Sunday, 22 February 2015


Hard to believe that it's been four years since Doctor Who lost one its greatest stars - the Brigadier himself, Nicholas Courtney.

December 16th 1929, William Nicholas Stone Courtney was born in Cairo, Egypt, the son of a British diplomat. Courtney went into acting in the late '50s after eighteen months of National Service as a private. His first television role was in 1957. He first brush with Doctor Who came in 1965 was he played Brett Vyon in the twelve-part serial, The Daleks' Masterplan (although prior to that he was considered for the role of Richard the Lionheart in The Crusade). He returned to Doctor Who in 1968 in the six-part serial The Web of Fear as the intended one-off role of Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart of the Scots Guards. He was cast by Douglas 'Dougie' Camfield, the same director who had earlier considered him for the role of Richard the Lionheart. The happenstance that brought him to the role of Lethbridge-Stewart is something that cannot be forgotten, since it led him to him returning the following year as the now-promoted Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, commander of the British devision of UNIT in The Invasion

It was a role that would see him returning as a semi-regular cast member for the following six years, right up until 1975s Terror of the Zygons. Neither Courtney nor the Brigadier were ever forgotten, and both returned in 1983 for two appearances alongside Peter Davison's Doctor and reuniting him with both Patrick Troughton and Jon Pertwee in The Five Doctors. He returned once more to television Doctor Who in 1989 to star alongside Sylvester McCoy in Battelfield. Although the character never returned to Doctor Who, he was never forgotten and made appearances in many short stories, comics and novels over the following years. Courtney even returned to the role in several audio dramas produced by Big Finish. The character has been mentioned several times since Doctor Who returned in 2005, and Courtney even returned as Brigadier Sir Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart in the spin-off series The Sarah Jane Adventures in 2008. Ill health prevented any further appearances, and shortly after his death in 2011, the passing of the Brigadier was noted on screen in the episode The Wedding of River Song.

The legacy of the character continues, of course, in the shape of Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, now head of UNIT in the current series. She has appeared three times since 2012, and will return later this year in the opening episodes of series nine and later heading her own audio series of adventures for Big Finish.

Although the Brigadier himself is no longer with us, Candy Jar Books are all set to chronicle the history of this legendary character in the Lethbridge-Stewart series of novels, the first of which can be ordered directly from Candy Jar now (any orders now taken will be dispatched almost immediately) and is officially launched on Thursday 26th February (only four days away!) with an event at The Who Shop in London on Saturday 28th (in attendance will be author and range editor Andy Frankham-Allen, licensor Hannah Haisman, Terrance Dicks [the script editor who oversaw most of Nicholas Courtney's appearances during the late '60s and 1970s] and Ralph Watson who played Captain Knight alongside Courtney in The Web of Fear. Also popping by will be other Lethbridge-Stewart authors David A McIntee, Nick Walters and Jonathan Cooper).

Please do enjoy the following video put together by BabelColour, and remember that legend that was, and always will be, Nicholas Courtney.

We salute you, Nick!

Monday, 9 February 2015


Legacy of a Legend

In a surprise announcement at midday today, Big Finish Productions have announced a new deal with BBC Worldwide allowing them to produce new full-cast plays based around UNIT, the Unified Intelligence Taskforce, run by Kate Stewart, the daughter of iconic character, Brigadier Sir Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart!

There will be four boxsets released at six-month intervals, with the first four-part story released in November this year. This is the first time Big Finish have been able to release stories that specifically tie in with the current television series, and does suggest the possibility of more connections coming in the future. Series producer David Richardson says that Big Finish 'feel privileged to work within the universe of the New Series Doctor Who for the first time'.

Additional details will be announced in the coming months, but we do know from the news announcement that Kate Lethbridge-Stewart and UNIT will be fighting a new invasion by the Nestene Consciousness, first seen in 1970's Spearhead from Space and later at the start of the revived series in 2005's Rose.

In the meantime, while Big Finish prepare to continue the legacy of the Lethbridge-Stewarts, Candy Jar Books will be bring you their first series of novels chronicling the start of the legacy with Kate's father, set just after his first appearance in 1968's The Web of Fear. The first novel, The Forgotten Son, sees Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart facing off once more with the Great Intelligence, most recently seen in 2013's The Name of the Doctor.

For more details on the Lethbridge-Stewart series, and to pre-order, click HERE.

For more news on the UNIT series, and pre-order, click HERE.

Thursday, 5 February 2015


For the second instalment in the Lethbridge-Stewart interview range we are pleased to visit with Welsh comic-artist Simon Williams, who provides the art for the cover of the first Lethbridge-Stewart novel, The Forgotten Son.

Welcome, Simon. Before we get to your involvement with The Forgotten Son let’s take a quick look at your background with art and comics. What was the first comic you ever read?

Thanks, Chris. The first comic I can remember reading was Might World of Marvel issue #231, waaaaayyyyyy back in 1977! It was a UK Marvel weekly, reprinting various US titles. This issue featured among others, a reprint of the US Incredible Hulk #198… written by Len Wein, with artwork by Sal Buscema and Joe Staton. With that issue, I became a life-long fan of the Incredible Hulk, and it was Sal's artwork that inspired me to want to draw comics. Two fun facts about this issue… The back-up strip was a reprint of Marvel US's Planet of the Apes magazine, and the UK editor at the time was Neil Tennant (of Pet Shop Boys fame)!

How much influence did reading comics and seeing their artwork have on your development as an artist?

I can't put into words the influence those comics had on me. Not only as an artist, but my life as a whole. I learned to read with comics, especially Marvel. All I've ever wanted to do was draw comics.

You count artists such as Sal and John Buscema, John Romita Sr and John Byrne as being some of your major inspirations. What is it about their art that you found appealing and how has their style inspired yours?

Well, Sal's artwork was the first to stand out for me. With the Hulk being my favourite character, and Sal being the artist on the book for over one hundred issues, I read more of his work than anyone else’s. At the time I started reading comics, you had Sal on Hulk, Marvel UK were reprinting John Romita Spider-Man stories, John Buscema on Conan and The Fantastic Four… and John Byrne's run on Uncanny X-Men. To me, the Buscemas, Romita and, of course, Jack Kirby were the masters and innovators of the classic Marvel style. Brilliant draftsmen who could not only draw, but were master storytellers as well. John Byrne was one of the first of the new wave of ‘hot’ artists (along with the likes of Frank Miller) to follow in their footsteps, who carried on that tradition of classic storytelling and art, while maintaining modern sensibilities.

And in a few words how do you describe your personal artistic style?

Classic, Retro, Marvel!

You have said that you broke into comics thanks to Panini editor Alan O’Keefe, who contacted you in 2003 after noticing your art portfolio online. First, tell us a little bit about that portfolio. What were some of the art subjects and do you have any particular favourite pieces from that collection?

I can remember that there were several Hulk pieces on there… as well as several pages from my original Discotronic Funk Commandos strip, which I created back in 1996. I do tend to cringe when looking at my old work (especially stuff that I drew nearly 15 years ago!), but those early DFC pages feature some work that I still feel holds up to this day.

Now, once Alan O’Keefe noticed your work he offered you a chance to draw for the then-new Transformers: Armada title. You later contributed art to titles such as Action Man, Spectacular Spider-Man and Marvel Heroes. Looking back on your entry and first years as a comic artist, what do you feel are the most valuable experiences or lessons you learned as an artist?

Well, the first thing I have to say is how grateful I am to Alan and the Panini guys for giving me my start as a professional in comics. Working with editors Ed Hammond, Brady Webb, Tom O'Malley and Rob Jones was an absolute joy. In my first year, I got to achieve two of my life-long ambitions: to draw the Incredible Hulk… and to draw a Hulk vs Thing battle (with Spider-Man thrown into the mix)! As for what I've learnt from back then; I'd say as an artist that you never stop learning. I still learn something new to this day.

In 2009 you generated a lot of fan and professional excitement by drawing and posting online a comic series that featured a showdown between the Hulk and Death’s Head,  a robotic bounty hunter – or as he calls himself, ‘a freelance peace-keeping agent’ – first created in Marvel UK’s Transformers comic in 1987. Tell us a little about that artistic experience and also your thoughts on why the project attracted so much positive attention.

That project started out just for fun. I have always loved the character of Death's Head, and always hoped to see him fight the Hulk back in the old Marvel UK days (after all, he met and fought the Transformers, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man and even the Doctor!). So I decided to draw up some pages to post on my deviantArt page, again just for fun! However, people really started to take an interest in this strip, so I decided to finish it as part of my convention exclusive Soulman Inc Sketch Book. I never dreamt that it would actually lead to the real thing, where Marvel Heroes editor Ed Hammond told me that they were going to do a Hulk/Death's Head strip, with me on artwork and Death's Head creator Simon Furman writing! It was genuinely a dream come true.

In recent years you created the comic title Retro Tales – Discotronic Funk Commandos for the Retro Comics Group. Tell us a little about the vision of Retro Comics and this superhero team’s place in your own comic book world.

Retro Tales is my love-letter to ‘70s Marvel Comics. I created the Discotronic Funk Commandos back in 1996 (although back then they were called the Funktastic Four). I always had this crazy idea about superheroes and villains based of ‘70s disco musicians/bands. It's a comedy strip, but played straight (much akin to the classic Batman TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward). My style of artwork has always been compared to the ‘70s/’80s style Marvel comics, so I decided to use the Funk Commandos as the main characters of Retro Tales, written and drawn in a retro comic-book style.

Last year Retro Comics debuted two new characters, The Hoff and Thor, the Rock Warrior. Both creations are based on two real-life pop culture icons: American actor David Hasselhoff and Canadian heavy metal frontman Jon Mikl Thor, respectively. How did their involvement into your comic title come about, and how has it been for you as a comic creator and artist working with these two men in translating their real-life personalities into the comic book world?  

Working with both Jon and David has been an absolute dream come true! I'm a huge fan of the band Thor (and often draw listening to their music!), and have been a long-time fan of the Hoff. My collaborations with both started by correspondence online, and since have met David several times. I'm hoping to meet Jon sometime this year, as I believe he will be in the UK promoting his new bio-pic I Am Thor.

Let’s return briefly to Death’s Head. It is little-known in Marvel Comics lore that Death’s Head has a comic connection with a certain Time Lord known as the Doctor, a fact which you have mentioned in previous interviews. Growing up, were you ever a fan of Doctor Who, and if so, did you ever watch the 1970s stories featuring UNIT and Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart?

I certainly did! Doctor Who is a definite favourite of mine. Tom Baker being the Doctor I grew up with. Now, thanks to the DVDs and television repeats, I have seen most of the UNIT episodes featuring Jon Pertwee, and of course the wonderful Nicholas Courtney, whose character of the Brigadier is one of my absolute favourites!

You are the cover artist for The Forgotten Son, which is the first instalment in the upcoming Lethbridge-Stewart novel series published by Candy Jar Books. How did you first become involved in this project? Is it your first time drawing cover art for stories as opposed to comic book story art?

I was approached for the project by range editor and Forgotten Son author Andy Frankham-Allen, who is a very good friend of mine. I have always wanted to draw something related to Doctor Who professionally, and when I heard it was the Brigadier I was over the moon! This is my first time drawing covers for a novel, but I couldn't think of anything better to start with!

Although The Forgotten Son won’t be available until 22 February your art for the book is already viewable online. In the image we see the profile of Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, a young boy in somber clothes, an ominous house and a Yeti hovering over a glowing pyramid. Without giving away any details of the actual story, what can you tell us about your design for this cover and what helped to inspire you in its drawing?

The design of the cover was something I discussed with Andy Frankham-Allen, and Candy Jar publisher Shaun Russell. I told them to give me the specific elements that they wanted me to incorporate onto the cover, and of course what style they would like. I was pretty adamant though about the Brig being prominent on the cover; something both Andy and Shaun were in full agreement with!

Finally, and again without giving too much away, will this be your only cover for this book range or can we except more of your art covering the world of Lethbridge-Stewart?

As it stands right now, I'll be doing more covers for this series! I'm awaiting more news from Mr Frankham-Allen on this, but I should be starting on the next one very soon!

Simon Williams, thank you.

Artwork © Simon Williams, All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, 4 February 2015


Way back in 1986, for reasons beyond his control, Colin Baker was effectively 'fired' from the lead role in Doctor Who. He was made the fall guy. At the time, angry and annoyed, he refused to come back in 1987 to record a regeneration story, and so as a result the Sixth Doctor never had a final adventure as performed by Colin Baker, until now...
September 2015 sees the release of a very special story from Big Finish, as The Last Adventure at last provides a heroic exit for Colin Baker’s much-loved Time Lord...
Says David Richardson, Big Finish producer, ‘I spoke to Colin not long after Matt Smith’s final outing, The Time of the Doctor, was broadcast on television. I felt very strongly that regeneration stories, and each Doctor’s final end, are very important to Doctor Who fans And so I asked Colin if he might finally consider doing the Sixth Doctor’s final story with us. To my huge delight, he said yes.’
Colin Baker was very open to the idea, saying he owes it to Big Finish as they were responsible for giving him the opportunity to re-address the bad press his Doctor often gets. 'At Big Finish the Sixth Doctor has lived and breathed anew and developed in a way that I am extremely happy with. I never actually filmed a regeneration, and left poor Sylvester floundering around in my empty clothing with a blond wig on, I have resolutely maintained the lie that I am still the Doctor and all the rest are imposters because I never regenerated!'
The Last Adventure will be released in a lavish book-sized box set which will contain special photography, illustrations and behind the scenes interviews, as well as four hour-long episodes. The stories are connected by the presence of Michael Jayston as the Valeyard, the entity that exists between the Doctor’s twelfth and final regeneration.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

ME AND WHO - 1988

The first in a new series of articles in which Andy Frankham-Allen, range editor of Candy Jar's Lethbridge-Stewart novels, takes a look back at some of his most important Doctor Who memories.

“You Haven’t Been Born Yet”
Remembrance of the Daleks

You know, I could talk about Remembrance of the Daleks forever. It has its flaws, especially now, twenty-six years on (yikes! Yes, over a quarter of a century already), like the wobbly Daleks or the incorrect edition of The French Revolution book, but it has so much going for it. It was the perfect opening adventure for the twenty-fifth anniversary season (indeed, I still think it should have been the twenty-fifth anniversary story); it was set in the same fictional location as the very first Doctor Who episode, it had the Daleks (a staple of 1960s Doctor Who), and it had more continuity than you could shake a stick at. Never too obtrusive, but enough to please the long-time fans. There is so much more I can say. I could even tell you the story of how my VHS cassette onto which I taped the story had a problem – the first episode would speed up and slow down at odd moments, rendering some of the most interesting dialogue in twenty-five years of Who – such classics lines, like the Doctor, after hearing Gilmore’s bewilderment at the idea of a death ray, saying ‘not as predictable as spots’. And Allison, upon learning that a soldier had been shot by a Dalek questions it with, ‘daddy, are you sure?’ For years I was puzzled by such dialogue, until the video got released some years later. ‘What a predictable response’ and ‘dead, are you sure?’ make a whole lot more sense, I’m sure you’ll agree. But you know what? I’m not going to tell you that story. I have two others I want to share with you.

The first is from 1988, before the story was even transmitted. Back then (twenty-six bloody years ago!), I lived in a place called White City in London. I had only been back into Doctor Who for a year (don’t ask me why, but Time and the Rani episode two brought me back to the fold), and so was rather looking forward to this new season. I had started getting Doctor Who Magazine again and knew all the rumours. The Daleks were coming back! Woo! Good time to get back into Doctor Who, right? One of the places I visited the most was Hammersmith, King’s Street, the hubbub of shopping for those living in West London. I knew the area pretty well, spent a whole load of time there. Except for one particular week. And that week just so happened to be the one the Doctor Who team were filming Remembrance of the Daleks in Macbeth Street, Hammersmith. I only found out the next day in the local paper. I couldn’t believe it! I’d have loved to gone and watched Daleks trundling along the streets, the Doctor differing over whether to enter the TARDIS or not. But no, I had missed it totally. Years later, in 2005, I had moved back to Wales and guess who followed me there? Yes, the Doctor Who production team! I’m pretty sure they knew. So, believe me, I made sure I was on hand for at least one day of location filming. Should have been uber exciting, but it turned out to be a rather tedious and long night of exploding market stalls, falling Christmas trees and Santas with flamethrower trombones. Oh, and Billie Piper and Noel Clarke. I often wonder if watching Remembrance of the Daleks would have been more fun. Would rather have seen them land a shuttle in a playground than a large Christmas falling down. 1988, I was fifteen, so yeah, most likely would have been. Daleks! Hmm, come on, who wouldn’t want to meet the Daleks in real life? No? Just me, then? Okay.

They turned a corner into Macbeth Street, and once they had neared the school that stood there, Jake noticed the police box in an alley alongside a block of flats. Jake smiled. At last they were getting somewhere.

This little excerpt is from a short story I wrote for Big Finish back in 2004, and fans of Remembrance of the Daleks may just well recognise the above place as the location used for Coal Hill School in that story. When I wrote that story I intentionally set it in and around Hammersmith because it’s a place I know so well from my own youth, and it’s always good to write about what you know. Having set it in such a location, I couldn’t resist having the TARDIS land in the same place the police box prop had once stood in 1988. I may have missed the location filming, but in my fictional universe of Doctor Who I could at least visit it through the eyes of Jake Morgan. Plus, it made a nice little Easter egg for fans of the show. To my knowledge, other than my sister, no one picked up on it. But, you know, that’s fine. Every time I think of that scene, I find myself wondering why the Third Doctor never spotted Coal Hill School opposite. Maybe he did. Maybe he even went inside and replaced the incorrect French Revolution book with the one Susan actually borrowed in 1963. Maybe.

Thursday, 29 January 2015


Desert Island Discs... A classic radio show that lasted for many long years. Just released on the BBC Radio 4 website is a lovely curious; an episode that features William Hartnell, the very first Doctor!

Hartnell was well-known for his abrasive persona, with 2013's dramatised special about the creation of Doctor WhoAn Adventure in Space and Time, painted a poignant picture of the man. But here is a wonderful chance to hear the considered, more relaxed, side of the man.

Monday, 19 January 2015


This March sees Doctor Who reach a milestone. And it’s one no Who fan can honestly deny the importance of. It will be the tenth anniversary of Doctor Who’s triumphant return to our television screens. It’s worthy of note. Very few ‘cult TV’ shows make it to ten years in the current climate of television politics, and the cold feet that tends to results in many shows being pulled after a lack-lustre first season (which misses the point that a first season is almost always the weakest of any show, as it is all about finding the show’s identity – often leading to a weak and schizophrenic season). Back in 2005, well, late 2003 when the plans to bring Doctor Who back were revealed, Doctor Who was largely little more than a fondly remembered television show of years-gone, often mocked and derided by critics. Sure, it had a very loyal fanbase, and despite its absence from television since 1989 (and the one-off television film in 1996) the property was still alive and well. Through prose fictions (novels, short stories), through audio dramas (on CD or radio) and in comic strips, Doctor Who had never really disappeared. Arguably, those years off screen saw Doctor Who go through its most creative period – years of strong and original fiction, with creative leaps not hindered by a miniscule television budget. But 2005 changed all that.
March 2005. Hard to believe it was ten years ago. So much seems to have happened since. Doctor Who was taken in-house more than ever before, in a branding drive that saw the novel range shift its focus to younger readers, cutting the output by a good eighty percent, Doctor Who Magazine went through a radical facelift, new merchandise was on the cards. In every conceivable way 2005 saw Doctor Who become a success story – and in the past ten years that success has continued, as the show’s appeal spread wider and wider. New fans have been brought in to the re-energised series, a whole new generation that now think of the show as ‘theirs’, who have their own Doctor (or Doctors, since ten years on there have been four [or five, depending on how you look at it] actors to play the part). In every way, the past ten years had redefined the public perception of Doctor Who. The critics love it, the public love it, kids love it!

But is this worthy of celebration?

On January 6th, Radio Times published an interview with Russell T Davies, and he made it clear that no, it isn’t. ‘A programme can’t have its fiftieth and then it’s tenth. I think that’s just confusing. It's marvellous and glorious; let it carry on,’ said Russell. And he might have a point. Less than two years ago the BBC went a mad marketing drive to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the entire series. Will it confuse matters to now celebrate the tenth anniversary of the ‘new’ series? Will this suggest a division between Doctor Who 1963-1989 and Doctor Who 2005-2015? For some fans there is a division, for others there is not. Russell seems to see it all as one series.

I talked to a few fans and this is what they had to say.

Jim Russell, from Wishaw, Scotland; ‘When I complain about NuWho, I'm told that it's not a new series, it's a continuation of the original series. If that's the case, then there's no reason to celebrate.’

Adam Perks, from Potters Bar, England; ‘I don't think it's necessary. I became a fan during the "Wilderness Years", when there were no new episodes, and as much as my love for Doctor Who came from the videos of old stories, it also came from the Virgin and BBC novels, the Big Finish audios, and the fan fiction produced during that time. To eleven-year-old me, it felt like an infinite toy chest which things could only be added to and never taken from. So I suppose what I'm saying is that, although I loved it when RTD brought it back to telly, to me it never really felt like Doctor Who had been away.’

Philip Bates, from Weston-super-Mare, England; ‘I was born in the “Wilderness Years” so knew little about Doctor Who. But when it came back, I loved it. Still do. 100%. I've caught up on all that I missed and yes, I'd like a celebration of some sort. I can understand why some don't (though I think it's a bit patronising that a "reason" is some may not get why a couple of years ago we were going on about the fiftieth and this year, we're celebrating ten years. People aren't thick - they'd understand!).’

Edward Rees, from Bettws, Wales; ‘I don't think it's necessary if I'm honest. We certainly don't need a big celebration like the fiftieth. A small nod would be nice, like numbering the bus the 200 in Planet of the Dead. An episode penned by RTD would have been nice or perhaps a small scale story with two Doctors or a returning companion. It's the fifty-second year and the tenth since the return, let's just carry on and save the celebrating for the sixtieth.’

Caroline Callaghan, from Bradford, England; ‘It's still Doctor Who, even if it's quite different to the Doctor Who I first watched as a kid fifty years ago. So, no, you can't celebrate its tenth year when it's over fifty years old.’

Ed Sinclair, a Canadian author now living in Maesteg, Wales; ‘I'm of mixed sentiment about the “anniversary”. The new shows are being marketed as series one, two, etc and if anything, the special should be the proper series ten special, not this next year [series nine]. But I wouldn't make a big deal about it. Just lovely little nods to the history of the past ten years would be sweet. After all, how many shows these days run for nine seasons plus? It is an achievement in any terms.’

Jesse Conrad, from Maryland, America; ‘I don't think a tenth anniversary celebration would be confusing to most people. Most people who became fans after Doctor Who returned in 2005 know it has been around for over fifty years and that it was on a very long hiatus before it returned to our screen. I think there should be some kind of celebration, nothing too big, for the fact the show successfully stayed on for ten years, proving those who had doubts about the show back in 2005 wrong!’

Fan opinion is, as ever, mixed. Is it worth celebrating? Maybe. It is an achievement, and should probably be acknowledged in some way, but will making a huge deal of it ‘confuse’ people the way Russell T Davies believes? A question that is not easy to answer. For long-term fans, probably not. For younger fans? Perhaps. For the general public? It would all come down to how it is celebrated, and how well the BBC publicise it.

The bottom line is, if Doctor Who had not returned in such a triumphant way in 2005, then the chances are the series would remain long-dead in the public eye.

What are your thoughts? We’d like to know.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014


It's Christmas... well, almost. And we have a special gift from all of us at Candy Jar Books, to all of you at home. A follow-up interview with Hannah Haisman, who is now able to talk more freely about Lethbridge-Stewart and her grandfather's inspirations... now the cat is out of the bag, as Sir Alistair would say.

Mervyn and Hannah Haisman
Type 40: First, how does it feel knowing that Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, a character your grandfather helped to create almost forty-seven years ago, is about to make a grand literary return for a new generation of Doctor Who fans?

Hannah: It is very exciting indeed! I am extremely proud that Lethbridge-Stewart is held in such high regard with Doctor Who fans. There has been a lot of positive feedback on social media over the release of these novels and I am truly humbled that fans old and new cannot wait for a character my grandfather co-created to make a literary comeback.

Type 40: In your previous interview with Type 40 you talked a lot about your early memories of your grandfather. Can you share with us some your earliest memories of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart?

Hannah: To be honest, I never really had early memories of Lethbridge-Stewart. Doctor Who was a snapshot in time of my grandfather’s writing career, one that only spanned a period of a few years. The first memory I have is when organising his literary estate and compiling a record of all the works and characters he created.

Type 40: In your earlier interview you also mentioned your grandfather’s deep love for books and literature. Did he have any particularly favourite stories in his collection? Do you know of any stories that may have inspired him to help craft the character of Lethbridge-Stewart?

Hannah: Most of the books in his study were for research purposes, ranging from historical to spiritual, travel to black magic! As for stories that inspired the creation of Lethbridge-Stewart, I think that was more down to his time in the army than any book on his shelf, but I feel he based the character, as he usually did, on someone he knew or had met. Certainly when the Brigadier barks orders, I reminded of my grandfather. 

Colonel Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart
Type 40: All characters, like people, have a name and the Brigadier has an especially dignified one. Do you know anything of how your grandfather came up with the name for Lethbridge-Stewart? I have heard before that the original surname was simply Lethbridge.

Hannah: Lethbridge-Stewart was created over fifteen years before I was born, and growing up Doctor Who wasn’t really talked about, in fact none of my grandfather's work was. Although he was passionate about writing, it was a job. It was only in his twilight years that we sat and talked about things that he had done. Looking back, I wish I had asked him so many more questions. If I had, I would be in a better position to fill in the gaps!

Type 40: Was there ever a point where you realised that in creating the character of the Brigadier your grandfather had also created a television icon?

Hannah: Not until recently! It was only when I had die-hard Doctor Who fans tell me the importance of Lethbridge-Stewart. I’m being educated in the importance of certain characters and thankfully Andy (Frankham-Allen, range editor of Lethbridge-Stewart) has been brilliant. I know by this statement some people will recoil in horror, but I didn’t see my grandfather as a creator of icons. To me he was the icon.

Type 40: Many people credit Nicholas Courtney’s performance as Lethbridge-Stewart as the source of the Brigadier’s popularity. Certainly the actor’s forty-one year association in playing the role is a testament to his incredible contribution to the character. Did your grandfather ever discuss his thoughts on Courtney’s performance in the role?

Hannah: The last time I visited my grandfather, we sat up till 3am just chatting. He spoke about the Doctor Who years and his other credits. He was very vocal about those he liked and those he didn’t! He didn’t go into detail of his thoughts on an individual’s performance, but I know that out of the three series he penned, Lethbridge-Stewart was a character he felt fondly about. This was probably due to the way Mr Courtney brought him to life.

Type 40: Did you ever have the chance to meet Mr Courtney and what do you feel he brought to the character of the Lethbridge-Stewart?

Hannah: Unfortunately I never had that honour. I feel that the role couldn’t have been played any better by any other actor, and Mr Courtney is as much of an icon as Lethbridge-Stewart himself.

Type 40: Due to the BBC’s now defunct policy of destroying film to conserve storage space, many Doctor Who episodes from the 1960s are currently missing from the BBC archives. Because of this sad loss of material, The Web of Fear was thought to be lost to viewers. But just last year most of the missing episodes from that story were triumphantly returned to the BBC and have since been released on DVD. For many fans this was their first time to see Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart in action. How did it feel to learn that one of your grandfather’s Doctor Who adventures was available again to see and enjoy?

Hannah: I was over the moon when I found out that most of that story had been found. Nobody from the BBC had told me of this momentous news; I found out the same time as the general public. My twitter feed went crazy on the news of its release and I suppose that was the first time I realised just what grandad had created, and what part he had played in the formative years of Doctor Who.

Type 40: Have you since seen The Web of Fear, and if so, what are your thoughts on the adventure?

Hannah: I re-watched watched it today in preparation for this interview, and I have to admit, I love it! In a way it is like watching a ghost as I can see so much of my grandfather and other people in certain characters. Examples of this would be Ann Travers; she is very like my grandmother in her speech and mannerisms, and I can see a lot of my grandfather in the Doctor and Professor Travers. I have reasons to believe, from conversations I had with my grandfather about his time working on The Web of Fear, that Chorley’s character is loosely based on Derrick Sherwin!

Anne Travers, inspired by Mervyn's wife.
Type 40: The Web of Fear also featured as its monster the Great Intelligence and its robotic Yeti, which your grandfather co-created for the 1967 Doctor Who adventure The Abominable Snowmen, which is sadly still missing from the BBC archives. Whereas abominable snowmen are the stuff of myths and legends, the Intelligence, a formless, shapeless eternal entity, was a very novel concept your grandfather introduced to the world of Doctor Who. Can you give us any insight into what inspired him to create such an intriguing character?

Hannah: My grandfather’s parents were very spiritual people, which before the war was rare. The majority of people back then were either Catholic or Christian, but after the untimely death of my grandfather’s sister Stella, the family found the Spiritualist movement, in particular Buddhism. When looking at the beliefs of Buddhists, they include a belief in an infinite intelligence, a continuous existence of the human soul where energy will change form to spirit and that the spiritual world penetrates the material world on a different dimension. It was this belief that formed the central concept of the Great Intelligence, something I feel was lacking in its most recent television appearances.

Type 40: Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart and a few other familiar faces from The Web of Fear will be returning next year in The Forgotten Son, the first book for the new Lethbridge-Stewart novel range. What has been your involvement in the development of this upcoming series?

Hannah: After chatting with Andy, he introduced me to Candy Jar Books, where we discussed the possibility of me granting the rights to use Lethbridge-Stewart. I have given Candy Jar complete creative control over the characters and concepts my grandfather created for Doctor Who. I chat very regularly with Andy, and he consulted me when he put together the official timeline for the Great Intelligence, and I’m being kept in the loop with other authors. Most of all, I trust the authors and if I have any questions, they are more than happy to talk me through them.

Type 40: Without giving too much away about the future of the series, can we expect to see some appearance of other Doctor Who characters and concepts associated with Lethbridge-Stewart along the way, such as UNIT, Cybermen, or – dare we hope – the Doctor?

Hannah: Never say never! I think you will see certain characters and concepts owned by various authors, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy!

Type 40: Although Nicholas Courtney died nearly four years ago and the character of the Brigadier was declared dead three years ago, it seems Lethbridge-Stewart is alive once more, but now as a Cyberman. Were you surprised to see Lethbridge-Stewart’s return as one of first monsters he faced onscreen?

Hannah: It is documented that I haven’t been a life-long Doctor Who fan, but, under orders from Andy, I watched Death in Heaven and as soon as the Twelfth Doctor saluted the Cyberman, I got it. I was very surprised and more than happy to see Lethbridge-Stewart return as a Cyberman; I really wasn’t expecting that and I don’t think the fans were either.

Type 40: In your last interview with Type 40, you expressed your feelings of joy at the Brigadier’s unexpected return but also your clear opinion that he should not remain as a Cyberman (and yes, those monsters still make me hide, too) but perhaps as a sort of ‘higher consciousness’ to aid his daughter in future episodes. Do you think it might be possible we may yet see the Brigadier again in Doctor Who, perhaps even with a new actor, fighting alongside the Doctor?

Hannah: It would be nice to see the spirit of Lethbridge-Stewart live on, but it would have to be done right for it to work. If you have ever lost someone who is close, there are times when you feel their presence with you. If it were to be done, it would have to be in that way and not as a Cyberman!

Type 40: Now seems to be a time when the character of Lethbridge-Stewart is rising once more in popularity and awareness amongst Doctor Who fans. What do you feel makes your grandfather’s character so special and so beloved and, I would say, even immortal?

Hannah: I really couldn’t pinpoint what it is. My grandfather wrote his best works when he believed in the characters. When a writer believes in the characters he creates and the part is cast to the right actor, as it was with Nicholas Courtney, the character becomes believable and even more special amongst fans. With Lethbridge-Stewart it was a combination of the two – great writing and a great performance. My grandfather could not have hoped for a better legacy, and alongside Candy Jar Books and Andy, we’ll make sure it continues to be honoured.

Interview conducted by Chris McKeon, co-author of Time's Champion (with Craig Hinton).

Lethbridge-Stewart begins in February with The Forgotten Son, set directly after The Web of Fear. Pre-order it now from Candy Jar Books.

Or you can pre-order the first four books in the series. 

They are;
The Forgotten Son by Andy Frankham-Allen
Horror of Det-Sen by Lance Parkin
The Schizoid Earth by David A McIntee
Mutually Assured Domination by Nick Walters

More exclusive interviews with the creative minds behind Lethbridge-Stewart coming up over the next two months. The New Year begins with Simon Williams, the cover artist, who will discuss his career with Marvel UK and own original projects.

Until then, a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS to all our readers at home, from Hannah Haisman, Andy Frankham-Allen, Shaun Russell, Lance Parkin, David A McIntee, Nick Walters, Simon Williams, and everybody at Candy Jar Books!

Friday, 19 December 2014


Everybody loves the Brigadier, but what are your favourite stories? Please vote below (you can vote for more than one story). The poll will run until the New Year, at which point the results shall be announced.

TV Stories
The Web of Fear
The Invasion
Spearhead from Space
The Silurians
Terror of the Autons
The Mind of Evil
The Claws of Axos
The Daemons
Day of the Daleks
The Time Monster
The Three Doctors
The Green Death
The Time Warrior
Invasion of the Dinosaurs
Planet of the Spiders
Terror of the Zygons
Mawdryn Undead
The Five Doctors
Enemy of the Bane
Poll Maker

Lethbridge-Stewart series now available for pre-order...

Tuesday, 16 December 2014


What if we could tamper with time?

That’s the question uppermost in the mind of Dominic Sandbrook (aka Sandy), in the fourth and final instalment of his BBC documentary series, Tomorrow’s Worlds: the Unearthly History of Science Fiction. The programme was a predictable but nonetheless enjoyable romp through some of SF’s more familiar time travel tales.

Sandy begins, of course, with the HG Wells classic, The Time Machine. Ignoring the novel’s origin in the short story, The Chronic Argonauts, written in 1888, Sandy suggests that time travel begins in 1895 with Wells’ novel.  Curiously, he characterises The Time Machine as an attempt to explore the discovery of spiritualism, and the frontiers beyond.  I found this one of the strangest assertions in all of Sandy’s four programmes.

On the contrary, The Time Machine has two major themes: evolution and social class.  The book is an ingenious voyage of discovery through the invention of a machine, which symbolises the power of science and reason. The Time Traveller sets out to navigate and dominate time. His discovery? Time is lord of all. The significance of the story’s title becomes clear. Man is trapped by the mechanism of time, and bound by a history that leads to his inevitable extinction.

It’s not surprising that Wells had these twin obsessions of evolution and class.

Firstly, Wells had emerged from an English lower middle class, that had previously spawned only one other key author  Charles Dickens. Wells’ mother had been in service, his father a gardener. Though they were hopeful of elevating their status on becoming shopkeepers, the shop failed, year after year. Wells’ own employment began as a draper's apprentice. It ended rather abruptly when he was told he was not refined enough to be a draper. Such rejection at the sharp end of a class-conscious Victorian England became the motivation for Wells’ critique of the world. Secondly, Wells’ scientific watershed had come on meeting Darwin’s Bulldog at the Normal School of Science, later the Royal College of Science, whilst studying evolutionary biology under the great TH Huxley.

With Huxley as his inspiration, Wells began as an author, living in the dark, lanterned, black macadam streets of Victorian London, engine-room of the British Empire. The first of Wells’ seminal novels, The Time Machine, plotted a dark future for Man. The book was a sceptical view of the devilish enginery of progress and imperialism.  It was an instant triumph.

In Wells’ book, the Traveller’s headlong fall into the future begins at home. The entire voyage through the evolved worlds of man shows little spatial shift.  The terror of each age unravels in the vicinity of the Traveller’s laboratory. “It is not what man has been, but what he will be, that should interest us”, Wells had written in his essay, The Man of the Year Million. In The Time Machine we have Wells’ answer - a vision calculated to “run counter to the placid assumption … that Evolution was a pro-human force making things better and better for mankind”.

Time’s arrow thrusts the story forward to the year 802701 AD. The Traveller meets the Eloi, a race of effete, androgynous and child-like humans living an apparently pastoral life. Man’s conquest of nature, it seems, has led to decadence.  On discovering the subterranean machine world of the albino, ape-like Morlocks, a new theory emerges.  Over time, the gulf between the classes has produced separate species

So, rather than Sandy’s assertion that the novel was about spiritualism (a notion he contradicts later in the same programme), Wells foresaw a bifocal future. One image in the lens, “upper-world man had drifted towards his feeble prettiness”, focuses on what man may become when natural selection is eradicated, as with the Eloi.  The lens of the Morlock future, “the under-world [of] mere mechanical industry” arises when industrialisation serves as a chronic condition for natural selection. Wells’ warning is all the more powerful for making the reader feel responsible. It is the inequity of contemporary class society that leads to such monstrous futures. And the condition is still, of course, relevant today.

Perhaps Sandy’s greatest omission in this programme was the science fictional obsession with alternate histories. They were hardly mentioned. He did, however, comment on the use of time travel as a vehicle for sharp social criticism. Perhaps this is why Sandy left out alternate histories, as even a cursory examination of this sub-genre finds a very conservative tradition indeed.

Invariably, the alternate history and counter-factual stories tend to portray a dystopian world so much worse than ours that, as with Orwell’s flawed masterpiece Nineteen Eighty-Four, the unrelieved portrayal of misery tends to reinforce passivity, rather than undermine it. They leave the reader resigned to believing, like Voltaire, that we live in the best of all possible worlds. And we don’t.