Saturday, 12 December 2009

Those Radio Times (Part 1) : Classic Who covers

The Radio Times is a weekly TV listing magazine published by the BBC in the UK. Over the years it has included many articles on Who, and most notably, many covers (no other TV programme has had nearly so many). The Who covers are very collectable, and cover many years of the programme.

The beginning of the TV series was marked only with a cover tag "DR WHO - a new Saturday-afternoon television series of adventures in time and space" (Radio Times 23rd - 30th November 1963). The first Who cover publicised the now lost classic ´Marco Polo´ (RT, 22-28 February 1963).

This was followed by the first Dalek cover promoting ´The Dalek Invasion of Earth´ (Radio Times 21st - 28th November 1964) , with the slightly misleading cover tag: "DR. WHO and the Daleks Saturday TV". A feature depicts the invaders trundling across Westminster Bridge in a classic photoshoot, and mistakenly refers to them as 'robots' throughout. The last first Doctor cover promoted ´The Web Planet´ (RT 13-19 February 1964).

Patrick Troughton´s arrival as the Doctor was marked with another Dalek cover, promoting his first story, ´Power of the Daleks´ (RT 5 - 11 November 1966). Patrick was interviewed the following month for the launch of ´The Highlanders´ (RT 15th - 21st December 1966).

1967 marked the first Cyberman cover, (RT 2-8 September 1967), supporting the ´Tomb of the Cybermen´ story and featuring the cover blurb: "DR. WHO and his companions face their old enemies, the Cybermen. Saturday BBC 1 see page 3". "My instincts tell me that terrible danger awaits us," the Doctor writes in his diary for the story preview. [A copy sold for over £100 on ebay in April 2010].

Another lanmark cover, this time the first in colour, portrays Troughton´s doctor (RT 20-26 January 1968) marked the ´Enemey of the Wolrd´ story, with the cover headline "Monstrous world of Doctor Who - RT talks to the BBC wardrobe and effects people".

From 1970 to 1973, Each of Jon Pertwee's seasons as the Third Doctor were heralded by a Radio Times cover (RT 1-7 January 1970, 2-8 January 1971 (below), 1-7 January 1972 - the highly collectable Frank Bellamy ´Day of the Daleks´ cover - and 30 December - 7 January 1973, with the 10th anniversary story ´The Three Doctors´).

Pertwee´s final cover (RT 15th - 22nd December 1973 - "Who´s your friend") marked an appearance on Parkinson, with a feature looking at the Doctor's popular appeal, together with his appearance on the Five Doctors cover, he achieved six covers.

For ten years, Who was without a RT cover - the show under Tom Baker was deamed so popular that it didn´t need promoting!

The next cover celebrated the 20th Anniversary adventure The Five Doctors (RT 19-25 November 1983), illustrated by Andrew Skilleter. This particular issue was hit by a printers strike that meant a reduced number of copies were available and indeed some regions received no issue.

Another 10 year gap was followed by the 30th Anniversary of Doctor Who, marked by ´Dimensions in Time´ in association with the BBC's annual Children in Need appeal (RT 20-26 November 1993).

Three years later, Paul McGann got his cover promoting the TV Movie (RT 25-31 May 1996). This issue, began a regular page sci-fi feature that included ongoing comic strip adventures for the Eigth Doctor in anticipation of a new relaunch for Doctor Who. The page was later abandoned and the comic strip had its run ended early.

Even after the cancellation of the classic series, a Doctor Who Night, with over three hours of programming presented by Fourth Doctor Tom Baker, provided the excuse for another Dalek cover (RT 13-19 November 1999), featuring a specially commisioned Dalek portrait, shot by Lord Snowdon, which was originally used as a postage stamp design. A readers' offer included a full set of high quality postcards each depicting Radio Times Doctor Who covers to date.

In 2003 a set of four different covers were released to celebrate the series 40th Anniversary (RT 22 – 28 November 2003). Finally Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy all has their own individual Who covers, although on a shared issue, which joined together to form a single image. Tom even got himself a new redesigned costume, for obvious reasons. A 16 Page centre pull-out celebrated the series, containing features and competitions - win a (replica) dalek and also original illustration artwork by Mark Thomas from the 20th-anniversary RT special (I wonder where this is now!).

There have also been two RT special anniversary issues, marking the 10th and 20th anniversaries of the series. The 10th anniversary RT Who special was reprinted and available to order as part of the 40th anniversary issues above. I´ll cover these in a future post.

Radio Times website has a gallery and details of Who covers here. For those of you who want to see inside the RT issues covering Who, visit the Cuttings Archive here, which appears to have the most comprehensive online library of Who related scans, as well as a ´covers´ section here (this site is a mine of information and well worth exploring).

A three page Doctor Who Magazine article, ´Those Radio Times´ appeared in issue 161 (June 1990), highlighting the coverage of Who inside the RT.

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