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Dr Who Fan
Dr Who Fan

The long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who has developed a large fan base over the years.


Doctor Who fans are sometimes referred to as Whovians, most often by the press. The usage was more common among fans in the United States during the 1980s, when the Doctor Who Fan Club of America
(pronounced by members as Dwifca - now defunct) published the Whovian Times as its newsletter.


The earliest known use of 'Whovian', outside of the 'Whovian Times', is from Flaming Carrot Comics issue number 19 (circa 1988), when Flaming Carrot leads a combined group of Trekkies and Dr. Whovians into rebellion - note the now deprecated usage of 'Dr.'.


Doctor Who
fans have had a formally recognised organisation — the Doctor Who Appreciation Society (or DWAS) — since the late 70s. It has thousands of members and enjoyed an ongoing relationship with the classic series and later with BBC Worldwide.


The Australasian Doctor Who Fan Club was founded soon after DWAS, in 1976, to galvanise resistance to the decision of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to cease broadcasting the programme (and was ultimately successful in having the decision overturned). The club President also edited Zerinza the club fanzine, until 1986. In the 1990s the club was renamed several times, today being the Australian Doctor Who Club which publishes a newsletter, "Data Extract". In the 1980s, some US fans staged "Save Doctor Who" publicity campaigns, trying to urge their local television stations to keep airing the show.

The North American Doctor Who Appreciation Society was founded in the 1980s and served as an umbrella organization for dozens of local fan groups throughout the country. Its demise in the early 1980s led to the foundation of the Doctor Who Fan Club of America, and later the Friends of Doctor Who. FDW ended unceremoniously in the mid 1990s, and since then, American Doctor Who fandom has been served mostly through local fan clubs. Major established organizations that continue to this day include the Prydonians of Princeton (New Jersey), Time Meddlers of Los Angeles (California), Doctor Who New York and the Gallifreyan Embassy of Long Island (New York), and the Guardians of Gallifrey (Florida). Other prominent fan groups have included the Unearthly Children (Pennsylvania), Friends of the Time Lord and UNIT (Massachusetts), T.A.R.D.I.S. (Arizona), the Legion of Rassilon (Northern California), Emerald City Androgums (Washington state), Motor City TARDIS (Michigan), the St. Louis CIA (Missouri), Space City Time Lords and the International House of Daleks (Texas) and the Chronicles of Who (Illinois).

The Doctor Who Information Network (DWIN) was founded in Canada in 1980 and continues to serve fans in North America. It was one of the first Doctor Who clubs in North America, and is the longest running Doctor Who club on the continent. DWIN supports the monthly Toronto Tavern fan gatherings. DWIN also sponsored several local chapters throughout Canada.

The New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club (NZDWFC) was founded in 1988 and continues to remain the country's major fan support group. They publish a fanzine, Time Space Visualiser (TSV), twice-yearly.

Many Doctor Who conventions are held worldwide. In the United Kingdom, the long-running (though occasional) Panopticon convention has been held to great fanfare, including marking the series' fortieth anniversary. Other popular conventions of the past include the Manchester-based Manopticon and the Swindon based Leisure Hives and Honeycomb. More recently, the company 10th Planet has held conventions such as Bad Wolf, Dimensions and Invasion. Wales-based Regenerations has had great success of late, as have other signing events held on the Strand by London-based Scificollector.

In Australia a variety of events (half day "parties," or full-scale conventions) have been organised, many "Whoventions" being held in Sydney by the Doctor Who Club of Australia (or its precursor), and by some other clubs in various states. The high cost of travel and small population base makes it hard to pay for many of the stars, so many events have been organised at short notice during any visits by a star, or other person linked to the show, such as Jon Pertwee (1980), Peter Davison and Janet Fielding (both 1983).

North America's first events were based in Los Angeles in 1979 and 1980 with Who One (featuring Tom Baker). Soon followed an enormous convention heyday during the 1980s in the Chicago area with the Spirit of Light events, which attracted many thousands of fans due to the show's popularity on public television. In the late 1980s other events such as Omnicon and Megacon showcased the classic series. The 1990s saw a decline in major events, though Chicago featured the relatively large-sized Visions events throughout the decade, and the popular Gallifrey One convention began in Los Angeles. As of 2009, Gallifrey One and the ChicagoTARDIS convention (Visions' successor) continue, with the annual Sci Fi Sea Cruise featuring Doctor Who guests departing from different ports each year. In addition, Massachusetts' New England Fan Experience (formerly United Fan Con) hosts guests from the series; and startup events exist in the form of Georgia's TimeGate Atlanta (begun 2008) and Florida's Hurricane Who (begins 2009).

Perhaps the first form of organised fan activity was around fanzines - unofficial, homemade magazines celebrating the series. Generally these were typed, with hand-drawn illustrations, with the occasional photograph, and were usually photocopied or duplicated in small quantities. One of the first "'zines" was TARDIS, around which the DWAS was organised. In Australia, the national Doctor Who Club was similarly established around the 'zine Zerinza in 1976 (to 1986), then its newsletter. "Data Extract" (from 1980 to today). Other zines from the first decade of fandom included Gallifrey, Oracle, Skaro, Shada and Frontier Worlds.

When video recording was in its infancy, much of the content of the first fanzines was devoted to documenting plots and characters. The success of Marvel's Doctor Who Weekly (later Doctor Who Magazine - DWM), providing a professional source of reference, meant that fanzines began to move to concentrate more on opinion - fan reviews of stories, debate, and
letters. In these pre-internet times, most fanzines had active letters pages, which were the main conduit for debate around Doctor Who, especially with geographical spread of so many fans. The need to find new, original content meant that fanzines began to look closer at the series, subjecting stories and characters to ever-deeper analysis. Nerdish to some, for many this was one of the key aspects of fanzines, providing detail and discussion unavailable through more "official" channels.

As technology developed, so did fanzines. A move from photocopying to offset litho printing in the early 1980s allowed the bigger selling fanzines to improve print quality, although lower-circulation titles continued to use photocopying for many years after this. Bath-based Skaro was one of the first fanzines to be professionally typeset, but by 1990 desktop
publishing
allowed most editors to do their own typesetting, with some achieving professional results.

The mid 1980s has been described by some fans as "the golden age of A5 fanzines", as this period saw an explosion of activity, particularly in the UK. Although the enthusiasm of some editors could not be matched by their resources and many fanzines failed to see a second issue, some of the most popular zines appeared then, including Queen Bat, Star Begotten, Paradise Lost, Spectrox, the Black and White Guardian, Cygnus Alpha, Five Hundred Eyes, Eye Of Horus (in print between 1983-85 and online since 2004) and Purple Haze (edited by Steve O'Brien, later of SFX Magazine).

Format seemed to play a disproportionate role in how a fanzine was perceived, with divisions appearing between the cheaper-looking A5 fanzines and the glossier, more professional A4 "pro-zines" such as The Frame and Private Who. The news-zine DWB (later Dreamwatch) managed to straddle this divide, sometimes controversially, combining a professional A4 magazine format with some of the anarchism and disrespect for authority of the underground.

To a large extent, today fanzines have been replaced by websites, podcasts and discussion boards, but a few do still exist. Many of them are published by fan clubs including the DWAS zine Celestial Toyroom, (which is the latest version of a number of DWAS fanzines which began with the fanzine TARDIS in the 1970s), the New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club zine Time-Space Visualiser (TSV) which has been in existence since 1987, and the DWIN fanzine Enlightenment which has been published six times a year since 1983. Other individuals and groups still produce fanzines as well such as the highly popular, British-based, Black Scrolls Magazine, which has the distinction of being professionally printed and entirely in colour. Black Scrolls was the first prozine to offer a multimedia CDROM on its cover in 2005, featuring interviews with actors, Who-related art, a back issue archive and an alternative voice-over commentary for one of the episodes. Many fanzines still take the time-honoured route of printing and distributing their zine by mail, but many now distribute their fanzine as downloadable and printable PDFs - finally removing what was often the main cause for a fanzine's closure, the cost of printing and distribution.

Many professional Doctor Who writers, for both the current TV series and the books, began their careers writing for fanzines, including Paul Cornell, Rob Shearman, Matt Jones, Marc Platt, Gareth Roberts, Clayton Hickman, David Howe and Stephen James Walker.

Dr Who Fans typically dress like anyone else, in trainers, jeans, and maybe a Dr. Who T-shirt. There exists a music genre called Timelord Rock ('trock') which is basically a DW version of Wizard Rock, but most fans don't know of it or listen to it regularly. An alternative is to listen to music FROM the show, such as the theme tune, which is what the majority of them do.

Info from Wikipedia, except the last paragraph whic is by me. Image from Deviantart.

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