Friday, 30 May 2014

Expo & Cons Torchwood: Miracle Day by Antje Strauch

Torchwood convention "Miracle Day"
11.13. April 2014, Birmingham
By Antje Strauch

One or two days before the “Miracle Day” Convention John Barrowman announced on his Twitter that he had unexpectedly a weekend off, and would be found at the Hollywood convention.

I guess that is in Hollywood.

I admit, it made me quite sad. I mean, technically I had known there was no chance he would be in Birmingham anyway, as he is one, in the US at the moment and two, shooting more “Arrow” but for me he still clearly was at the wrong convention.

But you know what? It was still great fun! I had two friends with me for whom it was the first time to see all those Torchwood stars, and it couldn’t have been a better introduction. A nice small familiar event, around 300 fans I think, and with Kai Owen, Gareth David-Lloyd, Naoko Mori, Dichen Lachman and of course Eve Myles, who had initiated the whole thing, on stage together, it was expected to be a blast.

We should have probably been warned about what was to come at Friday evening at the opening ceremony. 
Sean, head of Starfury events, tried to do a speech and introduce them but was interrupted by shenanigans going on backstage. 

You know, the screen they had put up to show what’s happening on stage to the people in the back rows, worked both ways. So we saw some shadowy figures, having fun with bananas or trying to pick Sean’s nose on the screen.

He was at a loss for words, and he admitted that was a first in the past 15 years of doing conventions. And he ended with the now famous “Thank God John Barrowman isn’t here!”

Well, in the end he was with us in spirit, as he got mentioned from those on stage quite a few times. Or at least his balls. But more about that later.

When Gareth was supposed to come to the stage, at first he was not visible, made only ghost-like noises and we should all help with making him visible again. We tried hard, and it worked, and out he came ;)

After the opening ceremony we went straight to the room in which the Meet and Greet with the stars for the owners of Gold tickets was supposed to happen. For once I was not the first of our group and only got told later that we did not choose our table ourselves, a guide asked how many we were and then placed us at a table in a way so that at each table a chair was kept free for the star that would join us later for a bit of small talk.

So just you know, nothing that happened after that was our fault. Not at all. We immediately hit off with the people on our table and had much fun with each other, we spent the whole weekend together and went for meals in the evening and everyone that heard us laughing was amazed to hear that two days ago we hadn’t even known each other. And we were a well-mixed group from several different countries and also mixed old con-experts and virgin newbies.

And there also was Giorgio. Surely many of you have met him, he was just there because he is friends with Dichen Lachman, who he had met at a con a few years ago. He had no idea what Torchwood was but I hope we were able to convince him that it was a show one absolutely must watch!

In the end, late in the evening, a lonely girl from the next table came over, saying how she liked us having fun, while apparently there had not been much interaction on her table, the others just left without even saying good-bye. How rude.

So, the stars at a con are one thing, but the most special thing is spending time with friends, meeting old friends again and new ones for the first time, which you then look forward to to meet again next year.

The downside is, that with all the stuff going on, you sometimes are going to one thing while others go to another, and you only meet in the hallway and in between “Hi!” and “I have to catch my panel!” there is not much time to talk, and you can’t split yourself in two. But then that’s what the hotel bar is for (I’m not one that likes to go to the parties, the music is not the kind I like, and it’s way too loud for me anyway. I’m getting old LOL)

So, back to the Meet and Greet. The first on our table was Kai. I have been to Meet and Greets before where the person sitting next to the star hogged all of his time alone and the others never got a word in, but this did not happen here. Kai asked everyone for his name, and where they were from, and if any of the Germans were from Bavaria… LOL (I should probably mention that apparently Bavaria had beaten Manchester in soccer a few days ago, but what do I know)

With Dichen we also talked about Germany because it turned out that even though she is from Australia, she has a German granddad! Which explains her last name Lachman, and we translated her that it means laughing man. She hadn’t known that yet.

I don’t actually remember much from our talks to Gareth and Naoko, but the reason for that is that Eve Myles was found more often ON the tables instead of AT them, and while standing there and having the full room’s attention, she announced that tomorrow there would be a screening of the episode “Contrycide” and they would do an audio commentary. And that we all should come in our pyjamas.

Several times ;)

In the end, it went like this:

Eve: “What are we going to do tomorrow?”

Fans: “A screening!”

Eve: “Of what?”

Fans: “Countrycide!”

Eve: “And what do you all wear?”

Fans: “Pyjamas!!!”

And so on. And right now I remember that Gareth had said this actually first at our table, that he would crash the screening and do a commentary. And he asked us for the time it would be on, and we gave it to him but later wondered how he would be able to do the autographs and screening at the same time. Thankfully it then got switched to an earlier time.

Eve spent way more than just the five minutes on each table, got gifts and chocolates and drinks everywhere and really had a blast. One girl had a self made resurrection glove, and of course Eve took this chance to resurrect Gareth. I couldn’t see it well because they were lying at the floor, but apparently she went for his special bits. Of course ;)

It was already past midnight when she came to us, we were the second to last table and the room had emptied considerably. Everyone was partying on in the other room but after Eve had left it was time for us to say good-night, as we had a full weekend ahead of us and well, a little bit of sleep would be nice.

That is me with the glove, but I did not make it:

On Saturday, there were the photo sessions in the morning. Then we were waiting what would happen next. While we did so, suddenly this guy – Ian – came to the stage and took a picture with Gwen, dressed as Gwen. He got quite a loud cheer for it! And he did look really good.

At noon, a new programme part had been included. The Torchwood episode “Countrycide” was shown, and the actors gave their running comments with it. And at least half the people in the room had shown up in their pyjamas, as requested by Eve.
If you remember the episode, it starts with the team driving in the SUV through the – well, countryside, and Owen comments on the smell. Then John aka Jack is shown on the wheel, and Gareth chanted “Gay – gay – gay – gay – gay…” Next we heard, was Owen’s “It’s disgusting.” I’m the last person to make any bad jokes about sexual orientation, but this was pretty funny as it was really right on the beat. And it got only worse from there. Sadly (or maybe luckily?) I didn’t understand some of the things they said ;) And I actually don’t remember much of the rest, except for that story about John and his hangover and that he said they should not film any close-ups of his face. Eve said he literally had just taken the sunglasses off (the scene where they go into the house).

They also informed us in every scene when John had been farting. I always wanted to know that ;)

In the middle of the whole thing Kai also called Owen Teale and asked us all to shout “Because it makes me happy, you … cheeky bastard” (can please someone fill in the missing words? Do you remember them?)

After that, the panels started in the afternoon. First up was Dichen Lachman. She had much to tell about her new movie “Lust for Love” which has been crowdfunded and she asked if any founders were in the audience, there were indeed some. And she was a producer as well as an actress and had to worry all the time whether to re-do a scene or leave it to not overstretch the budget.
They actually streamed the movie for us the other day, which was really nice and if was a funny little rom-com, about a guy who has no luck with the ladies and his friend (Dichen) who tells him different tricks and of course he ends up with her in the end. That was clear right from the beginning, but still there were some nice twists and great comedy.

Well into the panel someone asked if she could tell any stories from the Torchwood set. “Right, that’s what we are here for after all!” she replied. Even though she played an evil person in “Miracle Day”, the real Dichen was just lovely and cute. She said how much of a family they all were on set, and that she already knew a few of the crew from other projects and felt right at home. And she told the story about John scaring her (he seems to like that?) and she had a bottle of water which ended up all over him and they needed half an hour to get him dry again, and they laughed for ten minutes straight.

The next panel was with Naoko Mori and Gareth David-Lloyd. I have not written down all questions and answers, but a few memorable quotes. For example, if they were to rename “Torchwood”, what would it be? No hesitation: “John Barrowman’s balls”.

I also liked this sentence from Gareth: “I wanted to go in a hail of bullets but ended up with an alien fart.”

Naoko regretted that Tosh and Owen never got that lunch. They also were asked to give advice for themselves. Gareth: “Wear a gas suit!” Naoko: “Wear a bullet proof vest!”

The conversation came to the new Doctor Peter Capaldi and Gareth told a bit how wonderful it was working with him and Naoko looked at him: “He wasn’t in Torchwood?!?” Gareth replied: “You were dead.”

Turned out, she never had watched “Children of Earth” – and both of them never watched “Miracle Day” because, well, they weren’t in it ;) That became one of the running gags throughout the weekend.

Naoko not only didn’t know the later “Torchwood” seasons but also nothing about “Harry Potter” or “Game of Thrones”. She also told a funny story about when she was in “Doctor Who” for the first time. She got the script but didn’t speak English very well back then and looked up TARDIS in the dictionary. When she couldn’t find it, she actually called a friend to ask what it was. After she had spelled it out for him, he just hung up. Without an answer.

After those two it was time for Kai Owen and Eve Myles. They also had quite a few funny ideas what the show else could have been called:

“I’m really 69”
“The Teeth”
“The John Barrowman show”
“Pressure Pad”
“Tonight’s the night”
“4 hours of makeover”

Apparently they were prepared to go on like this for a while but we stopped there ;)

One question was also about if they ever stole anything from the set. Kai was adamant: “I never stole anything!” Eve: “Just my heart!” Awwwww!

Seeing the both of them sitting there, it felt really like an old couple! They work so well together and that is the reason why I am no Gwen/Jack shipper, sorry.

There was a moment where we talked about which dead people they would like to bring back to the show. For some reason or the other, Eve mentioned Anwen. Then they looked at each other and realized that she is not dead ;) Same happened when she was asked with which dead person she would like to spend an evening. That’s how the rumour that Kathy Burke was dead got out. Kai actually got out his phone and pretended to tweet about it LOL

There was also some very bad joke to the absolutely innocent question what Rhys' mother was doing nowadays. For some reason, Kai and Eve concluded that she was a prostitute – and selling Crispy Cremes. Make the connection yourself ;)

After they said that, Kai got his face into his hands and said: “Why do we say those things? At home we are not like that, but as soon as we are at a convention…”

In the evening we also got a costume contest but there were so many great costumes.  I always love costume contests. Fans can be so creative to make those things.

The first contestant was also the smallest: Gareth's daughter Lily as Alice in Wonderland:

Not surprisingly, she won the price for the best kid. She also was the only kid ;) Look at that proud Daddy's face:

A few Doctors

Ian as Gwen also took part. He won a prize and got a big smooch by Kai Owen

This was the best: Captain Jack and the alien sex gas. Not surprisingly, they won a prize and they also were the favourite of the audience

Tenth Doctor - he won a prize

In the break, when the jury decided who should be the winner, this little firl proved that she wants to be the new Eve Myles. She entertained the crowd with making all sorts of funny faces:

The Jury:

On Sunday, we went to get our autographs first thing in the morning. While waiting for the stars to arrive who were running a bit late, we chatted with one of the volunteers. He told us a fun story about another Starfury convention which was madness. As soon as he would stop walking just to catch his breath, a line would form behind him and then people would ask: “What are we queuing for?” – “Don’t know, I am just standing here!” LOL

When we finally were allowed into the room, as a nice extra we got a Torchwood poster which you could use to get signed. I always let the pictures I take with them signed though and got some funny comments about the poses.

Then it was time for the “Lust for Love” screening. Before and after Dichen talked a bit about the movie.
Poor girl was so cold, she was wearing her coat on stage.

Soon it was time for Kai Owen’s panel.

He had been given a solo panel but at the meet and greet Gareth had announced that he planned to crash it, and so Kai was only on stage alone for five minutes or so before Gareth arrived. The two guys together were also very funny. They all play so well off of each other, with one having a thought and the other finishing it. You’ll see soon what I mean.

Each had a beer in their hand – Kai in a glass, Gareth drank straight from the bottle – and after an Austrian girl had invited them to some famous beer festival in her hometown, there was a lot of beer talk. 

No matter what the question was, they would always return to it LOL So, someone would ask a question, and one of them would start to reply, but the other interrupted with: “…. is also a nice beer.” And then the other would agree and so on. It was hilarious.

They showed a bit of a video Kai and Eve had done for Sean. They were punching each other all the time, like a real stunt fight. Very good! You can see these scenes here:

Several questions also were about what they would like to see in a Torchwood season 5. 

Naoko was sitting somewhere in the audience as well, and always cleared her throat very loudly since for some reason they forgot to mention Tosh while listing all the characteres they wanted to see back ;)

Later she also told us that she would love to play an evil twin of Tosh or maybe her from an alternate reality, anything to bring the character back. She also had enjoyed that one episode “Adam” where she played her a bit differently. So, “Tosh with cleavage”, that’s what she would like to play.

Kai and Gareth also dissed PC Andy a lot ;) Tom Price was not there so could not defend himself against all the accusations. I don’t remember anything specifically, but they told about all sorts of stuff they would do for the fans and then: “Tom Price would never do that.” LOL

And then there was the girl that thought it was a good idea to have Jack pregnant in the first episode of season 5. After all, in the pilot he mentioned that he once was, so it should be possible. 

Kai and Gareth liked the idea as well, and the next thing we saw was them acting out the scene. Kai sat onto the chairs with his legs wide open, and Gareth crouched under the chairs and then came out with a “Ta-daaa! Ianto has been reborn!” We roared with laughter.

Gareth’s comment? “I was born out of John Barrowman’s arse – it was an easy ride.”

Also about Torchwood in 50 years: “We’ll all look like the Face of Boe, except Barrowman, he’ll still look the same!” Who needs enemies when he has such friends? LOL

Later Naoko went onto stage as it was her time, and both guys got up and left through the door at the side. Poor Naoko looked after them: “Don’t leave me alone!”
But they probably had more important things to do. But before they left, Gareth told the audience to not ask Naoko any questions about Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Children of Earth, Miracle Day or the TARDIS. Then he was gone.

But in the end, Naoko on her own was lovely as well, and she has had some interesting projects recently, like the one about the Mount Everest.

Suddenly, you could hear a very posh voice ask: "In the fantasy adventure series Harry Potter which of the Hogwarts teachers would you be?"

Every head turned, and who was standing at the microphone? Gareth! LOL 

And he kept asking questions about Game of Thrones and Miracle Day and in the end complained that none of his questions had been answered and he wanted his money back.

He had waited in line like everyone else, I already had spotted him well before he reached the microphone:

                     Later he was also joined by Kai there:

Then Kai took pity on Naoko and joined her on stage. 

And he teased her all the time. 

When someone wanted to know what they would do if they had only 24 hours to live, Naoko said: “Punch Kai Owen!” and he replied that she would then die because of that LOL

In the end she got her wish though, and he presented his backside for her to punch, and she did but immediately apologized and asked if she had hurt him and he acted as if he was REALLY hurting and sat down onto the chair very carefully with a scrunched face LOL

Also, this funny guy from “Avenue Q” suddenly showed up and talked with Naoko and even sang a song:

Then this hour was also over, and technically it was now Eve’s and Gareth’s panel.
But Kai only shortly left the stage and then came back, and they all spotted Naoko down in the audience again and asked: “What are you doing down there? Come up!” and so we were treated to a panel with all four of them together on stage. 

To hell with the schedule. 

By now Sean just let them do whatever they wanted – as that’s what they did anyway LOL

So, if one of them is already funny, and two of them together almost unbearable, you can imagine what happens if that multiplies again. I have no idea how exactly it happened but somehow everyone had ended up with a beverage, and a sort of game started. One of them would say a sentence like “I have never been in a dark corner with John Barrowman’s balls” or “I have never been touched in places by John Barrowman’s and didn’t enjoy it” and then everyone for whom it was a lie had to drink. I can tell you, they drank a lot ;) It was really funny to see how sometimes all lifted the glasses at once.

Other important things we learnt in this hour was the most embarrassing thing that has happened to them. Kai Owen once got sick over someone, he really puked at him. Naoko said she was good at “tripping over nothing”.

Another question was with which TV series Torchwood could do a crossover. Some very good ideas there, like “X-files”, “Warehouse 13”, “Being Human”.

The PC Andy dissing continued as well. Apparently both Gareth and Naoko had no idea that he had been in “Miracle Day” ;) Whenever this last season was discussed by those that were actually in it, like Kai and Eve, Gareth and Naoko pretended to be bored:

Eve also told the story how they asked her if she could ride a bike and she said yes, never having ridden one. She learnt it in half an hour, telling them that she was not familiar with this very model and if they please could show it to her ;) Then she went and did that scene where she blows up the ovens.

Kai also was impressed by that scene from the first episode, at the beach, and he actually was proud that the beautiful Welsh coast would feature there so heavily. 
John was driving the car himself when they were chased by the helicopter, he did not let any stuntman do it. 

And it was so freezing cold that they had to kept checked for hypothermia actually. The famous scene when Gwen fires the rocket and says “Torchwood!” her lips were so frozen that only “Twwd” came out ;)

They also told the famous story from the pilot again, Eve and John alone in a hospital, being bored and somehow they ended up photographing his balls and then sent the picture down the tube mail. It ended up in the maternity ward. They actually sent it back with some words added, that it was a nice picture and “come visit us soon” ;)

To go to the Torchwood set they had to go through the TARDIS all the time. Nice way to work!

What would Eve do if one morning she woke up as a man? “Call John Barrowman!”

At one time Naoko sighed: “Now you see what I had to put up with all the time!” Poor girl LOL

I also have a quote I have no idea whom it belongs to, but could be Naoko as well: “If you are involved with a character in a TV show it means you get more lines.”

They also played the birth scene again, this time with Naoko as the midwife. Kai was calling for Eve to hold his hand, but she just stood at the side, shaking her head ;)
They also had given a lot of thoughts about how the series could come back. Apparently none of them is ready to let it go yet. Kai wants it to get back to Cardiff, and reassemble the Hub somehow. Loud cheers from us. And they want PC Andy to die and Jack sings “My Heart will go on” at his funeral ;)

And Kai had the idea that we all should write the first episode for season 5, and send the script in to his page. Next year they would try to get the whole gang together and they would read the best scripts on stage. If you want to participate, send your stories to 

Then it was time for the closing ceremony. Sean said that with other fandoms, as soon as they are off the air the fans go away but with “Torchwood”, even so many years later, the fandom is still strong.

One by one they came onto the stage again and gave us a last word of advice. Gareth’s was: “Don’t buy the Torchwood set props at online auctions. You have no idea what John Barrowman did to these. He humped everything.”
He also said: “You guys deserve more Torchwood!” And Kai added: “You want more, ask for more!” 

Well, this is the official petition about it. Go and sign it!

Naoko promised that till next year she will read Harry Potter.

Oh, and as for this Hollywood convention? In the end, John was only there on Saturday, as he had unexpected work to prepare on Sunday. 

Which is interesting, as I guess I never pictured him to actually sit down and learn his lines. Which he surely does like every other actor. I probably expected him to just show up at the set and know them magically LOL

But no, he had to leave the con and go back home to do his homework. So, in the end, I think we got the better deal.

But I definitely look forward to next year and hopefully the complete team on stage together! I might die laughing then, but at least it will be a happy death.

To read the full report follow the links below 

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