Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Great Unreleased Doctor Who Merchandise of the 20th Century - part three


Nearly published by Polystyle Publications - 1971 - Original price: 5p

The first issue of 'Countdown' comic was a huge success. Kids loved the mix of serious sci-fi comic strips featuring their favourite TV heroes from old favourites like Dr. Who to that new kid on the block, Gerry Anderson's UFO. This success led to the producers hastily putting to together a sister publication. UNIT would be more action-based with an emphasis shifting from just sci-fi to other telly hits of the time. The lead strip featured a spin-off from 'Doctor Who' in the form of 'UNIT' which saw the Brigadier aided by agents Jo Grant, Mike Yates and Benson battle Earth-based threat with no mention of their time travelling mentor, the Doctor. The likenesses to the TV characters in the first instalment were okay, with artwork up to the sister comic's standard. - However, keen eyes would notice that "Benson" bore little resemblance to the actor who played the TV character "Benton". Official BBC paperwork from the period suggests that a certain actor refused to allow his likeness to be used for the £1.55 per issue fee. Thus another character was created to replace him at no cost whatsoever. And "Benson" was born...

In the end, sales of 'Countdown' fell dramatically. The idea for 'UNIT Comic' swiftly ended and 'Countdown' went on to become 'TV Action' before suffering a slow death when it merged with TV Comic a year or so later.  

All that is left - aside from a cover - is a mock-up comic strip with Sgt. Benton's face scribbled out forcefully with a deep red marker pen.

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