As TSV entered its second half-century with the publication of issue 51 in June 1997, co-editor and desktop publishing whizz Nick Withers took his final bow. Neither of us realised at the time that this issue would be Nick's swansong, but the writing was on the wall; there are no reviews by Nick in this issue, and even though it was his turn in the cycle of alternating editorials, there's me burbling away instead. By the time the next issue came around, Nick was no longer around. There was no animosity, no falling out. Nick just decided he wanted to do other things. So for Nick's tenure as co-editor, TSV 51 was the end.
But as one door closed, another opened. This issue represents for me the point at which TSV lifted its game. Having strived for and conquered the milestone fiftieth issue with that exclusive Tom Baker material, I became concerned that maybe I couldn't possibly top that. In addition Doctor Who Magazine had given us the ultimate accolade, making TSV 50 'Fanzine of the Month'. The phrases "always essential" and "puts too many of its UK brethren to shame" from that DWM review haunted me. This was high praise indeed, and it felt a little like the small fanzine from down under had suddenly been handed a lofty reputation to live up to.
TSV faced an influx of eager new subscribers from foreign shores, lured perhaps by the Tom Baker coverage in TSV 50, but no doubt also attracted by that glowing DWM review. It wasn't enough anymore for TSV just to be a club fanzine with a random assortment of readers' contributions. We were out in the world, and attracting the attention of some high-profile fans. With this in mind I determined to make TSV’s content tighter and more focussed.
The Gary Russell interview by Jon Preddle was TSV 51’s lead item. Gary was a long-time supporter of TSV and Jon had previously interviewed him for issue 37 several years earlier. This new interview covered what had happened to Gary in the intervening period, including his controversial dismissal from Panini, his various novels for Virgin and the BBC, and the Radio Times comic strips. Gary refers to a few projects in the interview which later came to fruition - the CD-Rom he was writing for became the BBC computer game Destiny of the Doctor and the 'making of' book for the TV Movie was eventually published as Regenerations by HarperCollins. Within a year of this interview taking place Gary began working for Big Finish.
My biographical article about Terry Nation in this issue is one of the most meticulously researched things I've written for TSV. I spent a long time accumulating a stack of photocopied interviews and articles and then writing and rewriting the article. I think it still holds up quite well.
The issue had long been planned as a fiction special. Since the demise of Timestreams (TSV's fiction counterpart) in 1995, Nick and I had planned to devote one issue of TSV predominantly to a collection of short stories. We never accumulated nearly enough material to support an entire issue, but TSV 51 saw the best of what we had lined up, amounting to four text stories and a comic strip.
Keith Topping and Martin Day’s short story tie-in to The Devil Goblins from Neptune was intended to function like the Prelude stories that used to appear in DWM.
The New Adventures novels heavily influenced Morgan Davie’s dark and moody comic strip In Bloom which features features a character called the Judge that had appeared in Morgan's unpublished Sixth Doctor and Peri Dalek novel.
Sadly, this was the end for the New and Missing Adventures. The last titles in these two series (not counting the Bernice Summerfield New Adventures of course) had come out a couple of months before TSV 51, and the issue featured reviews of all but one of the last batch of books, as well as the first of BBC Books' output. For some reason the last of the Missing Adventures wasn't reviewed until TSV 52; I can't recall why, but I suspect that the book was delayed in the post.
The Green Death was new on video, and our resident Pertwee era fan, Alistair Hughes naturally wrote the review, as well as coming up with the stylish front cover artwork. Can you really image this printed on anything other than green…?
So TSV had survived beyond Tom Baker and the fiftieth issue, but Nick Withers departed. Just how I managed to keep TSV going on my own is a story for next time!
Read TSV 51 here.
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