Doctor Who Convention Encounters: Anthony Ainley

As mentioned previously, I attended a Doctor Who convention in Philadelphia back in 1985. Philadelphia is a few hours away from where I grew up but I was able to go thanks to my servant-hearted Dad, who drove me all the way there. One of the celebrities that I got to meet was Anthony Ainley, who played the arch-villain the Master on-and-off starting in the last Tom Baker season in 1981, all the way to the end of the original series in 1989.

(Daily Doctor Who #84)

Ainley as the Master joined the rest of the convention’s guests (including Jon Pertwee, Colin Baker, Carole Ann Ford, Janet Fielding and Nicola Bryant) on-stage for a skit that I have quite fond memories of. In one memorable part, Ainley took the stage, which provoked all three companions to let out successive blood-curdling screams of “Aaaaa…the Master!!” After a beat, Ainley followed this with, “Allow me to introduce myself….”

The rest of his line was drowned out by the audience’s laughter. I have tried to replicate this joke with less success in some of Hanna Jo Stories audios.

For whatever reason, I don’t Anthony Ainley’s autograph in my book, but I do have a picture of him, without fake beard, that he signed simply “Tony Ainley.”

Years later, I saw Ainley again, at a convention in Chicago called Visions ’93. I can’t remember which of these two events that it was (though I suspect Chicago) that I saw him in an extremely slow dance with an older (at least, older than me) female fan. I have no idea why this was, but my impression was that he was being very generous and she was being deeply moved by the experience.

It was definitely in Chicago that my friend Matt and I had our pictures taken with Mr. Ainley. To our lasting enjoyment, we both posed for pictures where he was hypnotizing us for some evil plan.

I think he was a bit confused by the request, still willing to oblige.

Anthony Ainley died in 2004, having appeared in 31 episodes of Doctor Who over eleven stories (counting his cameo in Caves of Androzani) alongside all seven of the classic Doctors in one fashion or another. He was a huge part of Doctor Who in the 80’s, and definitely made his mark on the program.

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