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Doctor Who Magazine

Reviewed by Jon Preddle

Doctor Who Magazine 231 (25 October 1995)

There are no less than five interviews this issue. William Russell (Ian Chesterton) and director Chris Clough have both appeared in DWM previously, but David Brierley, on the other hand, has never before been interviewed about his work on Doctor Who. I've always been curious about what the man behind K9's 'other' voice looks like!

Timelash is given the usual quality coverage as this issue's Archive. The large number of changes Eric Saward made to Glen McCoy's original scripts in order to get the story into shape fascinated me.

This issue sees a first for the DWM comic strip in that Operation Proteus is set before the events of 100,000 BC with the first Doctor and Susan as the protagonists. The artwork is of quite a high standard; it could be my imagination but doesn't the man in the left middle panel on page 14 look like Patrick Troughton?

Gremlins somehow got into the machinery as this issue went to press; Part Two of Gareth Roberts' story The Final Analysis is missing the bottom half of the text!

The High Council (a 'question & answer' feature) this issue has several solutions relating to readers' questions about the Key to Time. Hmmm, the name on the third one looks very familiar...

Doctor Who Magazine 232 (22 November 1995)

Without doubt the highlight of this issue would be the 20 or so colour photos illustrating this issue's Archive feature on The War Games. It is clear that Doctor Who set designers are a major new source of 'lost' visual material that needs to be fully exploited. More please!

Director Matthew Robinson has not been interviewed by DWM before and so his insight into making Resurrection of the Daleks and Attack of the Cybermen are fresh. Robinson speaks openly about his disagreeable relationship with John Nathan-Turner who had differing views on how Doctor Who should be directed.

Another director, Richard Martin, who helmed the early Dalek stories, is also interviewed by DWM for the first time. It is clear from his comments that he has absolutely no regard for Doctor Who at all and yet he still has very clear memories of his time on the show.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, part two of The Final Analysis is given a repeat performance following its unexpected partial disappearing act in DWM 231.

Doctor Who Magazine 233 (20 December 1995)

This issue sees the first in what promises to be a long multi-part feature written by none other than John Nathan-Turner about his time as Doctor Who producer. Judging from what he says in just this first instalment of his 'Memoirs' it is apparent that JNT will use this opportunity to finally 'set the record straight' about what went wrong during his tenure, and who was to blame. I can't wait.

This month also has very much of a sixties flavour with Operation Proteus coming to a satisfactory (and very Alien-like!) conclusion, and The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve in the Archive. As with The War Games in DWM 231, the BBC designer who worked on The Massacre has allowed Marvel to publish personal photos taken on set. This is excellent stuff, and shows more of what this lost serial was like than any standard BBC 'posed' publicity photos ever could.

The second part of the Richard Martin interview concentrates on The Web Planet and The Chase and there is a photo gallery showing the people responsible for creating and formulating Doctor Who so we can now see what they looked like.

This issue sees the welcome return after a brief absence of the telesnaps, The Highlanders Episode 1 being covered. As nice as it is to see these images, when-oh-when is Marvel going to do The Macra Terror...?!

The 'elder statesman of Doctor Who' himself, Terrance Dicks, is asked 20 questions Out of the TARDIS. I love the mock-up book cover that accompanies this feature. But why is there a picture of the Oxford Dictionary...?

Doctor Who Magazine 234 (17 January 1996)

In the second part of his memoirs John Nathan-Turner talks about the seven stories of Season Eighteen. Although much has been documented about Tom Baker's reasons for leaving Doctor Who it has never really been stated when his decision was made, until now. It was during the production of Warriors' Gate in September 1980 that JNT began the search for a new Doctor - and his first choice wasn't Peter Davison!

To contrast the reminisces of the last BBC Doctor Who producer, the first, Verity Lambert, in the first of a two part interview speaks about her impressions of making Doctor Who in the 1960s. Close inspection of the photo on page 7 highlights the talents of the special effects department, who had a very limited budget in those days.

With only a few exceptions, the comic strips in recent issues have been pretty horrendous. The story and artwork in this issue would have to be the worst ever. The sooner the comic is replaced with features the better.

One of my favourite Davison stories, Mawdryn Undead, is the subject of the Pixley Archive, while Episode 2 of The Highlanders is in the Telesnap Archive. Checking The Highlanders telesnaps published in the fanzine DWB in 1991 I was surprised to find that DWB has some telesnaps not in the DWM version and vice versa. While I can appreciate that some editing is necessary to ensure that the columns run to the required page count, this could be avoided by moving the header back to the margin where it was before. It looks like The Evil of the Daleks telesnaps will be featured from DWM 237... choice!

Doctor Who Yearbook 1996

The last four Yearbooks have been a mixture of comic strips and text short stories of dubious quality, with the odd behind-the-scenes feature thrown in for good measure. This latest Yearbook is a departure from the norm and comes across as a not too distant relative of one of Virgin's large format hardbacks and DWM itself.

In 1992 The Sixties was hailed as the definitive piece on that period of Doctor Who. In 1994 the First Doctor Handbook proved that The Sixties had factual errors and oversights. And while Andrew Pixley's excellent series of Archives in Doctor Who Magazine were based on the facts as known at the time they were written, it is clear that in light of new documentation there is a need for some revision. It would appear then that Stephen James Walker and Andrew Pixley have written the latest Yearbook as an addenda volume to the Howe Stammers Walker books and the Archives, using all the latest 'facts' about the show that were not available before. An added bonus is that the Yearbook also includes the Eighties (as well as the Nineties to date) giving us a taste of what to expect in 1996 when the third volume is published by Virgin.

The Yearbook has a chapter for each season. The authors briefly review the season, listing working titles, unmade stories, recording dates and crew, and reveal many new facts and data that have been recently discovered. Other aspects of the programme such as books, conventions and other promotions are also covered for the relevant years.

One of the unmade stories, Philip Hinchcliffe's Season Seventeen submission, Valley of the Lost, has its own chapter with full synopsis and background notes. I enjoy reading about these 'forgotten' Doctor Who stories, and hope there will be more such features in DWM.

I'd have thought that someone with a higher profile would have been the featured interviewee. Mary Ridge directed only one story, but it was a project hit with industrial strikes at the BBC, so her account of the problems with the making of Terminus is very interesting indeed. I found the interview therefore complemented the chapter on the troublesome Season 20 quite nicely.

In a work published by Marvel one expects their inclusion, but the two comic strips in this Yearbook seem out of place. I guess they are there to stop the book from tipping off balance from so much text! And for those who enjoy a good in-joke, the rogue in the second strip is a sly twist on Ian McShane's television character Lovejoy!

Sadly, this is may be the last Yearbook to be produced by Marvel. It's a hard act to follow, but at least they're going out on a winner!

This item appeared in TSV 46 (January 1996).