Probic Vent Ood for thought.

17Aug/101

Radio Times Doctor Who 20th Anniversary Special

One of my first Doctor Who memories, and probably one of the most powerful, is my father coming home from a newsagent one Saturday with a copy of the Radio Times Doctor Who 20th Anniversary Special.

In the years afterwards, with DWM yet to be discovered; a VHS player several years away; the internet barely a mad idea in Christopher H Bidmead's mind; and repeats few and far between, it was the only thing - barring the Target novels - that was a sure source of Doctor Who information.

Inevitably, as I was very young, I cut it up into little bits to put into a scrapbook, or put the posters on the wall, thereby totally destroying it.

But the images were burned into my mind, even the boring ones with Dorka Nieradzik holding a plastic foot, Sid Sutton at a mixing desk and JN-T in front of his stalker-ish wall of photos.

Some of the things that fascinated me most included the screen caps of the various title sequences, virtually never glimpsed by me in my childhood. The power of those images and that music was huge.

The pictures and pen pictures of former Doctors, barely seen by me at that point in my life, were also precious - as the very concept of regeneration and numerous Doctors was still new and incredible.

Images of the monsters were terrifying in their 2D glory, even the Sensorites. A particular let-down that the advent of Doctor Who videos brought with them was the realisation that most of them looked bloody ridiculous.

Some of the photos are genuinely interesting though, I've never seen a lot of them reprinted anywhere since: one of the Third Doctor hiding from Daleks behind a whitewashed wall; Sarah-Jane pursued by a Sontaran.

And speaking of informative youthful objects of desire, one of Mary Tamm as Romana looking sultry and stunning; another of Katy Manning, poutingly sexy; and another of Sarah Sutton from that bit in Terminus where she takes all her clothes off.

A particularly poor image of Davison, Mark Strickson and Janet Fielding standing in dry ice graced a wardrobe for years.

But even the pages on some rather pathetic fans dressed up as various Doctors, and a shameless feature on Doctor Who merchandise, including Doctor Who and the Labyrinth of Death (or something) - what looks like the shittest computer game ever - were fascinating.

There was a short story by Eric Saward I literally never read, but I liked the pictures.

The only downer on the whole thing was the preview of poor Colin, who was about to take the Fifth Doctor, my Doctor, away from me. Poor old Colin.

So, recently, I tracked it down on Ebay and paid a few quid for a new one. It arrived a few days ago looking brand new, as if my Dad had just brought it home from the paper shop nearly 30 years ago.

It didn't make me weep, or cry with pleasure. But it connects me, now and then, just for a few seconds, with the pure thrill of discovering Doctor Who and the way it made me feel when I was young.

And that is priceless.