On the 10th January, 1972, Keith Miller took receipt of a letter from the BBC which would change his life forever.
Aged only 13, Doctor Who producer Barry Letts decreed that Keith was now in charge of the only official fan organisation dedicated to the show. Given completely free reign to do as he saw fit, Keith started on building Doctor Who fandom, even if it meant fighting Jon Pertwee, and asking Tom Baker for cash, neither of which went down very well…
This fascinating tale is the first in a two volume set featuring set reports from Carnival of Monsters, The Three Doctors, Planet of the Spiders, Genesis of the Daleks, Terror of the Zygons and Masque of Mandragora, with a full set of the very first Doctor Who fanzine, and facsimiles of the actual letters between the stars and production team of the show.
The book features a magnificent foreword by Paul Cornell, which Keith has kindly provided for us to repeat here:
Doctor Who fandom is like the series that gave birth to it: rowdy; uncontrollable and sometimes spectacular. It’s intertwined with its parent show in a way no other fandom is, each informing the other. And as it turns out, the fandom is only a few years younger than the series. Keith Miller was there at the start, and it’s somehow surprising that he’s only just telling his story now. His book is an archaeological treasure trove for those interested in fan history, containing as it does set visits to the stories ‘Carnival of Monsters’, ‘The Three Doctors’, ‘Planet of the Spiders’, ‘Genesis of the Daleks’, ‘Terror of the Zygons’ and ‘The Masque of Mandragora’*. That material, largely unavailable elsewhere, would be worth the price of admission alone.
As someone who entered fandom in 1983, it’s startling that this sort of thing was happening a decade beforehand, and few of those involved then were still around for the fan boom of the 1980s, so it’s something of a secret history. The correspondence between the various production teams and fledgling fandom is fascinating, and shows a genteel connection only possible in an age of letters and photocopies, where the sudden appearance of an uncontrollable mob of fans, or even more than a handful, must have seemed a very remote possibility. Included here also is (unless you know different) the first Doctor Who fanzine, in its entirety.
One almost wonders how the contents of that first issue could be decided upon. Keith Miller was the first person to make those choices. He’s the First Fan, the first person who considered what a Doctor Who fan life might be like. As such, he’s a valuable resource, and we’re lucky to have him, and this book.
You’ll be able to pick up your copy from April 2012, priced £16.99 – more details and orders at www.odwfc.com.