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Nov 13, 2006

Dimensions in Shame

Dimensions Convention Review (aka The Whole Sorry Story)

Saturday began with a text message from Damon:

"Colin Baker's Got One!"

Two thoughts immediately raced through my mind. Firstly, "what the hell is Colin Baker doing there?" and secondly, and more importantly, "who the hell gave him a copy of the fanzine???"

Despite my initial worries, Sean and I set off for the convention in good spirits. I even spent the first 25 minutes giving out copies to the early birds, which seemed to go down well given the sounds of guffawing that could be heard in the bar. So far, so good.

At 9am, John, Sean, Damon and I headed for the first panel which was billed as featuring "that woman who played Scooti in The Impossible Planet". So imagine our surprise when Colin Baker turned up instead. The first 20 minutes were comprised of Colin moaning about the press and reality TV shows (as usual) and then the interviewer asked him: "Have you ever had any bad experiences with fans? For example, in a fanzine?"

As soon as I heard the word "fanzine" I knew we were screwed. Colin asked if the person who gave him a copy of Tachyon TV in the bar that night was in the audience and John (being John) quickly stuck his hand in the air. I slipped quietly down into my seat and prepared myself for the worst.

The following is by no means a verbatim account - like someone who's been in a car crash, little bits of it keep coming back to me. However, it's a fair summary of what occurred:

For approximately five minutes (which felt like five hours) Colin essentially called us a bunch of idiots who were peddling the very worst kind of undergraduate humour. He criticised us for leeching off the backs of people who produced the show, and he even attempted to lump us in with some other fans who once made a bad taste comment about cot death. Which was a bit harsh. He said he would have wiped his arse on the fanzine but it was too shiny, and he took great delight in sticking the "nasty filth" in the bin. He summed it up as being unoriginal in that it said a) The Twin Dilemma was crap and b) he was a bit fat. He finished off by saying "if only these idiots would get together and spend time actually creating something worthwhile instead". This prompted the entire hall to spontaneously burst into applause; including John who cheered "Too right! The ****ing parasites!". One woman in front of us actually stood up to cheer.

At this point I thought, "Blimey, these nicotine patches are strong", hoping against hope that I was actually having another NRT induced nightmare, but no, it was all real. The colour had completely drained from Damon's face and Sean was shaking his head in disbelief. I only wished I'd recorded it for posterity but shock had taken hold of me and I was powerless to react.

We headed for the bar and I sunk my first gin and tonic of the day. Thanks to the wonders of wireless technology we managed to post our initial feelings to the blog (in fact John posted his response before Baker had even left the stage!), and as we stood there during the obligatory two minute silence (only punctuated by the tick-tock of a Clockwork Droid) it felt like a requiem for Tachyon TV itself.

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur but after plenty of introspection I've come to the conclusion that Colin had every right to lambast us like that, although, to be fair, we didn't just write "he's shit and fat" as I like to believe that our satire is a little bit more sophisticated than that. If we'd known that Colin was there I never would have allowed The Twin Dilemma review to go in the fanzine in the first place, although, to be fair, that isn't much of an excuse either. So yes, we duly got what we deserved. If we dish it out, we have to take it back. It's just a shame that it happened so early on as we found ourselves with over 200 fanzines hidden shamefully in Damon's hotel room!

However, at 4pm things took a turn for the better. We bumped into Sir Andrew of Pixley (thanks to Sean), and we pressed a copy into his hands as we relayed the sorry events of the morning. As he turned to the 'Personal Pixley' song page I had this horrible feeling that he might attack us as well but instead he laughed his head off! Later on he came over to us to tell us how much he enjoyed it. What a tonic that was! We even took Damon off suicide watch. At the same time a convention goer came up to us and asked us to sign his copy!

And then, in a bizarre twist of fate, Gary Russell told John that he thought the fanzine was great, even if were very silly to have a pop at Colin like that. "Media naive" is a term that springs to mind. Clayton Hickman, on the other hand, spent the evening giving John dirty looks so I don't think we'll get a review in DWM anytime soon.

Sunday was much better - the TV Movie panel was the highlight (even McCoy had a go at Baker's weight!) as was the panel with Hinchcliffe, Saward and Harper. Almost worth the sixty quid in itself.

Throughout the two days we managed to conduct quite a few interviews that will feature in next week's podcast. Gary Russell kindly gave us a 15 minute interview and I also managed to get some words of wisdom from the infamous Lightsaber Man. You'll even get to hear our initial reactions to the critical mauling, which you might find interesting.

The only real negative thing I can say about the convention itself was that it over-sold itself. There were far too many people there (twice as many as last year) with autograph queues spreading all the way to Middlesbrough! Getting a seat in the bar area was almost impossible, too. I think 10th Planet got a bit greedy but at least they didn't kick us out onto the widest High Street in Europe for all the trouble we'd caused!

So, to conclude, an interesting convention which was very sobering (despite the 15 GnTs I managed to down in less than 8 hours). Just don't expect a second issue of a fanzine anytime soon!


Thanks for the complete story on this.

And Colin should count himself lucky, I'm sure we call all remember some much more vicious remarks and reviews about the man over the last 20 years...just as well he didn't get a chance to look at those.

I think it might've just been wrong place, wrong time for a copy of TTV to end up in Colin's hands. Seems he had a lot of pent-up anger and frustration built-up anyway, and stuff like (richly deserved) Twin Dilemma trashing got his hackles up.

Hey, it was unfortunate timing as much as anything else. And I don't know what Colin really has to complain about -- it's not like he was attending the con for free.

Thanks for posting, it's good to know the full story.

Can we now call a halt to insulting people on their general appearance? I'm not exactly skinny, and I've had to live with that all my life, and if I knew that people were discussing that fact en mass, I'd feel a little... *ahem* irritated as well.

Also, I can understand how the magazine might look slightly "parasitical", after all, were there any positive comments in there? OK, so it's fun to be insulting and poke fun at the bad points, but was there anything complimentary in there?

It would have been better to balance The Twin Dilemma with The Talons of Weng Chiang. Or even a Colin Baker special, a review of Revelation of the Daleks. Otherwise, it looks like a group of people who hate the show.

But complementing things isn't funny.

There are plenty of positive things in the fanzine. My review of The Web of Fear, Neil's review of The Girl in the Fireplace to name two. And the majority of the pieces are just plain silly can't really be described as positive or negative. There really isn't much to take umbrage about fake spin-off series of Moonbase 3, Jo Grant's household tips, Tharil detective series and John Lumic playing Deal or No Deal.

Also, I don't think it's unjustified to have a piece about how awful The Twin Dilemma is, especially as done (very well in my opinion) in the form of an advert for Cillit Bang. As someone said at the weekend, it seems like the only criticism Colin Baker would allow for The Twin Dilemma is that perhaps it's not quite as brilliant as The Caves of Androzani.

Hopefully you'll be able to see the results when we send out some remaining copies. I might be biased, but I think it's great, and it took us a lot of time, and a fair whack of cash to produce it.

How does one obtain one of the remaining copies of the zine?

Ah, fair enough. I was going by the comments so far and the contents list of the fanzine. In that case it does seem a tad unjust. Still, perhaps avoid personal comments in the future.

We're working on it. We're even toying with putting a quid on the cover price and then sending the proceeds to the charity for Infant Death Syndrome. To quote Damon, "Let's see how Colin likes THAT!"

To back-up what John said - there are some very positive things in the fanzine and some very silly things in the fanzine too. I don't think there are any *really* hurtful things in there. It's like telling Private Eye to say nice things about politicians, surely?

In fact, the TD review doesn't even mention Colin Baker! Furthermore, the only thing he could have taken any real offence at was a very small fake fanzine cover with the words: "Colin-ic Cancellation: the truth, the whole truth and a tray of dougnuts". And that's it! He'd have needed a magnifying glass to read it!

There's double standards at play too. Colin made some disparaging remarks about Eric Saward, McCoy mentioned Baker's girth and one panel had a go at Matthew Waterhouse (which many people cheered!). Not to mention one panel taking the piss out of "certain fans" in the first row. So why were we singled out like that? Oh well, like I said - no hard feelings. It was just a shock and I'm sorry that we upset him.

I'd be willing to pay a couple of quid for the zine.

Is is going to be available as a downloadable pdf file as well?

Neil - it does increase my feeling that TTV was just a handy outlet for Colin's annoyance about some fanzine aspects in general.

Now, if he'd yelled "Who the hell is this Barry Scott idiot anyway?! And what does he have to do with Twin Dilemma?!" then you'd know he read it :P

Now I'm really looking forward to reading it ...

Let's be fair, Coleman, The Bakers have perhaps aged the worst of all the Doctors. Hartnell was old and creaky when he started, Troughton looked identical except for big glasses and grey hair, and Pertwee's hair and wrinkles just got a bit bigger the older he got. Tom's kinda worrying-looking these days, Peter has aged rather gracefully, Colin's lost all his hair and gained another of himself around the waist. Syl's sorta turned into Yoda, but he wasn't exactly a strapping young lad to begin with. Paul McGann looks like, well, Paul McGann. I don't believe he really ages. Chris and David? Too early to tell.

I don't think Colin's physical appearance these days is so shocking, but compared to the way the rest of the former Doctors have aged, he's nigh-unrecognizable. He may have carried a few extra kilos then, but he was a good-looking man back in the day(I direct you towards Seventies Porn Colin as well).

And well deservedly if Colin himself wasn't mentioned in Twin Dilemna, as I thought that despite a few poorly constructed lines, he always carried his part quite well. I just think maybe he hasn't got the sense of humor these days that he did back when he'd joke about smearing dog poo on his face in Mark of the Rani.

As for the rest, if Pixley and Russell liked you, so be it. And screw Hickman, hasn't he got a Doctor Who Confidential to film?

Postscript - Syl McCoy having a go at Colin's weight = hilarious. Ever heard those two bicker back and forth at each other? I can't tell sometimes whether they genuinely don't like each other, or if they're playing it up.

I'd Peter Davison has aged very gracefully, but I have to ask: what is this "Seventies Porn Colin" of which you speak?

Do a google search, it's hilarious!

Crikey...he hasn't half changed.

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