Not so long ago, and with some the Geek Clique in tow, I ventured to West London to see the Doctor Who Experience. It's at the Kensington Olympia - a right pain in the arse to get to - for the next month or so. Is it worth catching? Well, that depends.
I've been to quite a few Doctor Who events over the last year or two. The frankly appalling stage show first. Then the excellent Crash of the Elysium. Since we were down in London anyway we decided we'd give the Experience a go. It was either that or go and see the warehouses at Shad Thames where Rodney Bewes was running away from Lytton.
The Experience is rather like Crash of the Elysium in that it's slick, has a certain amount of audience interaction and feels ever-so-slightly overpriced.
Also like Crash of the Elysium there's a sort of narrative that involves Matt Smith saying he needs some help into a camera while whirling around inside the TARDIS.
I can't actually remember a lout about the actual experience, barring a bravura piece of 3D cinema that finally makes the medium feel worth bothering with.
There's also an excellent bit at the end with monster suits and costumes and props. And, following that, an expansive gift shop that's a monument to just what a money-spinner Doctor Who is for the BBC. Tacky shit.
But what made the Doctor Who Experience such a, well, experience was something that had never happened there before and never will again.
Shuffling past us as we entered and looking for all the world like Terrance Dicks was... Terrance Dicks. It took us a few minutes to work out whether it was indeed The Man Of A Hundred Targets, but the unmistakable voice confirmed it: we were traversing the universe with Terrance Dicks.
One of the sections involves piloting the TARDIS – pushing buttons on an instrument panel about a yard in front of what I assume is a replica of the TARDIS console prop. The Geek Clique were piloting the TARDIS with Terrance Bloody Dicks.
It was, genuinely, a wonderful moment. Later on a couple of the guys spoke to him and confirmed that he was very pleasant but not especially keen to speak to a number of star-struck Doctor Who fans in their mid-30s. Keen though I was to say hello to Terrance and how much I liked his work (including his New and Missing Adventures - and even his non-Who work, including Cry, Vampire) I thought he'd appreciate being allowed to look at an old TARDIS console (the one that debuted in the Five Doctors, looking weirdly small) unmolested.
All in all it was an experience that made the twenty quid entry fee a lot less galling. I'll never forget it.
NB. Since all of this kicked off The Moff has issued a kind of 'get your kids of my lawn' response and private Eye basically suggested that the BBC leaked the news in an effort to undermine Moffat, with whom it is quickly losing patience. Make of that what you will.
A new Doctor Who film? Those fans who might conceivably have watched The Twin Dilemma when originally broadcast may recall a few other Doctor Who films supposedly in the pipeline through the decades.
Tom's Doctor Who meets Scratchman, written by himself and Ian Marter, starring Vincent Price and funded by crumpled £1 notes mailed to Tom from keen fans.
The ones suggested in the very early 90s that would star Donald Sutherland and feature a rapping TARDIS perhaps (I defaced the images of Sutherland in anger) or the more recent Tennant-and-Piper rumours.
Then there was the TVM. Well, they got McGann pretty much right, but the rest was an absolute mess - a more fitting example you could not find of what happens when people who don't understand or care for Doctor Who make Doctor Who.
Today has brought with it the news that Harry Potter director David Yates will helm a new Hollywood film featuring a strange character called Doctor Who (never heard of him) that will reboot the series and stick two fingers up at 50 years of canon.
Quite why these rumours have come to light again - about two years after they were first mooted and repeated today with historic quotes - is not clear. Are BBC Worldwide trying to kickstart the project? Has a bored hack in search of an article dug up an old story? Or has someone sniffed that something is actually happening on this front?
We'll wait and see. For now let's look at the claims Yates made about his new film. In a move that could not have alienated the show's fanbase more if he's threatened to cast Vin Diesel, Yates claims that the film will be "starting from scratch".
Why on Earth would you do that? The show has the most malleable format in the genre, perhaps all TV. You can change the lead cast without ditching anything. This is something that has happened innumerable times over the show's history.
If Yates wants a good example of how to kick off a new series - or new interpretation - he need only look to Rose, a terrible episode but a great example of kickstarting something new without abandoning all the good stuff.
It's an important reminder that we've had people at the helm who cared about the show - we know that RTD kiboshed stuff like a female Doctor, a Young Doctor Who series on CBBC and more; and that even Tennant was very protective of what the show did and didn't do.
It's impossible to image Moffat taking the show into taboo territory too. We've been lucky that since the reboot - and in the good old days - we had people who looked after the show as best they could.
Unfortunately, Worldwide is a financial entity and must surely be scenting hard cash and, conceivably, a billion-quid money-spinner like Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter over a multi-film series that would make the TV show look like A Fix With Sontarans in comparison.
That's presumably the thinking behind recruiting a director with no apparent understanding of Doctor Who whose looking to recruit a writer with no apparent understanding of Doctor Who.
Yates pays tribute to Davies and Moffat's visions - and in the same breath announces that he's going to trash it all. Where's the logic to that?
He also says Doctor Who "needs quite a radical transformation to take it into a bigger arena". Does it? Isn't the exact point of the show - its appeal and its essence and its very artron energy - that it's a quaint little British show? Certainly it does epic storylines and its format and tone is elastic but it's always recognisably the same.
RTD and Moff clearly understand this and fandom has largely taken to their series. Perhaps it didn't need older fans, but the likes of the two show-runners are fans after all.
The show doesn't necessarily need a fan to take it to the big screen - or a Brit. But I feel sure that it would be a better product for it - and we have two people who can wield an enormous amount of power in the TV and media world, not to mention people like Neil Gaiman, Stephen Fry and Mark Gatiss who are steeped in the show and are professionals in their own right.
Alas, if what we read is to be believed then Yates directing makes perfect sense in the eyes of BBC Worldwide. They won't give two flying figs if the Doctor carries a gun, shags a busty American and has a time capsule voiced by Mos Def (actually, I like Mos Def, that could work) if it brings in the bucks.
What would this do for the TV show? Undoubtedly, if successful, it would kill it off. How could you have a TV series and a film series running in parallel that directly contradict one another? The film idea dovetails with the growing suspicion that Who might bow out on the small screen shortly after the 50-year anniversary. Torchwood, in all likelihood is gone. The Sarah-Jane Adventures are sadly no more. Confidential is canned. In a very short space of time Doctor Who has been whittled away to the main show, and there are increasing ructions over production, money and quality in the mothership.
All told then, I don't really see an upside to the film. We've had six largely enjoyable seasons of NuWho that has given repeated, respectful nods backwards. It's all about to be usurped by a new film series that chucks it all in the bin.
The two films we have are cute curios, but they're hardly high quality. The abandoned film projects all looked awful. The TVM was dreadful. Yet the BBC appears to have learned nothing.
Doctor Who doesn't need a film. If it's coming to an end as a going concern on TV the natural development is to segue into a 'specials' format. Canon or the heritage aren't the issue I have with a new film. I simply fear it would be bloody awful - and history has plenty of warnings when it comes to big screen Who.
Holy shit! We got Tom!
A new series of Fourth Doctor adventures starring Tom Baker as Tom Baker.
New stories by Jacqueline Rayner, Steve Cole, Justin Richards, Nick Briggs, Barnaby Edwards and Gary Russell forever.
Bandril Empire by Barnaby Edwards
A six-CD box-set examining what would have happened had the Bandrils been the dominant race in the galaxy.
Starring Nick Briggs as Professor Enigmaticum, Maureen O'Brien as Vicki and some bloke who was in the Power of Kroll.
Stotz and Krelper: Tabula Rasa
The enduringly popular duo from the 1984 adventure Caves of Androzani investigate the murder of an android businessman on Androzani Major.
Starring Maurice Roeves and Stotz and Barnaby Edwards as Krelper, featuring Jake McGann as Rory Salateen.
Written by Nick Briggs
The New Adventures of Miss Marple
Nick Briggs plays Miss Marple, with John Leeson as sidekick Mungo in this new series of adventures set in 1940s Abu Dhabi.
Written by Barnaby Edwards and Gary Russell. Directed by Gary Russell and Barnaby Edwards.
Special appearance by Mark Gatiss as The Coughing Man.
Season 23.5 - The Lost Stories
Ian Levine and Eric Saward complete eight stories they briefly discussed while out in a pub in Crouch End in 1984.
Starring Colin Baker as The Doctor with Bonnie Langford as Melanie Bush and Nick Briggs as Rubicon Glitz.
Special appearance by Jimmy Corkhill off of Brookside as The Master.
The Last Outpost
Unassuming website owner Joshua Stephen Lions realises he is the most powerful and important man in the universe - with shocking results.
Directed, produced, scored by and starring Nick Briggs and Barnaby Edwards.
I received a talking Earthshock-era Cyberman from a mate a few years ago, and very good it is too. If you're looking at it. If you want to listen to it you're in for a shock.
Because while the talking Cyberman is supposed to have four phrases - "Emotion is a weakness" and "Excellent!" are the only ones I can remember - they all sound exactly the same. Which is to say the all sound like "schhh, tschhhhhh, shhhh, tshhh, tschhhchshchhh".
It's utterly hopeless at talking. But it still sounds better than the new Cyberman.
Stephen Moffat is polishing his Hugos in Upper Boat. A mobile phone chirrups into life, playing a rendition of the theme tune to hit 90s sitcoms, Chalk.
Moffat: Yes? Oh it's you BBC Enterprises, what now, you want me to redesign to TARDIS? Only joking. Oh, you do want to me redesign the TARDIS...More toys...Easier to make...Uh-huh. OK, something else you say? A stage show. Well, I can't possibly. I'm busy actually writing Doctor Who and Sherlock and stuff. Gatiss? No, he's busy ploughing his Victoriana furrow...well, for the forseeable future I'd say... Chibnall?! Look, I'll write it, OK? Matt? No, he's busy in a gay play. Tennant? To soon, we could ask Sylv of course. No, no you're quite right. Barrowman said it was too broad? Jesus! Gatiss? Er, no. No. Neil out of the Young Ones, sure. The kids will love that. Tell you what else the kids will love...Carnival of Monsters references...yeah, exactly. Monsters come out, prance about a bit, monster walk back, repeat eight times - we can string it all together with Nigel Planer and some pre-recorded bits with Matt. And we'll get a band to play Murray's terrible music over some clips of the show we've culled from a Confidential. What's that? Churchill? Gatiss? No. Nick Briggs? Well, he'll have to be there with his ring modulator anyway, and I expect he's got his November payment to make. Yeah, it is a bit thin but what at least it's not The Ultimate Fucking Adventure eh? Oh, I dunno. Twenty quid? You were thinking fifty? And we charge three quid a pop for paper Cybermen masks? Keep talking...
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.
From time to time I wonder whatever happened to Neil Penswick, author of the The Pit - probably the most derided book in Doctor Who history.
The Pit was a relatively early New Adventure, from a time when the Virgin series had yet to find its feet, and wasn't generally liked. In fact, everyone who's ever read it seems to swear it's the worst book ever written.
I remember reading a few pages of it, not especially enjoying it, and moving on to something else, probably re-reading Timewyrm: Exodus or something.
I'm a big fan of those New Adventures, as they introduced me to a lot of science-fiction concepts and styles, which in turn led to other stuff. They came along at the right time for me
But a lot of those books stand up as sci-fi novels in their own right to my mind, and I liked where it took Doctor Who, taking the themes and approach of the later Cartmel series on TV and running with them.
For many they went too far, but I don't generally reckon so. Ben Aaronovitch's Transit probably did and is not a great book, but I enjoyed it. And the hard futuristic sci-fi novels of Kate Orman, Andy Lane, Lance Parkin and Andrew Cartmel - among the best - take the same characters, language, setting and mise-en-scene as Transit and create a whole new universe within the, er, Whoniverse.
So, I have a soft spot for the NAs. And now and again I find myself wondering what happened to the authors. Much of them are still involved with Doctor Who, some at high levels, though it often seems to be the least interesting ones.
Many can be found on Gallifrey Base, or on blogs or Twitter.
But Neil Penswick? Where the hell has he ended up? Tragically he's the only one of the NA writers not to have his own Wikipedia entry.
I seem to recall from the blurb on the back of The Pit that he lived in Bedford. Is he still there? What's he doing these days? If anyone knows, can you tell me?.
If only to mark the upcoming 20th anniversary of the publication of The Pit?
I found this picture of Colin Baker's Doctor wearing the Davison Doctor's outfit, post-Androzani in doll form.
Presumably it's also possible to buy a doll of Nicola Bryant being strangled which, although amusing, would probably not be the Nicola Bryant doll of choice for most Who fans.
This exclusive figure portrays the 6th Doctor, Colin Baker, right after he regenerated from the 5th Doctor in "Caves of Androzani". The Doctor regenerated after retrieving the milk of a bat and carrying Peri back to the TARDIS. Unfortunately, the Doctor only had enough bat milk for Peri (it was the cure for a fatal disease they both had contracted)and in an instant, Peter Davison was transformed into Colin Baker. Not even the celery could help the Fifth Doctor. This figure has the messed up, dirty clothes that Davison's Doctor ended up after his quest for the bat milk.
Destiny of the Doctors is a fairly patchy RPG released in the mid-90s that features Anthony Ainley in his last performance as The Master.
The game itself is imaginative and respectful of the show, featuring vocal performances from all the living Doctors, but it didn't really hold up that well as a gaming experience.
It was pretty buggy, the interface was awkward and the gameplay repetitive, but in a world without any new Who, and the prospect of a revival seemingly remote, new products like this seems important at the time.
I always rated Ainley's Master when he wasn't made to pantomime it up, and found him a lot more frightening a character than Delgado.
While the original Master gave the impression that he was more interested in besting The Doctor at bridge, the Ainley Master was believably unhinged, and quite sadistic to boot.
He's often superb in stories like Logopolis, Castrovala and particularly Survival, but his last performance in Destiny of the Doctors is a more relaxed, humourous but still menacing rendition of the Master.
Ainley was, by all accounts, quite mad - in a joyously English actorly way - and there are plenty of tales about his pleasure in playing the Master and his habit of leaving voice messages and replying to fan mail in character.
It's quite hard to track the game down, so I've embedded a few of the videos that form the cut scenes in the game below.
A rescored selection of clips, which only goes to show that it's not just Keff McCulloch who can made to look stupid when his music's taken out of context