Things aren’t what they used to be…

I travelled a few months ago on our national airline carrier to Cyprus and as I sat there served sandwiches in a box and a hot drink from a paper cup I felt a real pang of disappointment for the changes brought in for short-haul travel.  Gone was that air travel pleasure I had taken from past journeys to see my family where you were served a tray of hot food hidden underneath silver foil, with a sometimes-soggy salad and a creamy sweet dessert.

A Storm in a Time cup – The New Time Team at Doctor Who

What does this have to do with Doctor Who you may well ask? Well adapting to change can be a difficult emotion to navigate and I have been left both amused and slightly dismayed at the furore that the appointment of a new Time Team by the Doctor Who Magazine has caused. Twelve new people have been selected to be on the team for 2018 but it created a bit of a twitter storm due to the average age of the reviewers being just twenty-two.

If you haven’t read about this already Doctor Who Magazine put a call out through social media for people interested in being part of their Time Team, to review and comment on classic and new Who stories in the magazine. The original Time Team started in 1999 and finished watching every classic Who story in order ten years later in 2009. In 2011, the project was restarted in order to view and review the new series with a different team who stopped in 2017 with the Matt Smith story The Almost People, which aired the same year the second team started.

The headline yelled in the Mirror recently “Doctor Who fans boycott official magazine over young age of new reviewer team”. and when reading the article initially and seeing the picture of the new team I understood the feelings of older fans. A picture tells a thousand words and they do look uncannily young when viewed from this end of the age spectrum. Where is my representation my inner child shouted at me? When the magazine’s former editor Gary Russell then chipped in helpfully “This new Time Team is the single best thing to have happened in DWM in donkey’s years. If it upsets a bunch of moronic ‘Doctor Who is only for those of us who’ve been there since the proper series’, even better.” I wondered was I as an older fan somehow being included in this description and who was really being the moron here?

His tone wasn’t helpful in the least I would say to bring older fans along with the changes. I don’t necessarily disagree with him that only people that have seen the classic series should be able to comment on the series per se but the issue is only having young people. (I’m still waiting to be represented by another Greek, white female Doctor Who fan in her 40’s. Please can you make yourself known to a member of the DWM staff please) I suppose what I’m saying is I agree let’s have more diversity, men, women, different ethnicities sure yes, in the Time Team but let’s not exclude the age demographic. Would it REALLY hurt that much to do it? Surely by excluding the older fan, they are doing the opposite of promoting diversity? I don’t agree with a comment made in an interview from Benjamin Cook, a writer for the magazine for twenty years and who put the team together that there was an assumed conceit with previous Time Teams because they were aware of the episodes prior to viewing them again. There is something to be gained or lost with every viewing of an episode.

The class of 2018 - The new Time Team at Doctor Who Magazine
The class of 2018 – The new Time Team at Doctor Who Magazine

Would I cancel my subscription to the magazine because of the changes? Well if I was considering it which I’m not it would depend on how important the feature was to me personally out of the whole magazine.

This new Time Team is the single best thing to have happened in DWM in donkey’s years. If it upsets a bunch of moronic ‘Doctor Who is only for those of us who’ve been there since the proper series’, even better.” Gary Russell

So as I have said I understood the feelings of older fans, reading the Mirror article, and I do but I can also acknowledge the financial implications of their decision. From DWM’s point of view, they have opened the door to a younger demographic that they want to attract to their digital content, buying all the merchandise they actively promote in their reviews etc. DWM hasn’t said older fans are no longer welcome to buy the magazine (of course they wouldn’t) but I would be fascinated to know the age group breakdown of their subscribers. The last big survey of stories they did in 2013 had the largest percentage of respondents in the over 35’s which doesn’t tell you much except that they actively participate in expressing their opinions.

When I bought my first issue of Doctor Who Magazine (Issue 61) as a young fan there was no greater joy than reading the magazine cover to cover discovering all about the show. Then it was just five doctors, three which I hadn’t seen and the magazine was the best source of learning about the show, apart from a few features in the Radio Times. What I’m saying is I understand the magazine has to attract new people to its publication. It must be a very exciting prospect for them to have people in the Time Team who have never seen or have limited experience of the classic series and to be able to garner a fresh perspective.  It is mirroring the mantra of change that the show has thrived on to last 55 years.

Doctor Who Magazine Issue 61
Doctor Who Magazine Issue 61

I’m probably no longer in their target audience anymore although I hope I still can be. I have a larger disposable income than younger readers and still loyally buy the magazine. I’m interested in the show as much as ever. The proof of success will obviously be if they can attract younger subscribers or buyers of the magazine in the long term.

Other snippets…

Graham Strong (1949- 2018) – Saving Classic Who for Posterity

Garry covered, in the recent podcast, the passing of Graham Strong, a young fan in the 1960’s who made audio recordings of the early episodes of the show using domestic reel-to-reel, quarter-inch tape. These tapes have been used to create a complete audio record of the Hartnell and Troughton stories even where the film tapes are unfortunately missing.

Graham Strong gave his recordings to Mark Ayres for safekeeping
Graham Strong gave his original recordings to Mark Ayres for safekeeping a few weeks ago

It reminded me how in the early 1980’s I did something similar using a portable Casio tape deck next to the TV set to record Peter Davison’s story ‘Time Flight’ as I really liked this young exuberant Doctor’s first season. This was three years before we could afford to buy an actual video recorder and I remember flipping the cassette tape tab to record at slow speed so I could get more of the episode on side A before changing to the B side. I would then listen to the soundtrack at night whilst under the covers pretending to be asleep, my imagination and memory doing the rest. Fans these days have never had it so good with the plethora of DVDs releases and different formats.

Thank you for what you did Mr Strong as we can now listen to all those early stories even though the search still goes on for missing stories. My condolences to his family and friends.

Genesis of the Daleks playing at the BFI, London Saturday 23rd June

There is a screening of the classic story which has been newly restored followed by a question and answer session with producer Philip Hinchcliffe on Saturday 23 June 2018 12:15 pm.

Genesis of the Daleks playing at the BFI this June
Genesis of the Daleks playing at the BFI this June

Well done to whoever got tickets. They were sold out by the time I checked my BFI emails earlier this week (so annoyed with myself – I subscribe for days like this!!) so enjoy. Unless of course, you find you can’t go and I’m then very available to purchase your ticket!

Until next time…


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