Doctor’s (Last?) Orders

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Much has been written about the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the new lead in Doctor Who, and no doubt a great deal more will follow the launch of the new season on 7 October.

Personally, I consider it a pity the role hasn’t been played by a woman before, or that the Doctor’s ethnicity hasn’t been adjusted during one of his — sorry, her — previous regenerations. After all, the Third Doctor revealed in his debut episode he’d arrived with a tattoo, and one of Romana’s potential reboots in ‘Destiny of the Daleks’ had blue-grey skin, so pigmentation clearly isn’t an issue for Time Lords (a term, incidentally, applied to both sexes during the original series).

No, my disquiet with all the heated hullabaloo over the new season began with the sheer inevitability that the Tardis would have a female pilot, and the smug self-satisfaction exhibited by both the BBC and incoming showrunner Chris Chibnall. His more recent comments about returning Doctor Who to the educational approach laid down by its first producer, Sydney Newman, and nebulous references to ‘diversity’ (an angle reiterated ad ennui in the latest Radio Times coverage) hardly boosted my optimism. Can he be unaware that Newman had to rethink his approach almost immediately, and that most of us do not need a weekly lesson the history of racism, sexism and homophobia?

I certainly wish Ms Whittaker no ill, and hope my concerns are unfounded. It would be unfortunate indeed if the number thirteen proved unlucky for a show which has aired thirty-nine of the past fifty-five years.

An Old Career in a New Town

Well, not exactly, but I am currently hunting for a new address (amazingly, only the third I’ll have had for any significant period) whilst I empty this manse of thirty-plus years of accumulated detritus before putting it on the market. It may be a vain hope, but maybe the move will also provide some perspective and a little more direction along my career path, which more frequently resembles a disputed right of way across an abandoned firing range.

More news to follow, I guess. Meanwhile, I should be making a more upbeat announcement very shortly about a documentary project I’ve just completed with Chrissie Harper, my partner in Vamporama Films. Stay tuned.

Manchester Memories [4]

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I’ve just seen a copy of the first progress report for this year’s Festival of Fantastic Films in Manchester. It includes a report on last year’s event, and there’s me in the middle photograph, interviewing the delightful Jenny Hanley on stage. The resulting article appeared in February’s issue of The Dark Side.

Photo Album: David Sutton, 2016

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I interviewed the author and editor David Sutton at the October 2016 meeting of the Birmingham Horror Group, the text version of which subsequently appeared in the magazine Fear. We first met at the third Fantasycon, held at a nearby hotel in February 1977, so we were well familiar with each other’s work (I’m holding a copy of the journal I co-edited, Critical Wave, which carried a feature on Fantasy Tales, the award-winning digest he co-edited).

Photo by Chrissie Harper

Photo Album: Carl Jones, 2016

The Big Picture - 2016

Back in July 2016, I was asked to be a guest on Carl Jones’ weekly movie show The Big Picture, which aired on the regional channel Big Centre TV. We had a lot of fun, as you can see here, and that appearance led to my colleague Chrissie Harper and I producing a series of news reports for Carl. Sadly, neither The Big Picture nor Big Centre TV survived the year.

Photo by Chrissie Harper