24 May 2017

Golden Mile Years - The Blackpool Doctor Who Fan Gathering

The popularity of the Blackpool Exhibition inspired an informal fan get together initiated by Jeremy Bentham and later run by David Howe. Basically, it was a bunch of maybe 70 or 80 fans spending a weekend in the North's loudest seaside resort their time roughly divided between the Exhibition, the hotel bar and all points in between. It went something like this. Arrive mid Friday afternoon and grab a taxi to the long suffering Lyric Hotel who each year put up with being invaded by fans with the overflow being seconded in the Brunswick two doors down. Quite what precautions the hotel in between took remains unknown. The weekend had a theme which would run through the video presentations that took place at scheduled times starting on Friday evening. Yes, we're back in the days when people didn't have every story at home though it's surprising to look back at how reverently a lot of these episodes were watched, although nobody was under any obligation to view them if they didn't want to. 
 There were also special showings of delights like the BBC blooper tapes and various other things. The infamous 'video mixes' originated at Blackpool too. In between these, people would drink, laugh,
sometimes argue and often network. There was a sort of status thing to Blackpool, even to who got to stay in the Lyric (as opposed to the Brunswick) but the whole weekend was as informal as it could be. It was a place where you met other fans, where fanzines were sold and started, where you had the chance to meet so called fan luminaries face to face and discover they were OK really and get to the heart of fandom. The whole thing was accused of elitism yet I don't honestly recall anyone who was not allowed to be there or anyone who turned up for the first time not enjoying it. 



The exhibition provided a focal point and we spent ages there hanging around probably terrifying parents and other visitors. We had the ear of the staff and some people would vanish only to re appear later dressed in full Time Lord regalia or something. Nobody dressed up as the Ergon though. We also frequented the cafe upstairs which was a wonderfully airy place that never seemed to fill up perhaps because the theme music was always blaring out inside so they didn't mind how long you lingered. In later years things did get more cliquey but then each generation of fans have their own 'thing'. Still, it was probably a relief to the Lyric Hotel manager when the event petered out!

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