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Digital Subscriptions > Doctor Who Magazine > The Essential Doctor Who 12: Time Travel > Readers of Time Examining some of the

Readers of Time Examining some of the

In 1962 BBC Television commissioned a survey of science-fiction literature. The findings of the report anticipated some of the time-travelling adventures in Doctor Who...
Imagining the cover of a magazine called ‘Amazing Science-Fiction’ in November 1963.
The August 1953 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction included the story The Cerebrative Psittacoid by H Nearing Jr.

In March 1962 Eric Maschwitz – adviser to the Controller of Programmes, BBC Television – requested ideas for a science-fiction drama series from the BBC Script Unit. The second of the resulting documents was a list of works for possible adaptation – one novel, one collection of connected short stories, and five short stories – compiled with comments by Script Unit members John Braybon and Alice Frick. The report fed into the discussions the following year that led to Doctor Who. None of the stories were copied by Doctor Who, but the report showed some of the ideas which had been current in science-fiction in the previous 20 years, including telepathy, disparity of scale, and time travel.

All the stories had first appeared in American science-fiction magazines in the 1940s or 50s. Some are only distant cousins to Doctor Who. The Cerebrative Psittacoid by H Nearing Jr, for example, was a 1953 satire about a parrot of artificially enhanced intelligence who seeks an appointment as a professor of Italian. Eternity Lost by Clifford D Simak (1949) envisages a future where the ruling elite have their lives artificially prolonged by bodily regeneration, but its centuries-old protagonist is a self-interested politician.

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About Doctor Who Magazine

The Doctor has always challenged the linear conception of time. Since his television voyage began in 1963, the TARDIS has travelled backwards, forwards and even sideways through the mysterious Vortex. This lavish publication traces the development of these time-bending narratives, describing the rules that were laid down – and subsequently revised – by the series’ writers and producers. We unravel this timey-wimey journey with exclusive interviews, rare images and revealing features that explore the most intriguing corners of the Doctor Who universe.