Pop Culture

Comicpalooza 2013 Day 3: Fear of a Black Dalek

Gentle readers, and commenters, I have made a dedicated effort in this year's coverage to not make my reports exclusively Doctor Who related because lots of amazing stuff from all across the realms of fandom happens at the ever-more impressive Comicpalooza. That being said, even on a day when I tried real hard to find other stuff, The Doctor found me at every turn and made it clear that Doctor Who probably represents mainstream geekery more than any other brand.

Of course, some of that may have been because today The Wife With One F was able to break from her nursing studies and busted out her Rose Tyler costume.

When we arrived at the convention hall we were just in time to see Ian McNeice and Frazer Hines begin their panel on performing in Doctor Who. Hines had the longest tenure of any companion on Doctor Who, sticking with Patrick Troughton's Second Doctor throughout all but one episode of his run. McNeice has appeared twice in the new series, both times playing a long-time ally of The Doctor, Winston Churchill.

Flashback Comicpalooza 2012 Day 3: What Is Real Horror?

It was somewhat amazing to see how these two men's lives had been forever altered by their presence as part of the show. Hines in particular lamented that he had never asked to rejoin the Tardis crew after he film scenes for "The Two Doctors" in 1985, a request he was sure would have been granted as he got on so well with Colin Baker and Nicola Bryant.

But even after almost half a century he still brings his time to life with a combination of uncanny mimicry of his past associates and honest zeal for what the show meant. As moderator Gary Russell moved down into the audience to take questions Hines stood and explained how the Ice Warriors would kill people with their lasers. Using a reflective piece of rubber, an actor would stand in front of it and the camera would film the reflection. A stage hand behind the rubber would pull a handle as the actor screamed, and the image would distort and collapse in on itself.

"So this one time the guy goes to pull the handle and it just breaks off. So the actor and the Ice Warrior behind him just stand there looking silly, until the Ice Warrior says, 'Ssssssssshit, misssssed the bugger and sauntered off."

McNeice has of course been doing it far less and had fewer stories, but the ones he had were still a hoot. He recollected when Matt Smith attacked a Dalek pretending to be ally of World War II England with what was supposed to be a rubber crowbar, but ended up ringing the bell of the internal operator when he mistakenly used the real one. He also talked about how he prepared for the role of Churchill on stage (A stage performance witnessed by "Victory of the Daleks" writer Mark Gatiss that led to his casting) but visiting the grave of the old prime minister.

"It was dark, and there was the grave of Churchill. All around me was this low mist that was very spiritual, very eerie, and as I knelt down I heard a small voice say, 'Don't fuck it up."

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner