Dufus & Shirt

...Tees For Two

Prologue (Friday)


To celebrate the end of Dufus’ treatment, he and Shirt decided to attend Dimensions 2006, Seventh Galaxy’s convention in the mythical place that Dufus claims to be from – the North. The actual venue was in Stockton-on-Tees, which Shirt discovered was three hours away from Dufus’ home. It was agreed to stagger the trip, and so Shirt booked a Travelodge room halfway along.


Friday having arrived, and having got to Tamworth by the cheapest route, Shirt ‘phoned Dufus to get him to pick him up from Tamworth Station. Back at Dufus’ home, Shirt handed over various items that he had bought at Dufus request – Billie’s autobiography (see CDS…A Rose By Any Other Name), “Doctor Who: The Inside Story”  (see CDS…Gets the Inside Story), and an issue of “Doctor Who Adventures”. They then spent time swapping “Doctor Who” stickers and “Battles in Time” cards, which took quite some time due to the number of each that Dufus had, and the fact that they were not in any semblance of order. Dufus then fussed about the living room, gathering together items to be signed that weekend.


Leaving only a few minutes after their planned time of departure, the two decided to eat first, making a detour to the local Brewers Fayre, taking full advantage of the starters and desserts for £1 offer as it was before 6pm. Both full to the gills, they made their way to the M1, where just over 90 minutes later they were pulling into the Travelodge. Retiring to their room, they watched John Barrowman on “Tonight With Jonathan Ross” before turning in early – Dufus to the double bed, Shirt to the sofa-bed (just to quash any rumours) – listening to “The Silurians” and “The Reaping” respectively.


Day One (Saturday)

Rising only ten minutes after their intended wake-up time, the two performed their ablutions, and looked in confusion at the ineffectual breakfast in a bag left outside the room. The limited nutrition of these items, which differed greatly between the two bags, imbibed and the two were swiftly making their way back to Dufus’ car and then onto the M1. The rubbishness of Dufus’ CD player meant that they were reliant on the ever-changing local radio stations. All went fine with the M1 becoming the A1 as outlined in Shirt’s directions. They also managed to successfully find their way onto the A19. However, that proved to be the end of their luck. Somehow they missed their next turn-off, eventually finding a sign for Stockton. Following these signs, they eventually found themselves in Stockton, but found the directions that they had were no good as they had approached from a different direction. There then ensued a fifteen minute tour of Stockton, before they accidentally stumbled on the hotel. However, they couldn’t find out how to get to the multi-storey car park behind due to a very confusing one-way system. A further five minutes later and they were driving into the car-park, deciding not to park on the level for hotel patrons being unsure whether this covered them.


Entering the hotel through a back door, the two slowly made their way towards the sound of people, and climbing a spiral staircase found people dressed as David Tennant, Captain Jack and various classic series characters, including a very scary father and son as the Second Doctor and Jamie  (the dad was Jamie !!!)

“This must be the place”, said Shirt showing how astute he is.

Dufus didn’t reply, and the two joined the queue to register. Sensibly, Shirt had the registration letter and a few minutes later, both had their registration packs and were pinning their numbered badges. Two new guests had been announced – Colin Baker and Bruno Langley. Tickets for the advertised coffee lounges were not yet on sale and so Dufus took the opportunity to take Hamble aside and check whether the promise that he had been given earlier in the week, that he could be allowed to bypass the queues as he was unable to stand for too long due to still recovering from his treatment. The answer was ‘yes’, but the autographs were not for a while as rather bizarrely hotel guests were eating breakfast in the autograph room which also doubled as the hotel’s restaurant.

The two therefore decided to visit the merchandise room, where Dufus was reasonably restrained, and Shirt even more so, until he remembered that he needed to buy the “The Invasion” DVD, if he wanted it signed by three of its guest stars a few minutes later. Colin was in full flow in his panel, which Dufus and Shirt watched a little bit of on a large screen whilst they queued for coffee lounge tickets for Myanna (Scooti) Buring and Rory (Tommy) Jennings. These purchased, Shirt having also bought some raffle tickets in an attempt to win a remote controlled Dalek or TARDIS fridge, and following a quick word with the stewards at the autograph room, they sat on seats by the door to the autographs.


After about 10 minutes, the stewards let Dufus and Shirt (carrying Dufus’ bag for him) into the signing room, whilst everyone in the queue glared at them. First up was Daphne Ashbrook.

“When do they start coming in ?”, Daphne was asking the steward next to her, at the exact moment that Dufus approached the table, putting down his items.

Daphne smiled at Dufus, and signed his TVM cover and “The Next Life” CD case.

Shirt was next, placing almost identical items in front of Dr. Grace.

“Can you sign it to Shirt, please ?”

“Shiirt ??”, said Daphne mimicking Shirt’s English accent.

“Yes”, said Shirt, attempting to pronounce this solitary word without any hint of an accent.

Items signed, Shirt moved over to rejoin Dufus, who was meeting Nicholas Courtney. Having bought the DVD from Seventh Galaxy, both were entitled to get that signed as well as their two personal items. Shirt was pleased that Dufus was up first, not having an idea which one was Peter Halliday and which one was Ian Fairbairn. DVD and CD covers signed, they made their way out of the autograph room, past the ever-increasing queue which had just been allowed in.



A brief rest in the bar area, catching the very end of the WMD panel on the big screen, and they were just in time to go downstairs for the coffee lounge featuring Myanna and Rory.


Entering the bar area, Myanna and Rory were happily making tea for the fans. Having accepted cups from the lovely Myanna, the two sat down on a leather sofa by a small table in the corner. They were soon joined by five other fans, Myanna and Rory. Initially, everyone sat in an embarrassed silence, until the guests decided to start the ball rolling. It soon became clear that Myanna and Rory were old friends, and that earlier they had been comparing their characters’ “Top Trumps” cards, with Rory taking great pleasure that he beat Myanna on all categories save two, on which they were equal. The initial embarrassment factor broken, all nine were soon chatting like old friends. Both guests it seemed would welcome a return to the series (with Myanna having the least chance of this). Other nuggets included the fact that “The Descent” was filmed entirely in a studio, Rory was seemingly the second choice for the audio ‘Young Davros’, both will sign anything sent to them at their agents (both expressing surprise that some DW celebrities will only sign certain items), and that Rory thoroughly recommends any play produced by Myanna’s theatre company, Mahwaff. It also turned out that one of the other fans had booked not realising (or finding out prior to setting out, relying instead on his sat-nav) how far north the convention was, and had been intending to return home to London for an event that evening, returning the next day. Needless to say, having spent 6 hours getting there, he decided against it. In fact so, engrossed in conversation were all the fans, that the hour flew by, and all too soon lunch-time was upon them. There wasn’t even time to get the promised extra personal item signed.

Deciding to go out for lunch, and partake of the shopping delights of Stockton, Dufus and Shirt’s first point of call was Waders the Chemist, where they failed to find Dalek shower-gel, but a few doors up, Threadvalue’s, provided two Dalek advent calendars for £5 (saving each of them 50p). Deciding to partake of the golden arches’ finest, Shirt initially confused the till operator by asking for a “Bacon Cheeseburger” meal, which wasn’t available, before changing this to the burger, with medium fries and drink. On the way back to the hotel, Shirt managed to drag Dufus into every charity shop on the way (like he put up a fight). Stowing the calendars and items signed that morning, the two returned to the queue outside the autograph room, sitting on the chairs to the side again.

Again they managed to be the first into the room. First up was Colin, who looked at Shirt concerned that he seemed to be following him everywhere that he went. Hastily pulled together items signed, they moved on to join other fans who were meeting Myanna and Rory again, who smiled in recognition at them. Shirt struggled to manoeuvre his large “Series 2” poster onto the table for the two new series guests to sign. There was a brief hold-up whilst Myanna who was first, waited for Rory to finish using the only silver pen. Two copies of “The Inside Story” and Dufus’ DVD covers also signed, they moved on to join a short queue for Bruno Langley. Having previously met him, and only having “The Inside Story” for him to sign, Shirt altruistically also got Bruno’s signature on an index card to be put in Dufus’ “Companions” book. Having gained all that day’s guests signatures, the two moved out of the signing room. Seeing several fans with copies of the new MDW Special, which was not due out for a week, they briefly popped to the merchandise room, where said tome was conspicuous by its absence.

Moving back to the panel room, they managed to catch the end of the “The Invasion” panel, where the three guests remembered a surprising amount about a production filmed nearly forty years before. Next up were the Hyde Fundraisers, who had been wandering around the convention dressed as monsters (and Pudsey Bear) throughout the day raising money for Children in Need. They then proceeded to show the assembled fans, the filmed inserts for their 2005 production, "The Trial of Davros", which featured new versions of classic scenes. Dufus and Shirt were particularly impressed by the Roger Delgado mask worn by an actor in one of the scenes which was scarily realistic. The question-and-answer session which followed, proved to be quite short, once the “Are you going to be releasing the scenes on DVD?” (Answer: “No”) question was out of the way. Myanna and Rory were next, and answered similar questions to that in the coffee lounge. The convention came to an end with all the guests still about, posing for final photographs.

Swiftly returning to Dufus’ car (via the merchandise room, which still didn’t have any MDW Specials), the plan was to go to the Middlesborough Thistle Hotel where they were staying the night. After a brief delay due to Shirt, who had gone to pay for the parking, returned to the wrong multi-storey car park, and wondered where Dufus had gone to. True to form, Shirt’s directing proved to be woefully inadequate, and they left the A19 at completely the wrong exit. Travelling for miles in the wrong direction, in the dark, they finally found the A19 again, but again left at the wrong exit. Third time lucky, they actually left at the right exit for Middlesborough. However, they then proceeded to circumnavigate the town centre three times before finally stumbling across the hotel. Finding a car parking space proved to be very difficult (mainly due to a coach parked across about four spaces), with them finally deciding to park in the disabled space. Booking in at the front desk, they staggered up to the twin room, where turning on one of the two televisions in the room they found themselves watching an advert for digital TV which both noted starred new series Dalek, Barnaby Edwards. Due to their roundabout route, they then had only the briefest of rests before it was time to returning to Dufus’ car and Stockton for the evening’s cabaret.

The evening’s cabaret was in two halves. Whilst some attendees were partaking of the celebrity dinner - eating with the likes of Ms. Ashbrook, Lisa Bowerman, Philip Hinchcliffe, Eric Saward, Graeme Harper and most excitingly, the comedian and Large Endings’ guest star, Charlie Ross – Dufus and Shirt enjoyed the latest comic production from The Offstage Theatre Group – “The Six Million Dollar Fan”. Both particular enjoyed Ian Kubiak’s on-the-nose portrayal of Sylvester McCoy – “AAAAAACE!!!!”. There was then a brief interval.

Taking advantage of this, Dufus and Shirt, decided to again wander the streets of Stockton, this time looking for food. Finally deciding on fish and chips, they sat on a nearby bench, by a peculiar street sculpture of greyhounds, watching the high class women of Stockton stagger past desperately trying not to fall out of the few wisps of material that were supposed to be dresses.

Returning to the hotel and the convention room, Act Two began. Compere was comedian, Charlie Ross, who pointed something out to the assembled throng that will always temper their enjoyment of a particular scene in “The Sound of Music”. The first act was a Bonnie Tyler-esque singer who was clearly losing the audience, until a previously dormant Gold Dalek came to life and joined in with her. Three more songs, including a parody entitled “I wanna be Doctor Who” (of ‘The Jungle Book’s “I wanna be like you”) sung by the Dalek alone, and Charlie Ross was back. Shirt was very disappointed when the next act, salsa dancing, wasn’t hijacked by a Cyberman.

The main attraction, however was comedian, Toby Hadoke’s Edinburgh festival show, "Moths Ate My Doctor Who Scarf". This proved to be hilarious, with Toby clearly relishing being able to reinstate jokes that he had edited out of the Edinburgh run for being too “in-jokey”. He even commented on how fans can even recognise the men who had been inside the Daleks - surely no-one was that 'sad' thought Dufus and Shirt. The majority of the audience then made their way to the bar, but Dufus and Shirt decided to make straight for the hotel. This they did with no wrong turns, and tired, both retired for the night.


Go to Day Two