I Love... 1999
By Simon Hart
1999 started with the wholly improbable return of an episode. The Lion returned to The BBC in January, after only a month or two back Ian Levine had been thumping tables in The Missing Years video saying it was completely unlikely that anything else would return! The episode may not have been the most exciting return ever, but I can still remember that little frisson of excitement as I sat down to watch the first new Who I'd seen for years. Wasn't it made all the more exciting by the links by William Russell and the boxset where they managed to palm us off with The Space Museum too? But there was no need for Frazer Hines to dig out his kilt and generally embarrass himself on the Lottery show though!
1999 was a really optimistic year. There was a buzz in fandom that something might happen during the year. DWM got a radical new look and finally took up the TV Movie logo, and did one of the finest articles of its run in the form of Doctor Who for The Phantom Menace Generation with its Lego Doctor Who figures (how we'd have killed for those as a kid!) and comments from writers in the TV Business, including one Russell T. Davies... I wonder what became of him? The Time Team began their mammoth Doctor Who watch and DWM entered one of its strong periods, culminating in its 20th Anniversary in November.
Then of course, we got our Big Finish adventures. Starting in July with The Sirens of Time, BF began to fill the large hole that the lack of TV adventures had left. OK, so their first story wasn't the greatest thing they've ever done hut I can remember the excitement of opening it up and listening to it for the first time and hearing our old Doctors back in action once again. They followed Sirens up with two marvellous releases, Phantasmagoria and Whispers of Terror. It was wonderful to have Doctor Who back, even just as an audio series, and they've gone on to give us some of the very best stories ever.
And Doctor Who returned to TV too. The Radio Times cover used the wonderful photo of the Dalek seen earlier in the year as a stamp (and a gorgeous stamp it made too!) to herald "Doctor Who Night" on BBC 2. Tom Baker returned as the Doctor to guide us through a night of comedy sketches (which were more than a bit close to the knuckle, but made me laugh!), documentaries and episodes. Wonderful stuff and best of all we got a Dalek 2 as an ident for the channel. This led to a sadly curtailed series of repeats, starting with a crystal clear Spearhead from Space before the meandering Silurians with its recolourised film put off all the viewers Spearhead had attracted. For a while though it looked like we might have had the full works, but alas as 1999 drew to a close it was not to be.
So it was a great year to be a fan!