WHO 50: 1974:
Planet of the Spiders.

Magazines  Whenever I meet proper fans of the series, the kind who'll laugh at jokes about Monoids and know what a death defying role down a small verge looks like, I'm always slightly surprised when they tell me they don't read Doctor Who Magazine.

Um, but, I'll splutter, it's Doctor Who Magazine.  You're a Doctor Who fan.

Yes, they'll say, but there's in the internet.  It's a fiver a month.  It's just a load of old marketing.

At which point I realise there's no reasoning with them and begin to explain again why the Eighth Doctor's the best or some such.

Really, if you're a Doctor Who fan, oldby or otherwise, why wouldn't you buy Doctor Who Magazine?

The cost perhaps, it has just gone up to £4.75.

But for that £4.75, even though admittedly Gallifrey Guardian now reads like Yesterday’s Times, this month there's a long lost interview with John Pertwee full of stories even hardy convention visitors might not have heard before, Steven Moffat lists his favourite Who stories of all time, a Valentine's Day inspired article listing all the show's great romances (including Thara and Vana from The Krotons), an attempt to find the essence of Doctor Who via the TV Movie, the Eleventh Doctor meeting Ian and Barbara in the comic strip, a column about Christmas in a fans household and Gary Gillat’s blistering review of the dvd release of The Reign of Terror (yes, I agree, the animations are a disappointing failure).

And in the middle of all that The Fact of Fiction which this month, in case you were wondering, covers Planet of the Spiders.

When archivist Andrew Pixley’s archive features drew to a close, The Fact of Fiction arrived to fill the gap with a much more trivia based approach to Doctor Who’s stories, expanding out of the show itself into tangential material including general knowledge and spin-off media.

It’d be wrong of me to simply type up a list of my favourite facts because that would just be plagarism and writer David Bryher did all of this hard work.

But it is a classic of the form.  The authors of these articles, usually Alan Barnes but as we see here there are others, usually attempt to find material which hasn’t been in a Pixley archive or in one of the dvd production commentaries.

Sometimes there’s an element of wondering if they’ll mention this or that titbit or just how thorough, for example, regular boxouts about featured actors or the reuse of elements in novels will be.

Bryher folds some of that into the main text for a change.  Room is made noting the previous adventures of Gareth Hunt and for a jokey reminder of the effect Lawrence Miles’s Interference has on the story.  It is indeed complicated.

I don't expect I'm stealing anything if I mention that it reminds us that Planet of the Spiders has the longest chase scene in the show's history and one of its most pointless since one of the participants could have transported out at any opportunity.  Never mind the TV Movie, its Planet of the Spider which really captures the essence of Doctor Who.

The picture of Mike Yates on page 59 is almost worth the cover price of the magazine on its own.

But the magazine itself is genuinely worth the cover price, even in the internet age, even after all these years.

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