John's Doctor Who Fanbook #8

Me in September 2002. By now there was a new fanzine This way up launched at the start of that year and this was definitely the image I wanted to convey. Again done in a photo booth as smartphones and selfies still hadn’t been invented and neither had time travel! 


John's Doctor Who Fanbook #7

My next fanzine `Faze` was launched in 1995 and was an attempt to reflect the invention and craziness of Doctor Who plus a number of other series. I was lucky to know quite a lot of fan writers still prepared to contribute to a fanzine despite the oncoming storm of the Internet. Around this time DWM were printing what they called the Telesnap Archive which were stills of missing episodes. Only they were a gift to spoof simply by mixing and matching the pictures. Thus the Telesnap Chive was born! As you can see below I selected the silliest pictures from a story and literally glued them them together. I’m sure it’s much better than the episode.


John's Doctor Who Fanbook #6

Sontar Ha! During 1989 /1990 some of us had a plan which for a long time was called simply Project X. We were disaffected former DWAS people who wanted to set up a rival and though we tried to explain it in reasonable terms that’s probably what it was. And doing things better than the DWAS who were badly floundering by now. Various persons were involved but there were two fundamental problems with it. One was that there was never a time when everyone was equally 100% enthusiastic. Two, look at the year. Doctor Who was finished, public interest was minimal, the DWAS’s own poor performance had put people off joining a society. If ever there was a time not to form a new Doctor Who club this was that time. So Network Who never got off the ground. 


Doctor Who The Day of the Doctor

So, after all the build-up, anniversary hoopla and general Doctor Who-ness of this month, `The Day of the Doctor` arrives. It has been the subject of endless speculation as to its contents- some turned out to be true, some delightfully wide of the mark. For Steven Moffatt it must have been a daunting task to construct a tale that would pay satisfying homage to the past and also lay out something of a path for the future. The good news is that he’s done it with some aplomb in a production that takes some risks; both visually and conceptually, but emerges as one of those unique stories that will always stand out from its surroundings. It is the best thing he’s done since he took over the series.
Warning- Spoilers lie ahead.


An Adventure in Space and Time

Wow, there’s enough material here for a series! Mark Gatiss’ lovingly nourished rendering of the origins of DW presents several characters whom we would willingly spend weeks with. The only down side of An adventure in space and time is that it is 85 minutes long so there are shortcuts galore however Gatiss has honed the dialogue to give every line import. By focussing on four personalities who you would never expect could collaborate especially in the 1960s he gives the whole thing a sharp focus. The result is something very special. 


Doctor Who The Web of Fear

Though Doctor Who had started to modernise as early as `The War Machines`, the series often struggled to match contemporary 1960s style with the thrills and scares that had by now defined its best moments. `The Web of Fear` manages to line up these aspects in equal measure with a `real` setting in the form of the London Underground, some great monsters and enough excitement to sustain its six episodes.  It is something of a mood piece building claustrophobic suspense around a minimal plot that in lesser hands would be little more than a run-around. Under the guidance of director Douglas Camfield however it becomes something much more thrilling.


Daleks - Invasion Radio: 1966 A.D.

by Tim Worthington
With all of the excitement about the recent recovery of `The Enemy Of The World` and `The Web Of Fear`, and the subsequent deserved focusing of attention on those intrepid individuals who actually hunt down long-forgotten film cans (and not just Doctor Who ones either - there are lots of people out there trying to find other equally deserving lost programmes, who never seem to get the credit, publicity or assistance they really should), it's worth indulging in a spot of cheerleading for the much smaller band of enthusiasts who devote their time to hunting down stray recordings of lost radio shows.
Daleks lost in the Broadcasting House corridors


John's Doctor Who Fanbook #5 Being on the DWAS Executive Part 2

We continue on this journey that is so big it wouldn't fit on one post!!
As 1986 drew to a close, things were changing. Tony was leaving partly because he was applying for a job abroad but also due to an incident at an earlier Exec meeting. He’d been on holiday and there had been a discussion on his progress as co-ordinator raising a few criticisms which seemed pointless. The same thing had happened to me the previous meeting; it is annoying to read these things in minutes later possibly out of context of the breadth of the discussion. Tony was in- censed and decided to leave at the end of the year. He had originally planned to stay till the following September. Incidentally, it was from this incident that Dominic acquired the nickname Slimy. Having actually started the discussion, Dominic then wrote a letter in the Exec circular withdrawing his comments. 

John's Doctor Who Fanbook #5: Being on the DWAS Executive Part 1

So, there isn’t a lot of photographic evidence from my DWAS Exec time just lots of words and documents and columns and circulars. Plus all the old Exec minutes are too ropily printed to reproduce in a readable form here. Instead this is an updated account of my tenure, originally published in 1990 but with some bits re-written recently.


How I ended up on the Exec was more by accident than design. There had been trouble in our Merseyside Local Group (MLG) and I called in Robert Moubert, then Local Group supervisor to assist. As it turned out, he didn't really have any inclination to get involved which led me to believe that perhaps I could have done a better job. Perhaps this was my first mistake! When I heard that the post was about to become vacant I wrote to the Society Co-ordinator David Saunders offering to take over. I received a reply to say that the post would have to be advertised but in the meantime would I be interested in becoming an admin assistant. So I did. I was seconded to the Co-ordinator’s department even though he already had four assistants. I can’t even remember what we all did except sit around in David’s ramshackle house, laughing a lot and drinking tea. The highlight would be David standing in his kitchen door shouting into the garden “Queenie!” I should explain that was the name of his cat. Anyway when we did do some work for me it mainly involved putting things into envelopes, sorting out labels and membership cards, that kind of thing with fellow assistants like Alec Charles and Bill Baggs. We had a laugh; Alec wound David up just to annoy him with petty criticisms and poor Bill once got a right telling off for missing a departmental meeting. Just like school!


John's Doctor Who Fanbook #4

I once tried to work out how many conventions I’d been to and never managed to do so but it was a lot. These are some convention badges from various events. My favourite ones are probably that first Panopticon in 1981, the 1985 Brighton one where I saw Patrick Troughton, lifted lots of tables up a flight of steps and had to go to an exec meeting at mid night. Of the non DWAS ones the Exo Space events were good and we also had some cracking conventions in our area in both Liverpool (Monstercon) and Manchester (Manopticon). Perhaps the moment I recall best though was the 60 seconds of hope in 1986 when hundreds of us watched episode 1 of `Trial of a Time Lord` live at that year’s Panopticon. Just before the episode there was a countdown, party poppers and cheering and the stunning spaceship sequence followed. For about a minute it looked like Doctor Who was about to make the most astonishing comeback from the brink. Then the episode started. Little did we realise we’d have to wait another 19 years for the real comeback in 2005.


Doctor Who The Night of the Doctor

A big online surprise prequel to the Anniversary Special

Without warning- though there had been rumours- a 7 minute prequel called `The Night of the Doctor` appeared on 14 November. It’s a double surprise because not only was it unexpected but it also seems to give away one of the major puzzles surrounding the anniversary special, now just a week away. You might not have seen it or want to see it yet so be aware the review that follows is totally spoilerific!

Warning- Spoilers after the break


Doctor Who - Enemy of the World

Back after being missing for decades, can `Enemy of the World` live up to the hype surrounding it’s return?

None of the plot twists in `Enemy of the World` can match the subterfuge with which the previously lost story found its way into public view. Months of claim and counter claim, rumour and denials from all key players ended with the announcement that 9 more episodes were no longer missing. While `Web of Fear` has always been cited as a classic, nobody quite knew what to make of David Whitaker’s six parter. The one episode we had seen was, as it turns out, dull because it was out of context. Now it plays as probably the second best of the story, full of important developments and making the best of its interesting cast. However it is now the time to separate the circumstances under which the story has re-emerged – however much cause for excitement they may be- with the production as it is.

"Give-a me ze missing episodes or I will-a turn you into pasta."


John's Doctor Who Fanbook #3

The more events I went to, the more people I met and in those days everyone seemed to be a fanzine editor so I started writing reviews for them. My writing `style` if I can call it that was based on music paper journalism which I loved because it seemed to bring things to life. In my own way I tried to copy that particularly if reviewing events. This didn’t go down well with some fans who would rather read every nuance of how the Axons were made than the fun we were having in the bar but surely both these things- and much more- make a great convention? Sometimes the events that went on were beyond reportage being hugely embarrassing for some so not everything is in there. These were my two favourite zines of the early 1980s and I wrote stuff for both. `Shada` was edited by Gary Russell who went on to various roles associated with Doctor Who eventually ending up script editing some actual episodes of the show a few years back. `Aggedor` was edited by Alec Charles who was one of those characters people either loved or hated! I heard years later he was a well respected academic who lectured in Europe. 


50 Doctor Who Things!

John Woodnutt used to describe his Zygon costume as being like “a suit of fairy lights”. Quite apart from the fact that this does not really describe it at all, nobody in the world has ever seen a suit made of fairy lights. 

Oh by the way Woody (as nobody ever called him) used to tap dance while wearing this costume. 
"Well I'm not going to sing so you can take this microphone right out."


John's Doctor Who Fanbook #2

You know how you like Doctor Who? And you know how mint flavoured ice cream is terrific? Put them together and you have the 70s best ever piece of merchandise.


Ok so we didn’t have dvds or videos or anything actually but we knew how to out on a Doctor Who adventure. Just eat tons of Weetabix and you too could re-create the Sea Devils and other stories or just make up your own courtesy of six different planetary backgrounds. Thank goodness they weren’t given away with Shredded Wheat or we’d still be working our way through them!

And below is the third staple of the 70s Doctor Who fan’s unhealthy diet; chocolate. Of course they didn’t really have to entice us with anything other than chocolate but an added bonus was an ongoing story involving the Doctor fighting Masterplan Q. I can’t really recall the minutiae of this but it involved The Master (of course) and some dinosaurs and do you know what? I never found out what happened at the end. Before I could eat enough chocolate the thing finished leaving me ignorant of whether Masterplan Q worked or not.


Doctor Who: The Tenth Planet

Recently released on DVD, William Hartnell’s final story is also the debut of a striking new enemy. Both have rarely been better.

Its weird hearing William Hartnell speak. This DVD of his final story includes snippets from a back stage interview he gave in late 1966 after leaving the programme which provides an insight into something we may not have always realised. His portrayal of the Doctor was a total immersion; not only did he affect the mannerisms of a man considerably older than he was but even the voice was put on. In real life his tone is remarkably similar in intonation to Tom Baker at his most pernickety. He shoots the rather pushy interviewer’s assumptions down with a quick dismissive “No” as if the question was rubbish. It is the most fascinating Doctor Who extra there’s been since they coloured `Day of the Daleks`. 



John's Doctor Who Fanbook #1

What a flapdoodle! Its Doctor Who’s 50th birthday this month and everyone’s doing something to celebrate the fact but what is there really left to do? Every story, episode, scene, line has been analysed well beyond the nth degree and my keyboard refuses to type words like “classic”, “gritty” and “era” any longer. Besides everyone else will be doing that anyway. Instead I thought I’d take a personal look at stuff I’ve done relating to being a fan of Doctor Who. Well stuff that can be reproduced without maximum embarrassment and shame at least. I’ve called it John’s Doctor Who Fanbook.

So I had a rummage and found items that would inspire me to write a bit about aspects of my experiences of being a Doctor Who fan. The first thing I noticed was how little I have kept. I know of some people who still have wrapped Doctor Who confectionary from decades ago. I ate mine. I know people who’ve collected every edition of DWM, every video, every DVD and every rolykin, whatever the jiggins a rolykin might be. I threw mine out at some time. I don’t even have that many photos though judging from the ones I do have that might be a good thing as you’ll see. This started off as a bit of fun but as I looked through all these things, looked at old photos and re-read old fanzines I started to feel incredibly nostalgic and I normally dislike nostalgia. So the only thing to do was to let it out for once and for all.

I present this series with unashamed joy that whatever I was doing I had a good time doing it even if now I can’t begin to understand what the attraction was. It’s like how people think of someone they used to go out with and go “How did I ever fancy them?” It must have meant something at the time - and that’s what celebrations are all about!  


Doctor Who An Unearthly Child

How it all began (sort of)….

It is a foggy haunting night- an owl is hooting in the distance as a small dog collides with the camera. Slowly, a car draws up extraordinarily slowly as if it’s indoors and it cannot be driven properly.  Ian Chesterton is looking very bored because instead of inviting him round for sex and a coffee, fellow teacher Barbara Wright has insisted they follow spooky Susan Foreman, their weird pupil with the trainers, high IQ and an iPad. Whatever that is.

The Doctor cannot remember what he did with that chocolate cake but luckly Susan has spotted it.