Peter Capaldi VS The Official Doctor Who Fan Club
by TV Cream
Keith Miller has been a long-time friend of TV Cream – but an even longer-time friend of Doctor Who, as his brand-new, self-published book proves.
He was good enough to send us a copy, and we have to admit – with all due TVC-nonsense aside – it’s absolutely terrific. Granted, most of it looks like death (sorry, Keith) but it chronicles not only the birth of organised DW fandom, with all the attendant squabbles and nerdy turf wars, but also Keith’s own (and we can’t believe we’re going to say this without some sort of waspish caveat) coming of age. Impressive for a book which essentially has no narrative beyond picture captions.
Erm, that makes it sound like The Tardis Inside Out, and it’s really not.
So, what is it? In the main, it’s a reproduction of letters sent to Keith from Barry Letts’ secretary Sarah Newman, plus reproductions of every issue of the DWFC newsletter during the period.
It begins in 1972, when our hero (and he really is) is 13-years-old. For reasons that remain unclear, he becomes the secretary and de facto chairperson of The Official Doctor Who Fan Club – as endorsed by BBCtv. Can’t see Edward Russell sanctioning that today, eh readers? Edinburgh-based Keith then struggles to turn out monthly issues of his home-made mag, aided along the way by Sarah sending him stencils and synopses, and agreeing to cover postage costs via a laborious set-up wherein he drops off all copies of his latest effort to an office in BBC Scotland.
Honestly, it’s brilliant.
Because of the nature of their correspondence, we never see Keith’s letters, but it’s fun reading Sarah’s replies and filling in the gaps in the unfolding story. As time passes, the two build up quite a touching relationship; Sarah gently offers counsel when Keith’s father passes away and shares her frustrations at the rise of the Super Fan as Peter Capaldi – that Peter Capaldi – and pals proceed to make themselves pests to the Doctor Who production team, and commence on a grubby quest for Whovian power. There’s even a terrific bit where Keith frets that Sarah’s serious when she suggests he pops over to Glasgow to duff up the proto Malcolm Tucker.
Other highlights include Keith’s visits to London to see episodes of the show being filmed (first in the company of his mum, who takes a shine to Barry) and his various run-ins with Jon Pertwee who, when not cadging fags, is making his displeasure known at the amount of Hartnell and Troughton-related material in the nascent mag. Plus, Keith’s retelling of early Doctor Who stories. Who knew episode two of An Unearthly Child began with Ian fretting about what his landlady would say if he didn’t report back to his digs tout de suite?
This volume ends with the Third Doctor’s demise, and Keith being published in that year’s Doctor Who Annual from World Distributors.
With Keith’s permission, we’ve reproduced one of Sarah’s letters below (actually, it’s to Peter Capaldi), plus a particularly fine DWFC newsletter front page. But, seriously you should just get this book. A second volume covering the DWFC’s tussles with Tom Baker is promised. We hope to see it very, very soon. And, as someone once said: “Where there’s life…”
The Doctor Who Fan Club Volume 1 - The Pertwee Years by Keith Miller
Reviewed by Richard Bignell
Some people with long memories may remember the name Keith Miller, who with the assistance of the production office, started to run the official Doctor Who Fan Club back in January 1972 - and all this when he was only 13 years old!
Keith is now releasing the first volume of his memories of setting up and running the fan club, documenting events from the start of the club through to the end of Jon Pertwee's tenure - and all told by reproducing the correspondence he received at the time, primarily with Sarah Newman, the secretary in the Doctor Who Production Office along with copies of all the Doctor Who Fan Club newsletters produced over those years. Keith also recounts in vivid detail his set visits to the BBC to watch the recording of The Three Doctors, Carnival of Monsters and Planet of the Spiders, how he came to write one of the stories in the 1973 Doctor Who Annual and the tussles he had with a young "Peter Bleedin' Capaldi"!
It's a fascinating account of the early years of fandom and one young man's love for the programme. Highly recommended.
Pre-orders for the 237 page, A4 book open today from Keith's site - http://www.odwfc.com/
Volume 2 covering the early Tom Baker years (and set visits to Genesis of the Daleks, Terror of the Zygons and The Masque of Mandragora) follows later in the year.
The Official Doctor Who Fan Club: Volume 1
Reviewed by Christian Cawley
Coming soon from Keith Miller is an amazing recollection of the events that led up to and the trials and tribulations of his first few years as the secretary of the Doctor Who Fan Club, back in the early 1970s.
Although the club existed prior to Miller’s involvement his was the hand that created the first widely-available fanzine, and his were the eyes that got to see archive material before most other fans.
Self-penned, self-printed with a screen printer and some stencils, Miller’s members were the recipients of insanely marvellous feats of monthly magic with a Doctor Who theme, usually focussing on the Jon Pertwee episodes but with as much information as Miller could find on the previous Doctors.
Imagine being a fan, for a moment, in a world without the Internet, without 24 hour TV on multiple channels… without Doctor Who Magazine. Keith Miller’s BBC-endorsed fan club was the only way to get a fix of time travelling terror when the series was off air, and offered a unique resource into the history of the show, occasionally throwing up the odd interview with people like Jon Pertwee.
No doubt the vast majority of those thin fan club magazines are lost to time… which is why this book is a vital addition to any Doctor Who fan’s collection, reproducing as it does Miller’s collection of those original works.
This is a veritable Aladdin’s cave of material, some good, some not so good but all created with immense love and attention. We Internet-age Doctor Who fans running our own websites with custom-built content management systems have it easy compared to Miller and the creators of other fanzines, and we all have an awful lot to thank him for.
Featuring a foreword from the great Paul Cornell, the book covers the period up to the departure of Jon Pertwee and Barry Letts, ending with bemusing epilogue and setting the scene for Volume 2, and a new Doctor…
Personally, I can’t wait!
Get full details on The Official Doctor Who Fan Club: Volume 1 at www.odwfc.com