Saturday 26 November 2011

Chicago TARDIS - Saturday
Day Of The Award

After chatting away to the small hours with friends last night, I’m up again bright and early to discover the news that although Sarah Sutton was forced to drop out due to a family illness, filling her place at short notice is Matthew Waterhouse!

Knowing what Janet is like, I feel a little sorry for Matthew, though also some respect, cos it’s gonna be like lamb to the slaughter!!
I started my day off in my series five Donegal tweed and blue Paul Smith shirt (see right). Personally I prefer the look of the Shetland tweed, but have been finding the Donegal a comfortable fit.

Heading back down in the lobby area I caught up with Kevin again, who was now in his second costume of the weekend, his Satan Pit spacesuit.

He bought the suit from SpaceToys, who supplied the originals to Louise Page for use in the series, but found, as Louise had before him, that it required substantial reworking before it was wearable as it was quite shabbily made.

To complete the outfit, he tracked down the correct gloves, climbing harness and boots.
First thing I wanted to see was The Doctor’s Wife And Me, which was a talk by a Steve Manfred, who acted as advisor on the episode.

Steve helped writer Neil Gainman to reference the classic series TARDIS history, to a level you would be hard pressed to appreciate on first viewing.
To help explain where the references came from, Steve had prepared a DVD with clips in order of their The Doctor’s Wife appearance.
The War Games (Time Lord message cube); Inferno (console lone trip sound fx); The Time Monster (TARDIS translation circuit); Logopolis (cloister bell); Castrovalva (zero room); Image Of The Fendal (the companion with the knife - Leela) and a brace of other clips where The Doctor refers to the TARDIS as “old girl” all brought to focus the relationship the Mad Man has with his Box.

Amazingly initial discussions about the episode started way back when Donna Nobel was still in the TARDIS and the episode was scheduled to be in season five before it was replaced by The Lodger.
The script went through a number of title changes, including The TARDIS Trap and House Of Nothing, before seven drafts later it finally saw light of day in season six.

As a fan attending conventions, Steve had to keep everything he knew top secret - not easy when it’s your favourite show!
The talk was a fascinating insight, and I’ll look at the episode in a different light in future. Thanks Steve.

Looking through the timetable I realised the Mark Sheppard photocall would be the next thing on my agenda, so I had to make a quick little costume change to a series six Shetland Tweed.
I’m really enjoying wearing the Shetland Tweed look this weekend, especially since I have all the screen-accurate parts to go with it: the trousers and hand-made boots 

As I was on my way to the photocall I found Kevin back in his Ten outfit, with his Vespiform on his shoulder! This had been a highlight of Gallifrey a couple of years back, so it was great to see it up close for the first time.

Man that wasp is big!

Mark was a real nice guy, very polite and I could see he took time to chat a little with each person before posing in the photo.

I liked that he was wearing a Doctor Who t-shirt!

From here it was time to get ready for the big photocell of the weekend, with the Fifth Doctor TARDIS crew.
Subscription to this was heavy, so I was thankful I opted for the Reserved ticket, which at least got to closer to the front of the line without any effort.
The ONLY costume I could possibly wear for this was my Planet Of Fire waistcoat.
When I was called forward to my photo, I could see Peter whispering side-ways to Janet and they both gave me a funny look. “What?”, I exclaimed. Peter then explained to Janet this was part of his original screen-worn costume, she looked surprised.

Afterwards she asked how I acquired it, and I told her I bought it at auction.

I then immediately grabbed my ticket to get the photo signed, before heading off to get some lunch – and make another costume change.

The time was right to premiere my Maroon Six outfit. It is another prototype test piece for my planned screen-accurate Colin Baker coat. To make it into a complete outfit I have borrowed back the trousers from the Purple Six costume I made earlier this year, plus some wedding wear I have.

Around this time I was toying with the idea of entering the Masquerade, a Saturday evening competition for the cosplayers. I’ve never done anything like that before, and I know it can be hotly contested. I then had the dilemma of which costume to wear, since I have so many with me.

Although my Matt Smith costumes are undoubtedly the best at the event (my trump cards of scene accurate fabrics and authentic items is hard to top) I am more proud of my Maroon Six outfit, as it has been highly tailored and finely made. So I decide this is what I want to enter.

Pre-judging for the Masquarde was at 5pm – the same time as the Fifth Doctor Crew autograph session.

So between now and then a changed into something more comfortable, otherwise I’d be in the Six coat right the way through to 9 or 10pm tonight.

I had something special to relax in: a Jon Pertwee velvet smoking jacket I have been working on. This is the first such jacket I have done, and I choose to do a little worn version in Petrol Blue, that was only seen in Invasion Of The Dinosaurs.

I then went costume spotting to see what other cosplayers were wearing today.

My ticket number was for the autographs 44, so I thought it wouldn’t take too long to get my photo signed and I could then head off for pre-judging, but it still took a full hour before we were called from the comfort of the holding room to get in line.
I quickly changed back into Maroon Six and dashed down to pre-juding to find I had missed nothing: they were running late.

I guess they have done a lot of these events, so the organisation was good, though painfully slow. The MC speaks to us all in turn to check our names, special requirements and to make sure we are all happy.
We then have our photographs taken for their records, before having the opportunity of a brief one-to-one session with the judges where you can explain the USP of your costume.

As I took them through my work, I could see their jaws collectively dropping further and further. I think I made a good impression!

Kevin was presenting his Space Suit and we chatted with an Idris while we waited to be moved up to the stage for our moment in the spotlight.

There were forty entries – I was number 18 – so it took a while for us each to have out moment on stage. Some had relatively elaborate set pieces, with accompanying video or music, but I kept mine simple with a walk and pose, while the MC read some explanatory comments I had written.

It was then just a waiting game until the judges announced their results – and they don’t rush!

To keep the audience in their seats (and presumably awake) they play The Match Game (known in the UK as Blankety Blank). This went on for over an hour, giving me time to get a meal on room service before returning to find it wasn’t over!

When the awards were finally announced, we went through the various prizes before the top ones were given out.
Kevin got Best In Show; the Irdis we had been chatting to got Best In Show: Construction; and I won Best In Show: Workmanship!

This was absolutely the prize I wanted to get and I was over the moon I had got it.

The end of a great day!


  1. Awesome recap! I'm so bummed I could only make it to Sunday this year, so I missed the masquerade. Looks like it was packed with great costumes. Congrats on the win - well deserved.

  2. It was a great day! I was amazed to have been awarded best in show with so many other great costumes in the running- You on the other hand I never doubted; especially with the judges constantly sharing hushed whispers in awe of your amazing coat!

  3. It's a shame there aren't any pictures of you in your Invasion of the Dinosaurs jacket, I rather like that one.

    Also, where did you get your Utah shirt?

  4. Hullo! It was lovely chatting with you, and I'm happy to have found your blog. The award was VERY well deserved. I couldn't hear what you were saying when discussing your work with the judges, of course, but I saw you taking them through it, and was right there with them in the jaw-dropping when I saw the lining. I'm rubbish at menswear (all the compliments my hubby gets for the brown velvet frock coat from our wedding notwithstanding), so my mad Idris wig is off too you! :-)


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