Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Happy Christmas to all our readers!

"Entertainment for Christmas Day here on B B C 1....

"Jon Pertwee opens the phone lines for your calls for a festive Swap Shop at 9.30....

"After The Queen's speech at 3.15, Alexander Armstrong presents a special Pointless Christmas episode of Pointless...

"Anthony Ainley fires up the Crinkley Tissue Compression Eliminator as he opens the door's to his Christmas House Party at 5.15...

"At 8.15, Doreen Mantle stars as Mrs. Warboys in a spooky Christmas episode of Warboys and Meldrew (Deceased)...

"And with Christmas Question Time with The Krankies at 10.30, that's your Christmas Day entertainment, here on B B C 1 !!" 

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

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

Doctor Who Slipback - Viewmaster Reels 

GAF - 1986 - Price £1.99 (Woolworths exclusive)

Back when Michael Grade put 'Doctor Who' on hiatus in the mid-eighties, the production team filled in their time by making a radio special that was allegedly broadcast on BBC Radio Four UK. (Few people actually heard it due to the fact it appeared within a kids radio programme that no-one listened to.) 

Having sold two successful sets of 3D reels of Doctor Who for their popular Viewmaster viewing thing, the people at GAF signed up for another set. Alas, the aforementioned 18 month hiatus set in. 

Needing something for the ever approaching Christmas market, GAF sent their photographer to the next best thing... the recording of the radio show. 

Pictures were taken in glorious 3D of the cast and crew at work, play and, in the case of veteran actor, Valentine Dyall, asleep in a large moth-eaten armchair.

The subsequent reels were released in time for Christmas as a Woolworths exclusive. 

In 2008, Woolworths went into administration...

A lesson had been learnt!

Suggested by reader Clayton Hickman - £5 Woolworths Gift Token STAR LETTER

Sunday, 21 December 2014

The BBC's Early Attempts at Doctor Who DVDs

Doctor Who fans don't know how lucky they are. Every available story from the show's 50 year run is now available on digitally restored discs. The first DVD was released a decade and a half ago when the fledgling BBC DVD Exploitation Department tentatively dipped its toe into the already rapidly expanding hi-tech market.

As is usual with public corporations, attempts at anything commercial were mired in the lack-of-imagination of the people making the decisions.

Here - for the first time - are three cover proofs of the BBC's early attempts to market Doctor Who as an ongoing series of DVDs. 

As is always the case with any evidence presented on this blog, it never happened that way at all.

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ADDENDUM: A couple of years ago, BBC Video made plans to re-launch the Doctor Who VHS range. Sadly, bosses at BBC Worldwide scuppered the idea when they suddenly realised they still had a VHS department.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

New Direction for Next James Bond Movie

Following the recent revelation of the leaking of the script for the new James Bond film as a result of the SONY hacking case, its producers announce a new direction for the franchise...

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

This Week Weekly!

I make no apology for this little effort. It was too good an opportunity not to do. 'This Week' is the bizarre BBC political programme hosted by former Times editor Andrew Neil with Diane Abbot and Michael Portillo. 

It broadcasts on Thursday nights following 'Question Time' and I assume its lightweight approach to designed to calm down the viewers infuriated by the live chimps tea party that the aforementioned show usually descends into. 

Many criticise the show for its strange sense of humour. Me? I liken it to a political version of the old kids show 'Crackerjack' and I find myself offering up a paraphrased version of the old 'Doctor Who' excuse... "It's not a political show, it's made by the BBC light entertainment department!" ... which isn't true but seems to sum up their approach to the subject.

Anyhow, I'll give Gareth Roberts' Twitter feed the credit for setting me off on this little road. Thanks. And also apologise to 'Doctor Who Adventures' editor Paul Lang for misquoting him on the cover! Put it down to age. I'm more likely to say 'Crikey!' than 'Yikes!'

There's also a couple of variations on the theme from a few years ago. (NB: I made the same 'Crikey!' mistake back then as well.) 

Monday, 15 December 2014

Another Christmasy Post About TV Annuals

It may come as a shock to you but I love old TV annuals! 

No doubt the subtle clues from previous posts on the subject have gone over your heads and the admission comes out of the blue to you.

I have a neat little collection of them stretching from a mint-fresh copy of the very first Doctor Who annual from 1965 (apparently written by the show's original script-editor, David Whitaker!) to a Dick Barton Special Agent annual (based on the late 70s TV series and illustrated in muted 50s hues by V for Vendetta's David Lloyd). 

A year or so ago, when I first started fiddling around in Photoshop, I put together a few annuals that I wished were available back in their hey-day when I was the age of their target market. 

This is a selection of them which I hope you appreciate.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

The ITV Doctor Who Christmas Special 1973

It's not a widely known fact that ITV attempted to poach 'Doctor Who' from the BBC back in the early seventies. 

The independent television channel had a long history of doing this with stars like Tony Hancock and Benny Hill and would famously drag Morecambe and Wise to the channel in the 80s with false promises of movie deals and bigger budgets. 

The 'Doctor Who' poach was a mess from the start. Hastily done in the autumn of 1973, ITV quickly commissioned a variety special for Christmas which was recorded in front of a live canned laughter machine that November. 

In the show, Jon Pertwee performed his hit single 'Who is the Doctor?' as a duet with Noele Gordon - there to plug her 'Crossroads Christmas Sing-a-Long' LP whilst comedian Bernard Manning played a somewhat coarse (and possibly drunk) Santa Claus. 

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Benny Hill's Jackie Wright and Bob Todd were Santa's Time Elves who got into hilarious japes (sic) with some reindeer and a wrapping paper machine that worried the RSPCA whilst Katy Manning performed 'Age of Aquarius' with 'The Jo Jo's' who looked suspiciously like 'The Ladybirds' dressed in silver spandex.

'Doctor Who' hastily returned back to the BBC - its tail between its legs the following January and all was forgiven - just...

Like the later 'Star Wars Holiday Special', the show has never been re-screened and VHS copies of it have become much sought-after by the curious and the naive. It remains a forgotten sully on the world of TV's favourite Time Lord. 

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Target Tennant!

Doing my back in must've done something to my brain as I've ended up carrying on into David Tennant's first series for my Target Book designs.

Nothing really to add to what I said in my previous post, other than that normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.... the mean time here's the testcard and some music!

You can catch up with the first series covers featuring Christopher Eccleston here.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Target: Eccleston!

I went and did my back in the other week getting my Christmas tree down from the loft. This meant - following my doctor's instructions - that I could only stand up or sit bolt upright for the past week. No slouching over computers!!

This is the reason for the lack of updates recently so apologies to anyone who thinks I've let them down.

Also up in the loft is my complete collection of 'Doctor Who' Target novelisations - all of them bar 'The Two Doctors' are first editions. I even have 'The Wheel in Space'. Whoopee-doo!!!

I have to say I loved the earlier covers for the books - the ones by Chris Achilleos (after Frank Bellamy). Their overall design still displays a dynamism often lacking in the modern branding of the series.

Since next year marks the tenth anniversary of the return of 'Doctor Who' to British television (and in order to get back in the swing of things following my sabbatical!), I had a bash at adapting the old Target designs for the first series starring Christopher Eccleston.

They aren't meant to be wholly faithful to the 70s books - just taking the basic design tropes and updating them a bit into a modern version.

Hope you like...

The covers continue with David Tennant's first series here.