Yesterday (and Friday, and today), fifty quid got you in here.
It's the Doctor Who official 50th celebration at the ExCel exhibition centre in East London. Sold out it was. Packed with behind-the-scenes demonstrations and workshops, stunts, explosions, monsters, props & costumes, official merchandise and memorabilia, plus the opportunity to meet the actors, get your photo taken and grab an autograph. So I went down. Target audience I was, bullseye target audience. I didn't actually buy a ticket, I mean fifty quid to walk around a warehouse packed with opportunities and actual people, no thanks. But I wandered by, like you do, because anniversary Saturdays in east London are that exciting. I saw absolutely nobody of any importance, obviously.
Three very different events shared ExCel on Saturday, and it was easy to tell who was there for what. At the west end was Skills London 2013, a vocational event for 15-24 year olds seeking advice about future careers and opportunities. None of your over-hip teens here, just the sensible ones, many with parents in tow hoping to help nudge their offspring into work. They wandered around with carrier bags emblazoned with the names of major corporations, and slightly worried looks on their faces because youth employment is now such a precarious thing. Further up ExCel the demographic changed entirely. Here the event was the Global Peace & Unity Festival, a multicultural gathering attracting many an Islamic family. One huge hall had seats laid out for inspirational speeches, another featured wedding planners and fashion. Ladies with impressively fashionable headscarves milled around, while a phenomenal number of bucket shakers sought donations for an orphans charity. Apart from the impressive diversity, nothing here screamed Doctor Who.
At the far end, plenty did. A temporary wall blocked passage to the eastern exhibition halls, emblazoned with a montage of all eleven doctors. Some of them were even inside. Anyone with any sense, and a ticket, was already inside attending panels and browsing stuff. Only a few were out in the real world, grabbing a coffee or noshing a tray of noodles. I was expecting more costumes, but I guess the serious fans were busy inside with no intention of wasting a minute. Round the back a few had slipped out for a cigarette, including three in fezzes (because fezzes are cool, and extremely cheap way of dressing in character). Others wore Tardis knitwear, or excessively long scarves, or more usually entirely normal clothes. A lot of middle-aged blokes were in evidence, and dads with wide-eyed kids, and obsessive-looking younger males in pairs, and even the occasional female. But there really was nothing to see if you hadn't paid, so I wandered back through the charity buckets and the jobseekers, following a man with a lifesize cardboard cutout of Tom Baker under his arm.
Sorry, you may have been expecting an interesting post about Who memorabilia or bumping into a Time Lord. But yesterday (and Friday, and today), not paying fifty quid got you nothing much. At least the TV special was special, and accessible to all, and a fitting tribute.