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Peter Davison, leaning back on a couch and considering the kaleidoscopic canon of "Doctor Who," thought aloud that people love the sci-fi show for its infinite possibilities.
Evil aliens bent on universal domination. Cat people. A spaceship that can go anywhere in time and space. Telepathic snowmen. A mad hero who uses his nigh-infinite power to ease an artist's heart by showing him how fondly his masterpieces will be remembered. Fish fingers dipped in custard.
Anything can, and does, happen in "Doctor Who." And if the rock star reception that its alumni Davison, Alex Kingston, Sylvester McCoy and Matt Smith received Friday night from roaring fans at the FanX convention is any indication, these artists will have their masterpiece fondly remembered, too.
Thanks to an ingenious trick of writing that allows the series' main character, The Doctor, to regenerate every time he dies, a dozen (plus one, with some fuzzy math) have played him in the series' 53-year history. As Smith, Davison and McCoy sat down on couches for a special panel at the convention, Smith pointed out how they're "really the same man." Kingston who played River Song, a brave professor who marries The Doctor added, though, that they have their differences.
Davison followed that up by pointing out that he was the youngest actor to play The Doctor, "until someone else came along and [messed] that up," with the 33-year-old Smith sitting mere feet away.
When Smith met Davison over lunch, before taking on the role as the iconic role of the time traveler, Davison said Smith had "no idea what [he] was in for."
The English actor relocated to Wales and spent the next few years immersed in the series' boundless adventures, veering sharply from meeting Vincent Van Gogh to rebooting the universe to running away from dinosaurs on a spaceship.
Through it all, Smith was "amazingly clumsy," Kingston recalled. "He would constantly break his sonic screwdriver [The Doctor's versatile fix-it tool] ... and any knob he touched just fell off."
A certain recklessness is all part of the show's charm, though. Davison's set wobbled on wheels. McCoy recalled how after 10 men tried to lift a "levitating" robotic alien up a flight of stairs with scaffolding poles, the actor in the suit became "very upset" and vomited "all over the place."
Even the current Doctor, played by Peter Capaldi, was surprised to find himself in the show's new, more CGI-heavy era attacking a big, fluffy spider prop on set.
When Davison visited the set of the show, he was pleased to see that it is still made "with the same blind panic as in my time."
Having survived the experience, the actors' tenures have knighted them into one of the highest echelons of sci-fi fandom. Now they fly around the world this FanX was his second regaling crowds about their times as (or with) The Doctor.
"It's hard to imagine one's life without out [the role]," Davison observed.
Even a fleeting moment is going to follow Smith for the rest of his life. A fan in Friday's audience asked Smith if he would do the Drunk Giraffe. The Drunk Giraffe is a dance move Smith's iteration of The Doctor does, during which he throws his arms over his head and waves them around like noodles of spaghetti.
Fans count the moment which takes up just 3 seconds of screen time as a favorite of Smith's run. Smith, to uproarious cheering, obliged.
"For the rest of my life, I'm going to have to do that," Smith said. Kingston joked that McCoy and Davison should join him; alas, it wasn't meant to be.
Like covers of a song, every actor tries to carve out his own version of The Doctor. Smith's was bouncing off the walls with restless energy. Davison tried to bring a naive recklessness to the explorer. McCoy joked, "I played the spoons."
Sitting side by side on the stage, joking and reminiscing, they show that even though they're not the same person, they are a certain kind of family, The Doctors and River. And for one fun night, they invited a room full of fans to join them.