Monday, 11 May 2015


It's that time of the year again. Yesterday, May 10th, the internet was awash with well-wishing fans celebrating Terrance Dicks' birthday! Only... it wasn't his birthday.

The source of this confusion is still uncertain, but it's a yearly event, as Paul Cornell (Doctor Who author and script writer) said on his Twitter feed, 'This all happened last year, didn't it?' It seems so. A quick search of the internet shows that Terrance Dicks, former script editor of Doctor Who, and author of over seventy novels and novelisations for the series, is wished a birthday every year on May 10th. Katy Manning, the actress who played Jo Grant, a companion co-created by Terrance in 1971, also joined in the discussion on Twitter, blaming Wikipedia for starting the spread of misinformation.
Terrance and the Lethbridge-Stewart team in Feb' 2015
Andy Frankham-Allen, deputy editor at Candy Jar Books and author of forthcoming novel Beast of Fang Rock which is based on a story by Terrance, fell for this misinformation, too, and sent birthday wishes direct to Terrance. He received a rather amused email back in which Terrance pointed out that his birthday is, in fact, April 14th and always has been! He also explained that his son, Oliver, is trying to fix things on Wikipedia... Andy, quick to help, spread the word on social media himself: 'Just to confirm, despite internet rumour, TODAY is not Terrance's birthday.' Did it work? A quick look at the net shows that most sites who wrongly reported it have added a note to apologise for the confusion and confirm Terrance's real birthday.

But is that the end of it? Judging by social media today, it would seem not. Still many are confused. It has even been suggested that Terrance should just have two birthdays, his real one (April 14th) and an official one (May 10th). We, at Type 40, rather like that idea. Terrance Dicks is, after all, one of the elder statesmen of Doctor Who, with probably more input on the development of the series than any other. He is considered a legend among Doctor Who fandom, so why shouldn't he be treated as royalty... and in that regard, two birthdays is perfectly acceptable.

Lethbridge-Stewart: Beast of Fang Rock by Andy Frankham-Allen, based on a story by Terrance Dicks, and the official prequel/sequel to the 1977 television adventure Horror of Fang Rock, is due September 2015.


We are so very lucky to have so much of season five available to us on DVD. There was a time when all we had was The Tomb of the Cybermen, and over twenty years ago we didn't even have that! In late-2012, early-2013 I had to re-watch the entire series for my book Companions, and during that re-watch the only way I could research season five was with audio soundtracks and reconstructions online! Two years on...?
Thanks to some wonderful animation we have The Ice Warriors complete, and with the discovery of The Enemy of the World and most of The Web of Fear in late 2013, we now have over half of that season on DVD! Yay? Oh god, yes!
What with the huge gap of missing stories through season three and, especially, season four, we don't really get to see the development of the series, only snapshots here and there. As such re-watching season five is almost like watching a completely different show. Yes, it's still features the Doctor and the TARDIS, but in every way that counts it feels different. The performances are more polished, the scripts more coherent and layered, the direction is smart with some really fantastic location work peppered throughout. And then there's Jamie... In the small amount of material we have from season four we don't get to see a lot of Jamie. In The Moonbase, the only full Troughton story available on DVD (completed with animated episodes) Jamie is not in it a great deal, and when he is he's mostly been given lines originally written for Ben and Polly. But in season five his full character hits you in the face -- the humour, the loyalty, the protectiveness... For the Second Doctor there is no doubt that Jamie is the companion (and hardly surprising as he was in all but one Second Doctor adventure).
It is so very difficult to choose a favourite story from season five. I thought adding the orphaned Moonbase might help, but it really doesn't as the quality of that story only adds to the superiority of the fifth season. I can honestly say that, as of now, season five is right up there among my favourite season of Who, sitting alongside such greats as seasons one, seven, thirteen, and twenty-six. Which is new, as season six used to be my favourite of Troughton -- mostly by default as that season almost exists in its entirety.  So, to my favourite story... I feel an obligation to pick The Web of Fear out of fealty to the Haismans and my connection with them, and of course the historical first appearance of Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart, but I have to be honest in my re-watch and consider what else is around that story. With The Moonbase included I have five extremely good productions to pick from...
And this is my, very difficulty chosen, run down of season five (a list of all brilliant stories!):

  • The Tomb of the Cybermen
  • The Moonbase
  • The Ice Warriors
  • The Web of Fear

... which makes the winner David Whitaker's tour-de-force
by Andy Frankham-Allen

Wednesday, 22 April 2015


Re-watching Doctor Who has its downside. With most of seasons one and two still in existence and on DVD, it's fascinating to see the series develop in its formative years, as the production team start stretching their creative abilities, and the ethos of the series is built. And then we come to season three... Le sigh!

Only three complete stories are commercially available, and they're good examples of the upheaval and doubt going on behind the scenes. There's an eight-month gap between The Time Meddler (the last story of season three) and The Ark, the next available story. Eight months is a long time, especially back then! As a result there is such a jump in the way the stories are told and made, and it leaves the viewer with a bit of a disconnect. So much has moved on. Vicki has gone, Dodo has joined (almost come from nowhere, in fact). Fortunately the three remaining stories only have one story between each of them missing, which at least allows a sense of continuity when watching them back, and once again you can see a little of the development of the characters. Alas, we don't get to see Steven leave, which is a great pity -- as is the lack of good material for Steven. Only three complete serials exist with this companion, and so you only get to see a hint of how good he actually was.
For the purposes of this re-watch, I'm lumping Hartnell's final adventure with these three stories, since Hartnell only had two stories in season four, and only one of those exists (albeit without the show-changing fourth episode -- the first to feature the Doctor regenerating!). 
All this does mean choosing my favourites is a rather limited experience, with only four stories to choose from (not unlike Doctor Who in 1987-1989), so without further ado, this is my rather limited countdown of the final four Doctor Who stories featuring William Hartnell from 1966.
  • The War Machines
  • The Ark
  • The Tenth Planet
With the winner being...
The Gunfighters DVD Cover
Andy Frankham-Allen

Monday, 20 April 2015


It's with great pleasure we can finally unveil the cover for the next book in the Lethbridge-Stewart series; The Schizoid Earth by David A McIntee...
“Lethbridge-Stewart was supposed to be in the mountains of the east. Things didn't quite go according to plan.
On the eve of war, something appeared in the sky; a presence that blotted out the moon. Now it has returned, and no battle plan can survive first contact with this enemy.
Plagued by nightmares of being trapped in a past that never happened, Lethbridge-Stewart must unravel the mystery of a man ten years out of his time; a man who cannot possibly still exist.
Why do the ghosts of fallen soldiers still fight long-forgotten battles against living men? What is the secret of the rural English town of Deepdene? Lethbridge-Stewart has good reason to doubt his own sanity, but is he suffering illness or injury, or is something more sinister going on?”
David A McIntee has written novels for Star Trek, Final Destination and Space: 1999 and over fifteen books and audio dramas for Doctor Who since 1993, including the Brigadier-centric novel, The Face of the Enemy. David said: “To be honest it (the series) is something I'm amazed hasn't been done before – it’s just such a natural and obvious thing. The form it's taking is also cool because it has the flexibility to move between styles and genres – thriller, SF, horror, etc – while maintaining a definite identity. As for the Brig himself, he's one of those characters where the casting was so perfect that it just made the character so memorable, and who (usually) feels so right.”
The cover art is by Nathan Hudson, who works for Cosgrove Hall as a background artist. Cosgrove Hall is the animation company who produced the animated episodes for the DVD release of the 1969 Doctor Who adventure The Invasion, which featured Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart and the first appearance of UNIT. Nathan has worked previously with Candy Jar Books as the cover artist for the runaway time travel hit Tommy Parker: Destiny Will Find You and the acclaimed See You in September.
The Schizoid Earth also features an exclusive foreword written by Amanda Haisman, daughter of Lethbridge-Stewart creator Mervyn Haisman, in which she publicly talks about her father and the legend he created for Doctor Who.
The next in the series (due out in September) is Beast of Fang Rock by Andy Frankham-Allen and Terrance Dicks, followed by Mutually Assured Domination by Nick Walters.
Andy Frankham-Allen has been a Doctor Who fan since his childhood. Andy is the former line editor of Untreed Reads Publishing’s series Space: 1889 & Beyond, and has penned several Doctor Who Short Trip stories for Big Finish and Candy Jar’s Lethbridge-Stewart: The Forgotten Son, as well as Companions: Fifty Years of Doctor Who Assistants. He said: “There’s been such a warm reception to the first book, I must thank everybody for all their kind words. My next book is a dream come true. It’s an idea I’ve had rattling around in my head since 1998, so it’s great privilege to be able to make it a reality, and even more so due to Terrance Dicks’ involvement with it.”
Nick Walters has written five novels for Doctor Who since 1998. Nick said: “After the Doctor himself the Brigadier is the best-loved character in Doctor Who. I met Nick Courtney a number of times and he really is a splendid fellow. He brought a real humanity and vulnerability to the role without compromising the essential toughness of the character. Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart is the chap you'd want on your side in a fight – any fight – and it is a real privilege to be exploring what made him into the character we came to know and love.”
The story of Colonel Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart is fully licensed by the Executor of the Haisman Literary Estate, Mervyn Haisman’s granddaughter Hannah Haisman, and endorsed by Henry Lincoln.
The Schizoid Earth can now be pre-ordered directly from Candy Jar, on it's own or as part of two different bundles...

Monday, 13 April 2015


If the first season of Doctor Who was something new and original, something quite unlike anything else produced on British TV at the time, then season two took that even further. Fortunately, the first two seasons of Doctor Who exist almost in full, both only missing one story (well, in season two's case some of The Crusades exist, unlike season one's Marco Polo), which means as a viewer I get to (almost) fully experience the birth of Doctor Who and see the Doctor develop into the basic character we've all come to love over the last fifty-one plus years. By the end of season two he's every bit the hero we know, a man guided by a strong sense of morality, someone who will put himself on the front line to defend the every-man, and a man with a lot of humour.

Season two sees a lot of changes, both behind the scenes and on screen. We see, first, Susan depart in the epic Dalek Invasion of Earth (the first story to truly utilise location filming), and then a few stories later the departure of Ian & Barbara (in one of the most touching photo montages ever produced). Replacement companions are not far away; first in the shape of orphan Vicki, a child from the 25th Century, and later astronaut Steven Taylor. Behind the scenes Verity Lambert is all set to depart by the end of the season, with new producer John Wiles trailer her during the production of the final serial, The Time Meddler. David Whitaker, the original script editor, departs at the start of the season, replaced by Dennis Spooner, who brings with him a new level of humour to the stories, notable almost immediately with his own story, The Romans. Spooner departs at the end of the season, with the final story under the supervision of new script editor Donald Tosh. Interesting aside; Terrance Dicks, a man whose association with Doctor Who begins in 1968 and continues to this day, often tells an anecdote about how he created a 'tradition' in 1975 in which the outgoing script editor writes the first story for the incoming script editor -- it was a 'tradition' Terrance claims to have invented to simply give himself a little bit of work. As it turns out, though, this 'tradition' is not without precedent, since Dennis Spooner writes the first story for his replacement, The Time Meddler. Perhaps Terrance knew more than he was letting on?
Season two was a time of great change for Doctor Who; what began as a serious, part-time educational series of adventures, becomes a more lightweight and fun show by the end of the series. Straight historical are replaced with comedy visits to the past, and the creation of the 'pseudo-historical', where history and science-fiction merge. We even get one story set on a world populated by giant insects and butterflies, without a single human in sight! And, to top it all off, we finally meet another time traveller -- one of the Doctor's own people no less!
And so, the countdown of my favourite stories for season two:

  • The Rescue
  • The Chase
  • The Space Museum
  • Planet of Giants
  • The Time Meddler
  • The Dalek Invasion of Earth
  • The Web Planet

The winner of best story of the season is, for me, the historical comedy...
Alas, the next few seasons are in bad shape with only a handful of stories still existing for each season, which does make the re-watch a little less fun. So, to that end, the next entry will cover the remainder of the Hartnell stories available on DVD...

Wednesday, 1 April 2015


As we look forward to the next book in the Lethbridge-Stewart series, I want to look back briefly and consider the wonderful comments made by the readers.
Many things are said by many people -- among them negative things, usually by people with agendas and people who haven't even bothered to pick up the book and read it for themselves. Fortunately, the readers are speaking out and giving their reviews. It's the readers whose views mean more, of course, since they have spent the time to read and give a thoughtful response to the hard work of all involved. So, a personal thank you from me, and a thank you on behalf of everybody at Candy Jar Books who worked hard on launching the Lethbridge-Stewart series and continue to work hard on its future.

“This works as not only a fitting tribute to one of Doctor Who's most beloved supporting characters, but a credible engaging science fiction story in its own right.” Wink Taylor (children’s entertainer)
“Excellent storytelling, superb writing, and a brilliant idea, all combine to make this a must read book (and series) for fans of both Doctor Who and the Brigadier.” Bryan Simcott (Amazon five-star review)
“A great story, well-paced with good characterisations and interesting supporting cast.” JB McKellar (Amazon five-star review)
“Andy Frankham-Allen produces an Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart who acts like the confident, go-ahead action-hero who featured in The InvasionSpearhead from Space, and Mind of Evil, not the pale reflection from The Three Doctors… The story itself builds interest and intrigue as it weaves together elements of the colonel’s past, present and future… There are old friends here from The Web of Fear, all instantly recognisable; while the plethora of new characters are all distinct enough to keep track of who’s who, and who is doing what.” Geek Girl Project
“Suspenseful, keeping you guessing at every page with a really satisfying conclusion and nice tie-ins to the larger mythos of Doctor Who.” Stephen Hartwell (Goodreads five-star review)
The Forgotten Son is a unique book. It captures the tone of modern Doctor Who novels but also mixes in a nostalgic feel comparable to the Target novelisations of old… A well-paced, superbly atmospheric and detailed story that will transport its reader back to a time when you could truly hide behind the sofa as the Yeti menace stalked London.” Will Barber-Taylor (The Consulting Detective Blog)
“The characters are well written and interesting. We discover Lethbridge-Stewart in a new light that perfectly contributes to building the character of Brigadier as we know it. Andy Frankham-Allen has written a superb start to this series of novels.” Gallifrance Online Magazine
“Some of the choices that have been made for the series are going to surprise fans of the show, but that’s as it should be. If Candy Jar can maintain the standard of this opener, then those fans will be in for a treat.” – Sci-Fi Bulletin
The Forgotten Son is a superb opener to the series, mixing recognisable Doctor Who lore, suppositions by cast members, tear-jerking dedications, a foreword by the great Terrance Dicks, and the familiar smile of the man we came to know as the Brigadier. Because, really, this is his book, and his series, and had Andy Frankham-Allen failed to bring the old soldier to life then we probably wouldn’t be talking about these books for much longer. Happily, the opposite is true. He may not be hijacking Liz Shaw’s research scientist career or bellowing ‘chap with wings, five rounds rapid!’ but this is an absolutely perfect representation of Lethbridge-Stewart in his younger days.” Kasterborous Online Magazine
And a reminder, The Secret Files is now available for free on pdf, and 99p for your Kindle...

Friday, 13 March 2015


And so that was season one, running from 23rd November 1963  to 12 September 1964. Oh wait, getting a little ahead of myself...
For no reason other than I wanted to, I've decided to re-watch Doctor Who in its entirety -- well, I say entirety, but of course there are many episodes, from the '60s, that no longer exist. Thus I will be watching every full story that is commercially available, and for the purpose of the re-watch that includes stories completed with animated episodes. This does, unfortunately, mean I will be skipping certain stories entirely -- which becomes a problem from the third to fifth seasons especially, as so little exists from this three years.
This past week I've been watching the first season, which pretty much exists completely. It's a good thing -- no, scratch that, it's a great thing! The first season is a solid piece of television in its own right, and sets the building blocks for the Doctor Who that everybody loves so much these days. It's a gradual build, though; much like the first series of Nu Who, the first season of Doctor Who builds things up slowly. It's not until the penultimate story, for instance, that the Doctor begins to simply get involved in the adventure to help out others. Up to that point, the Doctor was only concerned with himself and Susan, his granddaughter and then, as the season progressed, his circle of concern encompassed Ian and Barbara, his initially reluctant companions. Indeed, at first, the Doctor was very much opposed to the presence of Ian and Barbara, thinking only of himself and, occasionally, Susan. It was his selfish desire that got them into trouble, for instance, in The Daleks. Another important thing to note about this first season; the main characters are very well defined, rounded and real. They're not defined by particular traits which remain the same throughout, but their views and reactions are entirely dependent on whatever situation they find themselves in. Much as would be the case with any real person when put into extreme situations. And they don't always get on -- Barbara is in direct opposition with the Doctor in The Aztecs, the Doctor is more than willing to cast suspicion on the school teachers in The Edge of Destruction... The list goes on.
So, minus Marco Polo as it doesn't exist any more, this is my run down of season one from least favourite to favourite. (Although I must stress, the very first episode is a masterpiece, but is let down by the subsequent three episodes. And there are not really any dud stories in this first season.)

  • The Keys of Marinus
  • The Edge of Destruction
  • An Unearthly Child
  • The Sensorites
  • The Daleks
  • The Aztecs

And the winner of BEST STORY OF SEASON ONE is...
Please do share your thoughts and comments on the triumphant first season below...

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.