22 October 2016

Class Episodes 1 and 2

It’s been a while since we had a new Doctor Who spin off and just as it seemed as if that period was gone, along comes Class. At least for those aware of it. Debuting on the BBC’s peculiar channel / portal hybrid BBC3, it starts off at a disadvantage because even the Radio Times barely acknowledges 3’s existence. The show has a potential draw in the form of Peter Capaldi guesting in the opening episode…but nobody really wants to say too much about that because the series is unsuitable for younger people. On the other hand this is a series for…erm younger people. One way or another it will be a miracle if people find this show let alone decide to watch it. Who is it really designed for? 

17 October 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 October 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 October 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. 

3 October 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 September 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 September 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