Doctor Who at the BFI – the last days of normality

I love going to London. It’s where most of my friends live, it’s where a lot of my work comes from, and it was my home between 1994 and 1998. I have a lot of memories embedded in the grime of that city, so if there’s an opportunity to go there I usually grab it.

But so far I’d avoided the BFI screenings of my Doctor Who work. I don’t like seeing my work once it’s done, especially on a big screen. I only ever see what’s wrong with it. But I’d heard such good things about the BFI events. They were always sold out, celebratory events with lots of special guests, so I finally accepted the offer to attend for the screening of the Talons of Weng-Chiang, the Season 14 Doctor Who adventure starring Tom Baker and Louise Jameson.

That was about a month ago. Then the world turned upside down. The Covid-19 virus started to crawl from country to country, tearing up the usual conventions of society. So I had mixed feelings about attending the event at the BFI. I expected it to be cancelled, but it went ahead, so I jumped on the train and set off for London.

I met up with my good friend Chris Chatterton and we had a few beers – all very normal. London bustled and glittered, but there was a sense of unease, as if this was the end of something special.

The next day, after a very nice breakfast, I went along to the event and spoke about my work on the story. I wasn’t sure if the screening would be deserted, but it was about three quarters full.

Being interviewed by Dick Fiddy on stage at the BFI. Photo by @TheatreGoer

I think the interview and the screening of the story went down well, and it was lovely to bump into some old friends who I hadn’t seen for a while like Cameron McEwan, but the feeling of unease never went away and I was glad to be on the train and heading home again afterwards.

Photos by Cameron McEwan

Who knows what the next few days and weeks will bring, but I don’t think I’ll be going to London again for a long time.


Writer & Artist based in the North East of England.

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