Happy Birthday, Doctor Who Magazine! I’m honoured to have played a part…

Today is the cover date for the first issue for Doctor Who Weekly, launched by Marvel UK in October 1979 – and I’m very proud to have played a small part in the continuing adventures amazing publication known today as Doctor Who Magazine.

Doctor Who Weekly Issue One

For those who don’t know, I edited the title between 1988 and 1992, from Issues 137 – 185, coming on board as a designer on some of the pages of Issue 130, alongside Steve Cook. Doctor Who Magazine was my first professional job in ‘proper’ publishing, an editorship I owe in no small part to backing from MUK’s magazine head honcho, Sheila Cranna, and Richard Starkings, who got me through the door at the company, then based at Redan Place, in Bayswater, London.

I’d read Doctor Who Weekly at the start, of course, the brain child of Dez Skinn, who I’m reliably informed is thanked for his efforts 40 years ago by being lampooned in the next issue of DWM, in Lew Stringer’s “Daft Dimension” strip. I can’t wait to see that!

The Doctor Who Magazine, Office, circa 1990. That's me in the background, with designer Gary Gilbert beavering away on a spread for the short-lived
The Doctor Who Magazine, Office, circa 1990. That’s me in the background, with designer Gary Gilbert beavering away on a spread for the short-lived “Fantasy Zone”. Photo: Jon Preddle

It’s been many, many years since working on the title, and I’ve done much since in publishing, but I’ll always remember my time working on Doctor Who Magazine and at Marvel UK with enormous fondness, work made all the more fun a lot of the time not only by the staff I worked with, who include Louise Cassell, Gary Gilbert, Paul Neary, Gary Russell and others…

Doctor Who Magazine logo, designed by John Freeman

But, also, the freelancers and many, many others who helped shape DWM during my time (and I apologise if I have missed anyone out, there were a lot of you!): Dan Abnett, Sophie Aldred, Mark Ayres, David Banks, the late Colin Andrew, Peter Anghelides, Tom Baker, Andrew Beech, Jeremy Bentham, Tom Baker, Keith Barnfather, the BBC Picture Archive, David Bishop (for flat sharing long sufferance), the late Graham S. Brand, the late Adolfo Buylla, Doug Braithwaite, John Carnell, Andrew Cartmel, Sarah Cheesman, Stephen Cole, Mike Collins, the late Nicholas Courtney, Paul Cornell, the late Raymond Cusick, Vincent Danks, Kevin Davies, the late Steve Dillon, the late Gerry Dolan, Andrew Donkin, Dave Elliott, Paul Ferry (who are you calling a werewolf, now, eh?), Simon Furman, Stephen Gallagher (thank you for being my first Doctor Who interview), Dave Gibbons, Peri Godbold, Alan Grant, Scott Gray, Mark Griffiths, Marcus Hearn (the current DWM editor, no less), David Hine, Bryan Hitch, John Higgins, Kev Hopgood, Colin Howard, David Howe, Dicky Howett, Alan Jeffries, Dallas Jones, Andy Lane, Andy Lanning, the much missed Dominic May, Richard Marson, Una McCormack, Sylvester McCoy, John McClay, Nick Miller, Patrick Mulkearn, Saul Nassé, Joe Nazzaro, the late Terry Nation (The Daleks animated series would have been great if your agent had let us do it, honest!), the late Barry Newbery, Annie Parkhouse, Alister Pearson, Neil Penswick, Andrew Pixley (keeper of the archives!), Tim Perkins, the late Jon Pertwee (a memorable breakfast in Indianapolis), Steve Pini, Marc Platt, Jon Preddle, Tim Quinn, Arthur Ranson, Richard Piers Rayner, Jean Riddler, Adrian Rigelsford, Robin Riggs, John Ridgway, David Richardson, Cefn Rideout, Ian Rimmer, Liam Rudden, Jan Vincent-Rudski, Geoff Senior, Andrew Skilleter, Dez Skinn, Cam Smith, Richard Starkings (who got me the designer job), Lee Sullivan, Kev Sutherland, John Tomlinson, Mike Tucker, the late John Nathan-Turner, Paul Vyse, Pete Wallbank, Stephen James Walker, Richard Whitaker, Brian Williamson and Mark Wyman.

As I said above – apologies if I’ve missed anyone out.. in fact, I know I’ve missed people out, because so many people have helped shape Doctor Who Magazine, who worked on the title not just in my time but both before and after. But without Doctor Who Weekly, we wouldn’t have had opportunity to have fun with the Doctor Who universe – so, thank you, again, Dez Skinn!

Most importantly, though – thank you, all the Doctor Who Magazine readers out there, past, present, young, old and Zygon – it wouldn’t be here without you!

• Doctor Who Magazine’s 40th anniversary issue (Issue 544) is on sale 17th October 2019, price £9.99.The celebratory edition, on sale in all good newsagents and some run by Zygons, comes with a 100-minute Doctor Who DVD, a 32-page index of DWM and its sister publications and a download code for 11 @bigfinish audio adventures

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3 replies

  1. John, your era of DWM is one I look back on with great fondness. When the show was gone you and the team helped us all stay excited by it. There was no question of dropping the mag – it was strong enough the survive on it own, something few mags could have managed. Also want to thank you for keep the strip going – it was always one of the mag’s strongest assets and it’s great to see this is still the case. It was a pleasure to meet you at my very first Who Con, Carousel in Cardiff:) You were super encouraging about my artwork and I learned a lot from the tips you shared.Thank you for all your hard work!

  2. Cefn Ridout?

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