mint condition - with transfers!

The morning stumbled along with most content to watch Survival in the badly ventilated video room (actually a lecture theatre with six sets suspended from various parts of the ceiling!). Sydney was very hot and humid, so the venue proved quite sweaty and uncomfortable at times. After lunch, the first highlight - a Nick Courtney Question & Answer session. This proved funny if a little dry - but Nick dispelled the myth that a Brigadier dies ending was ever shot for Battlefield, this was a fake story he helped put about, he admitted. JN-T apparently canned the Brig's death as he thought it would be lost amidst all the end of story action!

More on this when I have finished transcribing my interview tapes - four hours worth! The vivacious Katy Manning brightened things up considerably when she turned up midway through the session, perching on Nick's knee and putting a lot of sexual innuendoes into the reminiscences!

Doctor Who charades dragged on after this (not a patch on Trakon's Sale Of The Century) until the evening dinner theatre - Bleeucch Orchid! A cross between you-know-what and Silver Nemesis. This was acted out by the organizing committee with a walk-on cameo by Nick - "I say, is that a spaceship??" he said and walked off again. Patchy but very witty in parts. I also had the pleasure of seeing a pristine copy of The Aztecs in the video room - a cracker!

Come Sunday, another slow start. Music maestro Dudley Simpson gave a panel on composing incidentally for the screen - not my bag so I went shopping again! Another Nick Q & A followed, about his non-Who work as well as Doctor Who memories. After lunch came the charades final (How do you mime Dom Issigri of The Space Pirates in under three minutes?), then the auction. Top price of nearly A$100 went for the shirt off Jon Pertwee's back, pure silk with all the authentic Doctor Who ruffles. The con got officially closed and wound up wonderfully with a screening of the brilliant The Curse of Fenric - truly a classic. The buzz at the end of episode three was just like in the Trakon video room at the end of Remembrance of the Daleks episode one.

All in all, a good con, if a little disorganised and lacking in audience participation - it seemed a bit "them and us" with the organisers, the Australasian Doctor Who Fan Club. I have warmer memories of Trakon, even if it lacked star guests.

This item appeared in TSV 17 (January 1990).