Remembering Deborah Watling (2 January 1948 – 21 July 2017)

This is the hardest thing I have ever had to write.

What you probably know already is that Deborah Watling played Patrick Troughton’s Companion, Victoria Waterfield from 1967-1968. She passed away today.

What you may not know if you haven’t met her is that she was one of the most kind and sweet people you could ever meet. The best thing about Deborah is that she was so tiny and so sweet but she could totally zing you if you needed to be scolded. She was our (Re)Generation Who Mom. She wasn’t just a person that got hired for a con – she was FAMILY. She was the second person we ever hired to appear at (Re)Generation Who 1. She actually liked to fly into the con the Wednesday before and stay until a day or so after the event, so Harknell and I spent a lot of time with her.

I took this photo of Harknell and her after (Re)Generation Who 1. I have never been good at getting photos with anyone since I’m so busy being behind the camera:

Right after we announced (Re)Gen 1, Harknell’s Mom passed away. It made that first year even harder. We had some minor email reply delays because of this. Some folks would just scream at us totally not understanding that we couldn’t reply to emails as fast as usual because of this tragedy. But we pulled it together and made magic as always.

Deborah came into the con first – on her Wednesday early arrival day. We had several meals and drinks with her. I recall one amazing one where she drank Harknell – a man 2x her size at least – under the table, daintily hopped off of her seat, kissed him on the cheek, said “Naughty, Naughty! Good night, then!” and walked off to her room. It was HILARIOUS and SO Deborah. She knew about the loss of his Mom.

We worked with Deborah twice. The second time she flew in I recall a moment when Harknell said to her, “If you were my Mom I would have been very happy.”

Deborah started crying, gave him a hug and told him that she would have loved to be his Mom and hugged him and then he started crying. Everyone was crying. We always made sure to come to the con early and stay late to be there with Deborah. Anything she needed – we made sure she got. Family.

That’s really the magic of cons. You can know someone for a very short time and feel a deep connection to them. She was supposed to return to the con this year. Harknell, myself, and the staff are completely heartbroken. We can only imagine how her family and friends must be feeling today. Our condolences to everyone who knew her. It takes a truly beautiful soul to inspire so much love throughout the entire globe.

I guess you can make magic like this and still be reduced to crying in your car in a strip mall in front of a Starbucks.

She would want us to continue.

I can hear her voice now. “Naughty, naughty! Oni! What ARE you on about now?”

And that’s when I finally was able to get out of my car and order my coffee.

Oni Hartstein, (Re)Generation Who Founder and Showrunner

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