Red Hulke!

This article was originally published in Doctor Who Magazine 489 in 2015. I remain extremely thankful that Tom Spilsbury and Peter Ware agreed to publish such a tangential piece and were so supportive during its gestation, and am also grateful for the permission from the copyright holders Panini UK to reproduce it here. Thanks also to the excellent staff at the National Archive who dealt patiently with my queries in those heady days before the Hulke files were released. All Hulke quotations appear by permission of the Hulke estate.

Malcolm Hulke is one of the key writers in the history of Doctor Who, but he died just before that history began to be documented in earnest, and consequently remains an elusive figure. Over the years, thanks…

Reg Varney: The Best Pair of Legs in the Business

This article was first published on the Network website.

Reg Varney was no stranger to the grim reality of show business. He’d started off as a child performer at the Plumstead Radical Club in the 1920s, playing ‘Tiger Rag’ on the piano and keeping the audience laughing with his patter between the songs. Over the following decades, he worked his way around the music hall and variety circuit and, like most performers, had his fair share of ups and downs. For a while after the war, it looked like his double act with Benny Hill would make his fortune, but Hill’s dislike of live performing ended that partnership, and by the late 1950s Varney’s career was struggling. His big break came when he was cast…

Stand By Your Fan

The Official Doctor Who Fan Club Volume One by Keith Miller

Some things are almost too lovely to be written about. On the face of it, The Official Doctor Who Fan Club Volume 1 is a rather pricey book full of facsimiles of BBC correspondence and photocopies of badly printed newsletters that were unreadable then and now look older than the ancient scrolls of Gallifrey. In fact, not only is it fascinating at a factual level, full of contemporary insights into how the series was made and received, but it’s also a remarkably funny and warm book that tells Keith Miller’s story as he moved between his life as a teenager in a poor part of Edinburgh, and the self imposed role of co-ordinator of the…

Do You Believe in Rock and Roll?

Animal Kwackers: The Complete Series on DVD

When confronted by Animal Kwackers, an experience more like being dragged from wakefulness into a land of nightmares than a mere programme, I was reminded of a critic whose opinion of Sam Peckinpah’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia was that “the only analysis it deserves is psychoanalysis.” This seems a reasonable reaction to a programme that features a band of large animals with oversized heads playing hit pop tunes and customised nursery rhymes, especially as the creatures all seem to have some kind of injury over and above their unfortunate swollen noggins.