Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Review: Panopticon Destiny (2021)

Anyone fancying a delve back into the early days of UK fandom, and, indeed to the first ever convention dedicated to Doctor Who, could do much worse than to seek out these DVD releases from Reeltime Pictures.

The year was 1977, and a young chap called Keith Barnfather organised the world's first ever Doctor Who convention ... held in a Church hall in Battersea, London, the event was attended by about 200 fans from all over the country (and some from overseas!) who were members of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society, under whose aegis Keith organised the event.

In 2017, 40 years later, Keith organised a reunion event, which brought many of those same fans back to the same venue to meet and reminisce and to see special guests including John Leeson, Mat Irvine and Terrance Dicks talk about the event and their memories of it.  The whole thing was recorded by Reeltime Pictures and released as Panopticon Genesis the same year.

Now Keith has delved into his storage cupboards, and found the original cassette tapes on which he recorded the panels at that original convention all those years ago. Back then there was no budget video, and no-one thought, or had the funds, to record the event for posterity on film ... so all that remains are still photographs, and Keith's tapes.

Thus Panopticon Destiny revisits the event with footage from the 2017 gathering, along with commentaries from various people involved to set the scene for the audio restoration of these tapes. The task was undertaken by Alistair Lock, an audio genius of some standing, who talks us through what he had to do to extract listenable sound from the murk and hiss and hum of the years. What he achieves is quite incredible, and you can hear Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker's replies to questions with clarity. 

It's incredible to think that this was the first ever time that the actors - including Louise Jameson - current producer Graham Williams, Visual Effects designer Mat Irvine, and writer Terrance Dicks, had ever been faced with a roomful of 200 or so fans and taken questions from them! There had been smaller events and gatherings previously, but nothing on this scale before.

There's also included on the DVD a panel at a more recent DWAS event - 2017's Capitol II - where Keith Barnfather, Kevin Davies and Andrew Beech talk about that first ever convention.

It's an incredible glimpse back into the past, and it's superb that Keith had the foresight to record - and keep! - the cassette tapes of the panels ...

The audio from that 1977 event is also presented on the DVD ... so you can listen again to those questions and answers from 44 years ago!

The DVD is available from:



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