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For an 8th Doctor fan like myself, this years Gally celebration was an especially poignant one.  I was thrilled at the prospect of seeing him, and a little star struck by the mere prospect of it.

But today takes the cake.  Today I walked into the fan room, and had my breath taken away by the sight of the fully restored TARDIS console from Doctor Who: The Movie.  McGann’s console.  Behind ropes to shield it from the overzealous, (myself included) I watched as the operator explained the process of restoring it, of replacing halogen bulbs with leds, (apparently after five minutes of being lit, the halogens began producing smoke and burning smells from within…) the christmas tree light indicators that allowed the blinking, the sound chip chock full of clips from not only the Movie, but nearly all of Who, (the door lever makes the door noise, a random switch makes the view screen noise, and the dematerialization circuit causes the groan. Or sometimes, stalls out and the time rotor flickers and dies! And all of this is set to a remote control, and the console responds to an aimed sonic screwdriver blast too!) The polished wood gleamed from the flashbulbs of dozens of cameras going off around me, the console the subject of some very exclusive paparazzi.

The room emptied a bit and men came in, carrying suitcases and plastic sacks, announcing they had found “it”.  Intrigued, I leaned in, only to be bustled aside by a man carrying a mannequin body.  ”It” turned out to be McGann’s original costume worn for the movie.  Out of the bag came the shirt, the trousers, the belt, the vest, the waistcoat… And suddenly, there, standing NEXT to the console was the 8th Doctor.  Or at least his clothes.  But they say clothes make the man.

We followed this up immediately with a photo shoot with the 8th Doctor himself.  For a mere $25 bucks, I was hustled into a room, strode up to Paul McGann, shook his hand confidently and said, “I’m a big fan of your work, thank you sir, so much for coming to America to this convention.”  He seemed genuinely touched, and was warm and friendly for the 30 seconds we spent together taking that photo.  Mel melted at his touch and the sound of his voice, but managed to stay upright for the picture.  For a moment, I was afraid we’d have a Beatles moment and she’d have to be carried from the room after fainting!  And of course my confident exterior fell apart later.  I held it together just long enough to leave the room, and won’t bore you with the details of the fanboy squealing that escaped me just after.

But I’m pretty sure they heard me back in Kansas.

We ended with the McGann panel, or interview, conducted by Barnaby Edwards and Nicholas Briggs of Big Finish fame.  And the question was asked how did he feel about fan reaction.  McGann paused, and said he’s spent a lot of time frustrated, because he felt (and sometimes still feels) that the 8th Doctor is “tolerated”.  That he’s not “canonical”.  But then Barnaby said “you are to Russell T. Davies, and you are to Stephen Moffatt.”  Let me tell you, the room erupted.  And for someone who has always been a fan of the 8th Doctor, and Paul McGann, and gets frustrated by folks who DON’T feel he’s cannon, well… a more glowing argument can not be made.

Lastly, someone asked about the “new” outfit that he sported at a con long ago.  McGann laughed and said it was partially selfish, because he was tired of all the photos circulating, since the only ones are the promo pics from the Movie.  So he consulted a friend and costumer and put the leather jacket together.  And he’s itching to wear it again.  But BBC is apparently “weird” about it, and can’t (or won’t comment on it.)

We can only hope thats because they want to unveil him wearing it in the 50th anniversary special…

  • Paul Salamoff

    Thank you for posting such a lovely piece about your experience with the TARDIS Console. Hearing things like this makes all the hard work Brian Uiga, Bob Mitsch and myself put into refurbishing the console.