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Nothing at the End of the Lane (Issue 1)

Fanzine review by Paul Scoones

Look at the earliest issue of almost any long-lived fanzine and you'll observe that the quality is markedly inferior to those that follow. If this trend is followed in Nothing at the End of the Lane, then future issues will be simply awesome because this debut issue is about as close to perfection as I've ever seen. The layout, presentation and standard of writing are all exemplary - this magazine deserves to be shelved right next to the very best reference books ever produced about the series.

As co-editor Richard Bignell astutely observes in his introduction, this decade has seen a new-found scrutiny of the early years of the programme to the extent that we probably now know more about what happened off screen making Sixties Doctor Who than we do about the following two decades. Nothing at the End of the Lane captures the very essence of this intense and studious interest in the programme's formative years, focusing primarily, but by no means exclusively on the restoration of the missing episodes.

A highlight of the issue has to be Richard Bignell's fascinating and ultimately rewarding tales of location hunting. It's an absolute shame that he has so far been unsuccessful in getting a publisher to publish his locations guide as I'm convinced there's a ready and enthusiastic market for such a book.

As soon as you see the name Andrew Pixley at the top of an article, you know you're in for something special, and his contribution to Nothing at the End of the Lane certainly doesn't disappoint. ‘Silent Witnesses’ is an epic-proportioned guide to the various forms of Doctor Who scripts and the hidden gems they contain - presenting example after example of deviations from the finished programme, and providing invaluable clues to hitherto puzzling dialogue-less sequences on those audio-only episodes.

Bruce Robinson gives a detailed run-down of the efforts of the unsung heroes of fandom who recorded hundreds of episodes off the television on reel to reel tape recorders, ensuring that today, whilst the moving images may be gone forever, we can still listen to every missing episode.

All this is in addition to material covering the ‘reconstructions‘. I would imagine that most readers of Nothing at the End of the Lane would already be familiar with these fan-produced videos combing telesnaps, captions and soundtracks to recreate the missing episodes, but anyone who wasn't already would surely want to sample these productions after encountering this issue.

There are many, very worthy shorter pieces in this issue, notably a rather excellent guide to the archive holdings for the first three seasons (more please!) which I know will become well-thumbed over time. The sharing of a couple of writers' early memories and experiences of their interest in the series provides an effective counterpoint to the necessarily drier and more technical approach of the issue's other content. I whole-heartedly applaud the frequent use of footnotes, effectively answering the inevitable questions of those of us who aren't quite so well versed in the series' technical production jargon.

Nothing at the End of the Lane is a beautifully-produced fanzine, rich in content and blessed with a writing team so well-informed and devoted to providing the best possible coverage of their chosen subject. Anyone with more than a passing interest in the pre-colour years of Doctor Who will find this magazine indispensable.

However quickly issue two materialises, it won't be soon enough for this reader! [5/5]

This item appeared in TSV 59 (January 2000).