Monday 10 April 2023

Twenty Years of a Time Lord

40 years ago, I was at Doctor Who’s famous 20th celebration, held at Longleat House over the Easter bank holiday weekend!

At the time, Longleat House was home to a permanent Doctor Who exhibition, which I’d visited with family in the spring of 1981. The exhibition was a formative Whovian experience encountering the Doctor’s deadliest foes (from Daleks to Cybermen), and I remember a helpful shop assistant letting me choose a silver Palitoy Talking Dalek (I already owned the more common red variant).

1983 would be long remembered!

Not only was it the 20th anniversary of Doctor Who culminating in The Five Doctors special in November, but also the epic conclusion of the original Star Wars trilogy. George Lucas’ space saga was intertwined with my recovery and rehabilitation following a life-changing head injury in 1977.

Back to all things timey-wimey. To celebrate the good Doctor’s birthday, the BBC announced a 2-day event at Longleat House and we ventured up on Easter Monday (without tickets). Upon arrival, it was abundantly clear that the event was massively oversubscribed, the BBC unprepared for its popularity, and a voice on the tannoy forebodingly announced that unless you had a ticket, you would be unable to enter…

Oh, boy!

In stepped my mum to save the day! She spoke to a Royal Welsh Fusilier (wearing a UNIT badge) and, voila, we’re guests and ushered in with VIP access. What follows remains more of a brilliant blur. From shaking hands with a Cyberman to watching Terror of the Autons (with Jon Pertwee and cast) and meeting Peter Davison to a close encounter with a Triffid, I was in geek heaven. Although I missed out on a souvenir guide, I did pick up a copy of The Doctor Who Technical Manual. Years later, I would discover future friends were there, too.

Sadly, we had overlooked bringing a Kodak camera with us (this was an era before iPhones). This didn’t detract too much and I was able to get an official Polaroid snap outside the TARDIS.

In 2013, I ventured with friends to ExCeL London to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. Who knows what may happen for the 60th this year!

What are your memories of the Doctor Who exhibition? Were you at the 20th celebration? Let me know in the comments below.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are moderated for spam. Stay on topic and do not embed links. Keep it family-friendly.

Thank you.