31 October 2016

Good Times! #8 PanoptiCon 8 1987 and Nebula 26 1989



PanoptiCon 8 Event highlights

Saturday:

MC- David Banks
`The Faceless Ones` episode 3
Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, Tony Selby – Colin showing off his new slimline figure while Nicola in an answer to a bold question from the audience revealed she was married. Tony made a point of saying how hard JNT had worked to keep the show going.
Sophie Aldred- Introduced as if she were a competition winner, this was her debut convention appearance and she seemed a bit overawed by it. There was also an on screen message from the unavailable Sylvester McCoy.
Barry Letts, Terrance Dicks, Don Houghton and Bob Baker.

29 October 2016

Class Nightvisiting



Excellent third episode of Doctor Who spin- off now on BBC3 on the iPlayer.
Anyone who found the opening two episodes too broad or shrill may prefer this thoughtful and occasionally poignant story of an unconventional invasion which sees the streets of London festooned with bizarre appendages reaching into windows. The episode opens though with a montage telling us the story of Tanya’s late father and the aftermath of his death. This is a strong opening to what is an episode that relies on character rather than too much technobabble and is all the better for it. At the centre of things, Vivian Oparah delivers a powerful performance as the confused and shocked Tanya.
Spoiler Warning – key plot points revealed after the break

22 October 2016

Class Episodes 1 and 2



It’s been a while since we had a new Doctor Who spin off and just as it seemed as if that period was gone, along comes Class. At least for those aware of it. Debuting on the BBC’s peculiar channel / portal hybrid BBC3, it starts off at a disadvantage because even the Radio Times barely acknowledges 3’s existence. The show has a potential draw in the form of Peter Capaldi guesting in the opening episode…but nobody really wants to say too much about that because the series is unsuitable for younger people. On the other hand this is a series for…erm younger people. One way or another it will be a miracle if people find this show let alone decide to watch it. Who is it really designed for? 

17 October 2016

The Time When Tom Baker published his autobiography



The gap between my initial encounter with the television debut of the fourth Doctor in December 1974 and what I now know about the actor who played him is Atlantic wide. To a kid, Tom was the lively, boggle eyed, long scarf bedecked grinning hero who saved us all from the squidgy monsters and helped make 5.20 pm on a Saturday night a magical place. To an adult, Tom became a bawdy, crazy eccentric obsessed with death and, er, ironing. Inevitably these two aspects came together in 1997 when Tom Baker published his autobiography. In some ways it was something you didn’t want him to do as explanations often sabotage the most beguiling people. By this time though Tom was out and about on the convention circuit and re-engaging with his best known role. These appearances- and the book they promoted- did not disappoint. 

14 October 2016

Reverse the Polarity



Highly recommended 1992 Jon Pertwee interview.
One of the aspects that made Jon Pertwee such a great convention guest was his rapport with a large audience whose enthusiasm he in turn would feed with a raconteur’s skill. Rarer are one to one interviews outside of chat shows and `Reverse The Polarity` is probably the best I’ve seen. It features a lengthy interview with the actor as well as some fans’ memories of him, additional comments from Richard Franklin plus some behind the scenes footage of the third Doctor as he meets and greets fans at a video signing.

10 October 2016

Good Times! #6 PanoptiCon 6 1985



(Adapted from a review first published in the MLG Megazine 1985)

Standing on a pebble strewn Brighton beach on an unseasonal July morning strafed by winds with waves washing the stones I try to imagine France on the horizon beyond the swirling grey sea though you can’t see it. Indeed you can’t see much but the heavy sky. It’s film weather this and you can imagine taking the cameras over the beach in the build up to some dark drama. This weekend though our particular drama is behind me inside the seafront Brighton Metropole hotel where the latest PanoptiCon is taking place. 

3 October 2016

The Making of a TV Series book 1983



In many ways this is the continuation of the two versions of `The Making of Doctor Who` which had appeared in 1972 and again re-edited with additions in 1976. Published by Puffin and credited to Alan Road with photographs by Richard Farley, the book has the dimensions of a magazine and in 1983 sold for the princely sum of £1.95. While undoubtedly a more detailed analysis of the component parts that go into making a Doctor Who story its value is also that it is now a historical account of what television production was like in another time. Generously illustrated with official and behind the scenes photos- some in colour- it is a visual treat. Just like the previous Making of books it uses one story as an example so following `The Sea Devils` and `Robot`, under the microscope here is `The Visitation`. 

An early double page photo of the studio lights over the TARDIS set serves notice that this is to be an altogether more fact based account though. There are no fanciful Time Lord Files here. While this approach can occasionally make the book seem a tad dry, this is more than made up for by the way it illuminates the different production stages. Peter Davison provides an introduction where he declares “practically everyone involved knows more about what is going on than the actor.”