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Jul 29, 2018 19 tweets 11 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
In 1989 the BBC killed off #DoctorWho. The corporation said the series was being 'rested'; the fans suspected it was dead as an Adric. But then an unlikely saviour emerged to carry #DrWho through the wilderness years.

This is the story of the Virgin New Adventures...
Both Michael Grade and Jonathan Powell, BBC Directors in the 1980s, disliked #DoctorWho. They felt it was outdated, violent and cheap-looking. Ratings were awful, exacerbated by terrible scheduling. Relations with producer John Nathan-Turner had also hit rock bottom.
Grade had already paused the series in 1985, and insisted Colin Baker leave the show in 1987. By 1989, with Nathan-Turner ready to leave and script editor Andrew Cartmel already gone, Jonathan Powell pulled the plug on the whole thing.
#DoctorWho has one of the oldest and most passionate fandoms in television, and many fans had felt that the series was finally going in the right direction, with a darker and more mysterious Doctor and an assistant who was finally being given a more mature role.
Whovians had also produced a lot of fan-fic and critical analysis of #DrWho, and a number of fans were themselves budding or actual writers - often due to their love of the series. So there was still a core audience out there.
Which was lucky for Virgin Publishing, who had purchased Target Books in 1989. As the main publisher of #DoctorWho novels it was clear that with the series cancelled the flow of new books was going to dry up pretty quickly.
So Virgin's fiction editor Peter Darvill-Evans asked the BBC for permission to commission and publish new original #DrWho stories. With only Marvel UK still showing any interest in the show the BBC agreed. What did It have to lose? It was quite a gamble for Virgin though...
...but believing the fan base was there, and with a number of writers familiar with novelising #DoctorWho stories, they had high hopes the gamble would pay off. Provided the material was what the hard-core Whovian fandom were after.
Running from 1991 to 1997 the New Adventures would eventually consist of 61 novels focused (almost) exclusively on the Seventh Doctor. Target stalwarts such as John Peel and Terrance Dicks were brought in to kickstart the series.
But the New Adventures also brought in passionate fans looking to launch their own writing careers. Both Paul Cornell and Mark Gatiss wrote for the series, and the New Adventures helped launch the careers of Kate Orman and Justin Richards.
And with no BBC executives policing the stories the New Adventures could go where they liked! New assistants, new aliens, even a new back-story for the Doctor were all suddenly possible.
Cover art for the New Adventures could be variable. The ever-excellent Peter Elson did a few, but other artists fared less well with some of the cover work.
There were of course critics of the New Adventures. Adult-oriented #DoctorWho was not for everyone; the plots could be ridiculously complicated; the character of Ace sometimes bordered on fan-fantasy projection...
...yet there were some cracking stories in the New Adventures, not least Paul Cornell's Human Nature - later to be adapted as a new #DoctorWho story when the series returned.
In 1994 Virgin began publishing The Missing Adventures series, adult-oriented #DoctorWho stories featuring earlier Doctors. The New Adventures character Bernice Summerfield also got a spin-off series of books.
But it couldn't last. In 1996, following the #DoctorWho movie, the BBC did not renew Virgin's licence and instead decided to publish its own line of original #DrWho novels. After 61 New Adventures and 33 Missing Adventures the Virgin series ended.
The New Adventures did an important job keeping #DoctorWho alive and fresh in the 1990s. They showed it could be complex, dark, hard sci-fi and that there was an audience for this kind of Doctor. They undoubtedly influenced the rebooted TV series.
But for me the New Adventures were genuine pulp sci-fi. New writers were given old themes and asked to turn them quickly into amazing stories. If quality varied, well that's pulp. But the legacy of the New Adventures should not be overlooked.

More stories another time...
Postscript: as a teenager I was interviewed on local radio, having organised a petition to 'Save #DoctorWho.'

I neglected to tell the interviewer I had only managed to gather four signatures...

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Dec 2, 2018
It is the greatest frog-worshiping zombie biker occult horror film ever made. Possibly the only one. It's certainly like no over movie you've ever seen.

Today in pulp, I look back at the 1971 classic Psychomania...
By the early 1970s British horror films were trying to get 'with it' to attract a younger audience. So it wasn't surprising that in 1971 screenwriter Arnaud d'Usseau tried to create a biker horror movie.
d'Usseau had previously written Horror Express, an Anglo-Spanish sci-fi/horror movie loosely based on John W. Campbell's novella Who Goes There. Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Telly Savalas did their best with the material.
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Oct 9, 2018
"The gun is good! The Penis is evil!" bellows a huge stone head floating over the Irish countryside. It's quite a strange start to any movie, but it's about to get even stranger...

This is the story of John Boorman's classic 1974 film Zardoz.
In 1970 director John Boorman began work on a Lord Of The Rings film for United Artists. It would be an unusual adaption; The Beatles would be the Hobbits and Kabuki theatre would open the movie . Alas the studio said 'No', but the idea of a fantasy film stuck with Boorman...
So in 1972, following the commercial success of Deliverance, John Boorman started work on Zardoz - a fantasy film into which he would cram many unorthodox ideas. Initially Burt Reynolds was to play the lead role of Zed, but pulled out citing other filming commitments.
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Oct 8, 2018
As it's #LibrariesWeek let's look back at Britain's favourite library book*: the 1977 Usborne Guide to the Supernatural World!

(*according to my readers)
Supernatural World was an anthology of three existing Usborne pocketbooks: Vampires, Mysterious Powers and Ghosts. As an Usborne hardback it was deemed perfect for the nation's libraries.
Usborne had previously fascinated and frightened readers with its 1977 World Of The Unknown series: a terrifying triptych of ghosts, monsters and UFOs. Supernatural World would continue in the same vein.
Read 12 tweets
Oct 7, 2018
It was a university course for the price of a packet of cigarettes: Pelican Books! Maybe the blend wasn't to everyone's taste, but there's no denying the addictive nature of the range.

Today in pulp I look back at the autodidact's bible...
In 1937, two years after Allen Lane founded Penguin books, the company decided on a new imprint to provide academic and intellectual non-fiction for the general public. Lane believed there was a market for “intelligent books at a low price” which he was determined to serve
Over its lifetime Pelican sold a quarter of a billion books covering almost 3,000 subjects. Lane apparently came up with the Pelican name when he overheard a woman at King’s Cross railway station mistakenly asking for a Pelican book instead of a Penguin one.
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Oct 7, 2018

And today's letter is home computer related...
Mr Derrick Wibley from Penge writes: "Dear PL, I recently invested in a 48k ZX Spectrum to help run my stationery business 'Penge Pens'. However I'm worried it's not powerful enough to meet the needs of my ambitious business expansion programme. What should I do?"
Well Mr Wibley fear not! The ZX Spectrum is a fully-scaleable integrated solution to your business needs - provided you buy the right peripherals!
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Oct 6, 2018
The Time Machine, Brave New World, 1984: these weren’t the first dystopian novels. There's an interesting history of Victorian and Edwardian literature looking at the impact of modernity on humans and finding it worrying.

Today in pulp I look at some early dystopian books…
Paris in the Twentieth Century, written in 1863, was the second novel penned by Jules Verne. However his publisher Pierre-Jules Hetzel rejected it as too gloomy. The manuscript was only discovered in 1994 when Verne’s grandson hired a locksmith to break into an old family safe.
The novel, set in 1961, warns of the dangers of a utilitarian culture. Paris has street lights, motor cars and the electric chair but no artists or writers any more. Instead industry and commerce dominate and citizens see themselves as cogs in a great economic machine.
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