It’s amazing what you can stumble upon in the darker recesses of the Radio Times Photo Archive. Recently I found a stash of Doctor Who images – a whole file of colour transparencies – and, to the best of my knowledge, they’ve never been published before.
They were taken 20 years ago on a hot weekend in August 1996 at Longleat House in Wiltshire.
The country house was a natural home for fans of the Time Lord. For almost 30 years from 1974 to 2003 it hosted a Doctor Who Exhibition of costumes and props from the series. In 1983, it staged the BBC’s 20th anniversary Doctor Who Celebration weekend, which brought the county to a standstill.
In 1996, however, the Doctor Who Appreciation Society was celebrating its own 20th anniversary and 30 years of the Cybermen, who had debuted in Doctor Who in 1966. And on Sunday 18th August 1996, Radio Times dispatched photographer Jamie Hughes to record the day’s events.
The wonderful Nicholas Courtney, who had played Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart in nearly 100 episodes since 1968, posed gamely with the Cybermen. They then participated in a mini-drama set within the grounds.
The sketch was written by John Nathan-Turner, the famous producer of Doctor Who throughout the 1980s. He larked about for our photographer with some items that were up for auction. Fans also gathered to display their memorabilia and original costumes from the series.
Topping the bill was Tom Baker. Looking relaxed and happy, and not sporting his fourth Doctor togs and scarf, he turned up in a 1930s Daimler and was soon giving autographs to a long queue of admirers.
If you were at Longleat that day 20 years ago and recognise yourself or your friends and family in the photos, please let us know.
Photographer Jamie Hughes. All photos copyright Radio Times Archive.
Patrick first joined Radio Times as a teenager in the black-and-white days of 1984. A career in journalism led to ES Magazine, Time Out, rival TV guides and Doctor Who Magazine. The Tardis returned him to RT in 2005, since when he’s been reviewing Nordic noir and Sicilian vice, saucy sitcoms, the BBC Proms and the further adventures of the Time Lord. He lives in the Smoke but prefers a sea breeze.