You’ve just opened the second Kasterborous Newsletter, our new weekly foray directly into your inbox.
Now, it is possible that you didn’t receive the first newsletter; I’ve found that due to an issue at our end only 200 or so of the 800+ subscribers received it. This is clearly unfortunate, so if you would like a copy of the first edition – which was bursting at the seams with quality (so I’m told…) then simply reply to this message with the words “I WANT ISSUE 1” in the subject line.
This time around, all subscribers *should* be receiving their messages – fingers crossed!
So what have we got in store this week?
In this week’s newsletter…
- The Doctor and Amy Face Classic Daleks!
- EXCLUSIVE: A Second New Companion!
- When Fandom Shames
- Classic Daleks Assemble for Doctor Who Series 7!
- The Lady Doctor Will See You Now
- Legendary Doctor Who artist Andrew Skilleter interviewed
- Shada by Gareth Roberts
- Win Shadaby Gareth Roberts
- Chris Boucher on Leela
Over the last seven days a series of emotive articles have appeared on Kasterborous, both as actual news items or as pieces inspired by events in the Whoniverse…
The Doctor and Amy Face Classic Daleks!
So hands up how many of you thought that when Steven Moffat told us last week we would be seeing all of the Daleks that you initially thought “wow, all the Dalek designs in one episode!” before checking yourselves and realising you were living in cloud cuckoo land?
Well, just when you thought it was safe to enjoy a day in the sunshine…
…they go and release an amazing photo.
Executive Producer Steven Moffat earlier tweeted this little beauty earlier today and to be honest it is probably the most adorable, fanw*nky thing imaginable, in a completely cool and amazing way.
EXCLUSIVE: A Second New Companion!
In addition to the casting of Jenna-Louise Coleman last month, we can exclusively reveal that a second as-yet unknown character has been cast in Doctor Who Series 7!
Played by perennial kitchen sink drama actress Justine Alexander (Coronation Street, Brookside, and seen here in publicity for The Crack), the Doctor’s second female companion adds some new Roman spice to the time travelling.
According to our source, Alexander plays “Arial Verdana”, a young, bored girl from Ancient Roman Britain who joins the TARDIS when it lands in St Albans around 3 AD. Since Doctor Who returned with such an impact in 2005, there have been calls for an unusual companion to be cast, one who is either from the past/future or an alien… basically, anything to break up the pattern of contemporary girls from the 21st century.
We’re sure she’ll amaze, and think you will be just as excited as the K team to learn of this new Latin character, who’s experiences in the TARDIS with the Doctor and his other female companion could veer from Gothic to fantasy and take them to places as far apart as New York, Chicago, Geneva and Skaro.
While Series 7 feels like months away, it shouldn’t be long before both characters turn up in the Doctor Who Magazine comic strip!
We await the official announcement and various comments from cast and executive producer and script writer Steven Moffat with anticipation!
[Note – this was, of course, an April Fool!]
When Fandom Shames
Do you know something? Doctor Who is massively intricate and multi-layered. Most of the time this is wonderful as it allows a show that has twisted and turned and revived itself in many ways over the years to be loved by so many.
However sometimes this sucks.
Casting tends to bring the worst out of Doctor Who fandom and its armchair producers, and the the casting of Jenna-Louise Coleman is such a time. Various online communities have found themselves littered – nay, soiled – by rather personal and sickening comments about the new companion, things that go way beyond getting slightly annoyed at her unimaginative use of the word “excited”.
In fact, much as it sickens me to say, I’m certain that some such people are reading this. So this is for them.
You people really should be ashamed of yourselves. Why? Well, here’s what David Tennant thinks of Jenna’s casting:
“The people behind the show wouldn’t have chosen her unless she’s the best girl for the job, so I’m excited to see her on the show.”
That’s a man who not only starred in Doctor Who, first and foremost he’s a Doctor Who fan, just like those so-called fans whose disgusting behaviour leads to present and future stars of the show being advised to avoid the Internet.
It’s a disgrace.
So I’m going to make this clear: if you – yes you, reading this now – have written anything on the web that
disparages any Doctor Who star in such a way that they would be deeply offended, then frankly you can click the X in the corner of your browser and just get lost.
You’re not welcome here. You’re not a Doctor Who fan. You’re a bile-filled disgrace to fandom.
Oh sure, you can come back here whenever you like thanks to the World Wide Web, but you’ll know at the back of your mind that we’re no longer speaking to you. We’re looking through you.
Because if you’re so small minded that you cannot accept a piece of casting – a process of which you weren’t involved – then you clearly in the wrong place. There is no room in Doctor Who fandom for prejudice and hate, two of the very things that the Doctor stands against.
If you cannot emulate these most civil and moral of concepts, then you’re clearly in the wrong fandom.
Shame on you!
Classic Daleks Assemble for Doctor Who Series 7!
Some interesting photos have emerged to add weight to this week’s rumours that the next series of Doctor Who will feature all (or most of) the types of Daleks there have ever been. This includes the ‘classic’ Daleks as seen in the 1960s serials, all the way through to Steven Moffat’s ‘Smartie Daleks’.
The first picture is what looks to be a Genesis Of The Daleks era Dalek – notice the grey base and black hemispheres (not “etheric beam locators” – Ed?). This picture came from a chap called Andrew C. Smith on The Twitter.
The second picture is from new Executive Producer Caro Skinner’s Twitter feed, in which she says that Russell T. Davies’ Dalek has arrived on set. Then she shows us a picture of a Dalek that has nothing to do with Davies’ era (not even Dalek Sec – the eye-stalk is too small) although there is a similarity between the two.
These pictures, combined with the publicity shot we’ve already seen of Matt Smith’s Doctor and Karen Gillan’s Amy Pond posing with a classic-style Dalek. One hopes they will use all these Daleks being in the one place to take them to London (bit of a trek from Cardiff, I know) and recreate the famous shot from The Dalek Invasion Of Earth.
I’m sure any Doctor Who fan worth their salt is already getting excited about the thought of so many Daleks in one place. Unless they’re trying to destroy the universe. Again.
The Lady Doctor Will See You Now
What’s all this? Another take on the “female Doctor” rumour? Surely River Song has all of the female qualities of the Doctor that we could possibly want?
Whichever way you look at it (and for reasons of sanity, we’re firmly on the “Doctor should be male” side of the argument) this debate is set to run and run, even if the Time Lord makes it to regeneration 755 without having changed sex.
Reports in the Daily Express today suggest that following the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, our hero will regenerate once again, this time changing sex. The lucky actress to play the part will – allegedly – be Lara Pulver, recently seen in Steven Moffat’s Sherlock as Irene Adler.
“The 50th anniversary series will end with a very big twist,” we’re told. “The Doctor becoming a woman will give the show a new lease of life. Lara has already been mentioned as a real contender for the role.”
“A new lease of life”? Just as well, then, because it has become so boring lately, what with the Silence and Amy’s pregnancy and fake Amy and the Doctor’s death and River Song’s true identity and Churchill and… well, you get the point.
Pulver’s a great actress and she would be great in Doctor Who. She might make a great Time Lady, but she wouldn’t sell being the Doctor to me, nor, I suspect, the rest of the Kasterborous team.
But of course, before we rule it out completely let’s consider the one time the Doctor did become a woman: Joanna Lumley in the 1999 Comic Relief special The Curse of the Fatal Death, written by… Steven Moffat.
(Remember, of course, that this is a rumour. And if it isn’t, perhaps it’s time to merge Kasterborous with Cult Britannia…?)
Andrew Skilleter chats to Anthony Dry, first published in 2005)
There is no doubt Andrew Skilleter is THE Doctor Who artist. His range of work has spanned across nearly three decades and has appeared on numerous media, from the Target range of novels, the BBC videos, BBC Doctor Who exhibitions, posters and postcards just to name a few!
He was the creator of Who Dares publishing in the 1980′s which produced a fine range of Doctor Who merchandise some of which I still have lurking about to this day (thanks Dad)! Here he kindly talks to us in his first interview for ten years.
Andrew, what first got you interested in art, when did you realise that this was the type of career you wished to pursue?
It was in the genes on the maternal side. My maternal grandmother was a natural artist. She painted oils and was creative in all sorts of ways. And my Mother was a naturally gifted artist doing wonderful figurative work in her teens & excellent copies too. She still paints well today. I must have picked up an ability for copying images that I’ve used in all my genre work including Doctor Who, from both of them. I always wanted to be an illustrator as far back as I can remember producing my own in house magazines as a child; it was a vocation for me. Nothing else would ever do. I always wanted to be an illustrator.
What courses/qualifications did you undertake and at which university?
You flatter me! I scraped together enough ‘O’ levels to get to art college in Bournemouth, did a Foundation Course of one year then graduated to a three year Graphic Design course, all pre-computers of course. I tried, we all tried to get in elsewhere (I went for an interview for an illustration course in Bristol) but nobody would have us. I believe the Graphic Design course was set up for us otherwise it was the salt mines. I still can’t recall if I ever did get a qualification but I saw the course through – I’ve never been interested in qualifications; just pursuing my goals. Now, with Photoshop, Illustrator etc. I guess qualifications & training must be really important.
What was your first artistic job upon leaving university or college?
I just pursued my ambition doing any freelance illustration work wherever I could get it. Learning on the job. I think my first job was for some London based magazine like the Economist – I just can’t recall the name – well known, anyway & then due to my influences at the time I started, wrongly in retrospect, to pursue children’s illustration. It was very patchy not helped by the fact that I have a tendency to disappear up cul-de-sacs and realise too late where I should have been! I got by in the early years by living at home, fortunate enough to have a large room in a nice house as bedroom/studio and tolerant parents. Of course, now everyone lives at home for ever!
When did your interest in Doctor Who begin?
It was regular viewing – I’m pretty sure the first TV set and the start of Who were about the same time. But I remember little of watching the very early years. But of course it really came into focus when W H Allen asked me to do the covers.
At the time of your first brief for Doctor Who, where you a fan of the show?
Always a tricky one to answer as I was never a ‘fan’ in the true sense of the word. We’d all watch it enthusiastically and in particular the Tom Baker years. I felt very comfortable watching it, very in tune with it whereas I didn’t feel the same about other similar shows. Just part of Saturdays. An institution.
Did you have a favourite story or villain or particular character you admired? Were there any characters or stories you felt could have been better?
I enjoyed a lot of the Tom Baker stories but then the early ones with Hartnell & Troughton had tons of atmosphere – if I studied the listings I’d arrive at many others. So I’m going to cop out on this one – it’s an interview in its own right!
Where did the idea of Who Dares come from, and what drove you to put the company into production, bearing in mind there was a lot of Doctor Who merchandising around at the time?
It was a combination of boredom, (sitting at home doing my day to day commissions weren’t enough for a young Scorpio!), the fact that my brother had formed a publishing venture with a partner, I was involved with a new small company who got me involved in Star Wars art and the frustration that W H Allen were not going to do anything involving me for the 20th anniversary year. As far as other merchandising was concerned, despite the appearance, there was a real lull as I remember it – certainly it was the BBC Merchandising’s view – they were desperate to see anything ‘out there’ to the extent I was able to start without having to pay anything up front. Just a tad different these days.
Who Dares was a great success, how closely did you work with John Nathan Turner during this period?
Well, it was in many ways but I’m still not ready yet to tell the whole story. But for both good & ill it changed my, our, lives for ever and it’s repercussions still roll on. As for JNT, he was very hands on (in the nicest possible way) and everything I did was discussed and seen by him. I would try and get up to London personally with the art and/or ideas to show him. I was not as up front as I am today which was a shame as I think I could have forged an even closer professional relationship with him. But I could still be focused and go for it if I wanted to achieve something.
What was he like? Was he open to ideas or was he pretty stringent when he was dealing with the identity of Doctor Who?
Always charming and pleasant to me and very open to new ideas and anything that would promote the show. I think he liked me but I must have been in awe of him in the sense that he was the bloody producer of Doctor Who, and I but a humble artist! But he loved the visual and and my art; I suspect he liked having creative people around him. But I was never one, to my disadvantage sometimes, to become part of a clique. And Doctor Who & cliques seem to go together, mores the pity. I was a professional enjoying myself and I supposed I always kept a little distance.
Was ‘The Tardis inside out’ his idea?
Does no-one read Blacklight anymore? I devoted a whole chapter to it! Actually the idea came from Brenda Gardner, a charismatic Canadian who was the Doctor Who & Children’s Editor at W H Allen when I first started doing Target covers. She left and eventually went on to form Piccadilly Press which is still going strong – she & it are much respected in the publishing industry and she is a rare independent in a world of publishing corporations. We’d worked together since the W H Allen days and she dreamed up the idea of bringing JNT & I together to do a book. I was the enabler, the go-between. As I said, for the full story buy/borrow a copy of Blacklight, wherever you can find it these days! It’s in many libraries. As for it.
In my opinion, one of the best Doctor Who books to be produced ever, was Cybermen, a collaboration between yourself and David Banks. How much planning had to go into that title?
Well that opinion does seem to be shared by others given a recent DWM poll putting it as one of the best Who books of any category, ever. That’s a pretty pleasing accolade. Loads of planning and as usual reality meant I couldn’t realise all we wanted. But we did pretty well. The project took ages to get going – it almost became a myth before it was published!
Was Cybermen a personal project or were you/Who Dares approached over the concept?
Very personal. Started as a notion in my head, received an agreement from the BBC that I could do it and then I had to enlist help. Again Blacklight tells the whole story but in a nutshell a chance meeting at a Brighton Who convention with David Banks meant it took a whole new direction and without him it would never have happened. We remain great friends today and in fact I’m more in touch with him than ever these days and of course we’ve just recently revisited his Doctor Interviews that we released as tapes about 15 years ago, now on CD, marketed by 10th Planet.
Did you ever meet any of the series lead actors, and did they ever give you any time for material in any particular pieces of illustration?
Quite a few – I met Troughton, Pertwee who looked at my paintings, Davison, Colin Baker who was extremely approachable, as was Sylvester McCoy. Colin of course had to pass all my illustrations of him and once I did this personally in his London theatre dressing room. Sylvester kindly posed for me on location and the portrait for the Who Dares 1990 calendar that never appeared (but was reproduced in Blacklight) was based on a photograph I took of him. Dear Don Henderson was so taken with the calendar painting of him as Gavrok, he bought a load of calendars and the original!
Did any of the leads question their likeness in your illustrations, for example i know Peter Davison had an issue about how he was portrayed by other artists who worked on the novel covers resulting in several photographic covers for Target books?
I’m sure privately this may have happened on occasions – I think I’ve read of this elsewhere many years afterwards, but as my portraits were nearly all pretty good likenesses, there were few problems. Strangely, it was a very small Colin Baker face that caused some problems and I had to amend. It’s easier working large with a likeness.
Was there anyone associated with Doctor Who that really impressed you, whether it was someone involved in the TV show, DWM or the merchandising industry in general?
This is a difficult one after all this time. There were so many that helped me and were just so supportive. Chris Crouch at BBC Merchandising who made it possible for Who Dares to make a start, Julie Jones at BBC Exhibitions, Sarah (then) Andrews at BBC Video and of course JNT himself. David Banks made an immediate impact – he is just an impressive human being! I had a lot to do with DWM over the years and a succession of editors all, to this day, supportive.
Do you have a favourite piece of work associated with Doctor Who?
One favourite is impossible – The Deadly Assassin video cover, as an original, still impresses me. But there are other pieces than I like for differing reasons.
Which Doctor do you favour drawing?
I think Tom Baker, Troughton, Hartnell but again it doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the others!
Do you have any Who-related image in your head that you have been unable to realise?
I certainly did have when I was in the thick of it. Now it’s all a different ball game and I have to see. Of course the new Doctor now demands my attention ASAP!
How did you feel when the show ended in 1989 and did you worry that it might affect you professionally?
It obviously did effect things but remember I was always a general illustrator. I wasn’t sorry to see the show go – because of the pantomime content I just couldn’t watch a lot of last year or so.
Which artist do you currently admire and what was the last piece of work you saw that inspired you to work?
Actually, there is no-one in particular now. I mean where are the artists now? The illustration industry is decimated, Photoshop reigns supreme, the designers have all the work! There really is no career for most people as a dedicated illustrator in the UK. So names I might pluck out like Jim Burns, an exact contemporary, are artists I respected years & years ago. Of course there are artists out there but I don’t see their work – Pete Wallbank keeps the flame burning but I only occasionally see his work because we keep in contact.
What are your expectations of the new series and what do you think of the casting choices?
Hands up, I should have answered this before the series was aired! I knew it must be good on some levels given the amount of build-up. But like most people, I’ll have to watch a few to get into to it all. It is after all not produced for people like me! The most shocking thing that I find incomprehensible professionally is that Eccleston has quit already. But the second show was a bit of a roller coaster, a lot of fun and impressive to watch but a whole new ball game.
Do you think the new series should retain continuity from the show or shy away as much as possible?
This is down to the BBC, the executive producers and Russell T. This is for a new generation and the continuity is less important than before. By the way, it is compulsory to have ‘T’ in your name to be a Who producer?
With the rejuvenation of the new series, have you found commissions based on Doctor Who work have increased?
I still do private Who commissions and certainly in general I’m experiencing a greater interest in my work now but not necessarily because of the new series. But now it’s on, I’m running with it! I welcome private commissions as it keeps me painting traditionally.
What are your plans for the future? Is there anything exciting in the pipeline?
It’s all up for grabs. I could go this way or that, traditional or digital. Mix it. A little too much choice. It’s really a question of external dynamics and the time I have outside commissioned work that comes in. I’ve certainly some career decisions to make, some to execute. I’m keeping extremely busy at present and it’s the most lively time for years but largely still punching below my weight creatively. I have to refocus, reinvent my career. I’m still creatively alive and now have the digital world at my fingertips.
If any further of David Banks ArcHive CDs are released by BBC Audio, I’ll be doing the covers which will be good. I was filmed last year in London for inclusion in a BBC DVD feature but have just learnt I’ve been cut. Ouch! But there may be another bigger opportunity in that area later this year.
It is the right time now for a sequel to Blacklight – another art book. So if anyone can help, contact me now! There are new Who pieces already and growing but I’d like to widen it to incorporate other of my SF and Fantasy work.
And then there’s the writing that I never get enough time for. This is not Doctor Who but various novel ideas I have in progress. You see, I was a natural writer as at school – exceptional, I now realise. But I was set on being an illustrator and the writing kind of got lost over the years but keeps trying to resurface. I need to do it but when ones instincts are to work to external deadlines, it’s hard to write 50.000 words plus purely in a vacuum! I’ve other projects on the go too.
Certainly the new Doctor Who show opens up new opportunities for me and I’ve enlisted help in this direction as I’m always full of ideas but with so little time to realise them. So this could be interesting and should lead to exciting possibilities. It would be great to hear from Russell T. – he must have ‘consumed’ my work in earlier years!
I have to re-do and re-launch the website too when I can and to do it properly this time. I must apologise to all those who have visited it earlier on that I’ve been literally unable to add to it, to realise my ambitions for it. I want it as a major live site and it will happen. I have the help to hand now to make sure that it will be properly registered and linked to ensure it becomes a well visited site. Anyway, thanks to everyone who’s bothered to visit it to date.
Kasterborous would like to thank Andrew for his time and wish him all the best in the future.
I love reading, but barely have time to do it.
This is naturally a bit of a problem, and has resulted in me installing Kindle apps on virtually all compatible hardware in my house, enabling me to grab a few pages in-between trips to the bank, while waiting for a bus or train, etc.
So the prospect of finding the time to get into Gareth Roberts much-anticipated adaptation of Shada was something that I was dreading. How could I give it the attention that it would deserve?
Would my review be accurate?
Fortunately, I needn’t have worried. It seems that I’ve simply been picking up the wrong books of late, and should stick to Terry Pratchett and other amusing writers rather than the dry and dour line that currently passes for Doctor Who books.
Gareth Roberts – he of The Shakespeare Code, The Unicorn and the Wasp and more recently The Lodger and Closing Time – has seeming achieved the impossible by writing a book that feels like Douglas Adams while sorting out various problems with the existing Shada scripts and adding his own voice.
The result is something of a triumph, elevating this title away from its possible fate of “curio” to “classic”.
I don’t use the term lightly. I’m from the generation of Doctor Who fans for whom new episodes came in the shape of books and comics back in the 1990s and early 2000s. As well as being a long-time admirer of Roberts’ books, I’ve seen a fair few amazing tales told, such as the original Human Nature (Paul Cornell) and various books by Lance Parkin and even Laurence Miles.
There was some wonderful tales told during these years, published by Virgin and later BBC Books, but since 2005 the attitude to Doctor Who in print has largely been one of “cynical tie-in”. This started to change with Michael Moorcock’s occasionally confusing The Coming of the Terraphiles and Dan Abnett’s The Silent Stars Go By but I’m confident that this range of longer books aimed at older fans has finally come of age with Shada.
But what of the book itself? Well, Essentially it is a book about a book, and brings with it all of the intrigue that you might expect from such a conceit. Gareth Roberts has written a story that feels… right, taking scripts, camera scripts and early notes and creating – if I may again be so bold – the definitive version of this “lost” and incomplete Doctor Who adventure, 33 years later.
Had Douglas Adams himself been sat at the typewriter working on this adaptation I don’t think he would have created a work quite as good; I’m a fan of Adams and his famous Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy but if the money and time had been available to him I get the feeling he would have took Shada into a whole new direction, given the chance.
What Roberts does is somehow consolidate Adams’ original works, successfully builds upon the characters we already know, adds a few new ones and – amazing as it might seem – out-Adams Adams.
Never edging towards pastiche, this book is told with affectionate and respect, with the voice and confidence of Douglas Adams’ storytelling shining through on every single page.
If for some ridiculous reason you haven’t purchased a copy of Shada yet, you will find it available in hardback for a quite economical £10!
So after all of that, what better prize to give away this week than a copy of Shada itself?
All you have to do is reply to this email with the subject line amended to: PROFESSOR CHRONOTIS and we’ll announce the winner in next week’s newsletter.
Huge congratulations to last week’s winner, Tony Pendry, who should be receiving his audio copy of Genesis of the Daleks, read by the great Tom Baker, in the next few days.
Chris Boucher on his attempt to escape the constraints of the archetypal companion with Leela.
Nothing’s impossible (apart from actor and director proof scripts of course) but unless you want to change the whole approach of the show – introduce a narrator say, and/or personalise the Doctor’s reality and make him the absolute and only focus of everything (that idea appealed very much to TB I think), the companion is the simplest story-telling set-up. As you suggest you do have to try and justify the questions however and it’s difficult to do that without suggesting dependant helplessness (and all the screaming and fluttering that implies) or aggressive stupidity (and all the screaming and arse scratching that implies).
Dependence without helplessness and ignorance without stupidity should equal companion without screaming. I think Leela was a reasonable try and at a time when patriarchal religions seem to be reasserting their hold on the persecuted, the frightened and the gullible I’m quite proud of her and her attitudes.
Chris Boucher was speaking to Gareth Kavanagh.