John Connors has continued to publish my articles on Doctor Who, the Doctor and British identities at his Time Lines blog. Looking at them now, I’d give myself some notes. There are a lot of ideas there which I might get round to untangling at some point, and others where my thoughts ran ahead of my writing. One sentence in part three cries out for a mention of Love for Lydia (LWT for ITV, 1977; in which Peter Davison appeared) and how its content anticipates in a middle-class register the upper-class concerns of the more lavish literary adaptation that was Brideshead Revisited (Granada for ITV, 1981; which did not feature Peter Davison). The Pallisers (BBC, 1974), though predating both, offers a connection through the cricketing obsession grafted by screenwriter Simon Raven onto Anthony Andrews’s Lord Silverbridge, arguably a forebear both of Andrews’s Sebastian Flyte and Peter Davison’s Doctor. The Pallisers was a formative influence on 1980s Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner, who was given a field promotion to production unit manager during its dispute-stricken production and played a significant role in ensuring it reached screens.
Don’t Shoot – He’s British! part two looks at the tensions in the layering of identities which shaped the personas of the third and fourth Doctors. Don’t Shoot – He’s British! part three moves on to examine the development of the fifth and sixth Doctors and their universe, as represented by decisions on story, casting and costume and the channelling of long-current but overplayed cultural anxieties. There will be more.
I threw this picture last night into a Twitter conversation between two retired veterans of Doctor Who fanzine editing, Andrew-Mark Thompson and Peter Anghelides. This – Frontier Worlds 13&14 – was the first Doctor Who fanzine I ever bought, in the old Forbidden Planet 2 at 58 St Giles High Street in London in August 1982, a few months after it was published. It’s difficult to capture what a revelation this was now to my eleven-year-old self. Jeremy Bentham’s fan-informed articles in Doctor Who Monthly gained the context I’d always inferred. I knew they were a projection of a parallel universe of fan commentary into the mainstream, but now I managed to see part of that normally hidden world for the first time. I learned that there were lots of people who thought about Doctor Who in similar ways to me, and about Blake’s 7 too as Frontier Worlds covered both series. Indeed, Steve Bowkett’s post-‘Blake’ story ‘Choice’, the first of Frontier Worlds‘s Blake’s 7 ‘Series E’ series, revealed to me a more cynical interpretation of Blake’s 7 distinct from the idealistic action-adventure reading I’d given it since I was seven. Martin Wiggins’s review of K9 and Company conveyed to me just how hostile an older generation of fans than mine was to its robot dog protagonist, of which I’d always been (and remain) rather fond. The most memorable article was probably the piece by editors Peter Anghelides (aforementioned) and Peter Lovelady and former editor Anthony Murray about their set visit to ‘Blake’, unaware that they were watching studio sessions for the last episode of Blake’s 7 until they saw the regulars perform their death scenes. The article has an entertaining B-plot about the writers’ attempts to break into writing for Blake’s 7 Monthly – Marvel UK’s not-quite-sister title to Doctor Who Monthly. As with all fan productions, there’s a social history in the lithography and the Letraset, with hints of the world beyond, of ‘University work’ and personalities in the then small world of active Doctor Who fandom, and a seriousness even in the humorous articles which roots Frontier Worlds in a particular phase of post-war British self-expression and which predates both the visceral panic of the cancellation-wary late 1980s and successfully avoids, moderates or sublimates the self-criticism or worse which seemed to pervade a lot of Doctor Who fan writing later in the decade.