The Interview

DWO interviews Doctor Who Magazine Editor, Tom Spilsbury about working on the magazine, what's in store, and his life as a Doctor Who fan.

Doctor Who celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year, but let's not forget that you too celebrate a special anniversary - 10 years working on DWM! Having worked on well over 100 issues, how do you keep the magazine so fresh?

That's kind of you to say – but fortunately I have the best TV series ever created to feast on, so it's not difficult to keep finding new content. When I started on DWM in March 2003, I never dreamed I'd still be here a decade on, but the astonishing comeback of Doctor Who to television – and its incredible ongoing success – wasn't anything I could have imagined at the time. I'm very fortunate, I think, in that I genuinely love every era of Doctor Who, so it's not difficult to be enthusiastic about everything we put into the mag.

The challenge, as you say, is to find things that haven't been done before – or at least to find a new angle. I think it's helpful to have a good, solid, logical structure to a magazine – so the regular features, like the news, reviews, comic strip, Time Team etc form a good basis for that. When I'm planning an issue, I always start with thinking what the main 'BIG' article is. It will often (but not always) be an interview – so it needs to be something that's cover-worthy. That in itself can be a challenge! Finding a photograph that will work on the cover, and hopefully hasn't been seen before.

The thing that makes the whole process so enjoyable and fluid is having a brilliant team around me – and everyone is always full of ideas and creativity all the time. Doctor Who attracts creative people, so I don't think it's any coincidence that both the magazine and the TV show itself are now staffed by people who grew up loving them both.

Issue 456 of Doctor Who Magazine saw a slight change in the dimensions of the magazine. What was the catalyst for the decision behind the change, and does the new, slightly wider but shorter format allow for more or less content?

Yes, it's not a particularly big change, but there were strong reasons for doing it. We're now the same dimensions as Empire, and other 'mainstream' magazines, which gives us a slightly bigger presence. It also, as you say, gives us a little bit more space.

Some of our readers have pointed out that the type size was quite small in DWM – and as we all get older, that makes a difference! I don't want to be held responsible for straining anyone's eyesight! So we increased the point size by half a point, and the extra width means that we can still just about fit the same number of words on each page. The balance of text to photos is so important in a magazine, and the change of dimensions actually gives us quite a bit of flexibility, even though the difference may not seem all that huge to the reader.

In this anniversary year, what can we expect from DWM in the months ahead?

Well, we'll be covering all the new episodes, as you will expect. When they start making the episodes for airing later in 2013, we'll be planning some very special things – but it's difficult to go into too much detail at the moment for obvious reasons! But we also want to do the whole 50-year history of Doctor Who proud. So things like the previously unpublished Jon Pertwee interview are a big part of that. We really wanted to do a few things that are very special – but of course we try to do that all the time anyway! I'm very excited about Mark Gatiss' 'An Adventure in Space and Time', and I think that will present us the opportunity to do something very interesting.

You've already seen the start of our big comic strip storyline 'Hunters of the Burning Stone' – and that will continue for a good few months yet. It's a huge story, and will properly celebrate the 50th anniversary in a way that will – I hope – be very different from the TV show, Big Finish, or anyone else. We're pretty much the only medium able to bring back Ian and Barbara exactly as they were in 1963, and I guarantee that there are some terrific twists and turns in the chapters ahead.

As for other interviews on the way – well, Frazer Hines and Anneke Wills both spoke to DWM recently, so they'll be coming up in the next few months. We're also talking to Big Finish about covering their 50th anniversary story 'Light at the End'.

And on top of all that, we also have some rather different Special Editions planned…

How long have you been a fan of Doctor Who and do you have a particular favourite episode, doctor or companion?

I've been a fan ever since I can remember. I was born in 1976, and some of my earliest memories are of watching Destiny of the Daleks and City of Death in 1979. As such, I do love Tom Baker and K9! It's just in my DNA. That said, I would never have thought that I could love Matt Smith quite so much – I think he's been extraordinary as the Doctor. And more recently I've become obsessed with watching William Hartnell. He was so watchable – whatever else is going on in a scene, you just want to look at HIM. That's true of all the great Doctors, I think.

I don't know if I really have favourite stories – but I'll name some that occur to me right now, as I think these are all wonderful: Marco Polo, The Daleks' Master Plan, The Power of the Daleks, The War Games, Spearhead from Space, The Green Death, Terror of the Zygons, The Androids of Tara, The Five Doctors, The Greatest Show in the Galaxy, Blink, Partners in Crime, Turn Left, The Eleventh Hour, Vincent and the Doctor, The Pandorica Opens/The Big Bang, The Wedding of River Song and The Snowmen. That's a lot of Matt Smith, isn't it? But I think it's been an extraordinary three years.

As for a favourite companion – I'm going to say The Brigadier. Splendid fellow – on screen as well as off.

Finally, if you could have one round trip in the TARDIS, anywhere in time and space, where would you go and why?

Want a boring (but truthful) answer? The 1960s, so I can see all the bits of Doctor Who that I haven't ever seen.
If you want something more poetic, then I'd like to see the future – I'd like to see that things get better, and that there are reasons to be hopeful.

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© Copyright Doctor Who Online, 2013.
Page Updated: 5/2/2013

Interview Details

Interview with:
Tom Spilsbury
Doctor Who Magazine Editor
Conducted by:
Doctor Who Online

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