From 1976, The Doctor Who Appreciation Society, or DWAS, has been in existence, allowing fans to share their views and opinions in a number of different articles, polls and fan artwork amongst other things. They’ve had a close relationship with the BBC since their beginning and have kept us Doctor Who fans up to date ever since. Also, their monthly regular magazine, Celestial Toyroom is not only the longest-running fan magazine in existence but also the longest-running Doctor Who magazine.
It’s back this month with issue 511, with striking cover art of the brilliant Anthony Ainley Master, from the artist, Connor Adkins, if you haven’t seen his art on Twitter go and take a look, its amazing, I really loved his recent Sixth Doctor spread, with a glass Dalek, a stained-glass Dalek as well as all his companions from onscreen and audio! One might think that, following last months issue which was all about the life and times of 80s producer, John Nathan-Turner, that this issue would be all about the Master. I would assume they are leaving that for next year which marks the anniversary of the Master’s first appearance in Terror of the Autons.
Instead, we get a plethora of fantastic articles and interviews, the first of which from chats to writer Bedwyr Gullidge, who not only writes for Blogtor Who, editing the Big Finish reviews as well as contributing over 500 articles to the site in general, he’s also found time to write the recently published: Doctor Who Exhibitions: The Unofficial and Unauthorised History from Telos Publishing. Interviewer Ian Wheeler lets us get to know him, by asking the normal Who-related questions, favourite Doctor Who story, how did you get into the show, before allowing us to know some really cool things. Gullidge worked as an assistant director on a number of Peter Capaldi episodes. He says how kind Capaldi was and how awesome it was to see the Cybermen coming out of the graves in Death in Heaven. And now we know he owns three complete costumes from the show, the one worn by Martha in Human Nature/The Family of Blood and two worn by Sarah Jane in The Sarah Jane Adventures!
Of course, Wheeler is quick to expand on the book and talks with him through a number of questions about favourite facts, where the idea came from to write the book as well as whether we’ll see any more exhibitions again. Speaking for myself, I think that there would be a lot of interest, especially if the attention the costumes got at last years MCM Comic Con was anything to go by, you had to get to the stall really early because by midday you couldn’t see them for all the people! Hopefully, this won’t be the only book Gullidge writes or contributes towards!
Doctor Who Youtuber, Joshua Snares, who published some truly brilliant background videos on the Missing Episodes from the 60s, talks us through creating a successful Doctor Who YouTube channel. I really like the videos he puts out, and as a budding YouTuber with two of my friends, trying to make content about Doctor Who is a real nightmare, especially for the BBC blocking everything every two seconds. I’ve nothing but respect for Snares and hope he keeps the channel going!
Friends of Ace and Fans At War form two interesting articles, the first of which looks at the popular Twitter site, Friends of Ace, which every week, offers us a look and opinions of various Who-Related characters or contributors who identify as LGBTQ+. The site has gained a lot of brilliant attention from fans and contributors alike, including videos from Sophie Aldred, Angela Bruce, Mark Gattis, Scott Handcock and Paul Clayton. Rik Moran, DWAS editor, takes a look at some of the other controversial moments from Who, outside of the Timeless Child arc. It’s a brilliant article with a great cartoon showing how fans should always come together no matter our views on what happens on it because we all love Who.
For me though, the most heartfelt article of this issue came from John Lane who wrote, How Doctor Who Saved My Life. Its a tragic but heartfelt look back at Lane’s life and how, through all the tragedy of his childhood, Doctor Who saved him, even though he had doubts in his teens. I don’t think it’s my place to expand on the other things mentioned in the article, because it’s not my story to tell, but its beautifully written and Lane should be proud for feeling safe enough to share this very personal and touching story.
Karen Louise Hollis shares her memories of the cover star, Anthony Ainley. She was the author of his biography, The Man Behind the Master. Who knew that the book had some uncertain origins, including seemingly aggressive emails from Ainley’s family members who seemed opposed to the book being published. Luckily for us though, the book, which has just recently received the paperback treatment, following the initial hardback and audiobook, was well received and is full of lovely anecdotes from friends of Ainley’s going all the way back to his childhood. Finding Anthony Ainley is another great article.
Rounding this month’s issue out is A Short Trip to the Ideas Shop, from Ben Tedds, who won last years Big Finish Short Trips competition. His story, The Best-Laid Plans featured the Twelfth Doctor and was read by Jacob Dudman, its an excellent account of what goes into writing a 5000-word short story for Big Finish. If you are like me and send in a pitch to these competitions that Big Finish holds annually, this is a must-read! And to match the striking cover we get another excellent back cover look at the different incarnations of the Master from Carolyn Edwards.
If you aren’t a member of DWAS, then you really need to be, not only do you get a monthly magazine, packed with different articles, there are discounts on various products from their page, as well as a nice discount from their own convention The Capitol, which always sees a nice group of Who actors in attendance, I’m going to try to go one in the future, hopefully when COVID-19 has finished though!
There is a lot that DWAS offers its members, including a look back at their archives, meaning you can read all the previously published magazines. For a yearly payment of £23.00 or six months of £13.00 as well as rates close to that in Europe and Worldwide, its excellent value for money and well worth it and you’re always assured of some excellent Who-chat!