The Tapezine Matrix

Outline History


A History of Dr Who
Dr. Who: Tapezine
Zero Room
The Logopolitan
UNIT Tapezine
Trakenites' Times
The Time Listener
CVE Tapezine
Sonic Waves
The Master Tape
Tranquil Repose
CT of Death
Rayphase Shift
Time Trace
Season Specials
Doctor Who 2000
Other Tapezines


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The Tapezine Matrix is researched, written, designed, maintained and Copyright Alan Hayes.

Doctor Who is Copyright BBC Television. No attempt to infringe the BBC's copyrights is intended.

Review: A History of Dr. Who

While not strictly a tapezine itself, more an audio documentary, J. Jeremy Bentham and Gordon Blows' A History of Dr. Who was under starter's orders some seven years before the first true tapezine surfaced. The audio programme told the story of the first thirteen years of Doctor Who through audio clips from the television stories and informed commentary to link them. A History of Dr. Who was presented across two audio cassettes, with the first devoted to William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton's eras, while the second dealt with those of Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker. Bentham and Blows produced the programmes on a 4-track open reel 1/4" tape recorder in 1976, with the compact cassette the planned delivery medium (see the main article for the story of the cassettes' aborted release).

A relic from the early days of fandom, A History of Dr. Who is a fascinating listen. In an era when the BBC Radio Collection Doctor Who soundtrack range wasn't even a glint in the milkman's eye, and before the high quality treasure troves of sound recordists such as Graham Strong and David Butler were unearthed, these tapes were a godsend to Doctor Who fans desperate to hear excerpts of old stories that were otherwise lost in the mists of time. I remember getting copies of the cassettes in the early 1980s and literally playing the recordings to death. They offered a wonderful insight into eras of the programme that aired before I watched regularly, and even now, when I think back to hearing A History of Dr. Who for the first time, it's one of those memories that crystalises the wonder of the early days of my Doctor Who appreciation... A vital part of my Doctor Who education.

The choice of clips was plainly limited by what the producers had available to them at the time, though this in itself is one of the intriguing aspects of listening to these tapes. The sometimes indistinct recordings, complete with buzz and hum, are what I grew up with. Younger fans might not remember the excitement of getting their hands on a dodgy, barely audible soundtrack of a long-lost story, but I certainly do. We're spoilt today, with readily available official CD editions of the missing stories, not to mention DVDs of those that remain. It's all too easy - not that I'm complaining!

The programmes are well planned, dealing with the eras thematically rather than in a story-by-story linear fashion, and this is to be applauded. Narration is of a high standard, and well-written, often adding to the magical atmosphere generated by the clips and the specially selected incidental music, which hails from rock groups such as Pink Floyd and The Moody Blues. Recording quality is generally impressive for the age of the recording, and the audio clips are often a lot better than one might expect them to be. There's the occasional instance of levels being set incorrectly, but all in all, the audio work is effective and often inventive - with experimental tape effects being employed which come off splendidly more often than not. Considering the limitations under which Jeremy and Gordon were working, the History Tapes represent an outstanding achievement - and one that also stands as a fascinating snapshot of early fandom and the perception of the series halfway through its original run.

by Alan Hayes

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