Monday, 31 December 2012

An Excellent Fanzine

My first piece of published writing to be seen by more than two people appeared in the late 1990s in a science fiction fanzine called RQC (Really Quite Cosmic), edited by Gavin Wilson. It was an article looking at the BBC’s then much maligned adaptation of John Christopher’s Tripods trilogy. I entitled it “Has It All Been For Nothing?” after the last line spoken in the series.

I was thrilled to bits when I saw it in print.

When the internet took hold during the 2000s, the old fashioned paper fanzine all but disappeared. I, for one, lamented its demise.

Today, though, the internet is a place where would-be editors and publishers can float ideas and draw on the talents of writers and artists around the world. One such editor is Scott Burditt, who suggested a collation of articles devoted to various cult television programmes to be published as a glossy full colour, not-for-profit fanzine.

My good friend Ian Wheeler prompted me to write for it.

So much water has passed under the bridge since that first feature in RQC all those years ago, it seems almost poetic that my article for CSO should be about The Tripods. This time I reflected on how the series has been reappraised, how even the BBC themselves appear to have more pride in it, and how fans around the world have joined forces and found one another via the web.

Following the two page piece is my episode guide for all 25 episodes, which, this time round, is accurate!

Scott did an initial print run of the fanzine and sold out. As of January 2013, there will be a reprint. To order a copy, go to Facebook "CSO" and click Like. Then follow the instructions on the page to reserve a copy.
The first issue is also available to buy in black and white (but with a colour cover) from print-on-demand company
If you love cult TV, you’ll love CSO. And if you fancy trying your hand at writing, the magazine is an excellent place to start.

The old fashioned paper fanzine is alive and well.


Friday, 7 December 2012

I'm The Doctor - Get Me Out of Here!

Quite a few people expressed their surprise to me over Colin Baker’s decision to take part in ITV1’s I’m a Celebrity – Get Me Out Of Here this year, but I can see the sense in it.

Between 1984 and 1986, Colin played the sixth incarnation of The Doctor in the BBC’s iconic science fantasy series Doctor Who. When he took the part, he wanted the character to be more akin to the original portrayal of William Hartnell, who was the Doctor between 1963 and 1966. Baker asked the production team to make his Doctor aloof and detached. He was also keen to dress his time traveller in a black frock coat and make his clothes less like a costume.

Unfortunately, the writing staff explained the sixth Doctor’s more abrupt nature by saying the latest regeneration had produced an instability resulting in temperamental mood swings. They also made him wear a multi-coloured patchwork coat and bright yellow trousers, the idea being that he had lost his taste in clothes.

After playing the Doctor for one full season, the series was cancelled by BBC1 controller Michael Grade, who was looking for ways of saving the Corporation money. Thanks to fans within the BBC leaking the news to the press, and following a lot of tabloid pressure, Grade said he hadn’t cancelled the show but merely suspended it for 18 months. When it returned in 1986, it had been whittled down by a third and was up against stiff competition from ITV.

Viewing figures dropped significantly compared with the previous season. Michael Grade blamed, not his own decision to interrupt the series’ run, but actor Colin Baker. The sixth Doctor is the only one in the show’s history to be replaced at the behest of the Corporation’s hierarchy.

I was 14 when Colin debuted as the Doctor, and to my mind he was returning the character to form. He came across as intelligent and alien. He was detached and aloof, and didn’t suffer fools. At the time, I thought his terrible dress sense was hilarious. And I was deeply upset when he was dropped after just two seasons.

As a boy unknowingly doing battle with a subtle form of Asperger syndrome, I struggled with the more acute aspects of social-interaction and as a result was frequently labelled aloof and abrupt.

So, for me Colin Baker’s Doctor was a hero, and Colin himself, when he appeared on children’s magazine show Saturday Superstore, was my role model. I would listen to him and imagine that I would be something like that when I reached adulthood.

In 2004, Colin endorsed my book The Feeling’s Unmutual. You can read what he had to say to the right of this blog. When it first came through from the publisher, I nearly burst into tears!

All of the Doctors have been successful. Even the seventh and last actor to play the Doctor in the original series of Doctor Who, Sylvester McCoy, stars in Peter Jackson’s film of The Hobbit.
Sadly, because he barely got off the ground as the sixth incarnation of the Time Lord, Colin Baker became the forgotten Doctor.

Thanks to his appearance in I’m a Celebrity, should the BBC repeat adventures of the old series Doctors to mark Doctor Who’s fiftieth anniversary in 2013, the viewing public will know the name Colin Baker.

I am deeply touched and proud to have been recognised by him.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Remembering The Push Button Click.

I've made an audio documentary about the pantomime group "The Push Button Click", which appeared at Butlin's between 1982 and 1987. It's me in conversation with Theresa Cutts, with off-stage clips from the actual shows woven in.

To listen, please visit this web site...

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Trailer for ANNE DROYD III

What will Anne, Gezz, Malcolm and Luke encounter when they visit Winter Hill? Find out soon...

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Talking to the Students at THE FERNS PRIMARY ACADEMY

Today, I was the guest of the Ferns Primary Academy on Plodder Lane in Farnworth. They were celebrating Roald Dahl Day and had invited me to talk to them about being an author.

At 10.20 am I took their assembly and told them about my early exploits writing as a primary school student. I showed them my name in Doctor Who Weekly and wowed them with my Blue Peter badge. Then I explained the plot of Anne Droyd and Century Lodge – the fact that the real Century Lodge was only half a mile up the road really helped, here.

I wanted to demonstrate to the youngsters that a story can be made from anything, even where they all live.

Afterwards, a teacher reported that one of her young students said she thought Will Hadcroft was marvellous. I clearly made an impact!

At lunch time, I had the opportunity to sample a school dinner, and I have to say I rather enjoyed it! I was put on the top table and the best behaved children were “allowed” to sit with me and ask me questions. A number of them told of their plans for when they grow up. I felt quite privileged.

I also ran my workshop “Writing is Exciting”. Classrooms have moved on since I was at school. These were each equipped with projectors, through which the Anne Droyd YouTube video could be played. We then made up a story of our own on the spot. The children in each class were imaginative and enthusiastic.

My guides for the day were prefects Morgan and Chloe. Their manners were impeccable as they gave me a tour of the school and escorted me to the various classes.

I would like to thank the principal Mrs Murphy and in particular Mrs Broadbent for arranging the day. It was fantastic.

The staff and pupils of the Ferns Primary Academy are a credit to Farnworth.

Posing with me below, from Mrs Broadbent’s class, are Chloe Singleton, Olivia Carter, Dewi Grundy, and Reece Thornton.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Cover Art Refined (Anne Droyd III)

This just gets better and better. Now Anne, Gezz and Malcolm have been properly defined, and the mast looks so spooky (love the detail with the lights and antenna). Can't wait for the painted version...

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Ooh! Look at this...

Below is the second, amended, sketch from Mr Claxton.

All rather exciting...

Saturday, 25 August 2012


My artist Owen Claxton has delivered a number of sketches based on a sample of text I gave him from my upcoming novel Anne Droyd and the Ghosts of Winter Hill. The one below is my favourite.

After a few modifications, Owen will create a more detailed picture, and then, after my approval, will paint up the real thing.

The few people who have read Ghosts (at least one other adult and one child) have given very positive feedback. The general vibe is it's the best book of the three. I am really excited!

My business partner Theresa Cutts and I are looking at several options for this one, including a limited edition hardback.

If all goes to plan, Anne Droyd III should be published before December 2012.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

"The Blueprint" Reviewed in Lancashire Magazine

Lancashire Magazine, which boasts the largest readership in English county magazines, has published a review of my latest novel The Blueprint.

Elsewhere in the magazine is a lovely article about Belmont, a picturesque village near Winter Hill. The photos make me want to visit it, as it's only twenty minutes' drive from where I live! The location also features prominently in my upcoming novel Anne Droyd and the Ghosts of Winter Hill. This new book is currently at the editing stage and should be published in the autumn.

Thank you to Lancashire Magazine for recommending The Blueprint.

Sunday, 4 March 2012


I was deeply saddened last month to hear that John Christopher passed away. I discovered him in the mid-1980s when the BBC adapted and broadcast two thirds of his Tripods trilogy.

I bought the books upon which it was based and was hooked from thereon.

I believe Alex Proyas (I, Robot, Dark City, Knowing) has acquired the rights to the trilogy and plans to film the first book The White Mountains. If it doesn't do well, he will leave it there (as it's a complete story). If it's a big success, he will film The City of Gold and Lead and The Pool of Fire back to back. Here's hoping he does!

Penguin Classics republished his 1950s dystopian future novel The Death of Grass. It is a gritty but realistic depiction of human nature when life becomes a matter of survival. I was fortunate enough to meet John Christopher (real name Sam Youd) as a guest at his home in Rye, East Sussex.

We drank tea and talked Tripods. After a while, having got tired of my Tripods fixation, he asked if I had read anything else that he had written. I confessed I hadn't. He promptly invited me up to his study and signed two novels for me, The Guardians and The Lotus Caves, both of which I now treasure.

Sam's own favourite of his own work is The Prince in Waiting trilogy (aka The Sword of the Spirits trilogy). Like The Death of Grass, it has a downbeat ending. Sam believed that Hollywood hadn't gone near it because of this, and it was likely to be the reason why the books were out of print.

Sam saw himself as "the forgotten children's author". This upset me at the time, and even more so now that he has died. The tributes in newspapers The Guardian and The New York Times demonstrate how loved and respected he was.

He will forever be my literary hero.

Sunday, 15 January 2012



I am pleased to announce that my new teen novel The Blueprint is due to be published. If you pre-order a signed copy, you will receive a signed postcard (which will make a great bookmark!) in advance. When you receive your book, you will get a second card along with it.

You can pre-order the book by downloading a PDF form from this web site:
Here is the back cover blurb:
"Liam Creedy is in the final year of school at Patrick Freeman High. It has not been the best of experiences and this time the bullies have gone too far; one push too many leaves him unconscious.

When he wakes, he finds himself in a strange parody of school life – the building has no main exit, the classrooms have become work places, the prefects are police, and no one ever mentions their parents.

Now everything is in black and white, everything except Liam and Mr Samson, the boy’s aloof and mysterious guide in this nightmare world.

But what has happened to Liam? Has he slipped into a parallel world? Is he really in a coma lying on a hospital bed? Or is he dead and in some place of limbo?

As tension builds and the school moves nearer and nearer to all out war, Samson presses Liam to find the blueprint and change it – only then will he find the way out.

Will Hadcroft weaves a tale that dares to confront one’s right to be an individual in a world that demands conformity and uniformity. He questions the education system, the roles we are
pressured to play in society, and the need to challenge accepted norms before it is too late."