Regular readers of the POBB; or my reviews at Comics Bulletin/Silver Bullet; hell, even the reviews of Doctor Who media on the old rec.arts Usenet boards should know that the lady casually draping her arms around me is none other than Daphne Ashbrook, the link between classic Doctor Who and new Doctor Who.
The vivacious Daphne portrayed the one that got away, Dr. Grace Holloway, in the 1996 special simply titled Doctor Who. It is in this episode that we discover that the Doctor is "half-human, on his mother's side," later corroborated, however you please, in the new series story "A Good Man Goes to War," and likes to kiss girls, corroborated about a million times on the new series, incarnation regardless.
Who on earth can blame him? Daphne is warm, kind, friendly and generous with her time. She was only too happy to listen to me gush over her. She is why I came to the Pittsburgh Comic-Con. I didn't care at all about the rest of the con. In fact I didn't see a lot of it. Sorry. I came for her. I haven't been to a con since 1981, but thanks to Daphne making the experience absolutely wonderful, I just might go to the next.
Daphne knows her Doctor Who. She freely conversed about Doctor Who 1996 and the implications of the plot in the context of the new series with me. She spoke like a pro not a layperson whose eyes glaze over when you start explaining what a sonic screwdriver is. This is not a criticism. My eyes glaze over when somebody tries to explain football or baseball. To each her own.
I nearly fainted when we posed for that picture and Daphne got that close, but this is exactly how she is. She's not at all how you imagine a celebrity to be, but she's exactly how you hoped Daphne Ashbrook would be.
I was immensely gratified to see that I wasn't alone in my admiration. Daphne has many fans, and despite the impressive number, the quantity present at the con probably only represents a mere scraping. I even spoke with one young woman, dressed as Black Canary, who said that she became a Doctor Who fan after watching the 1996 special. Because of Daphne.
Doctor Who 1996 was not always lauded as the groundbreaking episode it really is. The followers of the books hated it for daring to defy their beloved carefully laid out coddle-flop that the professional fan fictioneers called continuity. Doctor Who 1996 instead supported the source material.
The Doctor leaves Gallifrey in a faulty TARDIS with his granddaughter Susan. Turns out the Doctor wasn't the product of an artificial genetic blender called the Loom but in fact a biological product from a mother and father. Susan was part of his bloodline, not just some demented dolly who kept calling him grandfather.
These bad book lovers furthermore hated the idea of the Doctor being romantic with a companion. The writers of the books in fact liked to emphasize the Doctor's complete disregard for sex.
I was an old Doctor Who fan, having seen every episode, and all I could say when I saw the first kiss was "Of course." The chemistry between Daphne Ashbrook and Paul McGann, the eighth Doctor, sold the whole thing.
Without Daphne, the sophisticated evolution of Doctor Who we love never would have come to be. She is ultimately why I am still a Doctor Who fan, and Daphne is just about the most personable piece of history I'm ever likely to meet. So September 27th was indeed the very best day of my life. Thanks, Daphne.
For more of Daphne Ashbrook, why not pop in on her website: http://www.daphneashbrook.com