14/12/2016

The Original #4 The Firemaker



As has been apparent all the way through the series’ debut story the combination of writer Anthony Coburn and director Waris Hussein has been vital in turning what could easily have been a far less impressive affair into something stylish and clever. Here in the final episode they both triumph bringing matters to an interesting conclusion. 

11/12/2016

Sensorite Gone Wrong!



When I was a child I was a Doctor Who fan (see, not much has changed) and in the fabulous book `The Making of Doctor Who` there was a photo of two Sensorites which I found oddly fascinating. I'd never seen Sensorites before and imagined they were very evil, dangerous aliens. However the book's episode guide told me that in serial code G (which I didn’t even know then was called `The Sensorites` though I might have guessed) the enemy had been a disease killing them so they were not evil. Still they looked it. These aliens were quite unlike anything I’d seen lately which were things like the Sea Devils.  Anyway at the time I was also a member of the Doctor Who Fan Club and members used to send in their drawings so I foolishly drew a picture of a Sensorite and sent it in. 

07/12/2016

The Original #3 The Forest of Fear



People have complained lately that Peter Capaldi’s Doctor was too angry and unfriendly in his first season or that David Tennant’s Doctor acted out of character by imprisoning the Family at the end of `Family of Blood` but what do they know? You only have to travel three episodes into the entire series to find the Doctor at his most unforgiving in a manner that makes his later incarnations seem like big softies by comparison. This episode is a tautly staged, powerful spin on how people react in extreme situations and really deserves as many plaudits at `An Unearthly Child` which it is the equal of.

02/12/2016

Good Times! #11 Nebula 91

Photo Special! Snaps from the acclaimed  September 1991 convention held in Liverpool and featuring Sylvester McCoy, Sophie Aldred, Anthony Ainley, John Nathan-Turner, Mary Tamm, Frazer Hines, Nick Courtney, David Banks and even a couple of people from Blake's 7! 


30/11/2016

The Original #2 The Cave of Skulls



In which our newly minted time travellers encounter a Stone Age tribe engaged in a power struggle over who should be the leader setting the tone for all tribes ad infinitum. The line to be balanced with this kind of thing is how the portrayal of cavemen is achieved. There is much potential for over acting here and while occasionally this does happen, on the whole the production manages to achieve a believable take on such an ancient culture. While the tribe speak English they do so with enough linguistic skill to make the dialogue engaging enough. There’s a bit of grunting, usually when someone’s annoyed but only one occasion where things go right over the top. Poor old Za, trying his best to make fire fails in his goal and yells his head off. I suppose this is the Stone Age equivalent of clearing the air.

23/11/2016

NEW SERIES The Original # 1 An Unearthly Child



53 years ago today the first episode of Doctor Who was broadcast and I’m re-watching the first story once a week to see if I can recapture the magic. 
It is impossible to imagine just what an impact this episode had on anyone watching it in 1963 but equally impossible to imagine that anybody would not want to watch the next episode. This really is a textbook example of how to set up a new series in any genre. Keep it simple, tease mysteries, focus on a handful of characters and make it visually stunning. `An Unearthly Child` does all this and never puts a foot wrong. Years back I remember older fans who’d seen the original broadcast talking in hushed tones about its magnificence and even though I’ve seen it lots of times I’m now not sure I have ever actually watched it. That is to say allowed its contents to reveal themselves without the accumulated narrative weight of 53 more years of Doctor Who swimming about my head. When you do that there is something compelling about every minute of this.

16/11/2016

The Power of the Daleks



Matthew Kilburn reviews the newly released animated version of the classic 1966 story which introduced the second Doctor.
BBC Worldwide’s animated The Power of the Daleks is one of the projects one thought would never take place. We’d seen cold water poured on the volcanic flames of an animated parts one and four of The Underwater Menace, and had been assured for years that more than two episodes of a story would never be attempted again. Then, almost without warning, The Power of the Daleks was upon us, and BBC Store was no doubt gratified with many more new customers to strain its servers. As widely trailed, the budget and timescale only allowed for limited powers of expression and motion for the characters and must have entailed difficult choices for a talented team of recreators. 

14/11/2016

Good Times! # 10 ExoSpace 1990



(previously unpublished review 1990)

In its own grounds surrounded by lush greenery and weird fern things, the Imperial Hotel is just the perfect place for Exo-Space! The event may not have been the biggest event of the year but in place of hype and hoopla we instead had a fun, intimate and friendly time where one felt like the committee wanted us to be there for reasons other than balancing the books. It fits in neatly with Exeter itself which has a fresh, exuberant high street, the splendour of a cathedral and lots of those tea shops you normally see in small country villages. The Imperial nestles amidst hills and slopes above the main railway station and not too far from the University.  

Problems? Exo-Space had them by the cartload. The tragic death of Graham Williams, the late change of venue, the fierce competitiveness of the 1990 convention calendar and even changes of main hall between Saturday and Sunday. Despite the open and relaxed mood the sadness of Graham Williams' death was far from forgotten, especially for those of us who'd met him. I’d had the pleasure of interviewing him some five years ago and found him to be charming, modest and great company in one crowded convention hall that day. He'd been scheduled to headline this event and it was re-organised as a tribute. 
 

09/11/2016

Good Times! #9 Nebula 90

Nebula 90 Photo Special- event held at Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool 1990 featuring Peter Davison, Nicola Bryant, Sophie Aldred, Nick Courtney, Debbie Watling, Sharon Duce, Ian Briggs, Frank Windsor, Michael Cochrane.

31/10/2016

Good Times! #8 PanoptiCon 8 1987 and Nebula 26 1989



PanoptiCon 8 Event highlights

Saturday:

MC- David Banks
`The Faceless Ones` episode 3
Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Tony Selby – Colin showing off his new slimline figure while Nicola in an answer to a bold question from the audience revealed she was married. Tony made a point of saying how hard JNT had worked to keep the show going.
Sophie Aldred- Introduced as if she were a competition winner, this was her debut convention appearance and she seemed a bit overawed by it. There was also an on screen message from the unavailable Sylvester McCoy.
Barry Letts, Terrance Dicks, Don Houghton and Bob Baker.

17/10/2016

The Time When Tom Baker published his autobiography



The gap between my initial encounter with the television debut of the fourth Doctor in December 1974 and what I now know about the actor who played him is Atlantic wide. To a kid, Tom was the lively, boggle eyed, long scarf bedecked grinning hero who saved us all from the squidgy monsters and helped make 5.20 pm on a Saturday night a magical place. To an adult, Tom became a bawdy, crazy eccentric obsessed with death and, er, ironing. Inevitably these two aspects came together in 1997 when Tom Baker published his autobiography. In some ways it was something you didn’t want him to do as explanations often sabotage the most beguiling people. By this time though Tom was out and about on the convention circuit and re-engaging with his best known role. These appearances- and the book they promoted- did not disappoint. 

14/10/2016

Reverse the Polarity



Highly recommended 1992 Jon Pertwee interview.
One of the aspects that made Jon Pertwee such a great convention guest was his rapport with a large audience whose enthusiasm he in turn would feed with a raconteur’s skill. Rarer are one to one interviews outside of chat shows and `Reverse The Polarity` is probably the best I’ve seen. It features a lengthy interview with the actor as well as some fans’ memories of him, additional comments from Richard Franklin plus some behind the scenes footage of the third Doctor as he meets and greets fans at a video signing.

10/10/2016

Good Times! #6 PanoptiCon 6 1985



(Adapted from a review first published in the MLG Megazine 1985)

Standing on a pebble strewn Brighton beach on an unseasonal July morning strafed by winds with waves washing the stones I try to imagine France on the horizon beyond the swirling grey sea though you can’t see it. Indeed you can’t see much but the heavy sky. It’s film weather this and you can imagine taking the cameras over the beach in the build up to some dark drama. This weekend though our particular drama is behind me inside the seafront Brighton Metropole hotel where the latest PanoptiCon is taking place. 

03/10/2016

The Making of a TV Series book 1983



In many ways this is the continuation of the two versions of `The Making of Doctor Who` which had appeared in 1972 and again re-edited with additions in 1976. Published by Puffin and credited to Alan Road with photographs by Richard Farley, the book has the dimensions of a magazine and in 1983 sold for the princely sum of £1.95. While undoubtedly a more detailed analysis of the component parts that go into making a Doctor Who story its value is also that it is now a historical account of what television production was like in another time. Generously illustrated with official and behind the scenes photos- some in colour- it is a visual treat. Just like the previous Making of books it uses one story as an example so following `The Sea Devils` and `Robot`, under the microscope here is `The Visitation`. 

An early double page photo of the studio lights over the TARDIS set serves notice that this is to be an altogether more fact based account though. There are no fanciful Time Lord Files here. While this approach can occasionally make the book seem a tad dry, this is more than made up for by the way it illuminates the different production stages. Peter Davison provides an introduction where he declares “practically everyone involved knows more about what is going on than the actor.” 

25/09/2016

Good Times! #5 DWASocial 5 and Fan Aid 1985



DWASocial 5 (originally published in The MLG Megazine 1985. Extra material 2016)
One month after joining the DWAS exec commitee along came DWASocial 5, an event on a much larger scale than usual, due to the titanic efforts of Gordon Roxburgh, who was looking after most things while Paul Zeus gets to grips with the forthcoming three day summer PanoptiCon. Apart from discovering that a lot of dashing about is required, I also found out something which I may not have otherwise, while stuck in my usual clique, which was the warmth and friendliness of the majority of members within the society who are really a very interesting bunch often contemptuously dismissed as plebs(unfairly). Hopefully I can help change that attitude amongst some of the bigger names in the society. 

19/09/2016

Don't Shoot- He's British Part 4



Apprehensions of national identity and the Doctor by Matthew Kilburn

Doctor Who survived its end of history moment. The last three years of its first run saw a refocusing on the postwar Britain of paternalist, class-led social democracy not as the present or near future, but as the past just gone. The pastiche of Paradise Towers is drawn from the 1970s with its acknowledgements of J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise and Monty Python’s Flying Circus’s architect sketch, but collides with a design aesthetic which doesn’t know how to navigate the fashions of the 1980s let alone reconcile them with the script, and consequently any statement on society which Paradise Towers makes is stifled. The first story to explicitly explore this new hinterland of the newly-lost present with some success is Delta and the Bannermen

18/09/2016

Pyramids of Mars - the prequel!



It is a quiet Tuesday in the Pyramid of Mars. Sutekh is asleep snoring loudly under his helmet when the door slides open and a rather stout cleaner sporting gingham overalls and with her hair in a tight bun enters. She is carrying a mop and bucket which she places with a clang on the floor, splashing soapy water in the vicinity. She roughly picks up the mop and starts mopping.

Sutekh stirs on his throne.

“Scarman?” he intones in a sonorous voice.

The cleaner carries on her work but replies, “Oh ‘ello love. Sorry to disturb.”

“Where is Scarman?” demands Sutekh.

“Oh I dunno about that, luv. I don’t normally do this room but Marj is off to the Azores this week so I’m filling in. I won’t be two tics then you can get back to your forty winks.”

“I am Sutekh the Destroyer.”

“Nice to meet you. I’m Ethel the cleaner.”

16/09/2016

Good Times! #4 The Anniversary Party 1983 & Interface 3 1984



The Doctor Who Anniversary Party (review published in `Shada` 1984) 
Who would have thought that when Doctor Who began all those years ago in grainy monochrome as a children's show that, some twenty years later it would have provided the impetus for an event like the Anniversary Party, held at the Grand Hotel Birmingham on September 3/4 1983. It's one of the greatest achievements of television that it has brought together as many people from different areas of the country who might not have otherwise crossed paths and if I'm getting unusually philosophical its probably because I'm still recovering from the sheer gut wrenching horror of the Demon Driver, Steve Mercer, speeding out of Brum at the weekend's conclusion as if we were being chased by a dozen homing missiles; hapless onlookers diving for cover. Not that I exaggerate, though if I told the truth about some of the things which went on that weekend, you wouldn't believe a word. So here goes with the (relatively) censored version.

12/09/2016

Don't Shoot- He's British Part 3


Apprehensions of national identity and the Doctor by Matthew Kilburn

Specific models of Britishness were important to a series which was beginning to be marketed more consciously and more aggressively towards stations in the United States. In 1978 Tom Baker was pictured at the head of a queue of monsters in front of the US visa applications office in Grosvenor Square, London. The launch of Doctor Who Weekly by Marvel UK in 1979 was presented as the meeting of a distinctively British hero, cerebral and eccentric, with the marketing values of the costumed American superhero. This was in part a misrepresentation, given how far Dez Skinn’s Marvel UK sought to assimilate American characters and storytelling to British comic traditions, and how the Doctor’s British identity and perceived eccentricity depended upon subtler layering than reporting suggested. However, the tone of the campaign may have influenced the fashioning of the Doctor’s identity in the ensuing decade.

09/09/2016

Good Times! #3 PanoptiCon 5 and DWASocial 3 (1982)



PanioptiCon 5  (Originally published in `Shada` 1982)

What a hotel Birmingham's Grand is! Full of huge oak doors, ornate chandeliers, detailed carvings, rich deep carpets and long rather disconcerting mirrors. Totally different from the usual semi-modern University set ups of old, and no doubt light years away from that Battesea Church Hall where the first Convention was held in '77.  

05/09/2016

Don't Shoot - He's British! Part Two



Apprehensions of national identity and the Doctor by Matthew Kilburn

It’s in the third Doctor’s period that the programme makes its most deliberate critical allusion to British imperial history. In The Mutants, the Doctor’s mission to Solos and his conduct represents one strand of British establishment thinking, the civilized British administrator as liberal interventionist. The Marshal and his regime embody the grubby reality of exploitation and subjugation. The Doctor’s open-mindedness and persistence leads him to play his part with Sondergaard and crucially the Solonians in the restoration of an all-but-obliterated Solonian culture and self-knowledge. One thinks of British anthropologists and ethnologists reaching in the late imperial and immediate post-imperial phase to demonstrate appreciation of the cultures which had previously been officially dismissed.

02/09/2016

Good Times! #2 DWASocial 2 (1981) & Interface 2 (1982)



Over 21 years from 1981 to 2002 I attended dozens of Doctor Who conventions and events reviewing many of them at the time for various print fanzines. In this series of posts I’m reproducing some of those reviews which hopefully capture the spirit and flavour of what conventions and also smaller events were like. They remain largely unedited except for anything completely embarrassing! These are very much personal opinions of the events, what I saw and the people I shared them with.
(Originally published in 1982 in `Frontier Worlds`)
In late November, Edinburgh played host to the second social of 1981, and those who attended enjoyed themselves a great deal. Set in the impressive structures of the University, the formal side of things kicked off with a showing of `Beyond the Sun`. a story which perhaps lacked pace but certainly fell in no way short on drama. It was an opportunity that gave the cast a chance to stretch out a bit (yes, they all got to lie on the floor) and a tense atmosphere was quickly attained by the increasing tension between just the main four characters. Some scenes were literally gripping - such as Susan running riot with a pair of scissors, and Ian trying to throttle the Doctor, who himself has a blazing row with Barbara. As the story went on, there was a gradual change from confusion to fear and finally hope. When their problems were at last over, the relief flooded over to the audience such had been the conviction of the acting and script. Definitely an adult story, though, which probably lost the younger audience at the time.  

29/08/2016

Don't Shoot- He's British! Part One



NEW SERIES Apprehensions of national identity and the Doctor
by Matthew Kilburn. Part One.
Lots of Doctor Who commentators seem to agree that the Doctor is somehow quintessentially British. This is inevitable when Doctor Who has been produced over five decades by one of the United Kingdom’s principal binding institutions, the BBC. It’s often assigned to a genre, dramatic science fiction, widely regarded for much of Doctor Who’s history as dominated by the United States. This is the first of three articles which will suggest how Doctor Who’s Britishness is constructed, not only through its production (until 1989) from a base which is not only British but London-English, but through some of the other contextual markers evident or implied in production. Few seem to be agreed on what qualifies the Doctor as a character to be considered British. Indeed, a mark of Britishness is that its qualities are difficult to identify. While all national identities are to some degree constructions consciously assembled by political, business, military or literary figures, or built upon assumptions and identifications particular to one cultural centre and then disseminated across territories as a secondary consideration to commercial or administrative needs, British identity is more self-aware of its artificiality than most. On the one hand, this confers a greater ‘authenticity’ upon the national identities of the component parts of the United Kingdom, but on the other it opens Britishness up to be adopted more readily by incomers.

26/08/2016

Good Times! #1 PanoptiCon 4 (1981)



NEW SERIES! For 21 years from 1981 to 2002 I attended dozens of Doctor Who conventions and events  reviewing many of them at the time for various print fanzines. In this series of posts I’m reproducing some of those reviews which hopefully capture the spirit and flavour of what conventions and also smaller events were like. They remain largely unedited except for anything completely embarrassing! These are very much personal opinions of the events, what I saw and the people I shared them with. We start at the beginning (for me) with PanoptiCon 4 held at Queen Mary College in London in August 1981.

(Originally published in 1981 in `Steel Sky`)

So there we were, in Euston Station at midnight, Andrew Smith, (yes, him), Mark Crowder and myself when this bloke looking about as healthy as Muto stumbles towards us asking for money. There was I, having just spent about fifty quid on Panopticon IV and this guy will sleep on the stone cold floor of the station. Welcome to the real world. You may think your city centre is large but that's peanuts compared to London, as Douglas Adams might say. It is a huge teaming mass of people each to his own. You could be alone and forgotten in a crowded street of milling thousands. You never see London. You see bits of it and fleeting images stick with you, but every time you go back its a whole new place to explore. 

This was my first convention and my companions through the labyrinthine corridors of our beloved capital were Mark Crowder, (who luckiIy knew the place fairly well) and Ian Mackenzie, (hot on ideas, but not on how to get there). Still we managed to find our way onto the Tube and finally arrived at the accommodation centre. Our sense of anticipation was soon replaced by boredom was we watched Ian McLachlan bravely try to sort out someone else’s mistakes with the room listings as familiar figures milled about, everyone trying to pretend they had nothing to do with a Doctor Who convention. Over in the pub opposite a small band of people clustered around tables; Martin Wiggins tried telling everyone how good `Savage` was and, failing this, vanished into the raining darkness. Not an auspicious start.

18/07/2016

The Doctor Who Holiday Special 1977



Our look at the three magazines produced by Polystyle Productions during the Seventies concludes  with the 1977 Special.
It would be more than three years before another Special but in the meantime Doctor Who fans had enjoyed two brilliant glossy poster magazines that abandoned comic strip stories and educational articles about space to print gorgeous colour photos and have pin ups of Styre and Vorus! Quite why then Polystyle returned in late 1977 with a Winter Special that did none of these things and didn’t even match the previous ones is a mystery. Anyway return they did on cheaper paper but now costing 35p. The cover photo is of the fourth Doctor and Leela in the sewers during `Talons of Weng Chiang`. This will turn out to be the visual highpoint unfortunately.

15/07/2016

The Doctor Who Holiday Special 1974




Our look at the three magazines produced by Polystyle Productions during the Seventies continues with the 1974 Special.


The 1974 Special is fronted by a curious photo of the third Doctor looking a bit knackered. See inside, it says, for “thrilling picture stories, quizzes, exciting features, portrait pin ups and lots more!” 
Judging from the photo the excitement has exhausted him! Jon Pertwee’s introduction on the inside page hopes we have a lovely holiday and continue to be fans of the Doctor. Well so far I am but the holiday I’ve totally forgotten! 
 `Doomcloud` is the first comic strip story this time concerning the bulbous headed Zirconians who seem to travel about looking for new planets in the middle of a galactic cyclone. After only a page and a half this is a far more engaging story than any of the ones in the 1973 Special. In order to save people’s lives UNIT has to evacuate everyone to nuclear shelters as a poisonous cloud envelops the world. The ending is a little pat but even so this is a good start.

08/07/2016

The Doctor Who Holiday Special 1973



During the Seventies a number of one off Doctor Who magazines were released including three Specials which were produced by Polystyle Publications (yes, their logo features a parrot!) who were based in Edgeware Road in London and produced the magazine TV Action. Published in 1973, 1974 and 1977 it is fair to say these are not the best examples of Doctor Who publications in a decade that brought us the Radio Times Special, The Making of Doctor Who and two excellent poster magazines. Nonetheless they are an interesting snapshot of another era.

1973

This is by far the best and the one that would be of most interest to fans, especially in the day.  It cost 10p back then! The first thing that strikes you is the rare photograph on the cover which seems to have been specially shot during the making of `Frontier in Space`. It depicts the Doctor, Jo and The Master all looking at something to which the Doctor is pointing. Perhaps it was Barry Letts dancing a jig? It’s a fairly random picture for the cover except that it does feature the three principal cast members. Eschewing an official logo the bold red words Doctor Who are emblazoned across the top. However much of the rest of the mag uses the shorthand Dr Who.

20/06/2016

Fashionable Frontier In Space



Last year Rosalind the grand- daughter of actress Vera Fusek did a photoshoot on her blog in which she rocks the very same dress sported by her grandmother in `Frontier in Space` back in 1973. The erstwhile President of Earth was seen lounging about during the story but perhaps not quite like this. That would have surprised General Williams!

13/06/2016

The Making of Doctor Who 1976



Four years after the excellent `Making of Doctor Who` book was published it was decided to re-release an updated version in 1976. Much had happened in the ensuing period, not least a change of Doctor and production team as well as an increasing number of novelisations of the series under the Target imprint owned by Tandem Publishing which was a division of Howard and Wyndham. Features in the `World of Horror` magazine, two special poster mags, the new Doctor Who Appreciation Society and most of all the 1973 Radio Times special did mean that this updated version did not hold quite the same allure as its 1972 predecessor. In four years Doctor Who material was not so thin on the ground. The book was still credited to Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke and included some of the material from the first, sometimes revised and updated as well as new material. The cover features a rather striking piece of artwork of Tom as the Doctor though presumably to fit the brand he is in front of a target!

11/05/2016

Have you encountered Saturday Night Monsters?



In case you don’t know or have been away on holiday to Skaro, I thought I’d remind you about the book Saturday Night Monsters. This is a compilation of Doctor Who articles, features and reviews by various fan writers and originally published (mostly) in the fanzines Faze and This Way Up and now available in this very reasonably priced volume. The articles date from as far back as 1993 and some are as recent as earlier this year and cover all aspects of the series from the start all the way to 2015’s episodes. To find out more about the book click below or check out the tab above. If you’ve already bought it many thanks for doing so, I hope you like it. 

06/05/2016

DWAS@40 Moving On Up



In the third and final part of our series on the early days of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society we enter the 1980s and see the Society’s founders leaving while membership grows and the `Fan's Producer` takes over the series. Also check out the DWAS@40 Gallery with lots of photos from DWAS events and publications between 1976-82.

By 1980 the DWAS had become established with over 1,000 members and an impressive history of publications and events. This success was not without considerable hard work and what remained of the original team were to move on during the year, not always in pleasant circumstances. One major problem facing the society as the 80s dawned was financial. Rumours swirled that the DWAS was in deep financial straits, that it had overspent its budget and might not be able to afford to print its zines. It was also alleged that £1,000 had been spent on a colour cover for Tardis'. DWAS President Jan Vincent Rudzki had also become the subject of allegations that he had taken items and information from the production office, something that was untrue but which threatened to affect his employment at the Corporation. The BBC had become suspicious of known Doctor Who fans working there  and it was this potential conflict of interest which finally led Vincent- Rudzki to decide to resign which he announced in May 1980, four years after the Society had started.  

22/04/2016

DWAS@40 Growing Pains



In part 2 of our look at the early days of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society we find that success brings both triumphs and problems. Also see the DWAS@40 Early Years Gallery page above.

After the success of their first convention and with membership rising, the exec decided to effectively relaunch the DWAS for 1978. In October 1977 members were invited to re-join. From the start of 1978 `Celestial Toyroom` split from `Tardis` to become a monthly newsletter with the latter focussing on features, articles and interviews.

`Tardis` really flew in 1978 and included two important articles. One by Jan Vincent Rudzki asked what had happened to the magic of Doctor Who. It may seem incredulous in the light of the creative mess the show would later stray into that such things were being stated but they were. The article cited that the `magic` started to fade during Jon Pertwee’s tenure and accelerated once Tom Baker’s “less compassionate” Doctor arrived. “Perhaps what is missing most of all is any warmth in the stories,” Rudzki wrote. In some ways he might have seemed out of step with the members as he singled out `Invasion of Time and its depiction of the TARDIS for particular criticism in the same issue the story was revealed as being the winner of that season’s members poll!

06/04/2016

DWAS@40 Spirit of 76

Next month the Doctor Who Appreciation Society will turn 40. In the first of three posts looking at the Society's early days we discover how a college fan society went national. See also the DWAS@40 Gallery page above.



In 2016 the idea of a Doctor Who Appreciation Society sounds out of time. With social media, blogs, websites and other online resources as well as easy access to all existing old episodes there is really no need for a formal organisation to link Who fans with each other across the country. However forty years ago things were very different.  It was fanzines that were able to link people but they were published irregularly and due to the costs of production came and went. There had been Doctor Who fan clubs in the past and there was still nominally an official DWFC then but these clubs acted as providers only. They stood or fell on the enthusiasm of one or two activists. They would send newsletters and photos out but that was all. The mid Seventies was the perfect time for something like the DWAS to ferment as the show was becoming more sophisticated just as a tranche of its biggest fans grew up. Whereas they might have been expected to abandon something like Doctor Who after leaving school the quality and popularity of the 1970s series meant many did not. At University level a more active, social approach was prevalent on a number of campuses’ Doctor Who societies. This model was distinct from a fan club which was more passive and loyal.


23/03/2016

The Making of Doctor Who 1972

A look back at one of the best ever Doctor Who non fiction books.


For the first eight years of Doctor Who there was precious little in the way of behind the scenes information beyond whatever appeared in Radio Times. Then in 1972 a book appeared that changed all that and really started the momentum of the series moving from popular to iconic. The Making of Doctor Who was published by the Piccolo range of Pan Books, penned by Malcolm Hulke and Terrance Dicks and sold at the princely price of 25p! The cover features a rather odd photo from `The Sea Devils` of the moment where the Doctor is a prisoner of the titular creatures. Hardly the heroic posed stance you might expect it has the Doctor looking rather worried and sharing the cover with a Sea Devil rather than Jo Grant. Nonetheless the red on Jon Pertwee’s cape matches that of the series logo above it and the end result is a charismatic photo that was also rare at the time.
Considering the joint author’s pedigree on the series the text at the start of this book is somewhat less loquacious than you might imagine. Obviously written with a younger reader in mind it nonetheless sometimes resembles something translated from another language. The content may seem basic to the modern eye yet bear in mind that in 1972 nobody outside of a few primitive fanzines had undertaken any archiving of the series nor detailed the production process. In 2016 even Mrs Putey in the corner ship is aware of arc stories, CGI and the like but in the Seventies people just watched telly, enjoyed it, chatted about it and that’s all. A book which offered a window into the way the programme is made was a rare treat and a half. If the prose early on is sometimes awkward, the authors go on to achieve a nimble mixture of fact and fiction presenting some of the history of the series in the form of supposed found documents produced by the Time Lords or UNIT.

03/03/2016

New Doctor Who Book!


Saturday Night Monsters is a compilation of fan written articles and reviews about Doctor Who originally published in the zines Faze and This Way Up. Covering the whole span of the series from the early days right up to recent episodes, this 260 page volume is packed with comment, analysis, opinion and flapdoodle about different aspects of the programme. It builds into a complete hovercraft and It is a book. You'll love it!
Features include: The triumphant 2005 Return ,The 1985-6 Cancellation Crisis,Hartnell’s Historical Stories, The Philip Hinchliffe Era,The stories of Robert Holmes & Robert Sloman, Season 21,The road from Survival to the TV Movies and more… 
Reviews include: Talons of Weng Chiang, The Dalek Masterplan, Spearhead from Space, The Macra Terror, The End of Time, The War Machines, Dalek, Remembrance of the Daleks, Blink, The Tenth Planet,  The Name of the Doctor, Logopolis, Tomb of the Cybermen, School Reunion, Pyramids of Mars, Human Nature / Family of Blood, The Dominators, Day of the Doctor, City of Death, Amy’s Choice, Earthshock, Day of the Daleks, The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon, Carnival of Monsters, Trial of a Time Lord,  The Android Invasion,  Deep Breath,  Castrovalva,  The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances, Death to the Daleks, Horror of Fang Rock,  Vengeance on Varos, Dragonfire, The Three Doctors,  The TV Movie, The Doctor’s Wife,  The Ice Warriors, Heaven Sent, Turn Left, Web of Fear, The Stolen Earth / Journey’s End and many more...
Writers: Tim Worthington  David Rolinson, Sean Alexander, Matthew Kilburn, Daniel O’Mahony, Colin Brockhurst, John Connors, Ashley Stewart, Roger Jones, Chris Orton, Adam Povey.
The book is available from Amazon in either print or electronic form. The links below should take you to the very actual place where you can buy it.
For more info about the book including excerpts check out the Saturday Night Monsters Book page via the tab at the top of the blog.

21/02/2016

Revelation of the Daleks Set Visit

Genesis of Revelation
Over thirty years ago now in 1985 I was lucky enough to go on a set visit at Television Centre to see `Revelation of the Daleks` being filmed in what turned out to be the last two days of production before the infamous eighteen month hiatus. This account was originally published in the fanzine Zygon...


It’s 1985 on a warm and windy Thursday and we are about to enter a building that is familiar yet also unknown. That is to say its exterior is something everyone in the country knows but it’s interior is altogether more shrouded in secrecy. On Blue Peter when it looks like they’re going to show you what TV Centre is like it turns out that the big studio doors open onto the outside. In fact it is even more circular than it looks from the outside to the extent that if you start off anywhere and keep walking you will eventually return to your demarcation point after passing hundreds and hundreds of rooms. There are so many rooms that you wonder whether every single employee of the BBC is entitled to one!

15/01/2016

Robert Banks Stewart



Robert Banks Stewart, who has died aged 84, is best known for creating both Bergerac and Shoestring, a couple of inventive crime dramas but we Doctor Who fans hold him in high regard for his two classic stories `Terror of the Zygons” and `Seeds of Doom`. They also happen to two of my all time favourite stories which I recall enraptured a whole generation when first shown in the 1975 -76 season which must rank as the overall most consistently good season in the series’ history. Both manage to conjure up a slightly different take on the series than the other stories that season. Robert Banks Stewart seemed eager to push the show into a harder world with storylines that grew from everyday preoccupations of the time. He put a spin on old ideas- and sometimes the best Doctor Who does that- be they the Loch Ness Monster or plants taking over. Because they were largely made by the same team they are similar in production values and drawn together by Geoffrey Burgon’s elegant fluid scores. By way of a little tribute, here’s a piece I recently penned for an upcoming project about `Terror of the Zygons` though I should point out I love `Seeds of Doom` equally! 

08/01/2016

The Time Tom Baker left Doctor Who


On 24 October 1980 an apparently hastily arranged news conference announced that Tom Baker was leaving Doctor Who after seven years in the role. He was, remains and in all likelihood always will be the longest running Doctor so you can imagine it was quite a big story at the time. For fans it was quite a shift as there would be some who could barely recall another Doctor. For Tom himself it was a life changing moment and his manner during the ensuing months leading to his final story would be, even for him, a little odd.