Thursday, 28 May 2015

1989: DWB Issue 62

From February 1989: Issue 62 of the pro-zine DWB, edited and published by Gary Levy (aka Gary Leigh).

Launched as DOCTOR WHO BULLETIN circa 1983, DWB went from strength-to-strength throughout the Eighties and had become one of the preeminent zines by the end of the decade. 

However, its success, and antagonistic attitude to the show, its producer and BBC, made it a sitting target for BBC Enterprises to try and shut it down.  It's success, and relatively high production values, meant that it could easy encroach on the officially licensed DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE.  

So, although WHO remained dominant, Levy/ Leigh switched gears at the end of the decade and relaunched it as (subtle difference) DREAMWATCH BULLETIN with a remit to cover a much broader range of shows.

This may have also been partially prompted by boredom on Levy/ Leigh's part.  The declining fortunes of the show, and the number of episodes being shot, certainly gave less scope to cover current production.  It's also possible that he guessed/ was told that the show's days were numbered and wanted to broaden the scope to ease the transition. 

I picked this issue up quite recently but I started reading regularly later in 1989 anyway and I still have my collection stashed in a box somewhere.  DWB was always a compelling read, particularly because of its vitriolic hatred of John Nathan-Turner and his interpretation of the show.  With the benefit of hindsight, it's amusing (and slightly distasteful) to see how much venom was unleashed.  JNT was, afterall, a jobbing BBC producer fighting against a tide of indifference and restructuring.  Neither of which favored him or his show.  

The motivation for Levy's attitude can be found in the pages of the excellent THE LIFE AND SCANDALOUS TIMES OF JOHN NATHAN-TURNER by Richard Marson.  

DWB was relaunched as DREAMWATCH (it was never as good) and subsequently acquired by Titan.  It's now defunct. 


  1. hey don't knock DREAMWATCH ,it was a great mag at its height !

    However I do recall many irate letters to DW complaining of how its focus had shifted from dr who to a broader range of subjects. The editor was almost apologetic in explaining how the mag had to expand to reflect the then current boom in tv sci-fi. I also remember similar letters to STARBURST complaining that all they ever covered was dr who ,star trek and the x-files. The editor of SB replied that since these were the most popular shows among readers, it followed they would be given more favourable coverage. ( and therefore shift more copies of the mag ! )

    The current issue of DOCTOR WHO MAGAZINE has a fascinating and previously unpublished interview with JNT., conducted in 1989. Apparently DWB got behind ' Operation who ' in order to remove him from the show ....hard to believe now. JNT is briefly quizzed about levy but doesn't say much. The interviewer found him to be nice but a bit subdued.

    1. What I liked about DWB is that it devoted so much space (compared with every other magazine) to reviews etc. Each VHS outing seemed to garner a whole essay. I'd need to read them again, in the cold light of day, to see if they were pontificating old waffle or actually useful and accurate. The reviews were knocked back to the more standard couple-of-paragraphs when it relaunched as DREAMWATCH.

      I also read, and greatly enjoyed, the JN-T interview in the new issue of DWM. I also scan read it (as opposed to scanned it) last night but i thought he came across very well. It's interesting that it echos my point above... he was just a member of BBC staff doing his job in difficult circumstances. Having the extra hassle of, what amounted to, a vindictive hate campaign waged against you in public must have been a tremendous extra pressure. No one likes to be hated and no one likes their job to be undermined in public (especially at a time when the BBC was undergoing changes which were making staff producers an endangered species) so it must have been a terrible strain.

      The new issue of DWM looks a corker overall. The wraparound cover is stunning (and a canny way of gaining attention on the shelves during the long months between seasons) and the articles on DALEK INVASION OF EARTH and the second-part of the History-of-VHS (the sort of historical piece that really tickles my taste buds) both look like they'll be excellent reads.

  2. hard to believe that the editor behind DREAMWATCH tried to oust JNT !

    You cant go wrong with a dalek cover can you ? The next ESSENTIAL DR WHO is due in a few weeks. Its a monster special so its a safe bet the daleks will feature

    1. Have a read of the JNT biography. Some of the revelations therein explain the antagonism between DWB and JNT. It's also a brilliant read anyway, particularly if you are interested in the internal shenanigans within the BBC.


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