I was about 10 when Tamm looked me up and down with a cool eye and awarded me third place in the Chicago Doctor Who/Star Trek convention costume contest. Lacking the confidence to emulate Tom Baker, I dressed as Jon Pertwee. Incredible to remember this now: I hadn’t seen any Pertwee on video yet! I just knew the novelizations and various photos.
At the Q and A afterwards Tamm said her favorite episode was The Androids of Tara. This pleased me because my 10-year old self thought that was an especially good story as well. I also remember being somewhat aware that Tamm wasn’t fully on board with all the fan love, that she found something a little disconnected about the convention. After all, for her, playing Romana was just a gig. She didn’t go home and think about Time Lords at night. Perhaps my own evolution away from being a rabid fan began with this intimation of maturity.
One of my best-loved books of that era was the novelization of Inferno by Terrance Dicks. I must have read it 20 times in elementary school, and it surely helped me decide to dress as Pertwee for the convention. When I finally saw the televideo, I thought it was really pretty damn good. More recently, I’ve learned that fan consensus ranks it as one of the best of the Pertwee era.
Caroline John really gets to show off in Inferno, playing not just Liz Shaw but her evil doppelgänger. Talk about intimations of mortality, all these classic Who companions starting to die off in bunches...
In the Edinburgh Waterstones I found a brand new book by Miles Booy, Love and Monsters: The Doctor Who Experience, 1979 to the Present. It is a delightfully readable history of the kind of fans that make a cult TV show genuinely “cult.”
For many years I’ve been less interested in actually watching episodes of Who than reading the commentary. I’ve written before about my first exposure to the Paul Cornell-edited collection License Denied:
I freely admit that Do the Math is partly a product of License Denied. Authors like Cornell, Tat Wood, Amanda Murray, Ness Bishop, Colin Brockhurst, Phillip J. Gray, Daniel O'Mahony took the top of my head off with their irreverent but detailed analysis. Before reading License Denied, I probably thought a TV fanzine was something that talked about how cute the actors were. No way -- at least not in England about Doctor Who in the '80s and '90s! This stuff was serious.
My own writing about music owes as much to this kind of guerrilla journalism -- "You love it, so you're the expert, toss a grenade at the other experts who love it" -- as any proper jazz criticism I've ever read.
In the past year, Philip Sandifer’s Tardis Eruditorium has impressed me with the amount that still can be parsed about the unfolding text. However, I can follow Sandifer only so far. As an American who stopped watching regularly by the advent of Colin Baker, big pieces of the puzzle are missing.
Thanks to Miles Booy, I understand names like Andrew Cartmel or product lines like Big Finish much better. Booy also recounts the mind-bending struggles of the production team, the politics of the BBC, and the story of the reboot. As DTM readers know, I am skeptical of the new show. However, Booy’s narrative is so overwhelmingly triumphant that I will have to return to some of modern Who with a less jaundiced eye.
Bottom line: Love and Monsters is essential reading for any Who diehard.