Once upon a tine, Atlanta had a popular Dr. Who and StarGate convention called TimeGate. This year (StarGate being off the air now for some time) the convention became WHOlanta.
But really, no matter what you call it, it is the same wonderful, totally immersive fan experience it has always been. The organizers and their staff always make everything run so smoothly for the fans that it seems effortless, although of course it isn’t.The vendor room, gaming and video rooms, WHOlanta store, and Con Suites which serve food and snacks are exactly as they should be.
The guests are always open and friendly, although this year scriptwriter Jamie Matheson was sick Friday and Saturday. Yet he still showed up for every one of his panels and was engaging, funny, and gave us lots of information about writing for Doctor Who.(He wrote two of the best Peter Capaldi scripts, “Flatline” and “Mummy On The Orient Express.”) He earned a great deal of respect from every Who fan present for not only making the effort to speak to us but to do it so well.
Colin Baker, who was the 6th Doctor, is now “our” Doctor in the eyes of many WHOlanta regulars, having been a guest in 2013 and now again. He has got to be one of the most perfect con guests imaginable. He obviously loves the experience, loves the show, and loves the fans. He is always friendly and patient with the fans, even when they “geek” out over meeting a Doctor. When my husband and I were walking in the hall and didn’t realize right away that he was beside us, he immediately said “Hello!” instead of just moving on past. What a nice man!
This year we were lucky enough to have Nicola Bryant, who was Perry. the companion to Colin Baker’s Doctor, and Camille Coduri, who played Rose Tyler’s Mom Jackie in the Eggleston and Tennant years. Both of them were charming. Bryant was more at ease, probably because she has done more American conventions. Coduri is quite soft-spoken but you can see that bit of fire she used for Jackie. Bryant, during their panel together, provided a touching moment when she referred to Baker as her “best friend.”
But it was not just these guests who made the convention so special. It was the people we see every year, like former film editor for Doctor Who and other BBC shows Louis Robinson, the ever[present and always funny Moxie Magness, Head Cosmetologist for the Starship Enterprise, who somehow traveled through space and time to make us laugh, and authors like Lee Martindale, James Palmer, and philosopher Courtland Lewis. This year my favorite author, Jana Oliver, who I discovered at a TimeGate, was a special Even the props that decorated the halls add to the special atmosphere of this con. A lot of them were provided by a vendor, “Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey,” and they were so extraordinary that I actually found myself directing a comment to a Cyberman in the corner of the hall next to a vendor table.
WHOlanra was a delight from start to finish and we can’t wait to go back next year. Kudos to all involved.