It’s ten years since the return of Doctor Who to BBC One, which seems an opportune moment to link to Tides of Time 30, published in March 2005 just before the series came back, and Tides of Time 31 published in November 2005 (here represented by a revised 2010 version) and very much bearing the mark of that first Doctor Who series of the twenty-first century. Fantastic!
This somewhat Quixotic retrospective project, the digitization and upload of every issue of Tides of Time, comes to an end with the upload of issue 24 as a pdf. This issue was first published in June 1999 and was the only issue edited by Alastair Harrison. The late 1990s and early 2000s were a very creative time as a generation brought up on the cusp of the satellite era dug into Doctor Who and other archive television as well as considered the onward development of Doctor Who across non-television media. Issue 24 reminds me just how long South Park has been around as David Bickley considers what it takes to be an easily-eliminated Doctor Who character; just how confident one can be about what works and what doesn’t in novel series when one is churning out two essays a week (see Pass Notes: The Missing Adventures); and what, three years after its broadcast, the TV Movie taught fans about what the spirit of Doctor Who is and what would need to be kept in any revival (John Wilson’s Police-Boxy Blues). There’s fiction (my favourite being Alice Dryden’s Lawful Wedded Wife) and metafiction (David Bickley again with Work in Progress) and ponderings on other subjects including Queer as Folk (the impending Russell T Davies-led revival of Doctor Who sometimes seems inevitable with hindsight and frankly it frequently looked imminent at the time) and Blake’s 7. A contents list with more information was posted here some years ago.
As the caption says, Tides of Time will return, but in 2015. I hope to be able to host a pdf here. More details as they become available. In the meantime, enjoy the archive from the past twenty-four years.
Working backwards again, I’ve now added a PDF of issue 25 of Tides of Time, published early in 2000, to the website, It’s a large file as these scans go, of 25Mb or so, but is worth it. Matthew Peacock edited this one, and was responsible for the major piece of fiction in it, ‘Jacob’s Ladder’, which Fiona Moore and Alan Stevens later cited in one of their academic articles on Doctor Who. Fiona herself writes for this issue, including looking at theexoticism and de-exoticisation of the primitive across twenty-six years of Doctor Who, on Lawrence Miles’s novel Alien Bodies as an allegory for Doctor Who as cultural commodity in the 1990s, and about the crisis of relevance which affected the programme in the 1980s. There’s a great piece on childhood memories and meeting Elisabeth Sladen by Mark Boyes, and a survey of the history of the magazine by me, as well as gossip, in-jokes, out-jokes and other fiction.
In the interests of variety, I had a go at tinting the cover illustrations for this edition, in an attempt to exploit the shortcomings of the photocopies I used as masters. I apologise in advance for the eye strain.
Tides 23 features a look at Doctor Who-watching and its effect on character; several strong pieces of fiction; an assessment of Stephen Cole’s period as editor-in-chief of Doctor Who at BBC Worldwide; a look at the uncanny parallels between Doctor Who in the Jon Pertwee period and Babylon 5; a look at Hercules: the Legendary Journeys with a glimpse at its spin-off Xena Warrior Princess; an introduction to animated series Reboot; and much else. There was definitely a sense at this time that Doctor Who was over and done with as a TV series and that it now belonged to its fans who could do what they wanted with it, and much of that emerges in this issue.
I’d hoped to have finished uploading the entire Tides of Time back catalogue by now, but work and other essential matters of life have intervened. Since my last post I have added two more old issues as PDFs to the online library. They are both from 1998, the first two issues of Tides to be edited by Matthew Peacock, and the beginning of a period of vigorous collaboration, ever more outrageous opinionating, a growing interest in other television series to which the cult label had been applied, and enthusiastically reproducing pseudonyms. Links and summaries below. Both are somewhat large files so right-clicking is recommended; the originals were photocopies of inkjet masters but were of a higher standard than many; I have done a minimal amount of clean-up.
Tides 21 – Sydney Newman memorialised, the Bodleian Library’s Doctor Who holdings examined, The Claws of Axos defended, and First Frontier reworked. The state of Babylon 5 is surveyed. The seventh Doctor goes looking for a new coat.
Tides 22 – Get Smart! is celebrated; The Tenth Planet, Logopolis and Ghost Light are discussed; and the first Short Trips and the state of the BBC Books range a year after its launch are investigated. The first version of Fiona Moore’s Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Guide to Doctor Who is published. The third Doctor decides to make the most of what time he has left between his encounter with the Queen Spider and his regeneration; the second Doctor and Jamie find something nasty in a very particular nursery; and there is a now happily outdated list of BBC Film and Television Library Doctor Who holdings.
I’ve added a few more full issues of Tides of Time to the online archive, dating from the 1994-1997 period. They are some of the larger issues published, with the size of most of the files ending up in the 20-30Mb range. They tell of the rise of fiction writing in the society, of the improvement in laser and inkjet printing and of photocopying, of the occasional internal squabble, and of multiple fan perspectives on the different paths off-air Doctor Who was taking in the 1990s, Somehow there is no great review of the TV Movie – Tides disappears for a year and then McGann is clearly established in the imagination of the writers as the current Doctor. I was a bit effacing about the contributors to Tides last time – the regulars or editors in this period include those who will become a novelist, a campaigning journalist, a churchman commended for his communication skills and many other talented people including someone hailed as the most underappreciated Doctor Who non-fiction writer.
Links and highlights:
Tides 13 (Hilary 1994) – madness and profanity abound as parody escalates, speculation and investigation of the missing episodes concludes, and Virgin’s New Adventures series continues to explode some established fan nostrums and cultivate others into exotic new forms explored in these pages.
Tides 14 (Trinity 1994) – exam season is upon us and this brings the Second Public Examination in Doctor Who. “‘A barely adequate substitute for a visit to a concert or music hall.’ Is this a fair description of the mighty Sontaran battle fleet?” A mother confesses the trauma of having a fan son, the Mara stories are dissected and there are quotes, in-jokes and a disturbingly accurate parody of TV Zone.
Tides 15 (Michaelmas 1994) – a new academic year and the first artwork cover for some time. The Grief Encounters fiction strand is in full swing, and sees the fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan return a panda to an old friend and Mrs Barbara Chesterton attempt to interest a problem class in the Aztecs and finds one student would have blown Tlotoxl up with Nitro-9. 1980s Doctor Who is reassessed and found wanting.
Tides 16 (Hilary 1995) – a familiar cover design but the new editor has yet to change out of their predecessor’s outfit. There’s something going down in Perivale with horses and cats. The Devil never keeps his promises. Zoe cannot be blamed for the disaster that is The Dominators. And don’t forget, when the new serving wench comes in, tell her to peel the potatoes.
Tides 17 (Trinity 1995) – the new editor has found their outfit and there’s a hatstand on the cover. OED editors are dared to beat causality. ‘The people who run the show serve themselves and the people who have been diligently watching since 1963.’ What does one writer feel so much better for giving up? Which series did not last long enough for its reputation to be tarnished by repetition and banality? Time paradoxes are debated, while James Robert McCrimmon suns himself by the Thames Estuary.
Tides 18 (Trinity 1995) – an older scan first uploaded some time ago. The editor lays into Doctor Who‘s standards of archaeology – thank goodness they hadn’t seen Bonekickers. The Doctor meets Shakespeare and tells Robert Cecil that a potato is more likely to cause a rent in the fabric of space and time than any other root vegetable. Out on Fandrozani, the missing episode smugglers are waiting. How far was the fifth Doctor the first female Doctor? An admirer of the New and Missing Adventures worries about oversupply.
Tides 19 (Trinity 1996) – one year later, and Paul McGann’s movie has just hit a stunned fandom. ‘It is a triumph,’ says the editor, ‘balanced on a knife edge between plot and technology, fan and fresh eyes, Who and glossy American SF’ and challenges us to review our attitudes to Doctor Who in general. Doctor Who tie-in fiction is compared to its Babylon 5 and Star Trek equivalents. (BIG NEON SIGN: HERE IS THE MESSAGE. DON’T MISS THE MESSAGE.) There’s a sideswipe against a columnist from then new-kid-on-the-rack SFX. There are worries about Philip Segal’s ‘kisses to the past’ and nostalgic fondness for old-fashioned videotaped studio drama, and a suggestion that what we already have from Doctor Who, new series or not, is already more than enough to wish for.
Tides 20 (Trinity 1997) – another year over, and a new editor lavishes display fonts all over the magazine for one of the most baroque issues ever. Nicola Bryant stares seductively out of one page while Peri is tied to a stake screaming on another. There’s a fascinating article by an American student on ‘Winners and Losers of Cult Television’ – but which series is loved by his friends but he finds ‘refried pulp’, ‘as exciting as watching a sick cow die of a venereal disease?’ Better-loved is a series where most of the leading characters are sociopaths with no time for ‘namby-pamby moralising’. The continuities of Star Wars and Doctor Who are compared, and we meet ‘Gothic Phil’ Hinchcliffe along the way. McGann’s Doctor arrives in the universe of Crime Traveller and runs rings round Holly and Slade. Lance Parkin’s A History of the Universe is praised, Babylon 5‘s Shadow War assessed as if it were fit for the pages of The Cambridge Ancient History, and the Valeyard reassessed in the light of the later New Adventures and the TV Movie.
Over the last few weeks, to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Oxford Doctor Who Society, I’ve been possibly placing the reputations of several people at risk and uploading many more of the early issues as pdfs,. Links to these have been quietly appearing on the ‘Issues online’ page. The first twelve issues are now all available and I’m grouping the links here.
(The) Tides of Time didn’t provide a nursery for an influential group of creative writers or inspire a new movement in cultural analysis, but it has provided a space for Doctor Who fans largely at or associated with Oxford University to put down and exchange some ideas about a television programme they grew up with and in the process practice writing in styles and about subjects for which it was difficult to find an audience before the internet age. These contributors are mainly undergraduate and graduate students across all disciplines, but have also included postdoctoral researchers, an ordinand and a learning-disabled admin staff member of a university department.
These issues were published between 1990 and 1994 and cover many of the subjects wider Doctor Who fandom was talking and writing about at the time, post-morteming the 1980s in general and the McCoy era in particular, enthusing about increasingly widely available old stories, however legitimate the source of the video tapes, and (from 1991) the New Adventures novels published by Virgin. Along the way the humour quotient increased, with stories such as ‘Apathy of the Daleks’ and ‘Sadness of the Sontarans’ being joined by cackling agony columnist Aunty Ainley. Similarly the format changes from photocopied A5 assembled using cut-and-paste to full-fledged DTP in A4, rather like the mainstream of Doctor Who fan publishing, though we could never aspire to the glossiness of The Frame or Skaro and the photocopier remained the main printing method until the 2000s. There are the inevitable shifts from material very much aimed at readers who were members of the university society, to articles which could easily have found a larger audience in the fanzines or indeed prozines of the day.
The direct links to the pdfs are to the left on the list below; the contents links connect to the quasi-bibliographical blog posts which I made in 2010. For administrative reasons (known as cutting and pasting) they count down backwards to the first issue. Enjoy this look back to the work of privileged university students over twenty years ago.