I first wrote for Doctor Who Magazine (DWM) in 1999, and I’ve been a regular presence on the Who set since the show returned to TV in 2005. (The cast/crew photo, right, is from Christopher Eccleston’s last day filming, in March 2005. I’m in the front row, bottom right. In a green ‘anorak’.) My catalogue of interviews for DWM ranges from David Tennant, Billie Piper, Richard E Grant and Sir Derek Jacobi, to Ken Dodd, McFly and Kylie Minogue, and Matt Smith’s first ever major print interview. My regular interview column, Who on Earth is… (click on the link to read some of my favourite columns), featured such diverse names as Timothy Dalton, Professor Richard Dawkins, and Duncan James from Blue.
I’ve also compiled six DWM Special Editions – published between 2005 and 2010, under the umbrella title In Their Own Words (click on the link for further details) – providing a chronological commentary on the making of the TV series, from 1963 to 2009, by those involved in its production, collated from extracts of interviews previously published in DWM.
First issued in 1979, DWM holds the Guinness World Record for the longest-running magazine based on a TV series. As of 2013, DWM is published four-weekly, and has a higher circulation than any other ‘genre’ magazine in the UK, including SFX, and even outsells NME. I’ve posted a page of links to people who work on DWM, and you can read a selection of my favourite pre-2011 interviews and features for the magazine by clicking on the images below (I’ll add some 2011 and 2012 interviews in due course):
NOTES (shamelessly stolen from Wikipedia)
1. In 2002, Benjamin tracked down elusive Doctor Who scriptwriter Christopher Bailey and interviewed him for DWM. This inspired Robert Shearman to write Deadline, an acclaimed audio play starring Sir Derek Jacobi as retired writer Martin Bannister (loosely based on Bailey) and Ian Brooker as journalist Sydney (loosely based on Cook), reporter for the fictional Juliet Bravo Magazine. In a 2004 interview, Shearman confirmed: ”Deadline is in some ways inspired by the idea that he [Martin Bannister] gets tracked down by, essentially, Ben Cook. Not called Ben Cook in the play, of course – but it was actually based on DWM’s Christopher Bailey interview. Here was a writer who hadn’t been interviewed for many years, and was obviously not bitter about it, but had [...] his own perspective of what he wanted to say and do.” You can purchase/download the play from Big Finish Productions’ website.
2. In February 2008, Benjamin had a contentious interview with actor Clive Swift. “I’m quite aggrieved,” Swift told him. “Why should I do this? I’m not getting paid, am I?” He refused to answer many of Benjamin’s questions and replied brusquely to others. When Benjamin asked Swift – best known for his portrayal of Richard Bucket in BBC sitcom Keeping Up Appearances – whether people shout “Richard” at him in the street, the actor replied: “Sometimes. I tell them to fuck off.” The encounter ended with Swift insisting, “I know that you all think that this is a big world, this Who business. But it isn’t. There are much bigger things than this.” When Benjamin replied, “Maybe, but it means a lot to a great many of us,” Swift terminated the interview.
3. In another controversial interview, in January 2010, outgoing Doctor Who David Tennant told Benjamin: “Clearly the Labour Party is not without some issues right now [...] but they’re still a better bet than the Tories. I would still rather have Gordon Brown than David Cameron. I would rather have a Prime Minister who is the cleverest person in the room than a Prime Minister who looks good in a suit. I think David Cameron is a terrifying prospect. I think he’s a regional newscaster who will jump on whatever bandwagon flies past. I get quite panicked at the notion that people are buying into his rhetotic, because it seems very manipulative to me… It’s very weird that you can work in the arts – which tends to be about empathy, and understanding the human condition, and hopefully feeling some kind of sympathy for your fellow man – and vote for the Tories. I do find that inconceivable.” Tennant’s comments were widely reported, with the future Prime Minister offering a rebuttal on Richard Bacon’s BBC Radio 5 Live show on 11 January: “That’s a pity, but there we are. You’re never going to win over everybody. I definitely believe there’s no point trying to win over everyone. Say what you think, say what you believe in, say what you believe needs to be done – and if people will come with you, they will come with you. I never give up, so maybe I’ll have another go at convincing him.”