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Here’s What Happened at 2024’s Bedford Who Charity Con 9 (and Why The Event Is Unmissable)

The ninth edition of Bedford Who Charity Con took place on 6th April 2024 in walking distance of Cardington Hangars, a key place in Doctor Who history for fans of spin-off media — and rather fittingly Paul McGann was one of the amazing guests who attended to speak to fans and entertain us all with tales of working on our favourite show.

Perhaps even more amazing was the Eighth Doctor himself was joined on the guest bill not by one of his audio-only companions but by Daphne Ashbrook, who played Dr Grace Holloway in 1996’s television movie. Or as the pair liked to call it, their television pilot.

Also on stage were a 1960s Dalek, a well-behaved Quark, Jenna Redgrave – who has been playing Kate Lethbridge-Stewart since 2012 – Dalek operator David Hankinson, writer Una McCormack, special effects guru Mike Tucker, and two of the main stars from Big Finish’s Third Doctor Adventures: Tim Treloar, who plays the Doctor, and Daisy Ashford who has inherited the role of Liz Shaw from her mother Caroline John.

The convention began with Treloar and Ashford revealing how they came to fill some pretty big shoes in the Doctor Who world, insights into what life recording for Big Finish is like, their personal histories with the show before becoming a part of it in audio form, and then doing a short performance in-character as the Doctor and Liz for the enthused crowd. As is always the case with these dramatic breaks at Bedford Who Charity Con, there was a comedic spin to the scene which focused on why the Doctor likes being asked questions by his companions so much.

The first break of the day enabled the DWC to find out more about the money being raised – a record-smashing £17,101 (£6,718 more than the previous benchmark) – and the three charities it is supporting. One of those is SMART, which supports Bedford’s homeless population and intends to spend its slice of the fundraising pie from the day on its support hub which is open for those who need it every day of the year. Hot meals and supplies of clean bedding and toiletries are provided there, and SMART has to do multiple fundraisers per year to help meet the costs of delivering its services to the local population.

“Davros! You have shrunk!!” Photo by Bar Nash-Williams.

McGann, Ashbrook, and Redgrave were the stars of the second panel of the day and they too provided insights about how they were cast into their iconic Doctor Who roles. That set up a playful shtick between Redgrave, who’d got a call from her agent with a job offer, and the other pair, who’d done a far more thorough casting process. Keep an eye on the DWC for more on the making of The TV Movie in the future…

Audience questions probed Redgrave’s knowledge on if the BBC is planning a spin-off series about UNIT (she says she’s not heard anything), how a human actor can take on the alien role of the Doctor, how quickly The TV Movie cast realised they wouldn’t be going on to make a full series, and what Paul McGann does with his hair – both past and present and in the fictional world of Doctor Who.

The next performance centred around the Doctor and his mum (played by Ashbrook), and then a Dalek using a self-service checkout machine at a supermarket. Painfully accurate for anyone who has visited the Tesco stores in Bedford.

Hankinson, McCormack, and Tucker took to the stage for the third panel and their discussion was gold for anyone wanting to work on Doctor Who, or break into the wider creative industries. They explained how story ideas get turned into produced pieces of work at Big Finish, and then how much influence the writers have once it comes to recording, and the equivalent process at BBC Books.

They of course also went into lots of detail about their own work, with Tucker and Hankinson talking in particular about the Daleks we’ve seen on screen over the last 19 years.

The next two hours were devoted to fan interaction, whether it be getting autographs and a selfie with the guests or by visiting the dealers selling a wonderful mix of Doctor Who merchandise dating as far back as the show’s creation and as recent as last year’s 60th anniversary specials. Some of the items on display for purchase caught the eye as objects this writer didn’t even know existed. A proper collector’s trove for those with the space after 60 years of collecting!

Tucker returned to stage after that to do a slideshow-supported talk about the Blu-ray releases of classic Doctor Who stories which feature updated special effects. Having the visuals to show to the audience definitely helped make you appreciate the work that has gone into these stories not just by Tucker and his young colleagues but also the original production crew on stories such as The Power of the Daleks.

Everyone then headed back to the dealers and to a TARDIS parked outside the main hall to have their photo taken with all the guests — like this one, of some of the DWC writing crew grouped together!

The remaining guests stayed together (the DWC brought some extra chairs to the stage) for the final panel and there were more opportunities to ask questions. It made for a day where fans got to learn new behind-the-scenes details about almost every era and about the multiple mediums that Doctor Who has been made in. Following a raffle draw, the DWC then set to work disassembling — I mean dematerialising — the TARDIS.

Both audience and guests enjoyed being there, and McGann even shared his love of the event in an interview on local radio. 

“It’s been lovely, it’s been friendly, we can literally look each other in the eye — I prefer that [at conventions],” he said to the BBC.

It won’t be too long before the date of the 10th edition is announced, and we can’t wait to find out when it is so we can hop into the TARDIS and head to 2025 straight away.

Ida Wood

Here’s What Happened at 2024’s Bedford Who Charity Con 9 (and Why The Event Is Unmissable)

by Ida Wood time to read: 4 min
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