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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > 516 > LADY OF THE PLUMED SERPENT


Aztec expertise from Joan Rodker.

Unusually, a specialist researcher assisted The Aztecs’ production team: the journalist and left-wing political activist Joan Rodker (1915-2010). Rodker’s ‘film of contrasts in Mexico’ had aired as part of the BBC magazine programme Mainly for Women (broadcast on 11 February 1959); more substantially, she’d made Mexico of the Plumed Serpent, a 20-minute documentary for the ITN Roving Report series (broadcast in many ITV regions on 2 November 1960). Perhaps this latter was the film that designer Barry Newbery recalls having viewed during preproduction? At the time of writing, mute footage from Rodker’s Report – including shots of Aztec writing on walls in Monte Alban, shots of Aztec ruins in Teotihuacan, representations of Quetzalcoatl, and an artist’s impression of Tenochtitlan – could be seen via the ITN Source website: In the early 1960s, Rodker worked on the ABC Television arts series Tempo. In Rodker’s Independent newspaper obituary, the late writer Jenny Diski (1947-2016), who knew Rodker well, claimed that Rodker had ‘commissioned writers and edited scripts with Verity Lambert and others on… [ABC’s] Armchair Theatre’ – which explains how Rodker came to be associated with The Aztecs. (Lambert had been a production assistant at ABC before taking up Sydney Newman’s offer to produce Doctor Who for the BBC.) In the 1970s, after Lambert had risen to become Controller of Drama at Thames Television, Rodker served as a script executive and also producer on various of Thames’ Armchair Thriller serials (1978-81). A close friend of the Nobel Prize-winning author Doris Lessing (1919-2013), Rodker was immortalised as Molly Jacobs, best friend of the heroine Anna Wulf, in Lessing’s major novel The Golden Notebook (1962).

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Contents include: · An exclusive interview with the new Doctor, Jodie Whittaker · DWM asks what the casting of Jodie Whittaker means for the future of Doctor Who. · Go behind the scenes with monster makers Millennium FX, with never-before-published imagery from the making of the last series. · DWM talks exclusively to former showrunner Russell T Davies about his illustrations for the forthcoming collection of Doctor Who poetry, Now We Are Six Hundred. · Nicholas Briggs reveals the secrets of giving voice to the Cybermen. · Discover new information about a classic adventure as the 1964 First Doctor story The Aztecs goes under the spotlight in The Fact of Fiction. · DWM pays tribute to the late Trevor Baxter, who played Professor Lightfoot in 1977's The Talons of Weng-Chiang, with contributions from Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Christopher Benjamin, Lisa Bowerman and more. · A brand-new comic strip adventure continues for the Doctor and Bill The Parliament of Fear, written by Scott Gray and illustrated by Staz Johnson. · A sneak preview of the forthcoming book on the history of Doctor Who in the USA: Red, White and and Who. · Legendary guitarist Hank Marvin talks about his latest recording – the Doctor Who theme! · Previews, book and audio reviews, news, the Watcher's column, prize-winning competitions and much, much more.