The Five Doctors

1 March 2008

When I designed my cover for the original 'Five Doctors Special Edition' DVD release, I was disappointed that the best copy of the photo of Peter Davison I wanted to use was a fairly small image from the web that, despite much touching up, still looked rather ropey. This was compounded when, some time after, I found a far better and larger copy in Peter Haining's 'The Key to Time' book which I'd had all along. So part of me has been longing for this inevitable release of the transmitted version of the story so that I could redo the cover with a good photo of the Fifth Doctor in pride of place. I was also never that happy with my attempt at making the other four Doctors appear carved from stone, or the fuzzy photo of the Dark Tower I'd had to use - basically I'm glad to have an opportunity to do a completely new cover for this milestone story.

So what to put on it? Well, with a story called 'The Five Doctors' you really have to put five Doctors on there! But my style is to feature the major villains or monsters of a story, which in this case is either loads or one. Trying to squeeze in five Doctors, a Dalek, Cybermen, the Master, Raston Robot, maybe a Yeti was, I figured, just going to look a mess. Alternatively, focusing on Borusa would not only give away the ending (which I'm not too bothered about as anyone using my covers is going to know all the twists anyway) but, more significantly, I had no decent quality photos of him. So it looked like the best option, as before, would be to feature just the Doctors and the Dark Tower (of which I'd also found a better quality image). The bad guys get their look in on the back cover instead.

Should I then just try to recreate the carvings of my original cover, hoping that my improved skills since then would produce a better result? I wasn't keen on the idea, but how else to incorporate the Doctors in an interesting design without them just being lined up across the bottom of the cover? In the end the answer came from a decision relating to a different aspect of the cover altogether. I hadn't included my usual numbering system on my original cover because it was for the Special Edition rather than the transmitted version (and besides, I never bought it, trusting that the 'proper' version which I preferred would be released one day), so in its place on the front cover I'd featured the 'ice-cream-cone' Time Scoop. In the back of my mind was the notion that when it came to the cover for the transmitted version, I'd replace this with the the original black trapezoid Time Scoop. In the event, however, I decided I wanted to have some sort of numbering on the new version, if only because I would be using this one and wanted my spines to be consistent. So where could I put the black Time Scoop? And that's when the idea of having the first four Doctors caught by the Time Scoop and spinning around the Dark Tower formed. Rather than having them flat within the trapezoid shape, as in the programme, I wanted a more 3D effect, so had their heads projecting beyond the edges, as though trying to escape from their captivity. The Tower itself took some work, as I had a large, if slightly soft, black-and-white photo of the model, and a colour but much smaller copy of the same photo. So, rather like the re-colouring of the Pertwee episodes, I cleaned and sharpened the b/w image then magnified the colour version to the same size and used that, though now very fuzzy, as a colour layer, tidying up any colour bleed around edges.

As regards the numbering, well my request for people to let me know whether they preferred '20:7' or '20:A' on the spine and front was a very close call...two votes each! And one of those was mine. So either no one uses my covers or you're all indifferent. I thus gave my vote more weight and went with my preference. Ben and Mark, thanks for emailing me, and if you'd still like yours to say '20:7' let me know and I'll do you your own exclusive covers.

Download the final FIVE DOCTORS cover here

Return to Updates page