Wednesday 17 December 2014

Doctor Who Magazine: The 2015 Yearbook

Today sees a end-of-year special edition yearbook from Doctor Who Magazine.

I don’t usually mention stuff like this, but this contains something a bit special you’ll like to read - especially if you’re a regular reader of my blogs.

The magazine reviews an incredible year for the programme, its spin-offs and the licensed merchandise available.
Highlights include our first major interview with the show’s executive producer, Brian Minchin, in which he reflects on Peter Capaldi’s first year as the Doctor and looks forward to further adventures with the Twelfth Doctor.

  • Features on every episode in Peter Capaldi’s first series
  • Interviews with the team that accompanied Capaldi and Jenna Coleman on the Doctor Who World Tour
  • Fourth Doctor Tom Baker discusses his return to television and audio Doctor Who
  • Eighth Doctor Paul McGann reveals what he thinks about Capaldi’s Doctor
  • Orchestrator and conductor Ben Foster previews the 2015 Symphonic Spectacular
  • Inside the new ‘making of’ show, Doctor Who Extra
  • Behind the scenes at the new Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff
  • Interviews with some of the key players behind recent books, soundtracks, audio dramas, DVDs, Blu-rays and action figures
  • Highlights from the year’s newspaper and magazine reviews of Doctor Who
  • A round up of Doctor Who’s awards and honours from the last 12 months
  • Detailed tributes to the Doctor Who luminaries who passed away in 2014..., and much more!
Also included in the “much more” is an interview with me!

I was approached by Simon Guerrier, who as well as writing for Doctor Who Magazine has written adventures for Big Finish. We met in London a few weeks ago where we chatted about my work and some background information about how I do what I do.

We talked about a number of my projects and particularly about the Ultimate Sixth Doctor Frock Coat - including a nice feature picture from when I met Colin at Gallifrey in February this year.

I also provided a number of images for use with the article, including getting permission from Louise Page to share the picture of her with the Ultimate Tennant Suit.

I was hoping for maybe a half page, but in the end it turned out as a full page - which is awesome!

The magazine is available at
WH Smiths from
Thursday 18th December 2014

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Red Tartan - FASHION!

You may have seen that I have restocked the Red Tartan for my Ultimate Six Frock Coat.
This has prompted a couple of messages from my readers, one of which got me thinking.

The reader wanted to know the name or clan the tartan comes from, presumably so they could find it for themselves.

Well, the thing is this “tartan” isn’t really a true tartan and (as far as I have ever been able to discover) is not discernibly based on a registered design.

It is what’s best described as a Fashion Tartan - i.e. something randomly made up by a weaver for sale as a tartan-like fabric.

The thing that makes the Sixth Doctor tartan distinctively NOT a clan tartan is the pattern repeat.

If you’ve been reading this and wondering what all the tartans I’m showing you to the right, they are genuine clan tartans, all of which demonstrate the classic mirror pattern repeat.

If we were to tag the bands of red and black with a number, the pattern repeat would run 1-2-3-4-5-6-5-4-3-2-1. This sequence is the same horizontal and vertically, giving you the typical criss-cross grid pattern, and creates quite a complicated looking design from a very simple and limited sequence, i.e. the 1-2-3-4-5-6.

The Sixth Doctor tartan as seen here, is what is best described as a non-mirror, or step-and-repeat pattern.

So in this design the order of the stripes run 1-2-3-4-5-6-1-2-3-4-5-6 both vertically and horizontally.

So it got me thinking - what would the Sixth Doctor tartan look like IF it was classic mirror pattern repeat?

Here is it - just as a bit of fun.

Monday 24 November 2014

Ultimate Six Frock Coat -
restocking the special fabrics

Over the past few months I have been very busy restocking on a number of bespoke woven fabrics needed to make my Ultimate Sixth Doctor costume.

These are a mix of specially knitted, hand woven and industrial loom woven fabric and represent the most screen accurate reproductions made to date.

I’m always tweaking and doing my best to improve the fabrics I use when the opportunity arises to make revisions to get them even closer to screen used.

Now, you’ll be forgiven from thinking I’m off my rocker with my latest batch of tartan for the frock coat. The colour looks WAY off!

I had heard that the tartan used had been over-dyed before use, but without knowing what the original colour was before dyeing it would be near impossible to recreate truly accurately.

But after doing some research, I came across an original preliminary sketch by costume designer Pat Godfrey.

It reveals the idea was to use less intense colours, including trousers in a subtle green, and a frock coat with fewer colours used.
The lapels match, rather than being of different fabrics and if you look closely you can see it uses a tartan in a baby pink colour.

A large swatch of the tartan is attached, and you can see not only the colour it was, but you can see much more distinction between the yarns used to make the darker stripes of the weave.

My guess is the fabric was bought ready to be made up into the coat, but a change of heart lead it to being over-dyed to a revised colour scheme rather than waste the material.

So, what I have done is re-pick my colours to match this swatch, with the intention to over-dye it JUST like it was done back in 1984.

The result has been well worth the effort, with a much better match to the original coat, including the black stripes being polluted with the red dye - something that was apparent on the screen-worn coat. The broad stripes also have been improved.

Red Tartan (fabric 1) - done properly!

Sunday 2 November 2014

Barking Signing - 1st November 2014

I so much enjoyed last month’s signing session in Barking, today I am going to the next one!
Barking Signing - 1st November 2104
Of the guests attending, I already have Sarah Sutton and Nicola Bryant in my book, So aside from Sally Kenynette (who was in Blake’s Seven and not Doctor Who) I am going to gather all the rest.

SARAH SUTTON played Nyssa in Doctor Who from The Keeper of Traken to Terminus as well as Ann Talbot in Black Orchid. She also made a cameo appearance as Nyssa in The Caves of Androzani and reprised the role in the thirtieth anniversary special Dimensions in Time.

NICOLA BRYANT played companion Perpugilliam "Peri" Brownfrom Planet of Fire to Mindwarp. She later reprised the role for Dimensions in Time and has since appeared in many Doctor Who video and audio spin-offs.

SALLY KNYVETTE On screen Knyvette is best known for her roles as Jenna Stannis in the first two seasons of the British science fiction series Blake’s 7. She later complained of her role that Jenna had ”started off as this really exciting, intergalactic space pirate, but then she became a sort of housewife on the Liberator”.

PHILIP OLIVIER is an English actor who portrays Seventh Doctor companion Hex in the Big Finish Doctor Who audio stories.

ROBIN SQUIRE played the lead Auton in the original Spearhead From Space series, filmed in September 1969.

WENDY PADBURY played companion Zoe Heriot from The Wheel in Space to The War Games and again in The Five Doctors.

Sunday 28 September 2014

Barking Signing - 27th September 2014

This weekend, for the first time ever, I went to one of Tenth Planet Events signing events in Barking, East London.
Barking Signing
27th September 2014
I was drawn to go by the appearance of a Doctor Who celebrity I have always wanted to meet and never had the chance - and no, for once it wasn’t Colin Baker!

Character actress Janet Henfrey has been on our screens for well over 40 years, and she has taken her portrayal of hard bitten spinster types to incredible heights striking fear into me as a youngster on serval occasions.

She appeared in The Curse Of Fenric as the village busy body, and was known for the part of the housekeeper in As Time Goes By.

But for me it was the domineering school teacher she played in two of playwright Dennis Potter’s tv serials that stand out for me.

It was a role she first played in 1965 for Stand Up Nigel Barton (uttering the title line with ear splintering authority) and again in The Singing Detective in 1986. Remembering she was only 30 years old when she played it first time around, it is a remarkable performance.

So to walk into the room and see her sitting there waiting to sign autographs was amazing.

She is a particularly welcome addition to my book and I had a wonderful private chat with her while the autograph queues were quiet.

Once over my star-struck moment (and I don’t have them often) I gathered the other signatures I needed then waited for the interview session to kick off.

COLIN BAKER played the sixth incarnation of the Doctor from 1984 to 1986, beginning with the concluding scene of The Caves of Androzani and ending with The Ultimate Foe.

Colin was on good form for the interview session, recounting stories of his work, mainly prior to and after Doctor Who, was was a refreshing change to hear.

STEPHEN MARCUS is a British actor, best known for his role as Nick the Greek in the film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Stephen Marcus played the jailer in the Doctor Who episode The Shakespeare Code.

Stephen proved to be the quiet gentleman of the panel, and was such a contrast to the gruff and thuggish characters he plays on screen. He goes to show how a career as a true character actor can be built on looks and perception and not personality.

JEMMA CHURCHILL voiced Lady Forleon in the Big Finish Doctor Who audio story Creatures of Beauty. She has an extensive resumé of work on British television, with roles on Waiting for God, with Graham Crowden; EastEnders; Verity Lambert's Jonathan Creek with Stuart Milligan; The Bill, and Red Dwarf.

Jemma was enormous fun to listen to and she floored everyone - Colin Baker included - when she revealed she is the daughter of Pauline Yates, an actress well known for her part as Reggie Perrin wife in The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin.

JANET HENFREY played Miss Hardaker in the Doctor Who story The Curse of Fenric. She also voiced Mrs Vanguard in the Big Finish Productions Jago and Litefoot story The Spirit Trap.

As you have already read, I am a little in awe of Janet.

She wasn’t being asked as many questions as the other guests, so I took the opportunity to ask her publicly about those two roles that as so emblazoned on my memory. It brought back happy times for her and she thanked me afterwards for putting the question, which was so sweet.

CHLOE ANNETT She played Angela Mortimer, the great-niece of Mrs Pumphrey and the love interest of Tristan Farnon, in one episode of All Creatures Great and Small.
In the early 1990s she played the part of Stiffy Byng and Gertrude Winkworth, in Granada's series Jeeves and Wooster, based on the novels of P. G. Wodehouse.

Annett remains best known for taking over the role as Kristine Kochanski in the seventh and eighth series of Red Dwarf, a role which she reprised in the final part of the 2009 special, Red Dwarf: Back to Earth.

MATTHEW DALE is a British actor from Dorchester. He has appeared on a variety of television series including Kitchen Criminals and Stella. His first appearance in the Doctor Who universe was in Mark Gatiss's penned story, Robot of Sherwood.

This was pretty much Matthew’s first convention appearance, so he was a bit like a rabbit in headlight. He was very genuine and had the audience slack jawed when he revealed he had just finished a small part on the new Star Wars film!
Aside from the signing session, nothing else important happened today.

Friday 4 July 2014

Ultimate Six full-fat knitted waistcoat

I thought I’d share with you something I don’t make that often - actually this is the first time!

I’ve done a few of the season 22 knitted waistcoat, but each time I have produced them with either a plain silk back, or using the specially commissioned lining as seen in the Ultimate Six Frock Coat.

These are done for practical as well budget reasons - wearing a version with a knitted back is like wearing a skin-tight pull over underneath the frock coat and in full summer heat it will be unbearably hot!

However, a current client has asked for what I would call the full-fat version - knitted fronts; knitted back AND tails!

The tails are lined with the same lining as in the Frock Coat, so with the work I have done this is truly the most screen accurate replica ever made.

Saturday 28 June 2014

Original 6th Doctor items on eBay -
June 2014

This month on eBay I found a screen-worn Cyberscout costume as used in Attack Of The Cybermen.

It was purchased in as found condition and has ben restored to make it look a lot more like it appeared in the episode. Nice work.

Attack Of The Cybermen
Black Cyberscout costume

Items like this just do not come along very often! The Cyberscout! Due to a mega life-change (returning to full-time education in my forties and leaving my full-time teaching job---gulp!!!), I have made the painful decision to sell a few of my most prized Doctor Who original props to help with the transition. Up for auction is a serious opportunity…the surviving, original ‘Cyberscout’ screen-used costume from the 1985 story ‘Attack of the Cybermen’. What makes this particular costume so special and truly unique, is that it is one of only two ‘Cyberscout’ costumes made and the only one surviving (the other was the ‘stunt’ version that was cut up for pyrotechnic work in the sewer scenes). Read on for details… and please check out the images which illustrate the description below.

Monday 2 June 2014

DWAS Myth Makers convention -
the Sixth Doctor connection

This weekend I had a great day out today at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith.

The studios are part of the history and folklore of Doctor Who, having been where The Daleks invaded Earth in 1964, and a couple of years later where William Hartnell regenerated into Patrick Troughton.

In fact the iconic scene of Dalek emerging from the Thames was filmed only yards from the studios, by Hammersmith Bridge!

Sadly the studios, currently used for Weekend Kitchen, are due to be demolished later this year, leaving only a fraction of the site still standing.

The event was organised by DWAS - The Doctor Who Appreciation Society - and was a lot more low key compared to a majority of the glossy events that are staged these days.

Don’t get me wrong - I PREFERRED this to the glossy events as it was a lot more intimate, you you got see every part of the days events and damn it, they kept to their published timetable.

The spin on the day was the production side and how the behind the scenes events shaped what we saw on screen, with a heavy bias towards the classic rather than new series.

We kicked off with a one-on-one interview with Philip Hinchcliffe, who produced the first three years of Tom Baker’s era.

Philip’s interview was very insightful and interesting, as he had taken over from Barry Letts to launch the Tom Baker era. Much of his first season had already been planned out for him, with the inclusion of crowd pleasing foes such as Sontarans, Cybermen and of course the Daleks.

Since Philip was only involved with the Fourth Doctor era, you can read more about his interview here:
The Fourth Doctor Connection

Next we had a double act in the form of Derrick Sherwin and Terrance Dicks, who had been consecutive script editors spanning the latter days of Patrick Troughton and the whole of the Jon Pertwee eras. Terrance also wrote for the Tom baker era too.

Since Derrick and Terrance was only involved with Doctor Who in the 1960s and 1970s, you can read more about his interview here:
The Fourth Doctor Connection

We then had a break to get the first of the autographs and photo opportunities.

I took along a River Song diary I now use for autographs, and found that there was 'no limit' on the number of items you could get signed, so long as it was within reason.
So I got Philip as well as visual effects expert Mike Tucker, composer Dominic Glynn, and script editor Andrew Cartmel.

I also grabbed a quick - and it was quick - photo op with firstly Graeme Harper, then with Terrance and Derrick together.

There was minimal queuing; the photo was printed in the time it took to pay for it; and they had emailed the digital copy I asked for within minutes (and it was the photo of me, not someone else!). The photo was frankly better quality than at many glossy events, including the official 50th celebration.

It was then back into the viewing theatre for the next one-on-one interview, with director Graeme Harper.

Graeme gave an absorbing interview about his time not only on the classic series, directing Peter Davision in Caves Of Androzani and Colin Baker in Revelation Of The Daleks, but also working on the new series where is helmed the return of the Cybermen in series two.

He contrasted the production methods between the two, and you quickly became aware of the way how the episodes were made shaped how they appeared on screen.

On classic Who they had minimal time in the studio where they recorded each episode “as live” with multiple cameras during a two-hour recording slot. To achieve this the actors rehearsed extensively and the production crew planned every single camera cut before going into the studio.

Today, there is a big tone meeting and read through after which two weeks are allowed for filming using a single camera with no prior rehearsal - everything happens on set under the watchful eye of the director.

As the director of the fan’s favourite episode (as announced in Doctor Who Magazine), Graeme was also the recipient of a DWAS award.

MIKE TUCKER interview
Next up was special effects guru Mike Tucker, who is one of a select few who has worked on both the classic and new series.

Since Mike was principally involved with the Seventh Doctor era, you can read more about his interview here:
The Seventh Doctor Connection

Then it was time for another break, during which I got Terrance’s autograph on my photo with him; as well as Graeme's on his photo with me and in my River Song diary.

I also had the chance to get a new photo with Colin Baker, who admired my Matt Smith costume.

Colin seems to know me pretty well now, as he pipped up, “Here comes the tailor!” when I stepped up for the shot.

Back in the viewing theatre we were treated to a double act of Dominic Glynn and Andrew Cartmel who sparked well off each other.

Both had been relatively young when they worked on Doctor Who, and they had similar stories of unsolicited approaches to JNT to get their jobs.

Dominic sent a demo tape to JNT, which seemed to land on his desk at just the right time. After a chat and a meeting he was hired and was writing music for Doctor Who.

Similarly Andrew managed to get a meeting with JNT and was also hired with seemingly little effort.

Both were pretty much left to do their jobs with minimal interference from JNT. He did put his foot down once in a while, but was happier to nurture talent and let it bloom.

The final interview of the day was with Colin Baker, who was on good form.

COLIN BAKER interview
He talked at length about his pre and post Doctor Who fame and looked back on his time with sometimes mixed emotions.

The audience wanted to hear about the making of The Five(ish) Doctors and how it came about. Colin did inadvertently let slip that a new all-signing all-dancing DVD of Day Of The Doctor was due out, and the film would feature as an extra on the set.

With the main programme over, it just remained to get Nicholas Briggs to scribble in my River Song diary and for Colin to sign the photo I had with him, as well as two shots from meeting him in LA earlier this year at Gallifrey One.

This was the first DWAS event I have actually been to, and I must say it was very well planned and executed.