My previous TSV commentary ended on a cliffhanger of sorts, so to recap: TSV had passed its fiftieth issue hurdle, pulled off a coup with some exciting exclusive local Tom Baker coverage, and had gained a new influx of mostly overseas readers into the bargain. But my creative partnership with co-editor Nick Withers had come to an end.
The importance of Nick's two-year contribution to TSV should not be overlooked. Nick had firmly led me away from the messy horrors of using an electric typewriter, Pritt stick and light box, and transformed TSV into a clean and tidy, wondrously good-looking desktop publishing creation. Our editorial pairing worked very well while it lasted; I would edit the text and Nick would composite all the pages in Microsoft Publisher, and print them out.
Nick had indicated to me in early 1997, after we worked on issue 50, that he didn't have the time to keep writing for TSV but that he was still agreeable to doing the layout. The last issue we worked on together was issue 51, published in June 1997.
In the following months that followed, I worked at assembling material for issue 52, ready to take it all around to Nick's place for a day or two of layout work. Only each time I asked Nick about this he'd reply that he wasn't sure when he'd have spare time to get together to do the issue. Eventually it got to the point where I had just about all of the content lined up for the issue, but still no time agreed with Nick to put it all together.
What to do? I had MS Publisher on my PC, and I'd spent the last six issues peering over Nick's shoulder as he used this to lay out each page. I bought myself a copy of the book Publisher for Dummies and began teaching myself to use the application. I worked from a template copy of TSV 51 so some of the trickier details like margin settings, column widths, gutters and page numbering was already in place. I started out doing this with the full intention of taking my work to Nick and getting him to check and polish this and then print out the master copy.
One day I found myself sitting at my desk and staring at the HP inkjet printer my partner Rochelle had recently bought me as a surprise gift for my 29th birthday. Then it dawned on me that I could finish the issue and print it all out myself. This epiphany remains to this day one of my strongest memories of this issue. I completed the layout, printed the master copy myself, and TSV 52 became the first of many desktop-published TSV issues that I designed and completed as a solo effort.
The issue's lead feature was an interview Gary Gillatt. Although I was delighted to interview the then-current Doctor Who Magazine editor, Gary actually approached me with a request to do the interview, saying in an email that he wanted to set the record straight about some of the comments his predecessor Gary Russell had made in his interview with Jon Preddle for TSV 51. So with the condition that Gillatt would have his right-of-reply, I fired off some questions and Gary provided some detailed and thoughtful answers, all via email as it wasn't until the following year that I met him for the first time. Gary ended the interview by dropping some hints about "the downfall of the Ninth Doctor and Izzy at the hands of the Threshold..." At a time when the Eighth Doctor was still reasonably new to the DWM comic strip, this was bewildering news indeed and, as you'll see from my response, I was definitely intrigued. As it transpired, Gary wasn't telling porkies - the events he referred to played out several months later in a breathtaking comic strip story called Wormwood.
Bob Beechey's Patrick Troughton article came about as a result of an email conversation I had with Bob about how he was probably TSV's eldest reader, and it would be wonderful if he felt like sharing his memories of watching the early years of the series with readers like myself not old enough to have seen the sixties episodes on their initial broadcast. Bob agreed to write something, but preferred to write more specifically about his appreciation of the Second Doctor.
The five-month gap between issues meant that we'd accumulated a number of new video releases to review, and these reviews were shared out among several writers. Alistair Hughes drew the front cover art to accompany the review of The Hand of Fear, but Peter Adamson reviewed that particular story and it fell to Alistair to review The Monster of Peladon, delivering (what was for Al) a rare negative reappraisal of a Third Doctor story.
To accompany Graham Howard's comprehensive review of The Five Doctors special edition, Jon Preddle and I decided to compile a guide to the changes between the broadcast version and the special edition. We set up two televisions and VCRs side-by-side in my living room, and cued up the two versions of the story. With some nimble remote control operation we were able to keep the two playing pretty much in synch - so that anything chopped out, added in or changed around would be immediately detectable. The result was a lengthy list of notes that took an entire day to complete, and Jon had to depart before we'd finished, leaving me to cover the last five or so minutes of the story.
Jamas Enright delivered a rather good short story, Castle Attraction, which has ties to all four of the TV stories reviewed this issue. See if you can spot them all. Jamas is also the eagle-eyed proof-reader for the online TSV re-issues, and he spotted when he was proofing material for the online issue that I had an earlier version of this story that featured several segments that were changed or trimmed for the published version. The online version is the one that appeared in the issue, but Jamas has put a 'deleted scenes' section on his own blog.
The comic strip action for this issue saw Richard Scholes illustrating a story called Inheritance by Patrick O’Seanessay. The story idea germinated from a conversation Patrick and I had about the origins of the Seventh Doctor’s apparent personality change between Dragonfire and Remembrance of the Daleks; in one story he's a happy adventurer, in the next he's a darkly brooding manipulator of events. The story took a good few years to come to fruition. As with Castle Attraction, it has a strong tie-in to one of the video releases reviewed this issue.
TSV 52 was the last of the 1997 issues, in a year that had seen just three TSVs published, and three issues per annum would become the norm for several years.. Lastly, it’s worth pointing out that the online version of TSV 52 has been published almost ten years to the day that readers would have received the printed copies of this very issue!
Read TSV 52 here.
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