The Time Meddler

9 February 2008

Like many, I suspect, I first saw 'The Time Meddler' when it was repeated in 1992 and thought it a cracking little story. With an off-air recording I never bothered buying the VHS release, though, so I'm very glad to get a pristine copy with this DVD (well, as pristine as the existing recordings can be made, but that's more than good enough for me). I mention this as the cover for my off-air tape became one of the first I ever made, back in the days when I was a mere Photoshop novice (see right - click to enlarge). As you can see, I adopted several elements of these video sleeves when I came to design my DVD covers, and in particular the compositions of the illos for the two 'Time Meddler's are pretty much the same. I had originally planned to use the same photo of Peter Butterworth, with him peering from behind a bush, but switch the background to an outside scene to match, using the set shot of the outside of the monastery, and probably getting a Viking longboat in somehow. In the event, I found the photo of the Monk peering round a column more appealing and better quality, which required the background to revert indoors, and thus I returned to using the shot of the sarcophagus/TARDIS. As it transpired, Clayton's official cover was set outside, so I'm glad I went the way I did.

As usual with the black-and-white stories, colouring the photos took the most time, while expanding the area of the background shot to fill the cover - mainly adding more steps and floor in front of the sarcophagus - required much duplicating and blending. The photo of the Doctor was the best quality one I could find, but it's such a much-seen shot I was a bit reluctant to use it. I also felt the Monk's habit was a rather 'empty' black area. I tried to give him a wristwatch but couldn't get it to look right, so gave him a scroll to hold instead (near right). This filled the space and didn't look too bad, but I decided my discomfort really came down to the shot of the Doctor. What I really wanted to use is the photo on the back cover, as the angle he's holding the Viking helmet at would fit the space more neatly, but it was such a bleached-out shot there wasn't much detail, particularly in the face. However, to satisfy my curiosity, I had a go at colouring it. The result was rather iffy, as I'd suspected it would be (far right), so I reverted to the original shot, also eventually dropping the scroll too as I felt it drew the eye away from the Monk's face. Basically I ended up where I'd started! Oh well, if you don't try these things out you end up wondering forever whether you could have done better.

Download the final TIME MEDDLER cover here

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