The first official Doctor Who convention in 29 years is set to take place in Cardiff this weekend and traders are expected to see a boost to the local economy.
Writers, actors and the Doctor himself, Matt Smith, will be on hand to meet up to 1,500 fans and sign autographs. There will also be interactive demonstrations of pyrotechnics and prosthetics from technicians and a host of exclusives for Whovians.
The event, which takes places on Saturday and Sunday, is expected to bring in around £150,000 in ticket sales on each day of the convention. If it is successful, the convention may become an annual event.
It is the latest in a series of high-profile developments in Cardiff surrounding the hit BBC sci-fi series. Earlier this year, it was announced the Doctor Who Experience exhibition would be moving from London to Cardiff Bay, bringing an estimated 250,000 visitors each year worth £13m to the Cardiff economy.
Councillor Nigel Howells, executive for sport, leisure and culture, said Cardiff Council leader Rodney Berman had pushed hard to bring the event to Cardiff.
He said: “Rodney really led the discussions. Between us we were very much keen to bring this convention here.
We have been very fortunate that BBC Wales took the decision to bring Doctor Who here in this way. On the back of that Cardiff is now seen as a very trendy place as a city and it has led to us setting up this convention and a permanent Doctor Who exhibition.
The feedback we are getting from hotels and businesses is that there is a real market from people who want to come to Cardiff to experience Doctor Who and see the locations. Now we have this convention and it is great for business.”
Early indications show the convention has boosted trade in the Bay, with a number of hotels fully booked for the weekend ahead.
A spokeswoman for the Future Inn on Hemingway Road said: “We have got quite a few groups in for different reasons but a lot seem to be there for the convention. We have been fully-booked for a while.”
The convention has not been without controversy. Tickets for the event have sold out on the Saturday but a few tickets remain for the Sunday. Some fans have been put off by the cost of the event and complained on social networking sites.
Day tickets are valued at £99 per person and fans will have to pay up to £25 for photographs with the cast.
Cardiff University lecturer and Doctor Who expert Matt Hill said: “When the convention was first announced there was a lot of fan complaints that the BBC was potentially exploiting the market of fandom.
“It was a bit of a PR own goal to announce it when it still a skeletal line-up but where we have got to now with the full line-up is completely different. What we are getting now is so far from what you would get from an unofficial convention and I think fans are getting value for money.”
Filming on the latest series of the show started at the new Roath Lock studios at the Bay earlier this month, as part of the BBC’s commitment to double its television network production in Wales.