I took part in cosplay for the first time last summer at LonCon3.  I dressed up as Nyssa, a companion of the 4th and 5th Doctors.


I decided to do it because a friend of mine was telling me how much fun she’s had in the past cosplaying at events.  It seemed like a great way of hurling myself into the whole con experience. I’d been at other events where people had been cosplaying and I’d been in awe of the amazingly creative outfits they’d pulled together, whether it was the woman whose Wonder Woman outfit was completely handknitted, or the man I saw who dressed as a Sharknado.

I picked Nyssa for a few reasons:

  • She was a companion at around the time I first remember watching Doctor Who (5 was my First Doctor …).  My inner hipster liked the idea of going a bit retro and dressing as someone from Classic Who.
  • I also liked the idea of dressing from someone from British SF traditions.  WorldCon was in London and it seemed appropriate to fly the flag for one of the most iconic bits of British SF television.
  • It’s an easily recognisable costume. If you’re dressing up, it helps if people know who you are meant to be …!
  • But it’s also very comfortable and easy to wear.  Not skintight.  Not too much flesh showing.  Practical for things like going to the loo.  And I wouldn’t need a wig or special make up.

The idea came to me because a friend of mine saw a photo of me from a friend’s wedding a couple of years ago and suggested there was a resemblance.  IMG_0493

So I pulled a costume together for the main cosplay day of the convention.  And apart from some strange looks from the hotel staff at breakfast that morning, I had an absolute ball.  I kind of got a bit of a window into what it might be like to be Kate Middleton – people shout your name at you (well, your character’s name …), they want their photo taken with you, they give you things (hall costume awards), and I got to wear a tiara!


It’s an amazing ice-breaker and way of connecting with people.  I met someone in the vendor’s hall who normally cosplays as the 5th Doctor and was suddenly regretting not having brought their costume this time.  I was photographed next to one of the two TARDISes at the Convention by a man from San Francisco who wanted to put me in his Who fanzine.  I even got Instagrammed by a gushing Hugo Award-winner.  Apparently Nyssa had always been Mary Robinette Kowal‘s favourite companion, and was a huge role model when she was growing up.

It’s also an incredibly playful thing to do.  I’m a big fan of play.  I have a busy job, and being able to let my hair down and engage in playful and creative activities is one of my favourite ways of relaxing, whether it’s making stuff, or being deeply silly with my friends.  As a child I used to be part of a local drama group, and I also did Drama at GCSE,.  Both of those were a great creative outlet, but I probably haven’t acted since I was a teenager.  Cosplay is a great way of having the fun of pretending to be someone else and performing a role, but without the stress of learning lines or being quite so obviously in the spotlight.

It’s something I definitely want to do again, so I’m just about to start work on a new costume to wear at an event later this year.  I plan to write a series of blogs about the costume-making process.  In the meantime, I’ll write one about how I pulled the Nyssa costume together, in case it’s of interest.

2 thoughts on “Cosplay

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