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The Doctor drops in on Clarksville for Whovian convention

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The Doctor drops in on Clarksville for Whovian convention

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Whovians invaded downtown Clarksville this weekend for Con-GT, a convention focused on the classic British sci-fi show "Doctor Who."

Organized by Eddie Owen and his team, the three-day event at the Riverview Inn has been packed with meet and greets, vendors and discussion panels that included celebrities involved with the show.

Owen opened the weekend with a VIP Party Friday night, at which he thanked those who made the event possible and introduced special guests.

That guest lineup had some hiccups over the last few months.

When the event was announced last October, actors Dan Starkey and Gareth David-Lloyd had been booked to appear. However, both stars pulled out.

"The one thing I have learned doing this type of thing is you're not going to end up with what you started with in terms of celebrities and guests," Owen said. "Dan Starkey canceled due to a previously booked engagement. And we got to the point about a month and a half ago where I thought we were past people deciding to drop out, and then I got that email about Gareth David-Lloyd."

The situation wasn't as dire as it might sound, however, as Owen booked classic-era Doctor Who script editor Andrew Cartmel shortly after Starkey canceled. When David-Lloyd pulled out, there was already another guest ready and waiting to join in.

"Ellis George, who acted in four episodes of the most recent season, was just at Gallifrey One (the Doctor Who convention held annually in Los Angeles), with Andrew Cartmel," Owens said of the 16 year-old actor who has proved popular to fans of the series.

"I've being saying that with Ellis George in the lineup, visitors will be one degree of separation away from the current Doctor, Peter Capaldi, and showrunner Steven Moffat."

Teen 'Doctor Who' star

George was humble about her involvement with the show.

"I was lucky to be in 'Doctor Who,"' said George. "I loved the set, the people, the supporters. It has just brought me so much happiness."

George, now 16, was only 15 when she got the call to audition.

"My agent said, 'You've got an audition, but you can't tell anyone, it's 'Doctor Who."' I was like, What, me? Well sure, sure thing.'"

She went to the audition and awaited a call. "I remember I was in my kitchen when my agent called back and said, 'You've got "Doctor Who." I said 'Oh my God, are you sure? Let's not joke about.'"

George was given the part of Courtney Woods.

"Courtney is a schoolgirl from Coal Hill," said George. "She's quite feisty - a very interesting character. She gives the Doctor something to work with."

George credits her older brother Wade with introducing her and her family to the show.

"The fan base is crazy, amazing," said George. "Working on the show has been great - everyone is so nice and kind. I don't really call them fans; they are more like supporters, or friends I haven't met yet."

Getting hooked

Owen remembers watching episodes on PBS when he was a kid.

"I never really got into it then," said Owen. "A few years back I set my DVR to record several episodes, started binge watching, and now I'm hooked."

The show began in 1963 and ran for 26 years. The series was canceled, a movie was made, and then, in 2005, the series returned to television.

Owen and his team began working on this event in August last year. Con-GT (Convention Gallifrey Today) has been billed as the only Doctor Who convention in Middle Tennessee.

"This convention is a get-together for people who like the series and want to meet some of the celebrities affiliated with the show," said Owen. "In fact, this may be the only one like it in Tennessee. We are anticipating as many as 600 people here this weekend. We've already started working on plans for next year."

Time Lord Music

In addition to guests who have worked on the television series, Saturday visitors had the opportunity to see the first live performance of a musical act that has been making waves around the Doctor Who fandom for the last year or so - Legs Nose Robinson.

The Nashville-based musicians - who take on the personas of Time Lords (the Doctor's species) called the Engineer, the Librarian, and the Illusionist both on and off stage - have had their music featured on BBC America's Anglophenia blog and the popular geek culture podcast, The Nerdist.

"The Illusionist (vocalist and various electronics) received a vision of what would become the epic war on Gallifrey, and we all had to leave," band guitarist and vocalist, The Engineer, said. "In our urgency we left in our TARDIS (time-and-space traveling device used in the series) which has been out of commission since we landed here. I've not been able to repair it."

"We've been here for well over a century," keys and vocalist, the Librarian, added. "We were all somewhat musical, and this is kind of our last-ditch effort to try and contact the Doctor. We thought maybe if we sung some songs about him it'd pique his interest."

However, those concerned that they might be hearing some form cheesy, parody-laden nonsense can be reassured that Legs Nose Robinson's music is broad in its range. The references to the series, while present, are subtle, with styles ranging from glam-tinged rock to a burlesque reminiscent of Kurt Weill. Songs such as the haunting "Listen" could sit quite happily alongside anything on your favorite rock station without non-Whovians batting an eyelid.

"If you get too specific, lyrically, you're not going to reach as broad of an audience," The Engineer said. "We let the Doctor's adventures be an inspiration to a bigger picture."

Whovian activities

Both special guests, plus sci-fi author Robin Burks, will return Sunday for a 3 p.m. panel discussion.

Alongside the guests, there are panels on topics such as cosplay (costume play) and women in Doctor Who, plus a kids area. There will also be vendors on hand to sell merchandise. In arranging these activities, the organizers have been careful to listen to the desires of the target demographic.

"One of the things people said was they didn't like it when there are multiple events that you want to do at the same time," Owen said. "So we don't have any break-out sessions during Ellis' time, we don't want to distract from her."

As with many conventions, ConGT will also have a viewing room - but as has been the organizers' attitude throughout the building of the event, they're doing things a little differently.

"We won't just be showing episodes - we'll be showing things that maybe people haven't had access to here," Owen said. "Like 'Doctor Who at the Proms' (the BBC live musical Doctor Who event from the Royal Albert Hall).

The convention continues Sunday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Owen promises a total fan experience and invites everyone to come mingle with their fellow Whovians.

Caption: Doctor Who former script editor Andrew Cartmel, left, and Con-GT organizer Eddie Owen at Friday's VIP Party.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Fry, Tony Centonze, Andy-Lee (2015-03-15). The Doctor drops in on Clarksville for Whovian convention. The Leaf Chronicle p. B1.
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  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=The Doctor drops in on Clarksville for Whovian convention | url= | work=The Leaf Chronicle | pages=B1 | date=2015-03-15 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=10 June 2023 }}</ref>
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