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The Dr Who Annual 1979 by BBC

The Dr Who Annual 1979

by BBC

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it's a definite improvement from the previous few years. One feels somehow a lot more grounded in the series. Unfortunately, of course, by the time most kids were reading this, Mary Tamm had transformed into Lalla Ward, so the impact was a bit muted, but I read it while still watching The Armageddon Factor so it worked reasonably well for me.

The stories are about average, and the filler material below. However I was interested that the crossword had a number of references to Who continuity (indeed more, apart from Romana, than the whole rest of the annual). Several stories also imply that the Doctor is taking Romana on a regular training mission on behalf of the Time Lords' Academy, which is amusing considering the role both she and it play in the much later Big Finish Gallifrey stories. As in the TV show, K9 is in some stories but not in others. There is one interesting comment on politics of the late 1970s from the story "Reluctant Warriors" in the middle of the annual:

'Alix lowered his voice. "You may remember Leondin from your last visit, when he was campaigning for more leisure and shorter working hours." The Doctor nodded. "People were fooled by his persuasive talk and he was elected. Of course, some of us tried to block him on the grounds that he was mentally unstable, but we were outnumbered.

'"As soon as he could, he threw out all the old senators and replaced them with his pleasure-seeking cronies. Soon the whole city seemed to think of nothing but pleasure, and Leondin provided more and more sophisticated entertainments to keep them happy in their long hours of leisure."

'"Surely there must be some sensible people left," said Romana.

'"There are a few of us," said Alix, "but we cannot get together because Leondin has us watched. He has forbidden meetings of any kind, and controls all press and television. I suspect that he even has his spies in this building."'

This annual was written and published shortly after the 1978-79 Winter of Discontent and the subsequent Conservative election victory, and it's difficult to avoid the conclusion that the writer was trying to make some allusion to current affairs. ( )
  nwhyte | Feb 11, 2011 |

Yet again, a Doctor Who annual where the art is rather good for the Doctor but pretty awful for the companion. Since this came out in September 1978, and Leela had left the programme several months before, maybe the compilers of the Annual and the BBC were hoping we had forgotten what she looked like. The woman in the artwork looks if anything more like Mary Tamm's Romana wearing a wig and a bad bra.

But in general the 1979 annual seems to be continuing the track of improvement on previous years. The fiction again is well-written and actually fairly substantial, the prose stories taking up 35 pages out of 64 and the comic strips another 12; the comic strips seem to have absorbed the spirit of 2000 AD in both style and substance, very flashy and busy but actually telling a story at the same time; and apart from my whine about the artwork the characterisation of Leela and the Doctor is generally (though not consistently) accurate. I was intrigued by one of the prose filler pieces as well, about the 'Skyship', which I hadn't heard of but turns out to be the ancestor of the Skyship 600 airship which is in fact in commercial use today. (So, yes, I was actually educated by the educational bits.) ( )
1 vote nwhyte | Jan 8, 2011 |
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