Last month, anglophiles of Washington rejoiced at the regeneration of Anglicon – a fan-run British media convention with an emphasis on Doctor Who. Despite being its first year back in over a decade, Anglicon had some stellar guests lined up for fans, including the Sixth Doctor himself, Colin Baker, Doctor Who’s monster extraordinaire, Jon Davey, and beloved classic Who companions, Katy Manning and Sophie Aldred.
Anglicon is without a doubt the smallest convention I’ve ever attended but I was totally okay with that. In fact, I think I enjoyed it more because of it. I had a lovely time despite finishing three final projects for school that same weekend.
The con had a laid back feel to it. There wasn’t a rush to get to autographs or the next panel, which may or may not already be full by the time you get there. I felt like I was stepping back in time to catch a glimpse at conventions of old, when the guests and the fans weren’t so stressed, when the barriers between celebrity and fan were taken down a notch to just enjoy yourselves for a weekend without expectations.
The smaller size of the convention lent itself to other perks as well: there was actually a hospitality room the whole weekend with free soda and snacks! On Saturday evening, they even provided British sodas for some taste-testing. I can’t say I’ve ever had that kind of experience at any other con.
I had the pleasure of attending Anglicon with my good friend Christina of Urbanflower Designs. I love going to events with her, we share so many fandoms and have a rather similar outlook on things. I always know we’re going to have fun together and Anglicon was no different. Christina actually wrote up her own Anglicon review that summarized generally how I felt as well. Here’s what she had to say:
Much like Doctor Who itself, I came to Anglicon only upon its relaunch, which followed a decade-long hiatus. The event ran annually from 1988 to 2004, after which declining attendance forced its closure. Ironically, it was very shortly after the demise of “Classic Anglicon” that Doctor Who was reborn, giving rise to a whole new generation of fans.
As a newly regenerated event, this year’s Anglicon was easily the smallest and most intimate convention I have ever attended. This comes with a lot of perks, including the opportunity to see and speak with celebrity guests without waiting in atrocious lines, being herded through like cattle, or having to pay for an autograph when all you really want is to say, “Hello, I love your work. Thanks for coming here”.
The downside, some might say, is that it would never attract the likes of Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. I am okay with that, and I get the impression that most of the attendees would agree. While I didn’t grow up on classic Who (as my father did), I have a deep respect for the roots of the series. Being able to hear some of its early stars speak about their experiences with the show was like listening to my Grandmother tell stories about her teenage years; I became more aware of the connections between the past and present, the way that these people ultimately shaped the program that I love today.
I was further wowed by a glimpse into the life of Jon Davey, who has played some of Doctor Who’s most notorious monsters. A time-lapsed video of him being turned into a Whisper Man (from Series 7 finale, “The Name of the Doctor”) played at his table, prompting the question, “How did you breathe in that?” I consider it a commendation of the series that unmasking the mysteries of its visual effects does little to diminish the awe and appreciation for the spectacle it creates.
Another bonus of attending such a small convention was that my failure to secure childcare was pretty much a non-issue. My four-year-old son, whose badge was free, happily ran amok while wearing his homemade Ood hood, zapping people with its sparkly ball “brain”, and generally being unbearably cute. He posed for photos (or not), talked with vendors, and asked for endless cups of water, which was readily available throughout the convention space.
Speaking of water, the numerous coolers of chilled H2O and plentiful cups weren’t the only way in which Anglicon sought to keep its guests and attendees comfortable. The hospitality lounge (which occupied one of four rooms which were located away from the main halls) was stocked with complimentary fruit, pretzels and chips, candy, and soda. Yes, you read that correctly: free food.
Adjacent to the hospitality lounge were a video room, a gaming room, and a craft room, all of which were well supplied with various forms of entertainment. While I was not actually present at the time, I am told that a rousing game of Doctor Who-themed Cards Against Humanity was played on Saturday evening in the game room.
Back in the main part of the convention, panel subject matter ran the gamut from Q&A with the Sixth Doctor to British humor to writing fanfiction. The combination of relatively small crowds and spacious halls meant that the panels were never full, and it was easy to move from one room to another.
Of course, this being Seattle, the cosplay was on point. I saw far more classic Doctors and classic companions than I typically see (or perhaps notice) at larger events, but the newer incarnations were well represented as well. I went as Amy Pond on Friday and happily found a Weeping Angel to pose with me in the outdoor garden. On Saturday, I resurrected my very first cosplay and dressed as the Tenth Doctor.
Billed as a “Doctor Who and British Media” convention, Anglicon 2015 was definitely Whovian-centric. With the exception of a few panels, the focus was squarely on Doctor Who. As an ardent fan of the show, I wasn’t troubled by this fact. However, I think there is also a lot of potential for celebration of other British imports, from Downton Abbey to Harry Potter. As the convention grows, I expect so will the programming.
Thanks, Anglicon, you were fantastic! Absolutely fantastic. And you know what? So was I!
*All photos in this article were taken by Fearless Photoworks.*