Thursday, 28 July 2016

"Terrahawks! Stay on this Channel. ZD21 is Go!!!"

Here's something I was asked to do by a strange elderly woman who turned up at my house one day last week. 

She had an infectious laugh as well as a rather eye-catching skin condition. She said she would pay me in "untold riches" if I took on the commission but I settled for a few coppers to pay for a Greggs sausage roll and coffee. 

Not heard back from her but she seemed pleased with the results... She tweetered them to help sell some of her Blu-ray discs. Bless. 

Always nice to help out the elderly. We owe them so much. 

With thanks to Jamie Anderson for asking.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

The Story of the Chock-A-Block Computer Uncovered...

A complete history of the 
Chock-A-Block computer 
as seen on the BBC pre-school TV series. 

Chock-A-Block was originally broadcast in 1981 from May until August. It was presented by Fred Harris (as Chock-A-Bloke) and Carol Leader (as Chock-A-Girl) - though not at the same time. The single series was regularly re-run the lunchtime Watch With Mother slot until 1989. 

The main prop was a colourful computer - the Chock-A-Block of the title. 

It was originally built by BBC carpenters in 1953 to dress the set of the British Rocket Group's control room in The Quatermass Experiment.

It is believed to have been stored at the BBC for many years and was regularly used as set dressing on a number of BBC productions during the 50s and 60s. Here it is in a 1966 episode of TV's Doctor Who - the one about the evil computers who take over the Post Office Tower.

The computer was sold as part of a large selection of BBC props to a props warehouse in East London shortly after the opening of BBC Television Centre. It was hired out and appeared in a number of films following this. For the whole of 1974, it lived at Pinewood Studios as part of the set of Moonbase Alpha in the Space: 1999 series. Here it is. It can just be made out underneath the Main Mission's view screen. 

The famous space sci-fi series also marked the first appearance of the 'Choc-A-Truck' that Fred Harris and Carol Leader drove into the studio at the beginning of each 'Chock-A-Episode', though not at the same time. 

Following this, the prop appeared in several ITV and BBC productions. It had a main role as the atmospheric background to the slaughtering of Blakes's 7 in the final episode of that series. 

It was at this time, it was spotted by BBC Childrens Department who signed the prop up for thirteen episodes of a lunchtime pre-school series. Sadly it only ran for one series and the prop was last seen in a 1994 episode of EastEnders

It hasn't been seen since. 

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Rubbish Publicity Shots Used On Doctor Who Book Covers...

The title of this post says it all really - though it's a bit clunky. 

During JNT's time on Doctor Who, there was a rash of these sort of publicity stills - usually the Doctor, his companion and a guest star doing high kicks with a prop (a birthday cake?). Unsurprisingly, none of these tended to go much further than the following day's newspaper or the front cover of a 90s Official Doctor Who Magazine cover. 

Over the past few months, I've filled in time using some of them to create some ghastly book covers that - for me - sum up the ever-so-slightly camp Art of the Doctor Who Publicity Stunt

(You've probably seen the Silver Nemesis one before... but what the heck..)

Friday, 22 July 2016

The Gays of EastEnders spin-off book series...

Sometime you have a really dumb idea... 

Too obscure and too niche to appeal to only the most warped of tastes...

This is one of them. 

(With apologies to the short-lived 'Companions of Doctor Who' book series published by Target books in the 80s)

Mrs Sharples' Dark Secret

A year or so ago, I tweeted an ad for a Sapphire & Steel ice lolly which seemed to go down well on social media - particularly those who genuinely thought they remembered them from their childhood. 

Indeed, some eBay entrepreneur - believing it to be a real ad - turned it into a fridge magnet. (He was told of his error!).

Here's this year's nostalgic ice lolly. 


Real liquorice water ice!!

Whovians in Love - volume one..

Heart Throbs (original cover)
As is always the case with the best ideas, I'm indebted to someone else for giving me the original inspiration for one of my little efforts. In this case, it's @bohaynowell in the Twittersphere who posted the cover of an old DC romance comic entitled 'Heart Throbs'. Needless to say, in my timeline the word 'Heart' was cut off so I saw the comic as simply 'Throbs' but that's beside the point. 

It got my juices flowing and I ended up producing covers for six issues of 'Whovians In Love' in which I bastardise several covers of similar US romance comics for the sake of an obscure cheap laugh. 

There was also a special one-shot edition: 

Friday, 8 July 2016

New French Doctor Who novel reprints... in English!

Back in the late 80s, French television purchased Doctor Who. To tie in with their screening, some of the original Target novels were translated into the native tongue and published with colourful new covers. Looking at them now, eyes are drawn to the two young gentlemen and the legend 'Igor et Grichka Bogdanoff presentent'. These were two presenters who fronted the sci-fi magazine show 'Temps X' which screened Doctor Who as part of its programming - in much the same way that Noel Edmonds presented episodes of 'Josie and the Pussycats' as part of his 'Multi-Coloured Swap Shop'. 

Eight books suffered this fate and whilst they have become the obligatory 'rare collectors item' so loved by eBay sellers, the Bogdanoff twins lived on to become something only suitable for a late night screening. (See foot of page.) 

In an attempt to make the old episodes of Doctor Who more relevant to young people, I was commissioned to translate these books back into English and provide new colourful covers for them. I also took the liberty of finding a pair of odd twins to 'present' them. 

Igor et Grichka Bogdanoff these days.... Sorry. 

Doctor Who Armada Books - additional full covers

I had a bit of spare time last week in between jobs so I created full cover versions of my earlier Armada book covers.

These are they... 

John Shaft versus Jon Pertwee!

Apparently there's a little heard-of third Dr Who movie following the two 1960s Dalek movies. It had a limited release in 1972 before being lost forever. 

The only clue to it ever having existed is this poster. 

And the fact that the editor of TV Action comic saw it at a seedy Tunbridge Wells bijou. He recalled the name of the Doctor's home planet from the film the following week, when a reader wrote in to ask the name of the Master's home world. 

Thus a legend was born...