The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant. – The Eleventh Doctor
We all love what Matt Smith says here. To Kieran Kinsella, the same applies to mega conventions. To him, the big conventions never have enough guest/fan interaction. So, he’s set out to bring a slightly different convention into the picture — a convention so exciting it might just cause an actual time eddy, a distortion in time.
Coming October 2-4, the Time Eddy convention will land its TARDIS in Wichita, Kansas. Guests include Colin Baker (the Sixth Doctor), Deborah Watling (Victoria Waterfield), Nicola Bryant (Peri Brown), Katy Manning (Jo Grant), Daphne Ashbrook (Grace Holloway), Peter Purves (Steven Taylor), and more. Time Eddy will be the first Doctor Who convention Wichita has had in twenty-five years.
Kinsella, a natural fanboy and a man who qualifies as a convention expert, is head of the Kansas Doctor Who Corporation, working with the Whovians of Wichita and ICT Cosplay Gallifrey to bring Time Eddy to life.
This past weekend, I caught up with Kieran to learn more about what he has in store with the Time Eddy convention…
Kasterborous: What can you tell me about yourself?
Kieran: I’m from England. I moved to America about 15 years ago — my wife’s American. I got into Doctor Who when I was a little kid. My dad was into Doctor Who — big time — back then. When I was about five years old, he worked for the post office, and had set up a publicity thing where they had kids writing letters to Doctor Who. I’d say that’s what really got me interested in the show. My earliest memory in my whole life is watching City of Death, when Scaroth pulls his mask off. That traumatized me as a kid – so I’ve been a fan pretty much since I can remember.
Later on in life, when I was a teenager — at high school — I met another kid who was really into Doctor Who too. There wasn’t really a functioning Doctor Who fan group at that time (in the area), so we just started one ourselves. And then, people started saying ‘It’d be really cool if we had guests coming to these things.’ We were like fourteen and fifteen, so we didn’t really have a clue how to get in contact with people. So naturally, we got out the London telephone book and flipped through for some familiar names — found Barry Letts and ended up getting an interview with him for the fanzine that we did. Later we got Terrance Dicks to come to one of our meetings. That group kinda took off from there.
Within a couple of years we decided to do a convention. It was fairly easy, because most of the people were pretty up for it since the show was kind of in hiatus — because it was after McCoy had finished, but the show was not officially finished yet; there was a chance it could’ve come back. So, a lot of people were quite keen, like Sophie Aldred came to the convention because she was hoping the show might come back still. We got Deborah Watling, Barry Letts, Terrance Dicks, Gareth Roberts (who worked on the New Adventures at the time) and a few more too.
The convention was really successful. We got people coming from pretty far and wide; we got some fans from Scotland, and I was in London. The local newspaper thought it was pretty cool too.
That other kid, by the way, was John Dorney [writer and actor for Big Finish, whose audio dramas include 1963: The Assassination Games, Requiem for the Rocket Men, and the critically-acclaimed Iterations of I]!
I was given the suggestion of doing a Doctor Who convention in Florida by Richard Franklin [aka Captain Mike Yates], who I was interviewing for my website, BestBritishTV.com, where I was at that point in time. I didn’t really think that Florida had much interest, so it felt wrong. When I moved to Kansas City for work, all of a sudden it was a different story. I mean, there’s a big Doctor Who presence here. It made more sense, especially after I connected with the Whovians of Wichita.
How did you come to booting up the Kansas Doctor Who Corporation?
That was basically created for the purposes of doing the convention; we needed to have some kind of entity running it so it wasn’t just some personal enterprise. Up to that point, it was kind of just informal discussions with people. But, now that it’s a corps, and that it’s up and running, it could do other things.
I had talked with some people up in Kansas City about maybe doing something like a convention. But, we felt like there was already a saturated market up there because of Planet Comic-Con, which has Doctor Who guests. Up in Kansas City they’ve got a pretty good group up there. A lot of people there are keen to do a convention. Down here in Wichita though, to me, was crying out for it — because Doctor Who is still shown on PBS. The Whovians (of Wichita) group, is also really active as well. There’s also a pretty good convention scene here for other fandoms. So Time Eddy just seemed like the thing that would slot in nicely.
What’s been the best part about running conventions, other than meeting the guests?
When I was a kid, it wasn’t very cool to be involved in any fandom really; frankly, it was something you kinda kept secret. So I think now it’s cool, that it’s like revenge of the nerds or something. Now, being a nerd is cool.
I also like how, at conventions, you see all kinds of people, who have this one thing in common. I think it’s really neat, this sort of comradery — meeting people who you wouldn’t have otherwise met.
So your favorite part is meeting the people and seeing them?
Yeah; just seeing how somehow this weird, quirky show has had an impact on them somehow. You know what I mean?
Definitely! What else can you tell me about Time Eddy?
Plans started about a year ago.
We’re trying to get a good representation of all the different eras of the show — although we’re a little bit light on the Tom Baker side. The way it has evolved, it’s more geared towards the classics series – which wasn’t necessarily the plan, but it’s just the way things worked out.
I want it to be… I don’t like these mega-cons, where you go and you wait in line for three hours and pay $200 just to get a signed photo of someone who you see for two seconds. Time Eddy’s going to be a bit more old school. There will be a lot of guest interaction with the attendees. For example, we’re going to do a version of Whose Line is it Anyway?. We’re going to do that with attendees, but also some of the guests — Katy Manning — have said that they’re going to participate as well. It’ll kind of give it more interaction with celebrities than you would get at a typical convention.
That really sets Time Eddy apart. With the bigger cons, like you said, you never get that level of interaction. It’s nice that it’s like that.
Exactly, and funnily enough, a lot of the guests don’t like seeing the lack of interaction. There were a couple of writers that I spoke to that were going to come, but weren’t able to because of work. One of them said to me ‘Look, I’m not going to come, if it’s like when I went to Comic-Con and you just stick me in some booth and people just drift by me so I can give autographs. I’m only coming if I get to interact with the fans’
And I was like ‘That’s exactly how I want it to be.’ So that’s what we’re going for. The guests will be very accessible. We want to do a lot of fun activities that the guests are involved in.
What’s been the hardest part of Time Eddy so far?
We sort of set up an exploratory committee – that was about a year ago – and we looked at the logistics. What we found out is there weren’t really any issues with getting the guests to come out; that side of things was pretty easy. Everyone thinks there would be issues though. I think they liked the sheer novelty of Kansas. What I mean is, everyone with the exception of Daphne Ashbrook is English – and, I think, pretty much ever since they started having TV in the UK, they’ve shown the Wizard of Oz every year at Christmas. So pretty much everyone from 80 years down has the Wizard of Oz ingrained in their heads!
So, funnily enough, everyone was kind of keen to come; everyone wanted to see if it was really like that. It’s not somewhere that’s on the tourist maps – but because of the Wizard of Oz, it’s sort of this novelty. I guess they’ve been everywhere else, so why not come to Kansas? The main issues were only the venues – just trying to find somewhere suitable – and the competition. The other thing is just getting the word out – mainly due to Facebook changing their ad policies.
Time Eddy will be the first Doctor Who convention in Kansas in 25 years. Does that add any extra pressure?
It actually does in some ways. Time Eddy has generated a lot of interest. Actually, more interest than I realized, because even people from further uphill are coming. We got people from Canada that have already bought tickets. There’s definitely pressure and expectation. I want to make sure that it’s worth the wait, you know? You don’t want it be the first horrible convention in 25 years.
Were there any potential guests that declined for any reason?
Yeah, mainly because of work schedules. That was the biggest issue – especially with the new series people, since a lot of them are working right now. For a convention too, it’s tricky because unless you have some massive corporation, it’s a huge gamble paying for this top star to come here, knowing that he’s saying ‘but at the last minute I might cancel it because I’m busy filming episodes,’ because then you’re left with nobody.
So, other than Ellis George [Courtney Woods], did you ask anyone from the new series to come?
I spoke to various people. As Time Eddy evolved though, we were still having discussions with people – but as things started falling into place with a lot of the classic people who I kind of already knew, we got to a point where we were like ‘well now we kind of have a pool of classic people, so we think we’ll stick with that, and perhaps next time we’ll revisit the new series people.’
Is there anyone you wished could’ve made it?
I’m really disappointed that Stephen Thorne [Omega, and various] had to drop out. He had to drop out because of a family situation. I know he’s not one of the biggest stars, but I mean to me, he played a lot of cool characters.
I’ve actually interviewed him before. He’s just hilarious; he cracks me up. So I was really looking forward to him. Other than that, I really like writers; I would like to have 50 writers just to hear their stories. There are a few other writers that I spoke to that I would’ve liked to see come. It was just time and scheduling though; they couldn’t make it.
What sort of things, other than a cosplay competition, can fans look forward to at the convention?
We’re setting up a good amount of gaming. As far as the interactive element to it goes, there’s going to be a lot of fan panels. We’ve got fan panels coming down from all over – like Nebraska, Colorado, Utah… Also, even though there’s going to be a lot of interaction with the guests anyway, we’ve got some meals set aside where only a limited number of people can have lunch with the Doctor, and five of his companions or something like that [as part of the advanced interaction with the guests]. As of right now, we have two meals scheduled; one breakfast, and one lunch, both in a segregated area during the convention.
There’s also a ‘Celestial Toyroom’, full of games to play in a similar fashion to The Celestial Toymaker!
I’ve heard there will probably be a Time Eddy II? What are your plans and hopes for that?
I’m mindful of the fact that next year it’ll be twenty years since they did the TV movie with Paul McGann. So that’s something that’s in my mind, in terms of thinking about guests.
Just like you’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Daleks’ Master Plan this time around, you might be celebrating the movie next year?
Yeah, exactly. And, although I’m more of a classic person myself, obviously a lot of the younger crowd here are fans of the revival series. For next year, that’s something we’ve been thinking about. I’ve also realized something too, with Ellis George coming. She’s in the most recent series of Doctor Who, but a lot of people haven’t seen that yet, because they’re watching Netflix, and Peter Capaldi’s stuff hasn’t reached Netflix yet. So we’re thinking in terms of, ‘what do most young people think of when they think of Doctor Who?’. That’s kind of the thought for Time Eddy II.
Last question, then: If you ever found the TARDIS on the side of the road, with no Doctor or companions inside, where would you go? What nonsense would you do throughout time and space?
That’s a good question. Hmm. I might go see Omega. His universe is kind of cool. He needs a bit of help with his interior designing, but he’s pretty cool.
Nice choice. Thanks for the chat Kieran! We look forward to Time Eddy this October!
Later that day, a Time Eddy promotional event went on at the Burrow, a local geek shop in Wichita.
Kieran says that any help getting the word out about Time Eddy is greatly appreciated. Maybe you’ll create a computer virus on your phone that will send every phone number on earth a link to this article? It’s your choice. We’re not endorsing that. Just saying.
The Time Eddy convention will arrive on October 2nd, and continues until October 4th. You can find info about the venue and other aspects, as well as ticket prices, at kansasdoctorwho.com