12 June, 2007
I've been asked how it is that I manage to remember so much for these blog articles about the behind-the-scenes details of these old issues of TSV. The answer is simply that re-reading an issue (and preparing it for online publication) usually works remarkably well as a mnenomic trigger. Not so much with this issue, though. I was going through a very uneven patch in my life when this issue was underway. So the memories that come to light when I flick through the pages of TSV 47 are not so much about the making of the issue as they are about other more important personal things that were going on in the first half of 1996. My co-editor Nick Withers probably didn't realise just how much I appreciated his support during those trying times, but if he's reading this blog hopefully he does now.
The issue features a rather eyecatching Frontier in Space wraparound cover artwork by the ever-reliable Alistair Hughes, to accompany Alistair's review of the video. For those who've only ever seen the cover image on the website, the new online issue is a first opportunity to see the other half of the cover artwork.
The Cornflakes Connection was an account of the making of a Doctor Who segment for a breakfast cereal TV commercial, made in Auckland but screened in the UK. Myself and Jon Preddle were invited along to watch the recording take place in a cold, cavernous warehouse somewhere in the rural back blocks of South Auckland. In my career I've witnessed first hand some of the utterly inane things that advertising people will do in the belief that they're being clever and effective, but this was an early exposure to the industry. Applying fake stubble to the face of one of the performers dressed up as the Fourth Doctor because a second Tom Baker look-alike in the same shot was unshaven was a particularly ridiculous move, as was removing the distinctive - and authentic - Fifth Doctor's coat from another performer due to the primadonna director taking a dislike to it.
The highlight of the whole experience was getting to meet UK fan Andrew Beech, whom Jon and I took on a sightseeing tour of Auckland, during which Andrew treated us to some quite unprintable anecdotes, including which Doctor Who actors had apparently been sleeping with each other. Andrew had also apparently read a version of Matthew Jacobs' script for the TV Movie (which at the time was in production), and cheerfully told me the plot whilst Jon stuck his fingers in his ears and went "la-la-la" to avoid spoilers. He needn't have bothered as very little of what Andrew told me about the story - which allegedly included a nude shower scene for the Doctor and/or companion, and the appearance of a 'Millennium Star' - bore any resemblance at all to the finished production!
Felicity interviewed David Bishop about his first Doctor Who novel, Who Killed Kennedy, which was published around the time that the issue came out. The interview is now also linked from the Who Killed Kennedy ebook.
David Ronayne and Peter Adamson's Hyperborea comic strip, set in the hypothetical realm of 'Season 6b' is a rather wonderful adventure with lots of running around and getting locked up in the grand tradition of the Patrick Troughton era. I can take credit - or perhaps that should be blame - for providing David with the "happy medium" pun that appears on page 8. The strip required a fair bit of restoration work for its online publication as the original pages were stuck into the issue's mastercopy and in the intervening years pigment from the ink used to black in areas of the strip had bled on to the facing pages, creating some disfiguring areas of yellow. Thank goodness for Photoshop! The online publication has enabled me to correct a minor spelling error in one of the speech balloons, which had been pointed out by David in the following issue's letters pages.
Also corrected for online publication was the short story by Nicholas Withers, which due to a printing error noticed shortly before publication but too late to correct it, was missing a line of text from the bottom of one of the pages. Needless to say, the online version is complete.
David Lawrence's short story, A Visit, was as I recall an excerpt from his unfinished New Adventures novel called The Blue Shift. For a while I was in discussions with David about getting him to finish the book so that it could be published in full as a TSV Books novelisation, but this never eventuated.
I was and indeed still am a big fan of the New Adventures novels. I had been re-reading some of the earlier books in the series and discovered that my opinion of some of them changed on a re-reading. I was particularly struck by how much I was impressed by Transit, a much-maligned book that I'd disliked the first time I read it. This experience inspired me to create the Not-So-New Adventures column, which was to be a re-evaluation of some of the older books. Thanks to the online archive it's possible to compare if you like my radically different views of Transit in TSV 47 and in TSV 32.
Two items from this issue - Lance Parkin's The Making of Just War and Keith Topping's And Cut it... Now! were reprints from other fanzines. It was unusual for TSV to borrow quite so liberally from other sources - albeit with full permission - and I cannot recall now exactly why we did it for this issue. Perhaps we were running short of material? I have a feeling that Keith might have offered his article to us himself, and I know I was in touch with Lance Parkin via email around this time (leading to the interview in the following issue), so perhaps the same was true of his item.
TSV 47 was of course the last issue published before the TV Movie aired. Nick and I were planning a double-themed TSV 48, half covering the McGann movie and the other half marking 50 New Adventures novels. We had to alter our plans after some very sad news, but that's a story for next issue...
Read TSV 47 here.
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