A new Vworp Vworp! is always a treat to be savoured, but the team have outdone themselves with this superb sixth issue. The brainchild of editor and designer Colin Brockhurst and publisher Gareth Kavanagh, Vworp Vworp! started life as a publication celebrating Doctor Who Magazine, particularly its comic strip, but has since broadened its focus and, fittingly for this new edition released in the year of the programme’s diamond anniversary, travels back in time to examine An Unearthly Child.
You may think that the story of Doctor Who’s origins has been told very comprehensively before, not least in Paul Hayes’s impressive volume Pull to Open, but the team of writers assembled here find plenty of new things to say. There are in-depth articles on key players in the programme’s early months and years such as Jacqueline Hill, Anthony Coburn, and David Whitaker, as well as interviews with Carole Ann Ford and Waris Hussein. Andrew Orton brings us another of his stunningly realised recreations of Doctor Who’s sets, showing how they were all squeezed in to that small space at the unloved Lime Grove.
The story of An Unearthly Child didn’t end in 1963, of course, so we also get pieces on the 1981 repeat, the VHS release, and the sadly still unreleased 2013 audio novelisation. The 50th anniversary drama, An Adventure in Space and Time, is covered too, with an in-depth interview with Mark Gatiss, complete with abandoned scenes. And it’s wonderful to read Brian Cox’s memories of Sydney Newman, and his thoughts on how he might have approached playing the Doctor if the part had ever come his way.
There’s a very funny article by Tim Burrows who recalls his (surely unwise) decision to watch the epically disastrous Doctor Who Live: The Afterparty in 2013 alongside his new girlfriend. Romantics will be pleased to know that the relationship survived. Jonathan Morris brings us right up to date with an afterword lamenting the absence of the first story from BBC iPlayer.
Elsewhere, comic fans are catered for with three new strips (including an appearance by the Fifteenth Doctor) and a detailed feature from our own Philip Bates on Hunters of the Burning Stone, DWM’s celebratory 50th anniversary strip, with input from writer Scott Gray and artist Martin Geraghty.
Vworp Vworp! has always rewarded buyers with a fine array of free gifts, and this issue we’re presented with a DVD consisting of three new animations, including David Whitaker’s very different opening to his novelisation Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks. My personal favourite was Andy Lane’s Interlude on Totter’s Lane, a tale involving the Doctor returning with Steven (voiced by Peter Purves) to that famous junkyard and unwittingly altering the course of Doctor Who history.
This weighty volume comes in at 180 pages so it’s impossible to give every contribution its due, but I was especially impressed by Colin’s detective work in unearthing previously unknown details about not only Reg Cranfield, the first person to appear on screen in Doctor Who as the policeman patrolling Totter’s Lane, but also Fred Rawlings, who played the same part in the pilot episode. Colin has also tracked down Larry Leake, who as a teenager co-founded William Hartnell’s fan club (the original, you might say) and is still a keen follower of the series today, as evidenced by the TARDIS shed in his garden.
The whole package is beautifully presented and includes several newly colourised photos. Whether fan-produced or licensed, Doctor Who publications don’t get any better than this. If I had one request to make of the team for future issues (of which I hope there’ll be many) it would be for slightly larger text. These old eyes are wearing a bit thin for some of those closely-printed pages…
Vworp Vworp #6 is a wonderful collection of research, insight, ephemera, and fun. Perhaps most importantly, it makes the reader appreciate even more just what those pioneers involved in the creation of Doctor Who achieved all those years ago.
Vworp Vworp! #6 is available, price £12.99, from vworpvworp.co.uk.