Sonic Waves won fanzine awards during its reign in the mid 80s is unsurprising.
When it arrived in 1984, the fan tapezine market had been established but from its opening introduction by
Alan Hayes and Paul Hewson, Sonic Waves' aim to deliver a better product set the tone. That Alan
re-recorded the first issue again as he felt it wasn't good enough is testament to that. In an era of negative and
demanding fans, Sonic Waves struck the balance perfectly with informed and well-rationalised articles spanning
the shows past and present. The finger was on the pulse of fandom but had a beat of its own. Its influence can
be seen elsewhere. Another tapezine of the time turned itself around rather curiously in the style of
to the extent it turned its whole view of continuity errors, expressed in previous issues, on its head. It also
had a string of imitators, many from the same person!
So by issue 4 , where was Sonic Waves at? Back in 1985, I had stopped buying
after Issue 3 - not out of dissatisfaction but my interests shifted to collecting the stories rather than listening
to reviews of them. It was another four years or so before I heard the remaining issues. Looking at the set as a
whole, Issue 4, the first one I missed, is ironically in my opinion, the best. The tone is particularly noteworthy.
Sonic Waves had got angry with Michael Grade's 18 month hiatus decision at the downbeat end of Issue 2, and
had subsequently celebrated the programme's current season by means of retaliation in Issue 3. Issue 4 moves on
admirably, evolves and relaxes.
The change of title music (an original rendition of the
Doctor Who theme),
though perhaps unnecessary, also paves the way to original incidental music created by Jim Mortimore. This put
the whole product in a class above. Similarly, the creative output pulls out the stops with
The Doctors' Schooldays, a playlet of four episodes with impressions of all Doctors and more characters
besides. Before hearing this, I unhelpfully had this quoted out of context to me repeatedly to my utter confusion.
This is not one for the serious, anal Who philosopher, as it plays fast and loose with show's continuity
for the sake of an amusing scenario. All the Doctors are at school at once – the Blinovitch Limitation effect
isn't in it! A clever idea with the happy anarchy of Spitting Image, then in its infancy. The diversity of
the articles shines through particularly on Issue 4: Marvel Comics' Sixth Doctor, overseas filming locations and
the deaths of companions being prime examples – subjects seldom discussed in any detail previously. Then there is
Robert Franks' frank review of The Daleks' Masterplan. In an era where 60s
Who (especially the missing
kind) could seemingly do no wrong, this is refreshing to say the least, giving both barrels to the lazy upshot of
Dalekmania and the limitations of Terry Nation. Very brave, very honest.
The Doctors' Schooldays is not the only way in which Issue 4 looks forward.
There is a strong plug to the then emerging Audio Visuals range; a review of their latest production and
even an interview with Nick Briggs, Audio Visuals' Doctor of the time, and these days of course a star of the
show actual. Prophetic stuff. This pre-empted the tone of the 90s in fandom to 'carry on regardless' in the absence
of the TV show.
Let us not forget the audio letters from Colin Baker that graced every issue! This was
the icing on the cake and very brave of Alan to have attempted this. Equally, it was very generous of Colin Baker
to record them. One wonders whether this type of request was a regular occurrence for him. If so
was privileged indeed. Maybe others didn't have the nerve to ask him. Either way, they always provided a unique
link up to the main man himself at the time.
Sonic Waves stands the test of time as the definitive tapezine. The calibre of
its contributors, some of whom have gone on to become well-known professional writers, many gems of knowing
humour along with a lack of complacency and strife for improvement and innovation, put it ahead of its
by Nick Goodman
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