Gallifrey, issue 10, Spring 1980
My Doctor Who writing time should be more strictly rationed, particularly as there are several projects competing for it, but I’ve not added anything to this blog for a while and a brown envelope which arrived this morning inspired me to return to it. The envelope had been misdirected to a similar address about eighteen miles away and been chewed by a dog (so a note on a repair to the envelope said) with detrimental effects to the edges of the magazine inside. I can only salute the dog’s taste.
Buying an old Doctor Who fanzine is always a luxury, but I didn’t remember having this issue of Gallifrey. It’s slightly larger than A4 in size, printed lithographically in black and white on heavier paper than one is used to thirty-three years later; though much slimmer, the experience is reminiscent of picking up the London Review of Books. The micro-reduced text, originated on a manual typewriter, is not what one’s eyes wants to encounter first thing on a morning. However, looking through a fanzine from the early years of Doctor Who fandom always fascinates: the enthusiasm is evident, as is the devotion to the programme as a cause out of reach except for twenty-five minutes a week, half the year. The artwork is often good and striking and one can imagine how the many screened photographs from 1960s episodes were received by a fandom which didn’t have access to the programmes themselves.
Doctor Who fan culture was in its infancy at this point, shared by and propagated among a self-selecting few. There is a note on one page about arrangements for the 1980 gathering at Blackpool, a ritual of the early years for the most active. Elsewhere there are several articles which consider the fan experience and the impact which a programme as enduring and compelling as Doctor Who might have on society as its first generation of young admirers reach adulthood. There’s a faith in the Doctor and in Doctor Who on display which would seem out of place by the end of the 1980s and is far removed from the scurrilousness which coloured a lot of 1990s fan communication. While many of the sentiments may seem naive, everything in Gallifrey finds coherent expression and many writers see the programme in a wider cultural context, whether as an example of studio-based television production, or in terms of pop music – Tom Baker as the Sid Vicious of Doctor Who, to Jon Pertwee’s Frank Sinatra – in a way which fell out of fashion during the 1980s as the amount of professionally-published material on Doctor Who increased and the marketing of the programme changed. Almost everyone involved is very young, too: it’s a reminder that much of the terminology deployed in academic and aca-fan discourse on Doctor Who in 2013, was first used in the intense typings of teenagers over three decades ago.