So who are the chaps hiding Behind the Sofa? Well, in no particular order, the current incarnation of the blog includes:
I blame Neil Perryman. First of all, he thought it was clever to get me rambling on and on about Doctor Who on here. I eventually filled the pages of BTS with nonsense about pink sling backs, dildos and postmodernism.
I also really didn’t have time for all this social media shenanigans. Facebook. Nah. Not interested. MySpace. Get outta town. As one of the grumpiest, most anti-social of creatures, and being slightly older than Doctor Who itself (so yes, I can remember when the Doctor wore a bow tie the first time round), I didn’t really get it. I was happy blogging as an alternative to all the bitch-slapping on the then Outpost Gallifrey forum (R.I.P) and wasn’t convinced. So, in an effort to be sociable, I took up Neil’s invite to join Twitter and thought it might be useful to keep in touch with my fellow BTS authors. Another thing I can blame him for.
Cue clichéd montage of pages of a calendar flapping by or, as this is a Doctor Who site, perhaps just the distant sound of the TARDIS engines. Yeah, Moffat, you sad git, a TARDIS with the St. John’s Ambulance emblem on the door and white framed windows. He knows us too well and the fact that he’s as bothered about it as we are brings a smile to my grumpy face. Meanwhile (cue glissando of harp), I crossed paths with the 'Three Who Rule' at Fab Cafe in Manchester and Neil scrambled up Mount Kilimanjaro. I'm worried that both incidents were, in fact, related.
Writing for BTS has helped Cathode Ray Tube go from strength to strength (the £50 came in the post this morning). On the blog you’ll find plenty of Doctor Who related stuff, lots of chin-stroking about really old and very new telly programmes, really old and very new films, books, music, theatre and shit. Follow my inane wittering (or Twittering, or Twatting as my other half kindly refers to it), or not, and find out what the latest posts on the blog are at www.twitter.com/cathoderaytube
I eventually filled the pages of BTS with nonsense about pink sling backs, dildos and postmodernism.
I’m also a regular contributor to DWAS’ own subscribers magazine, Celestial Toyroom, to the behemoth that is Television Heaven and will often react when someone throws down the gauntlet (usually along the lines of ‘what the fuck are you doing throwing big gloves at me for?’) and asks me to write something (cheers Thumbcast). For some stupid reason I’m convinced that I’ll actually get paid one day for writing something other than press releases, evaluation reports and funding bids. In real life, I know quite a bit about design, sometimes advise businesses how to use design effectively and sometimes help designers set up their own businesses.
I still drink to excess. It’s my coping mechanism. That, and cake.
I always thought I'd spend less time watching television as I got older, but the opposite is true. Every day I'm confronted by an insane quantity of television. I cower from ever-growing piles of archive television releases and DVD box-sets that line the shelves and cupboards of my house. I quiver under the psychic pressure exerted by the gigabytes worth of programmes that clog up disk space across PVRs, DVD players and my beautiful PS3. And then there's the background to these programmes: the media journalism, the books about television production, the works of criticism, the fansites, the episode guides and the endless blogs. All of them containing nuggets of goodness - with the sole exception of internet forums which can safely be avoided due to their innate lack of value or usefulness - and all of them therefore needing to be read, scanned via RSS feeds or added to the credit-card debt known as Amazon.co.uk.
The reason that I'm interested in all of this televisionishness, is entirely down to Doctor Who, and while there are days when I'm grateful for this, there are other occasions when I curse it for making me somewhat less than a fully-rounded human being. If only I'd listened to my mum and not bought The Making of Doctor Who because "it isn't a made-up story", and if only I hadn't found out what a Production Unit Manager was at such a tender age. Anyway, what's done is done. I doubt I was ever going to turn out exactly like George Steiner or Bernard-Henri Levy even if I hadn't read The Mounties: War Drums of the Blackfoot just because it was by the same bloke who wrote Doctor Who and the Auton Invasion. And I still don't know how any of this explains away my abiding obsession with Crossroads.
Every day I'm confronted by an insane quantity of television.
I've been writing for Behind the Sofa for quite a few years now, and I also occasionally contribute to both the British Television Drama and the BFI's Screenonline websites. I'm happy to accept all badly paid freelance commissions, and my main areas of interest are soap opera, television drama, Noele Gordon (actually I'm not gay) and Moonbase 3. I'm also one of the Tachyon TV team, and so spend some of my time creating podcasts and other things that fall under the small but lucrative niche of sci-fi satire. In the last five years, I've ended up befriending an awful lot of very nice people who have been involved, at some level or other, in the wider world of Doctor Who, such as Jenny Laird, Paul McCartney and someone who once went to a convention dressed as Sid Sutton, but none of this will ever stop me from saying what I really think about an episode, unless I am actually paid to change my opinion.
I can destroy my own credibility with a single word. All right, not a single word. Just six. Six words. Six.
The first episode of Doctor Who I ever saw was Rose.
Does it rehabilitate me that my second was An Unearthly Child? My foray into Who, back in early in 2007, was rather calculated. I had picked up on buzz about the show, and my love of Douglas Adams’s books meant that I had at least heard of Doctor Who, unlike lots of Americans who grew up during the wilderness years. The show sounded fun, and it attracts obsessive personalities, so I’d fit right in. But if I was going to do this at all, I was going to do it right. That meant paying homage to the classics.
So I did. I began by alternating between old and new. Jarring contrasts, but I got a decent feel for the shape of the classic series, which is marked by jarring contrasts anyway. Still, while I love a bit of Troughton or Pertwee, I'm a Nu-Who man at heart. There are over a hundred classic stories I’ve not seen, including some rather embarrassing gaps. As of this writing I’ve never seen Earthshock. Or Pyramids of Mars. Or any of Remembrance of the Daleks save part one. Seriously. It’s taking longer to get through it all than I’d expected.
On the other hand, I’ve seen every Nu-Who episode at least three or four times. A choice few, many more than that. So, while I love the classic series to bits, the Doctor Who of the past five years is my native Who, the format in which I feel most at home. This means that I'll be... charitable, let’s say, toward certain episodes that others dislike. On this blog I wrote an impassioned, perhaps melodramatic defense of the oft-maligned Journey’s End, and even with two years’ hindsight I stand by every word. Even the typos.
I live and study in Rhode Island, which was at one point fairly British, though we were the first Americans to declare independence (don't take it personally). I spend my free time reading, writing, and pursuing hobbies I should long ago have outgrown. Including, of course, over-thinking and obsessing over television shows. It’s sort of what I do, often on Twitter or via my podcast, The Cloister Room.
I was born in Leeds approximately two-and-a-half hours before episode three of The Daemons, but they kept you in hospital for ages in those days, so I missed it. I was a regular Who viewer from an early age, but only became a fully paid-up, card carrying ming mong after buying the Radio Times 20th Anniversary Special in the Crossgates Arndale Centre (if Andrew Pixley’s reading, this is the same shopping centre where a young Phil Collinson once enjoyed a ride around the car park in Bessie).
34 years later, I married the lovely Rachel (born between episodes five and six of The Seeds of Doom) and our beautiful son George arrived midway between The Stolen Earth and Journey’s End (but let’s not stigmatise him for that – at least one long-anticipated event that week didn’t end in bitter disappointment).
We live in Cambridge - a wonderful city, though, owing to an undignified spat over the Play School clock, not strictly canonical.
I started my career in journalism in 1994, when the first person I ever interviewed was Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s mum. I am currently Head of Magazines and Features for Cambridge Newspapers – think of me as a sort of Anna Wintour of the Fens – and the most recent person I interviewed was Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s mum. I also write freelance for various magazines, including SFX, and am the author of a multi-award nominated blog (by which I mean it was nominated two years running for the same award, and didn’t win either) about fatherhood, which you can read here but almost certainly won’t.
Stuart Ian Burns
The first thing you need to know about me is that I’m easily pleased. Waive something colourful and shiny or even your hand in front in my face and you’re sure to get a giggle. That’s photographic evidence to the right, the baby version of me and my Nin in our old back yard. I’d call it a skill and it’s been a blessing across the years as it’s also meant that something has to be really, really dull for me to be bored. Despite being an only child, I’ve always managed to find something to keep myself occupied. I tend to be able to talk to anyone about anything and always seem to know the right questions to ask to perpetuate the conversation, perhaps because I also seem to be intensely interested in everything (see my own blog).
But I’m here to write about Doctor Who. As with everyone else on this fair-isle I watched Doctor Who as a child, beginning somewhere with Tom Baker and watching right through to McCoy’s desolate walk into the distance. I became interested again after a visit to the old exhibition in Llangollen. I’m fascinated by the history of the production of the programme, what went wrong or right and the bruised egos, the rush to beat evening lights out, the drunken trips to Paris, the rewrites. Doctor Who is never less than entertaining even when we’re laughing at rather than along with it. When the programme’s good, it’s very, very good and when it’s bad it’s script edited by Eric Saward.
I've been a fan of the show since the early 70s (Carnival of Monsters episode 3, to be precise) and I started up this blog in 2005 on the eve of the show's triumphant return to television. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
I'm also the idiot behind Tachyon TV, the satirical sci-fi website that's been limping on for over 9 years now (yet another relaunch is predictably imminent). You can also hear me whoring myself out on the Canadian podcast Radio Free Skaro every now and again, and when I'm not doing that you can find me not writing my PhD thesis on Doctor Who and Transmedia Storytelling.
I'll let you into a little secret. Doctor Who can be used as a test for concussion. There's not been a medical breakthrough but it's an example of how deep and all encompassing this obsession with Who had become even before reaching secondary school.
It was towards the end of my time in junior school, and as I headed off down the road I had left mother with detailed instructions to pick up a copy of the target novelisation Doctor Who and the Carnival of Monsters. Just before lunchtime I found myself standing at the top of two long stretches of stone steps - at the Headmaster's end of the building, the ones that bypassed the first floor and went all the way down to the external door - which I then proceeded to tumble headfirst down. I maintain to this day I was, at the very least, given a encouraging shove downwards (probably accidentally). I was duly taken back up to the Headmaster's room and mother was called. Panic stricken she hurried down to school to collect me and took me immediately back home and I think the first thing I said as I got through the door was, "So, did you manage to get it for me?". And just to make sure I wasn't suffering from the effects of concussion she asked me verify which book I wanted. Which of course I was more than capable of doing.
Afternoon off school, Target novelisation and not even a trip to A&E. Result. The rest, as they say, is history (and it was probably double french that afternoon too).