In 1996, the summer before the fire we had a special guest... TOM BAKER. He agreed to appear
at one of our humble events! Somehow I didn't even set eyes on him the entire day (where was I?!)
I had been working
on the estate as a Cyberman as usual or the Gallifrean, and enjoying the DR WHO day from inside the costumes and
as there were hardly any senior staff about, I spent a lot of my rather elongated breaks enjoying the attractions of
the DR WHO DAY and hiding in the estate office! I took a jeap around to see the Cyberman performance 'A quiet day in The
Country' staring Nicholas Courtney and David Rodan, and as you can see, I lay in the sun and saw a bit of the show - which
was ending as soon as I sat down LOL!
I didn't work at Longleat after that season until 2001 DR WHO DAY, but more
of that later.
It is in these last few years 2001-2003 that I no longer worked for
the Longleat estate, in fact I had moved from Bristol to London, and was actually employed to attend and work the day
(as an actor) for Lorne Martin (Experience design).
These days were fun, fast and very intense! I had attended two
prior DR WHO DAYs in 1996 as an employee and again in 1997 when I was off duty...
In 1996 I wanted to go to the auction and get myself a Tardis roundel, a task in which I didn't
succeed, but got a few small Dalek bits, it was in the following year that I did win one , and to this day its one of
my most treasured DR WHO items.
In 2001 Lorne had asked me to dress up as The Dalek and work in conjunction with the
other fans who had turned up with their builds but I was the Official Longleat Dalek and as under strict
instruction NOT to tell anyone that I was under his employ, in order to avoid any bad feeling (as Lorne put it).
when it comes to which Doctor and select companions were at what years event, I simply can't pin it down, but this is
what I remember....correct me if Im wrong. Three Celebrities had been booked. Colin was the Doctor, accompanied by Annike
Wills and Frazer Hines, all of whom were very charming and went well beyond the bounds of duty to satisfy the fans.
met Charity Dalek, A.K.A Chris Potter, Chris Balcombe (noted DRWHO props collector) and Dale Who (full time DR WHO impersonator
and clown) and together we trundled around in the Dalek (which were all sorts of different shapes heights and shades of grey).
I also met Andrew Beech (once head of the DR WHO Appreciation Society, now Bonhams and BBC worlwide DR WHO expert)
- I was impressed with how trim he was because he had squeezed into one of the tiny uniforms of the Gallifrey guard!!!
At this event I was re-united with JNT and Gary - who had in recent years directed me in a long running stage play
and who instantly started to boss me about and direct me all over again! (as only they could) .As always I was unwilling
to get any agro, so duly complied. They ordered me to help them do the donkey work, such as erecting gaziboes for the celebrity
signings and making coffee and placing signs and itinerary lists about etc.
The familiarity would've annoyed
me usually, but because they were regarded by the crowds (and themselves I hasten to add) as DR WHO DAY royalty,
I thought it was a good idea to be 'in favour' with them and just get on with it... because believe you, me... the
last thing you would EVER want to do is have a run in with John Nathan-Turner!
I mostly enjoyed being in the Dalek and later hanging out with the other Operators - we really were appreciated by the
crowds and Dale who took centre stage when the celebs retired from view and he single handedly kept everyone laughing
and merry and I admired him for that.
I was kindly sent a video of the day which a fan called Russell took - and it still
makes me laugh my head off when I watch it back. The types of characters that turn up to these events are colourful and unusual
to say the least, ON ANOTHER PLANET!
The second year, 2002 was slightly marred for me as John had passed away and Gary
was very low and a bit at a loose end as he had been diagnosed with cancer.
I was close with John in a way that only
he and I will ever understand, but it wasn't without its complications and consequences, but he was a good kind hearted
man who I miss very much.
Gary was a scream, he always made me laugh with his double edged wit. He would say hello and
exclaim how well someone looked, but no sooner had they turned to leave he would say something like " she's put on
weight!!! (refferring to a man!) and don't like the hair dear".
He didn't seem to have much understanding
of personal boundaries or propriety, he would see it fit to fondle his way into your affections, even if it wasn't welcomed
- he would have a go! But he also was a kind hearted man and missed by many of his friends and colleagues.
Fans turned up with the Daleks - and this was the beginnings of the internet Dalek BUILDER GUILDs forums and rebuilders
sites that are now rife!
I had sold the bottom half of me first build and replaced it with some marvelous copies of the Shawcraft base section,
which had been cut in half for the Llangollen exhibition. A BBC props man called Andy Hopkinson did a deal with me and I have
to say the Dalek had been fitted with BIG wheels and smoothly ran along all the rough ground - MUCH better than the previous
year (after which I couldn't walk down stairs for two days) AND AT THIS EVENT I had made the 'Destiny'
BOMBS to add during the day.
Sylvester was the Doctor at this one and Sophie Aldred was there with new baby. But as I say there was no auction that
year as John would usually have allotted various things from his collection and brought together the auction items. Gary
asked me to accompany him to their house in Brighton for a few days to sift through it all and identify what was what for
a Chisties style auction of the remaining costumed and props in a few years, but I never went and I regret that.
And lastly in 2003 we were all there again doing
the same thing, this time how ever about 500 Daleks turned up! I was so redundant that Lorne had asked me to dress up as Adric
and walk about in character...
Colin was again the guest of honour, and I remember hearing for the first time that the Longleat DR WHO DAY was to be
the LAST! everyone was speculating that the BBC would close the exhibition and that would be the end of DOCTOR WHO FOR GOOD,
FINAL GONE FOREVER THE END!!! (little did we know)
This one was again not the best as there was no auction and very little
in the way of itinerary and activity. TOO much emphasis was put on 'the cutting of the cake' which always marked the
end of the day.
I again met up with the usual crowd, but as I say we were now among the many Dalek Builders Guild member and they seem
to flash mob any event these days - which although must be fun, I think it has taken away the rarity and magic. It seems to
me now that everyone has a Dalek or a Cyberman as though it goes without saying.
But these days I speak of are now well
an truly gone!
Bonhams saw the last vestiges of the old DR WHO exhibition collection split and disseminated for ever.
I do know that the BBC still has Davros, The Giant Robot, Mechanoid, Melkur, Cybermen, Drathro, The exhibition console and
at least two exhibition Daleks as well as the sliced in half (backless) Dalek, a secondary Tom Yardley Jones Police Box
and many other bits, some of which are probably going to go into the auction at Bonhams in June as Entertainment memorabilia!
well thats all folks!