Issue 544 of Doctor Who Magazine is a massive fortieth anniversary spectacular including a DVD of documentaries and bonus content, a free download of the Big Finish audio adventure box set Destiny Of The Doctor, and an index to the contents of every issue, alongside a ton of fascinating features looking at the magazine’s history, the ever-shifting ‘Best Story’ poll results and much more besides.
I can still remember how excited I was when my sister gave me the second issue of Doctor Who Weekly (as it was then) which she had somehow managed to wangle a copy of via her paper round; I was only dimly aware that there actually had been any Doctor Who back beyond Tom Baker – we had some Jon Pertwee annuals knocking around in the house and that was pretty much it – and was especially struck by the photos from old black and white stories that seemed like they might as well have been from about fifteen thousand centuries ago and another reality to me at that point. Needless to say I’ve been a regular reader (and later contributor) ever since, and while references to Dr. Sally Gary, Reader Benito Caramel, Panopticon ’86 Competiton Winner Randeep Kooner (“I liked the music”) and Sam Skinner Of Troliscliffe Wonders If His BBC Videos Have Scenes That Do Not Appear On The Tape might even be lost on an overwhelming majority of Doctor Who fans, let alone regular readers of my site, even so I’d like to take this opportunity to talk about my favourite ever issue of Doctor Who Magazine.
For a long time – and this will probably not surprise anyone in the slightest – it was issue 169 from January 1991, published very shortly after it became apparent that the BBC’s claim that they were ‘committed to taking Doctor Who through the nineties’ didn’t necessarily involve actually making any more of it, and it looked like the series had more or less been cancelled for good. Sylvester McCoy didn’t exactly look like the world’s most confident and relaxed individual on the cover, and the headline ‘Waiting In The Wings – What Does The Doctor Do Next?’ was hardly a revolutionary rallying call, but the mere fact that the issue existed was a bold confirmation that those pesky ‘fans’ weren’t going to go anywhere, and would just keep on finding new ways to enjoy Doctor Who until somebody brought it back. This would be followed by the New Adventures novels, the BBC2 repeats, Big Finish, Orbital enthusing about the show’s music and effects, the likes of Lee And Herring using Doctor Who as a casual and respectful reference point rather than sniggering about cardboard monsters made of rubber sets tripping over intergalactic scarves or whatever it is and more, which all helped pave the way towards Doctor Who eventually coming back bigger and better than ever, but it was many of the individuals reading – and some writing for – that issue of Doctor Who Magazine that did the actual heavy lifting and fought the right battles with the right people at the right moments. Which is why I could not be more pleased to say that my favourite issue is now 516 – the first issue with Jodie Whittaker on the cover, and the ultimate manifestation of everything that everyone set in motion back in 1991. I’m very clearly biased on account of my name being in that issue, though I’d like to take a moment to remember how thrilled Paul Condon (who you can read more about here) was about it too.
My name is also in Issue 544, as I’m reviewing two of the latest Big Finish releases – Part Four of Ravenous featuring the Eighth Doctor and numerous incarnations of The Master, and The Companion Chronicles: The First Doctor Volume 3, which includes a belting story where Steven has to literally team up with a washed-up former double act fifties television comic – and if that’s not a good enough bonus on top of everything else… well you can always write in to Pick Of The Penguin.
You can get Doctor Who Magazine in all good newsagents and from the magazine’s official website here.
© Tim Worthington.
Please don’t copy this only with more italics and exclamation marks.