Guest Post: Jacqui Fortnum introduces a Doctor Who themed sleepover at Manchester’s John Rylands Library

Today’s guest post comes from Jacqui Fortnum, Public Programmes Manager for the John Rylands Library in Manchester, who describes the exciting Doctor Who-themed sleepover they’ll be running for Museums at Night this year.


First, a confession: I am a lifelong Dr Who fan!

And so, when watching a re-run of series 4 (from David Tennant’s incarnation) I was struck by the potential joy of showing Silence in the Library in our wonderfully gothic and weirdly spooky Library – and thus our Museums at Night event for 2011 began to take shape in my fevered brain…

Imagine my glee when I shared this idea with my colleagues, and they responded with overwhelming enthusiasm and a stream of fabulous ideas for activities!

A darkened staircase at dusk

At atmospheric staircase in the Gothic Revival style of John Rylands Library © Mark Stuttard

With rights to show both Silence of the Library and Forest of the Dead sorted out with the lovely BBC, we became so over-excited that we decided that a single event was not enough and went on to run a Friday evening event for grown-ups, followed by a Saturday afternoon event for families.

And so, with the making of impossible journals and sonic screwdrivers, and scary torch-lit tours of the Library – complete with increasingly hysterical messages delivered over walkie-talkies and spooky sounds issuing from hidden corners – both we and our audiences had a thoroughly marvellous time!

And so to 2012 – Allons-y!

Reading through the visitor feedback from last year’s events, I was struck by the number of times the idea of staying in the Library overnight came up as a suggestion … and so the brain fever began again – a sleepover! Could we? Should we? YES!

Once posted online and promoted through our What’s On guide, places booked out faster than you can say ‘Who turned out the lights?’

A group of children looking at a computer

Children discovering one of the interactives at the Library © CHICC, The John Rylands Library

So, as we approach the date itself, we’re excited and just a little bit nervous – but thanks to the support of Rosie at Culture 24 and the helpful suggestions from teams at other venues who have run sleepovers, we are confident that an excellent time will be had by all!

I’ll leave the last word to the fourth Doctor, my Doctor… Tom Baker:

‘There’s no point being grown-up if you can’t be childish sometimes.’


A smiling woman in glasses

Jacqui Fortnum is Public Programmes Manager for The John Rylands Library, The University of Manchester.

She says: I’m responsible for the development, marketing and delivery of exhibitions and events at the Library – working with audiences and colleagues to create a (hopefully!) imaginative, engaging and inspirational programme.

I really enjoy the creative process and having the opportunity to explore the possibilities offered by our fantastic building and collections, but my real job satisfaction comes from meeting our audiences and visitors – it’s a rare privilege to turn your ideas for new activities into the reality of exciting and enjoyable events, or engaging and inspiring exhibitions.


Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm, Jacqui!

If you’d like to write a guest post or case study for this blog about any aspect of event planning or marketing in arts or heritage venues, please drop me a line at or call me on 01273 623336.

Comments are closed.