So, tonight I stood in the rain outside Cardiff's Cineworld Complex, wishing with all my heart that I held a ticket like so many others there did. For tonight was the 2010 Press Launch of the new series of Doctor Who, starring Matt Smith and Karen Gillan.
When I arrived with a few members of Gallifrey Base's KINDA group (the cream of Cardiff's Doctor Who fans) they were setting up the old TARDIS prop to look as though it had crashed into the plaza (pictured below), leaving deep gouges in the grass, windows smashed, flames licking the inside, smoke pouring from the doors... This is, as you can see from the clip embedded below, a reference to the opening minutes of the first episode of the new series.
Then, a while later, the guests started arriving. Matt and Karen arrived by surprise, catching us unaware while we were blocking the entrance to the venue! We got a chance to meet and greet them, get a few things signed, before the crowds really descended. And they were lovely. Charming, friendly and visibly nervous and excited as to what this - the most important night since they were cast, no doubt - was going to be like. When the guests had gone in we retired to The Brewery Quarter for a bite to eat and to review our newly acquired photos and signatures. We were like excitable children. It was so cute...
Unfortunately, there was very little to pull from the crowds on their exit from the screening some two hours later - all attempts at approaching the kids from the audience resulted in stern glares and security intervention. But we have learned a thing or two about what the series has to offer when it airs in little over two weeks.
We know now that the Atraxi (the alien from Episode One) have a gruff voice, for it was played over and over and over and over while we were waiting to see the cast; "PRISONER ZERO HAS ESCAPED!" Ohhh! We also know - thanks to those who were in the screening room, those who saw the trailer that was played after the episode - that the Cybermen are indeed returning. And, as far as I can tell, the episode was received very well by all who were lucky enough to get in to see it. I only wish I'd been able to. It really was torture knowing that the most anticipated hour of television (for some) was being played mere metres from where I was standing, getting wet and cold...
Here's the BBC Wales Today interview that Matt and Karen gave while we were there, including the short clip (an exclusive of sorts) from The Eleventh Hour. For those who care, I was stood about 3 feet to Matt and Karen's right as this interview was recorded.
As far as I'm concerned, after being close enough to meet and chat to both stars, the cast are friendlier than ever. Karen is lovely and Matt is great! They both took a while signing stuff for fans on the Blue Carpet (this is Who, it's not going to be RED is it?) and Matt even took an extra ten minutes signing stuff AFTER the event itself! Co-stars Karen and Arthur Darvill (who plays Amy's boyfriend, Rory) were swept away before they had a chance to, Arthur looking like the free beer was freer than usual! In a good way!
All in all, despite not actually seeing the episode, the night was great. There were a small group of fans of all ages there, waiting for Matt and Karen, which didn't overwhelm anyone. There was a very relaxed urgency about the whole thing. This really was all about the screening and the subsequent Q&A afterwards. Another thing I was, sadly, unable to see. :(
Also in attendance tonight were; Steven Moffat, Piers Wenger, Beth Willis, Tracey Simpson, Danny Hargreaves, Neil Gorton, Colin Salmon, Lizo Mzimba, Ben Cook, Peter Hain, countless BBC execs, Cineworld managers from all over Wales and a smattering of strangers. Obviously, the press were there too...
I'll be talking a bit more about the lead up to what promises to be fun and exciting first episode soon, as well as talking about what I, personally, would love to see from this new team. I'm sure we're not going to be disappointed. That very short clip above (after the interview) is enough to make me happy about where this is heading... The fun and energy of RTD's Who is clearly still with us and I think if anyone can push it to the next level, then Matt and Karen are the ones!
I'd love to think they're reading this. I doubt they are... BUT if they are, thanks to the both of you for being so friendly and nice. (God, shut up Gareth... You're making yourself look silly! You're a few seconds away from a full blown "SQUEEEEEE!")