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A Hidden Gem of an Event: Smallspace (Run by Doctor Who’s Mat Irvine)

Smallspace is one of the highlights of my summers.

It’s run by Mat Irvine and it takes place in Hanslope, a village near Milton Keynes, every July. Mat was a member of the BBC Special Effects department; he was the SFX designer for The Face of Evil, The Stones of Blood, Warriors of the Deep, and Warriors’ Gate, among others.

Smallspace is held in Hanslope Village Hall; the next one’s coming up on Sunday 21st July 2024.

Essentially, it’s a model and props exhibition. It’s also relaxed, welcoming, informal, and huge fun. Mat is a genial and friendly host.

It’s not exclusively Doctor Who – though last year, they had the Whomobile, an army of Daleks, and John Leeson and Mike Tucker as guests. (Mike will be there again this summer.) Lots of the models and props are ones that were used on screen; others are built by enthusiastic amateurs. My visits to Smallspace are spent pottering around the exhibits, gawping at and delighting in the craftsmanship. Loved the Interceptors from UFO, the spaceship from Quatermass and the Pit, and the two foot high Robots of Death. Oh, and the costume exhibition from Blake’s 7.

And K9. These days, Mat looks after the working prop – the same one was used in classic and New Who and The Sarah Jane Adventures– and there it was, proudly on display. John Leeson chatted amicably to the visitors. There aren’t any barriers: you can get right up close to everything, contemplate… and marvel.

If you can make it, do go. You won’t regret it. Entry fee is a fiver, with profits going to the Village Hall fund (Mat’s one of the trustees). For full details, go to hamex.co.uk.

Smallspace 11, Sunday 21st July, 10am onwards, Hanslope Village Hall, Newport Road, Hanslope, Buckinghamshire MK19 7NZ.

Guests this year include Mike Tucker, Alan ‘Rocky’ Marshall, and Nick Kool, all from the former BBC Visual Effects department.

At the top of this page, you can see a collage of my photos from last year’s Smallspace. Clockwise from left: the Whomobile; two wonderful alternative Daleks (a Japanese one from the illustrations in the Japanese novels, and a TV21 Dalek); John Leeson and the original K9 prop; a superb Trod; and Mike Tucker with the Master’s gizmo from Castrovalva.

Note: the terrifying and magnificent Trods featured in the Sixties Doctor Who strip in TV Comic. They were created by artist Neville Main when he realised, to his horror, that they didn’t have the rights to the Daleks. The Trods are splendid and we urge Russell T Davies to bring them to our screens next season.

Simon Danes

A Hidden Gem of an Event: Smallspace (Run by Doctor Who’s Mat Irvine)

by Simon Danes time to read: 2 min
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