Doctor Who: Conventions and community in the time of COVID

How a Doctor Who fan can positively alter their Relative Dimension in Space, through the joys of virtual fan convention experiences.

Throughout any given day, I am able to interact with my fandoms, including Doctor Who. I am able to argue points, celebrate news, or enjoy deliciously funny memes in our online social media communities. These precious moments often fuel my day, especially in the extraordinary times we have been facing during the global coronavirus pandemic.

I sometimes wonder about life before the internet. Before it was possible for Facebook Watch Parties and Twitter hashtags to keep Whovians connected 24/7 across the far reaches of the globe.

Since the 1930s with the start of SciFi Conventions, and later in the 1960s with the addition of Comic Book Conventions, etc., fans of varying characters and stories have been able to come together in person and create a microcosm of their universe.

I will personally concede to being bowled over at meeting a Classic Doctor, or being photographed with other cosplaying fans and dancing Daleks, or even purchasing my prized zoomorphosed Eighth Doctor feline portrait.

Doctor Who

Until the pandemic is under control, virtual fan events have taken the place of larger fan conventions.
(Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Moving online

But these conventions are more than just opportunities to find your community in a crowd. They are a chance to show our support for the industry, and have our voices counted for the fandoms that we cherish.

This year, along with so many other preventative changes, many of these conventions have moved online, and proved that there is no greater catalyst for invention than necessity. Free virtual livestreams of guest panels, one on one guest experiences, autograph opportunities, recorded video messages and more have become commonplace.

Examples include the Galaxy Con livestream of Paul McGann, Sylvester McCoy, and Colin Baker and the subsequent event with Alex Kingston, Billie Piper, and Jenna Coleman, and Wizard World interviews with Michelle Gomez.

The greatest among these so far was certainly the brilliant FREE virtual event organized by Big Finish this past weekend: a 7+hour marathon of writers, musicians, and actors, including the exceptional talent behind The Paternoster Gang, the original televised Susan and the Adventure in Space and Time Susan, and of course the Eighth Doctor and River Song. The YouTube Live event provided a virtual nexus of commentary and camaraderie for the legions of loyal fans.

Meeting your heroes

Through these virtual experiences, Alex Kingston gave me a tour of her home recording studio where she has been working on her next River Song Big Finish adventures, Paul McGann blew me a kiss, and Michelle Gomez proved she has all the spirit of Missy.

But more than all this, I’ve been so touched by their decency, their generosity towards the fans, and most especially the genuine stewardship they continue to have towards their characters.

Though this year has been fraught with loss and hardship, these virtual convention experiences provide us another outlet into the Whoverse. And, until we can meet again in person, I look forward to seeing all of my fellow fans, interested in crossing space and time, joining in.

Author’s note: This article reflects on what is a tiny silver lining in an otherwise catastrophic global pandemic. Everyone please do whatever possible to stop the spread of COVID-19, and stay safe.

Some Forthcoming 2020 Virtual Conventions:

Dragon Con  – September 4 – September 7

Chicago Tardis – November 25th – 27th

Wizard World Virtual – Ongoing

GalaxyCon Live – Ongoing

Past Recorded Events

WHOlanta  May 30th 2020

Big Finish Day August 1st, 2020

Next: Doctor Who: Target audiobooks – Why they’re worth listening to

Have you had any great virtual fan experiences? Have any more info on future virtual events? Comment below!