Kapow is a fledgling sci-fi event held in Stockton on tees. This year headlining the seventh doctor, Sylvester McCoy. This even may have seemed small at first glance and in reality it was but to be a part of it felt much like a larger, well established convention, hosting two other stars of the classic series: Terry Malloy, the longest serving Davros of the classic series and sergeant Benton, John Levene. As well as a talk with each of the guests, there was an array of stalls, representing both local businesses and more specialised, Doctor Who stalls. Workshops covering both art and Star Wars took place over the course of the day as well as a Mad Hatter’s tea party and a cosplay competition. Along with the talks were photo ops and autographs throughout the afternoon as well as the fantastic opportunity to have an afternoon tea with any of the guests.
The Q and A sessions themselves were hosted by BBC’s Bob Fischer, a long standing fan of the show. John Levene’s talk went first, mentioning his new album and how it felt to be recognised on the street once he took the part of Benton. As well portraying the sergeant, he also performed as a handful of the monsters of classic who and gave us an insight into both types of role, particularly the monster costumes which have gained notoriety for the difficulty of wearing them. He also spoke quite philosophically on the nature of Hollywood and ageing, very heavy content for an early Saturday morning but the panel was great fun nonetheless, Mr Levene sharing a spirit of carpe diem with an amiable air.
Terry Molloy’s session started somewhat dramatically. Several daleks rushed the room, one bursting through a wall as a Davros in full costume raved at us, Molloy voicing him from behind the crowd. The room was darkened and glow sticks had been handed out, making the whole thing very convincing for the little ones in the crowd who were utterly terrified until an ironside model Dalek got stuck on the carpet and had to be pushed out of the room to calls of ‘remembrance flashbacks’ as a Sixth Doctor cosplayer ushered it out of the way. Molloy’s talk touched on his connection to the north east as well as how, as jobbing actor, he only got the part of Davros due to BBC strikes and expected it to last a few weeks rather than the years he returned to the role for. He also had a similar experience with the archers as his role continued for 43 years. He also spoke about how he personally first came to know Davros and the exciting musical heyday of Liverpool and the part he played in a band known to frequent The Cavern.
Before Sylvester’s talk, the cosplay showcase took place. A queue of children knocked on a tardis door and in time a long row of characters came out, including fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh eighth and tenth doctors, a handful of monsters and companions, plus a Darth Vader, much to Fischer’s amusement. On the final knock of the tardis door Sylvester returned after merrily announcing he’d been ‘to the euphemism’. As has come to be expected from a Sylvester McCoy panel, he was running about the crowd to receive their questions, and despite an honourable mention, there was no appearance of his musical spoons. We were treated to a ‘magic trick’ of a tiny invisible bird and diplomatically refused an answer to the questions of his favourite companion and doctor. But of course his role of Radagast came up and he shared a particularly funny story about the infamous hedgehog. When filming the scene, Sylvester was alone on set, his prop a stuffed hedgehog. Obviously he was excited to see his scene in the cinema, the whole 3D Imax screen showing him. He asked us if he could imagine his fury when the CGI tem had turned that stuffed prop into the most heart-warming, upstaging character in the trilogy. On a more Serious note he said that to him, a doctor should never be violent, that the point of the show was to stress intellect and reconciliation …. And that was how Ace came to be so violent. Throughout the panel, McCoy was an absolute joy to listen to, perhaps one of the best panels I have seen live, a credit to Kapow and its organisers.
I sincerely hope that Who-Ray, the friendly people at Rediscover Stockton and all of the other stall holders and contributors achieve their goal of not just ensuring Kapow become a regular event, but expanding it in the future as many people in the North East are hoping for. Other than the Dimensions and occasional Film and Comic Con conventions, the North East is reasonably starved of fandom based events but thanks to organisers of events like Kapow, this tide is turning.