Published on July 31st, 2014 | by Philip Bates
10 Years of Kasterborous: The Way We Weren’t
We don’t often do this, but please allow us to get all mellow for a while and talk about ourselves, won’t you?
Kasterborous was founded by Christian Cawley and artist/designer, Anthony Dry, as a way of paying off gambling debts, back in July 2004. This was when work started, but officially, it was another six months before the K burst onto computer screens big-time.
Something many of you don’t realise is that Kasterborous started life as “Hot Pictures of Billie Piper”, a way of both making money through advertising and convincing friends and family that googling photos of Billie Piper was work-related. This was before she appeared in Doctor Who or was even announced as the new companion. This was seen as an incredible bit of foresight and Christian took it as a sign that a Doctor Who site would be his calling.
The initial idea was to couple quality writing with the very best art. Dry set about designing the best-looking site he could think of, and Christian drafted in as many drinking buddies as possible to put together words consisting of more than one syllable and rearranging them to make meaningful sentences. Sometimes, those early articles even made sense.
Since then, up to 12 people a day visit the site regularly, and the number of contributors has also swollen.
Andy and Mez provided news day-to-day, and Brian came in as Associate Editor, a job that continues to run parallel with his other two lines of work: working for the NSA; and pretending to be David Tennant in order to cash several pay cheques. I joined in 2011 after I dug up some dirt on Christian and blackmailed him into giving me a job.
But before that, I was just a reader and a big Doctor Who fan. When I took the jump and emailed through the contact page, I couldn’t have expected how welcoming everyone was. Sure, they called me a cheeky young upstart with ideas above his station. Sure, they regularly got me to clean the entirety of K Towers with only a dirty rag. And sure, Christian hunted me down for sport on a game reserve one bleak weekend in March. But that’s all water under the bridge and since then, I’ve gone on to write numerous promotional items about burlesque, a news article about Karen Gillan doing a naked selfie, and a widely-read piece about Jenna Coleman going topless in Room at the Top. If that’s not success, I don’t know what is.
I have to thank Christian and the team for being so approachable and I genuinely view them all as friends. (Apart from Andy. Too shifty-looking.) And I’ve also got to thank you, the loyal readers, who carried on visiting Kasterborous throughout what is commonly referred to in K Towers as “The Lewd and Rude Years”, “The Drunken Tenure” and, of course, “The Blue Period.”
As far as I’m concerned, Christian with his merry band of men (plus Becky) have kept the K at the forefront of the Internet – at least when it comes to quality sci-fi and content.
We’ve also got two magazines under our belt, and an award-winning* book, Ultimate Regeneration. (*Christian made some awards out of Smartie tubes and Rolo wrappers.) And that’s not even mentioning the increasingly-popular PodKast. Let’s not mention it.
Christian’s also unveiled our sister site, www.cultbritannia.co.uk, in case there are people in Britain who like things that aren’t Doctor Who (highly unlikely, I know).
Kasterborous contributors have gone on to great things. Anthony Dry has since made incredible art for various Doctor Who DVDs and the Doctor Who Experience. Mez is very busy appearing on Broadway under the nom de plume, John Barrowman (you’re not foolin’ anyone, Mez!) . And Barnaby regularly attends parliament. He gets thrown out, but he attends and that’s what counts. Well, I say contributors have gone on to great things – Scott went to Bath Spa University, but we can’t all live the dream.
Christian, too, has moved on. He has since paid off his huge gambling debts, has become a freelance writer, got married, had two kids, and invested large amounts of money in an offshore account. Nonetheless, he has evaded the police and carries on looking after the interests of thousands of Whovians. Kasterborous, at least to this glass-eyed 83-year-old communist, remains a family, and you can never really escape family. Scott has tried, but we dragged him back earlier this year, albeit briefly, under the ruse that he’d won a helicopter, and to claim, all he had to do was review a book of fan fiction and give us his bank account details.
Even Anthony Dry has been grabbed by the collar and beaten by some heavy-set men in trench coats (and flares) until he agreed to give the old dog a redesign.
Gareth, meanwhile, created Vworp! Vworp!, a fanzine that’s probably the most beautiful fanzine you’ve ever seen. Ask him when the next issue’s coming out; he’ll love that.
A further change came when the Lass O’Gowrie, where Christian and co. spent their evenings eating pork scratchings, playing Space Invaders and singing “Oh, Danny boy”, was forced into new management. As it appeared in Scream of the Shalka – yes, really! – it’s one of the most famous pubs in the UK, just behind The Queen Vic (but ahead of that one in Corrie). I joke, but it really was a travesty and those who threw their weight around and made a much-loved home into a cold cave should be ashamed.
Christian eventually moved on from this, however, when he found a nightclub selling Jagerbombs for £2 each.
Cheap shots aside, as a writer, I do think us humble, dishevelled contributors have to thank Christian for his tireless work. We rarely think of how wide our reach is, and the chance to get our writing acknowledged internationally really is an incredible one. I also want to thank all the contributors because I’m a Doctor Who fan and it gives me great pleasure in talking to you all and reading your stuff.
When my co-contributors found out Kasterborous is 10, there were some great reactions. Some humbling, some hilarious, some I can’t print. Here are some of my favourites… Scott said, “When I’m rich and famous I’ll not forget you all.” (He totally will.) Daniel said, “Congratulations to everyone who has made this the site that it is today, especially the founding fathers.” James ‘The Party Pooper’ McLean: “A decade of your life spent in the pursuit of a TV show. No, that’s meant to make you feel good, seriously.”
Nick said, “I consider it an honor and privilege to be able to sling my two cents around the interweb with you all.” Barnaby: “You big softies.” Becky: “Good to know we haven’t destroyed everything yet.” James Lomond: “Trying to do K proud – just submitted today’s offering with “sex” in the first sentence and “biting” in the last. Onwards!”
And Alasdair wants a raise. Nothing to do with the 10th anniversary; he’s just like that.
Wait until we tell them that we don’t officially start celebrating until January 2015.
When it comes down to it, what I’m trying to say to all those who started Kasterborous off in a drunken stupor, especially Christian, is… Congratulations and thank you, boss. Here’s to another 10 years! (And I hope that, next time you regenerate, your temperament and personal hygiene improve.)