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An Interview with Andrew Pixley

Part 1: Inside the Archives

By Paul Scoones

The past ten years have seen the documentation and publication of an enormous amount of hitherto-unknown information about the behind-the-scenes history of Doctor Who. Among the small group of fan historians, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for making these discoveries and sharing them with us, is Andrew Pixley.

Andrew is the author of The DWM Archive, a regular feature of Doctor Who Magazine, which, one story at a time, chronicles the production history of the series in as much meticulous detail as space will allow. In the first instalment of this two-part interview, we take a look behind the scenes, as it were, of the DWM Archives themselves...

How did you get the job of writing the Archives for DWM?

What happened was that John Freeman, who had just become editor, phoned me up in, I think, March 1988 and told me that Richard Marson had stopped doing the Archives for DWM, and since I was interested in production information, would I be interested in taking over.

This arose from an initial discussion when he had first contacted me the previous month concerning the Roots of Who items (of which the first, on the Pathfinders serials was used while the second on the Quatermass serials was not). I had expressed an interest to write for Doctor Who Magazine, but because Doctor Who professional and fan writing at the time seemed to be a rather bitter battleground of people slagging off other people's opinions, I'd taken the cowardly way out and said to John that I didn't want to write opinions, I just wanted to do fact. 'Cus in theory you can't argue with fact can you... or so I thought!

Which story did you tackle first?

When John 'phoned, I recall immediately suggesting The Mutants because - I think - it was the only Pertwee serial that had not been archived. Also, it was and still is one of my favourites - despite Rick James and some of the wilder excesses of Tristram Cary's score. John gave me a word limit of something like 2500 words, while confessing that he didn't know what the true length should be. I did the synopsis part first, which in those days was nearly scene-by-scene, and that alone came to about 3500 words or something. So, a few days later I was 'phoning John back to say “Can we make this a bit longer, 'cus I want to get the entire recording and production details in too” - those were always the bits I enjoyed most. John eventually took the piece at something like 5500 words I think. It must have been very much a test piece as far as he was concerned, but he was kind enough to take me on and give me the happiest job I've ever had!

But The Moonbase is the first published DWM Archive to bear your name...?

There were three Troughton serials that hadn't been Archived: The Moonbase, Fury from the Deep and The Ice Warriors. The Moonbase would have been my third Archive, largely because I had the audios of the missing episodes close to hand.

Between The Moonbase and The Mutants is an Archive for Warriors' Gate, on which there is no writers credit - was this one of yours?

Yes, you're right! I think you'll find that the credit appears in the subsequent issue. Issue 140 was it? Yes. Odd that. People warned me that your memory got f**ked when you get over 30, and they're right. I can remember DWM's perfectly from the 1980s, but can't recall what we put out in the last year. So, yes, it was mine and it was an omission on Marvel's part; in fact I think I recall John telephoning me to apologise when I got the issue - he's a sweet man, very thoughtful! No, I have to plead guilty to that one I'm afraid. Look, don't bother reading that Archive, just go and watch the video instead. It's a great story... did I mention that?

Warriors' Gate was the second Archive I wrote. I was never happy with it. I'm fairly certain that this was a request of John's because I had little or no background information on it - which is screamingly obvious from the finished version - and I didn't really want to tackle it. Although I love the story; all that smashing Peter Howell music and the fantastic video tricks, and as for the end of Part Three where they jump back through the mirror... well, it's just brilliant isn't it?

I'd better explain now - although God knows recent readers of TSV will need no informing - that I overwrite badly. The average Archive first draft runs to about 13000 words, and I generally slice it back to about 8500 before submitting it to Gary Gillatt and his wonderful team. That's why John often had me do two-part Archives in the early days...

Do you have a sense of regret that you're removing interesting pieces of information, or it largely superfluous material?

No - it's a practical demand which I must accept if I'm to have my words presented in such a wonderful way by such a great team! My main regret is that, because of the way I edit to retain as much fact as possible, my own edits end up reading like telegrams. “First Monday filming location 35mm stock stop no regular cast needed comma busy in rehearsals previous story stop heavy rain delayed scene set in...” you know, you've read enough of them. It's the English that goes first. Anyway, all the little bits and pieces that get snipped find a home somewhere!

Although there have been longer and shorter Archives where length has obviously warranted it, the vast majority fall within a set length. Do you find yourself writing to much the same length on four and six parters, or is there a need to cut out more material on the six-parter archives?

I write all I can - stop - and then cut it down if it's over 8000 words. It is the importance of a story and information that matters in this case as opposed to its length.

Is there a process that you've established for yourself when you tackle an Archive? At what point in the process would you sit down and rewatch the story itself?

Yes - and it's fairly simple. Amass the paperwork, read up my notes and create a new computer file. Feed in all that is known to the basic format under headings of “Filming”, “Casting”, “Audience”, “Overseas”, etc. Get the script if I can and watch the programme, annotating the script. Write the synopsis. Enter the new facts and then put all the notes in English. Send it off to Gary (Gillatt) with an invoice... done! So, I tend to watch the story after my initial trawl through notes and books; that way, I can check things against a viewing rather than having to go back - although I tend to watch them or listen to them twice! So - very dull. No secrets. Who knows, one day I may get a real life...?

Why were there many issues with no Archives between 1988 and 1991? Was it that you didn't have time to write more, or that the DWM team were mindful of running out of stories?

No, at that time the Archive was not necessarily an integral part of DWM. I think it was in half the issues, or two out of three or something... and used to alternate with other “old story” items like Nostalgia and Flashback. And of course, when you've got so much new Doctor Who still, why dwell on the past. Terrible to admit it, but - as I think one of my colleagues pointed out in the reference fanzine Nothing At The End Of The Lane (plug plug) - the best thing that ever happened for Doctor Who reference was the show being cancelled. Heigh-ho...

It certainly wasn't the fact that I didn't have the time to write more. I hate being idle and I love writing! In fact I used to submit stuff ludicrously far in advance.... even now, I try to work a year ahead! One of my first Christmas cards from John had him saying “Have a great Christmas - and stay out of the Archives - y'hear!?”

Also, my Archives started getting long and clunky with production detail, to the point where four-parters like Terror of the Autons - let alone six- parters - were spanning two issues! I think John was very wise in rationing them when they were in that format.

Are you deliberately avoiding redoing some of your earliest Archives at present?

Nope... I've redone The Mutants, Fury from the Deep, The Awakening and Inside the Spaceship. It's weird looking back on the first versions and seeing what complete b*ll*cks I used to write at times; but then that was then and this is now. I just hope that people are charitable when they come across these decade old things now. I've just redone The Web Planet as well and The Masque of Mandragora is on the cards.

Obviously we didn't leap into re-doing the early ones just because of the new format which John Freeman so cleverly put together; we wanted to leave it a while, otherwise the readership will just feel cheated. But looking back on a magazine that now spans 20 years, I think it's reasonable to do The Crusade three times... as long as it's got something new to say.

To what extent were you involved in the 1991 redesign of the Archives?

A little, but it was really John's talent that made them work. He saw the move to the behind-the-scenes stuff, and I think suspected that I found many of the synopses tedious - particularly of recent stories. I was just being made redundant around late July 1991, and he 'phoned me up at work and explained that he wanted a shorter synopsis and more production stuff... and also that it would be an eight page pull-out with a cover. I asked if I could add extras listings, a full credited crew listing and durations - which I don't think we'd had before. He said OK, and The Power of the Daleks was the test piece because of the Topham collection photos; he then wanted to rotate a story from each of the seven Doctors in turn. Planet of Evil had been written for the old format, and so just needed adjusting. The others - as I recall - were Spearhead from Space, Delta and the Bannermen, The War Machines, Enlightenment and Revelation of the Daleks. All fairly horrible when you read them now... especially Spearhead where people like Richard Bignell have done so much research...

Are you tempted to revise any of those earliest, in your words, “fairly horrible” pull-out Archives?

No. The only way that we'd do this is via maybe some of the Season Archives that we will plan to do as we complete each season. Gary Gillatt suggested this as a means of tying up loose ends, listing new material and covering other things that lie within a 12 month period, but not with any one specific story.

Do you still find doing the synopses the most tedious part of an Archive?

No, because they're shorter. And I find little ways to amuse myself in their writing by trying to slant the description in a fresh manner. The most boring Archives are always those where there were no problems in production, no script amendments, no recasting, no remounts, no adverse reaction and no arguments. You just can't get a story going.

How do you decide the order in which the Archives are done?

As I said, John originally wanted a seven Doctor rotation which I soon realised wouldn't work; in fact I think we dropped in extra Tom Baker and William Hartnell stories in from quite early on! For the first two years, I think John and then Gary (Russell) provided me with a list. For the third year, Gary and I agreed a list over the phone. Since then, I have submitted a list to Marvel based on a vaguely mathematical projection which ensures we try not to finish any season or Doctor too far in advance - and also ties up with recent new research. This template then gets altered as photographs turn up - e.g. The War Games which was done very quickly - or something topical happens, like Jon Pertwee's death at a time when The Daemons was 99% finished. Similarly, Destiny of the Daleks has been dropped into the 20th Anniversary issue at short notice.

Last year, I did draw up a list for the last 56 Archives - i.e. from Issue 273 onwards. This again is tentative, but does help us to plan. Generally, every December, I agree the thirteen stories I will research for the following year to publish from the January after next (i.e. I planned in December 1998 the archives for the year 2000).

To what extent was there a commitment from the first of the new-look Archives to go the full distance?

Pretty early on. The format seemed popular and the responses John gave me were favourable. After the special for the role-playing game, I think John was committed to a pull-out Archive every issue after a year or so. And since John, Gary Russell, Marcus Hearn, Gary Gillatt and Alan Barnes have all said to me that we're going the whole way.

To what extent do you focus on just the stories you're currently archiving when you're accumulating information, or are you constantly accumulating information on the series as a whole?

Well, I'm always researching... If I see information, I go for it. Where it changes is in what facilities I will ask for from others - calling Steve Walker, Dave Howe or David Brunt to go through notes or ask for loans of scripts. However, when I visit the Written Archive Centre, I generally write a list of primary, secondary and tertiary objectives for the day. The last visit for example, the key objectives were checking the camera scripts for Destiny of the Daleks and a series of Nigel Kneale plays; secondary objectives were PasBs and camera script front sheets for Doomwatch as well as their personnel files; tertiary objectives were PasBs for the Dominick Hide plays and then a check of camera scripts for Time-Flight. I got most of that done, but Time-Flight - which I hate - will wait until next time. However, when new files come in on a subject that the staff know I like, generally somebody lets me know and I pay a visit; hence The Third Man pieces in DWM based on some new Pertwee files that had just shown up.

The Archives used to be traditionally heavy on synopsis and very light on background detail. There's a noticeable gradual increase in the behind-the-scenes information over the first dozen Archives you did - were you deliberately pushing in this direction?

Oh - most definitely. After all, everybody knew the stories... or thought they knew the stories. By and large what this really meant in 1990 was that they knew the Target novelisation if it was a missing story. In the early days, I did one Colin Baker Archive - Vengeance on Varos - and poor old John got a lot of stick from the readership about doing such a recent serial, that everybody knew off by heart. Plans for Remembrance of the Daleks, which I was then working on, were hurriedly shelved! I think by this time, it was clear that the story behind the story was what the kids wanted...

You say that “everybody... thought they knew the stories”. When did this change, and what prompted it? For that matter, has it changed?

Yes it has changed - and I think was a result of the shift in profile of fandom itself which happened gradually when it became clear that although the Doctor and Ace had work to do, we wouldn't see them doing it. Only read it. The first change was that with the introduction of The New Adventures, the fans could be creative on a professional level, and of course there is now a whole subculture based around the books, every bit as enthusiastic and important as that for the series. That's a universe that I seldom get involved in; I've already got the TV universe to deal with, and that's more enough... Take the books on as well and I'd have to give up watching The Phil Silvers Show and Hill Street Blues and listening to Flanders & Swann CDs and so on... So, if you like, there was a divergence of that part of fandom away from the TV material. Many did not like the Sixties shows. One prominent New Adventures writer at the time ignored the telesnaps saying he wasn't interested in “black and white stuff”, but it's been a delight in more recent years to see him discover and marvel at all this stuff he missed out on. So, he's joined the party after all...

Secondly, a lot of fans were interested only in new material... and they, by and large, defected to other very worthy shows that were currently in production - most notably the generally excellent Babylon 5. So, this leaves you with a smaller but devoted core of fans who want more, but their only recourse is to go back. And certainly during 1993 I recall people being a lot keener to get the audiotapes... and then being confused when they didn't match the Target novelisations. Next we got the telesnaps covering the bulk of missing visuals from 1966 to 1968, and that prompted people like Richard Develyn to start doing reconstructions. And this begat the works of people like Robert Franks and Bruce Robinson with their video reconstructions. These people are brilliant; they are putting in so much effort to make disjointed images and sounds palatable to a larger audience - and so sharing their love for these stories.

Another influence was the fanatical desire for accuracy - which I think evolved from a form of fan one-upmanship. I was as bad at this as everyone else, but realised around 1989 that you should just do the best job you can and try and make it better in some ways than what's gone before. You can never get 100% - and if you really take it to heart, you'll go insane, make yourself very unpopular or get an ulcer before you're 40. I strongly suspect I've done two of these... Anyway, with the revelations of production information to a higher degree of detail, it was also necessary to study the stories in more detail - part of the reason for the Chronicles from DWAS. It's no good referring to all the time that the Doctor is unconscious in The Dalek Invasion of Earth and The Tenth Planet to some fans, because in the books, the enforced absence of Mr Hartnell was written around, or the authors used the original scripts rather than what appeared on screen. So a re-evaluation of the storylines was also, I believe, necessary, to keep up with the production side.

Your earliest Archives seem heavily reliant on information from accessible sources such as interviews and articles, whereas later on they are evidently based far more heavily on primary documentation from the BBC's files. Is it possible to pinpoint when it was that you started using the BBC records in the Archives?

My first visit to the BBC Written Archives Centre was on Wednesday 10 November 1993; clashing with the second studio day for 30 Years in the TARDIS. We'd seen some bits of paperwork from these files before; Steve Roberts had been kind enough to provide me some of this material on The Evil of the Daleks which was in Issue 200 during the previous summer. Similarly, I recall seeing bits on The Time Meddler, The Mind Robber and a few others, which were presumably in circulation because of audio/video releases or repeats.

At first, we only had access to production files up to and including The War Games - although the file for The Wheel in Space contained various items relating to the series from Spearhead from Space to Colony in Space and nothing on the serial it was meant to! The Underwater Menace certainly includes a great deal from the WAC in terms of the early version and the shooting schedule; this was a combination of notes from my November visit and some documents photostatted by Marcus Hearn for me around September 1993. Similarly The Faceless Ones a few months later had a great deal of new material from the WAC. Was it noticeable at all from the reader's point of view?

I certainly noticed it. The change was very welcome and came at a time when the doors seemed to have just opened on the BBC's files for many Doctor Who writers. 1993-94 also saw a lot of new information courtesy of Marcus Hearn's articles on the series origins, and Howe, Stammers and Walker's work in the First Doctor Handbook. From the reader's perspective, it seemed like yourself and these other writers all discovered the WAC around the same time and descended on it in unison to pore over the same collection of files.

I think that was probably the most tremendously exciting time that I recall on the magazine - even more so than the TV Movie! We were all discovering so much, and starting to work with people like David Gibbes-Auger and David Brunt, swapping scripts and notes and film schedules. I think Steve (Walker) had visited the WAC first in the first half of 1993; I had certainly discussed the wealth of material on The Faceless Ones with him in June. Marcus visited slightly later - in September. Marcus' articles were amazing; originally, it was just a one-part thing in the anniversary issue, but on our next visit we looked at General and General B files which gave him even more information; thus the two hurriedly written sequels. Gary Russell was fantastic at this period; he admitted that he didn't really understand this research stuff - he is, after all, a creative genius - but he would move heaven and Earth to get the things that Marcus and I wanted to do cleared, which of course included the telesnaps.

The First Handbook was my favourite Doctor Who book for a long time - and is still my favourite Doctor Who reference book. (Last year, Gary Gillatt's From A to Z came along and made me realise that articles could also entertain and make you think, questioning more qualitative judgements that we'd made in the past... but I digress.) I'll never forget how delighted I was to see the manuscript of Steve's production history chapter for The First Handbook; one of the best things I've ever seen written on the show.

Actually, we don't all necessarily look at the same files. Marcus and myself also looked at artistes' files - which Steve didn't tend to; Richard Bignell also uses these because, like me, he's trying to nail location shooting venues and dates. I also use copyright files from writers a great deal. Similarly, Steve finds that looking at microfilm machines makes him feel unwell, but I use these a lot for scripts, programme-as-broadcast documents, Title Indexes, Contributors Indexes and so on. All the material on Junior Points of View that I used in DWM came from existing camera scripts on microfilm... and I have lots more bits and pieces that I'll find a home for one day.

In all your years of research, have you ever discovered anything that you or your editor/s have decreed is far too sensitive to print in DWM?

Only once did I include something which an editor removed and that concerned the circumstances under which one performer left the series; they were right to do this because it was supposition on my part and - although I believed from the evidence I was correct - we had no proof and the artist concerned was still alive. There are many other things I have discovered which do not make it into the Archives for similar reasons; they could be upsetting to individuals and, by and large, are not necessary to tell the story anyway.

How often do you encounter situations in your research where anecdotal evidence on the making of the story conflicts with anecdotes from another cast or crew member, or from primary documentation, and how have you tackled these problems?

Lots of times - but they're simple to solve in the whole by examining the situation logically and checking the chronology. At a simple level, if Nick Courtney relates his eye-patch story and says that he turned to see “Jon, Katy and Richard all in eye patches,” we don't immediately assume that Katy Manning and Richard Franklin were larking around on the set of Inferno some months before their debut - maybe during an audition. After all, this was on Friday 8 May 1970, and Manning and Franklin were not contracted until Friday 3 and Monday 1 July. It's clear that he meant “Caroline and John”. We won't be right all the time... but we're probably fairly close in half the cases! You look for if a person was there at the time - did they appear on film - is there a shred of evidence of recasting to support this?

One notion I'm fascinated by at the moment is that Philip Hinchcliffe recalled the master tape of Part One of The Seeds of Doom went missing weeks before broadcast. Could this instead be the reason as to why Douglas Camfield's compilation repeat was canned? Let's study the dates shall we? Thursday 25 November: Radio Times announces three Doctor repeats - must have gone to press the previous week. The first of these, Pyramids of Mars, goes out on Saturday 27, and was edited on Sunday 21 - less than a week before transmission. Then on Saturday 27, The Brain of Morbius is edited for broadcast on Saturday 4 December. On Friday 3, Camfield completes his editing notes for The Seeds of Doom, due to go out a week Saturday. But - almost instantly - this is changed, because when Radio Times comes out a few days later, the schedule has been changed to include Into Infinity, a Gerry Anderson film pilot. Now, who am I to contradict Mr Hinchcliffe, but he was still the producer at this time and it would make sense of his comments about “re-editing the start of the story”. That's an example of instinct...

Are there misconceptions which have crept into Archives which you would like to have the opportunity to correct?

Archives Errata

The Power of the Daleks
The scripts that Dennis Spooner got for Serial EE were not called The Destiny of Doctor Who for a start; also Spooner did not delete a lengthy routine about the food machine from Episode One.

Spearhead from Space
The Incredible Robert Baldick was never considered as a replacement for Doctor Who in 1969 - it was a totally different pilot developed in 1972; the photocall of Pertwee and the Yeti was at Cavendish Place, not the actor's home. Holmes was not “on-standby” in May 1969; he had done at least two storylines for Facsimile since being commissioned on 12th February 1969. Sherwin couldn't have been concurrently working on The Timekeepers, a television play, as well as doing Spearhead since this went out as a Thirty-Minute Theatre in October 1967! Invaders from Mars was not a left-over Patrick Troughton script either!

The Ambassadors of Death
I don't think it's clear that Hulke wrote the scripts for Episodes 4 to 7 from scratch; Whitaker never delivered his versions at all!

The Deadly Assassin
Peter Pratt not being dead in fact led to an edict in not referring to actors as “the late so-and-so” because they would all be dead one day!

Recording concluded on 1st February 1983 with the scenes in the grid room on The Buccaneer. Don't think so - they were recorded in the first block in mid-January!

Too right! [see box-out] Actually, by and large it's omissions rather than misconceptions that I'd want to change; new working titles and commissioning dates we've discovered.

The one which I can say 100% was not down to me was the one saying the end of The Enemy of the World Episode 4 was set in Kent's office, rather than his caravan. I hit the roof when I saw that! But really, all my editors have been incredibly good-natured, well over and above their job descriptions. One or two upsets in over ten years still makes it a dream job - and I'm extremely grateful to all of them. They're wonderful people and good friends. God - a beautiful Cornish lady as my other half, and the job of writing DWM's Archives. How can a guy get this lucky in one lifetime?

Shortly before the new format Archives kicked in, you covered Slipback. Will you be redoing this, or indeed covering any similar ‘spin-off’ stories (such as the Barry Letts radio plays), as archive features?

I think it was my idea to do Slipback because I wanted to see what the format would and wouldn't support. I think John probably hated it because there were barely any photos, and of course he had to commission artwork.

It's possible that we will cover - in some form - the movies, stage plays, radio programmes... and possibly even documentaries about the series. That's one of the great things about the new flexible, non-pull-out format.

Anyway, what sort of other things would you like to see covered? Would you include the Big Finish CDs?

I think I speak for many readers in saying that I'd like to see the TV series completed first off. But when that's done, it would be very nice to see the same format applied to the spin-offs, including such things as Fatal Death, Dimensions in Time, 30 Years in the TARDIS, and yes, the Big Finish productions!

Thanks for the encouragement. Gosh, I hope Gary Gillatt is reading this! See Gary - there is a demand!

We have done both K9 and Company and In A Fix With Sontarans already. Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death - phew! What a mouthful - I would love to do; I've just helped out the producer, Sue Vertue, with some details relating to the unbroadcast French & Saunders sketch from 1987 that will feature on the tape, and she very kindly sent me all manner of paperwork. I think my flippant attention to anal detail amused her!

Gary Russell and I had some amusing conversations about whether to include the Big Finish productions at first, and I think we will in the end. Gary has promised me all the scripts and production details when I need them. Gary is wonderful like that; it was his kind donation of his script collection which helped me immensely back in February 1993. See what I mean about these editors being such great guys!

I basically see the Archives as including Doctor Who in its performing media. I'm sure that there is somebody better equipped than me to do the written media with the annuals, novels and so on. In fact Dave Howe has just been going through a lot of Virgin's old paperwork on The New Adventures and The Missing Adventures, and may have something in mind.

What sort of relationship do you have with the people doing In·Vision, a publication which is perhaps closest in concept to you own work on the Archives?

I think they're lucky b*gg*rs; they get a whole magazine - I only get eight pages! No, seriously - the Archives suit me and In·Vision suits Jeremy Bentham and Anthony Brown and their team. I see and speak to Jeremy regularly and often exchange scripts with him, send him my notes - or even draft Archives - on stories as they come up on his schedule. I don't think there's any capacity to get involved further - and I'm just so glad that I can now help repay Jeremy for the kindness that he showed me when I was eagerly starting out along this road of anal retention.

What was your reaction to DWM's radical new format for the Archives in 1997?

Mixed. Gary G's reason for the change was that - what with the Telesnap Archives - there was a danger of readers pulling all the bits out of the middle and leaving no actual magazine. Also, he wanted the centrespread back for special articles with specially designed two-page bleeds; and very wonderful they looked too. Really, the Archive was a bad waste of this area.

The new format had some advantages. It was more flexible... so if I wanted to go over-length now on a special serial, it could be 9, 10 or more pages without having to jump up from 8 to 12. Also, we lost the cover photograph! This immediately meant that I had more space for the words... which of course means more money! No, really the advantage, as I explained before, was in only having to slice down to say 8500 words instead of the 7500 words preferred in the pull-out format. There's a lot more opportunity to let the Archives breathe now - and I do love the new look that (DWM designer) Peri Godbold gave the whole thing. She's a genius!

That said, we joked that when the change came, sales would go down because people used to buy two copies; one to take the various inserts from the middle of and one to keep for best!

What I wasn't keen on - and still am not - is inserts of other people's interviews into the Archives, because I feel in some way that I'm trying to take credit for them. By and large, these have been very good - thinking of the Tony Virgo one for The King's Demons - and I think the other writers deserve to have them as more prominent items. I like to make it clear what is mine and what isn't... it's easier to accept the blame that way! The bottom line is, I like and liked both formats; they each have their own advantages.

Gary Gillatt was a bloody genius when he devised the box-out format which we introduced with The Sontaran Experiment. Again, it gives us so much flexibility and a far better layout! He was so nervous about suggesting it too - I recall him taking me out to lunch in London just after New Year to tell me. Brilliant idea!

Once the Archives are completed in a few years time, what do you think the chances are of readers eventually being able to purchase bound volumes of reprinted Archives?

Nil. There have been suggestions of this type.... but let's examine the practicalities. Each Archive runs to around 7 pages, and with all the revisions on the early ones, let's call this 9 pages. And that's page of very small text, smaller than on a large format book. So, call it 11 pages. A book like Doctor Who - The Sixties (still one of my yardsticks for quality) is 160 pages. So that's a book covering only about 15 stories. Would people pay out £19.99, or whatever it is, for a series of 10 books each covering only 15 stories which, chances are, they have got from DWM if they're that interested anyway?

Do you think there will ever come a time when everything there is to know about Doctor Who will be known? Presumably the time will come when these facts will naturally run dry and fans can know everything about the making of every story.

No, I don't. Nobody knows the whole story... not even those who worked on the series. Even now, people are deducing influences that the series' writers were only subconsciously aware of at the time. For example when I spoke to Chris Boucher in 1991, I asked him how much Quatermass and the Pit had influenced Image of the Fendahl, and he suddenly realised that his love of Nigel Kneale's serial had shaped his own script.

Also, with over a hundred episodes missing, there will always be room conjecture and debate about the details, and I'm sure that not all the gaps will ever be filled. There will always be something to look at, theorise or discuss. Look at when CMS did their first releases... and everyone thought that was the last word in detail on Doctor Who. And here we are almost 20 years later with works like In·Vision heading for yet more frontiers of trivia and information!

What motivates yourself and others like you to want to chronicle such detailed production histories?

I think it's the challenge of solving mysteries, uncovering the forgotten or unknown, and then communicating it with others. It all helps our appreciation of these great shows - to understand the routes taken to their development, the complex paths to the creation of something that's fun or shocking or entertaining... or that brings back happy memories. You make the connections and ‘suss’ the chronology to find something new. And then you share it will all the new like-minded mates you've made. Like yourself. And all your readers. And then they chip in with what they know, and you learn even more!

Hey - that's great isn't it?


It's very strange to look back on this interview now some eight or nine years later. Indeed, it's like reading an interview with somebody else in many respects ... mainly from the point of view that it just wouldn't happen now. Thank goodness! It was extremely kind and thoughtful of Paul to suggest the interview back in 1999 - and thinking up some excellent questions as well as presenting it so well - but here in this post-Rose age, I think we're probably all very glad indeed that there's something a little more meaty to talk about rather than just having fans interviewing each other. Ahhh - it seems to long ago.

That said, I recognise most of the sentiments I expressed, and still stand by most of them. When I read about joining Doctor Who Magazine, it reminds me that I bumped into the wonderfully enthusiastic John Freeman (whom I still work with sporadically on the fine publication Comics International) totally by chance in Leicester just the other month, and similarly ran into Richard Marson, my predecessor on the Archive features who has been so wonderfully helpful over the years, as well as upholding the fine traditions of Blue Peter as its editor until he was shamefully used as a scapegoat by the BBC.

So, if you didn't mind me droning on last time, I will accept Paul's very kind offer and drone on a bit more about how I droned on last time.

Interesting to see that Gary Gillatt was still at the helm of DWM back then. Since him, I've had the chance to work with three further wonderful editors - Alan Barnes, Clayton Hickman and more recently Tom Spilsbury - on so many other projects with the magazine. In fact, it's now 20 years since I first came on board, back in the days when it was a Marvel publication rather than a Panini one. 20 years eh? I have been incredibly fortunate with my editors and my projects to have survived this long and to have had so much fun.

Also interesting to see that I said at the time “I love writing”. These days, I think I'd probably respond, “I love researching”. Often the writing bits seems more laborious, but that lovely feeling as you uncover connections and fine detail that's been lost for decades still packs a punch. As long as it's something new to write, that's the main thing.

Ahhh! I see that the ‘Season Archive’ notion was still under consideration. Well, at short notice in late 2001, this concept suddenly became the first of the DWM Special Editions to appear, tidying up on the fact that we'd completed all the Archives on Peter Davison's Doctor.

Seeing my comments about the synopses which used to be in the Archives reminds me that from 2006 onwards, this was something which we dropped from the Special Edition publications which act as a Companion to each run of the new series. I know that we did them for the 2005 run, but since then it's been assumed that because everyone buying it has probably watched the shows at least once and that the Companion comes out within a month or so of broadcast, that readers will be familiar with the plots, and so the space is better served on new production information. But, then again, what I aim for in the Special Editions is actually something rather different from what I had in mind when assembling the standard Archive features.

All these years later, I am naturally delighted that Alan and Clayton continued the commitment to the Archives and allowed me to finish the job I started, and also to Clayton and Tom for letting it mutate into something else with the Companion Special Editions. We did get to go all the way, and even included some wonderful little asides like the movies, stage plays, documentaries, charity items, and so on.

Oddly enough, now the Archives and Complete Doctor Special Editions are done, I am now actively researching far, far less on Doctor Who, partly because so many other new things are demanding my time ... things which are less reliant on me retreading old ground. But I still love seeing all the new research being undertaken by people like Richard Bignell, and also the amazingly high standards set by Martin Wiggins in particular on the production subtitles for the 2|entertain DVDs of the series.

I never did go down the route of documenting all the wonderful offerings from Virgin Publishing, BBC Books, Big Finish and the like in terms of new thrilling stories on CD and on the printed page; Ben Cook did such a magnificent job with his book on the CDs there's no need for anything else to be written, and I love what Lars Pearson has done with his brilliant I Who volumes. And as I said, that would have taken me away from all the other stuff outside the confines of Doctor Who which I've also been lucky enough to do on The Avengers and The Goodies and The Prisoner and so on.

I see a mention of the Doctor Who Chronicles series which I did with David Brunt for the DWAS. Those were great. I relished working with David because he's got such a wonderfully dry sense of humour, and I was so glad to have the chance to do all the books that we did do. They sold well too - indeed I've seen some second hand copies going for around £100. But then David stepped down, and the next thing I knew I was reading that the Reference Department - which Jeremy Bentham had set up and was the thing I cared most about in the Society - had suddenly been closed, which was deeply upsetting. Maybe its day had passed, but I doubt it. A terrible loss.

But the research at the Written Archive Centre goes on; indeed, just half an hour ago I booked another day there for my wife and myself to cover some odds and ends on The Goon Show, and also to put some finishing touches on a 1960s themed piece for Doctor Who Magazine. The staff there are quite wonderful, and have looked after me brilliantly on many projects over the last fifteen years.

Looking back to 1993, it was such an exciting year because of the information explosion looking back across the show's history. It seems even stranger now in the middle of Doctor Who being the Number 1 show on BBC Television, and the associated emphasis very much being on the new material that's being made now. But the excitement is just the same. I'm so glad to have been able to work in both distinct eras.

Since the original interview, I am now also more aware how much “self-censorship” I practice before submitting the text to Doctor Who Magazine (or indeed any other publication). I write these pieces because I want to celebrate the cleverness of all these creative people; I want to show them all in their best light, and how the diverse talents across the team give birth to the wonderful thing that we all love. As such, I probably naturally veer away from anything which - firstly - isn't pertinent to the story (no matter how salacious) and secondly cannot be presented in a manner where both sides of a dispute can be seen. If there was a disagreement between two people, what were their reasons? Present the reasons in a balanced, non-judgemental way, and allow the reader to determine who was right or wrong.

Ahhh! The stuff about the missing tape of The Seeds of Doom! God - that was a bit of a guesswork which I'm fairly certain has now been disproved by somebody far more clever than myself. Gives me a giggle to read it back though.

And the late, lamented In·Vision, J. Jeremy Bentham's magnum opus which again went the distance. I keep on hoping that Jeremy will eventually cover the new series after all the dust has settled, as this strand of material from CMS was quite, quite brilliant. Jeremy's work is still an inspiration to me to this day, and it's always a pleasure to meet up with him and his wife Paula as we prowl their local area for ITC locations.

Bound volumes of the Archives eh? Well, there are approaches of this sort made to me about every six months from some excellent publishers and editors. And as soon as one of them manages to get a licence from the BBC and an agreement from Panini, then I do know how I'd like to revamp the material into a more readable and more usable book format. It still amazes me that people say they'd buy such at thing, as these wouldn't be cheap.

And still we find the new facts. I'm dying to tell you about some of the paperwork which has recently come to light, but I can't because it's all being saved for elsewhere, and it's the hard work of other people who deserve the credit. But I still love learning new things and unearthing fresh facts. It all helps me admire these writers, producers, directors, actors, musicians, designers and the myriad army of creative people even more. And, almost a decade later, I still know that I've been lucky enough to have enjoyed my best job in the world.

-Andrew Pixley
July 2008

This item appeared in TSV 59 (January 2000).