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Doctor Who? (Antiques and Collectables)

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Everyone knows Dr Who — and his collectables have become as cult as the programme. Paula Hammond looks at the Who style

The Human League single 'Boys and Girls: featuring the track Tom Baker on the B-side, missed by many collectors when it was originally released in 1982. Officially valued at £10, this does change hands for well over £50

During the late summer of 1963, the BBC were busy putting the finishing touches to the pilot episode of what was to be a new a short-run children's drama. Filmed at Lime Grove Studios, on a budget of just £2,000, few of those involved in the days filming could have imagined that they were about to make TV history. Nor that the show they were filming would run for a record-breaking 26-seasons. The show was Doctor Who and, 40 years after William Hartnell made his appearance as the first ever Doctor, the program still enjoys world-wide cult status. This, despite the fact that it's been off-air for the last 14 years. In fact, with an ever-expanding range of merchandise available, fans and collectors of Doctor Who memorabilia have more choice now than ever before. So, whether you have a Who collection or are thinking about starting one, the only real problem is where to begin.

Theme it

Theming a collection is always a good idea. It makes it more saleable, as it's more likely to appeal to a specialist — and it helps keep the collection down to a manageable size! There have been seven TV doctors: William Hartnell; Patrick Troughton; Jon Pertwee; Tom Baker; Peter Davison; Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy — and over 30 'Companions', all equally memorable. No one, for example, could scream quite like Sarah Jane Smith. As a Companion to both Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker's Doctor, journalist Sarah Jane, played by Elizabeth Sladen, managed to shriek, squeal and screech through one episode of Doctor Who a week for three years. Growing up as regular Doctor Who viewer, I was constantly amazed at the power of Elizabeth Sladen is lungs. Later, warrior-savage Leela became one of my earliest feminist role-models. The boys seemed to like Louise Jameson's bikini-clad character too, although I didn't know why at the time. Then, of course, there were the bad guys. Daleks, Cybermen, Ice Warriors and the Doctor's ultimate nemesis, The Master.

With such a wide range of characters to choose from the obvious option is to theme a collection around a specific Doctor, Companion or Monster. Daleks are especially popular and very collectable. Prices start at as little as few pence for a dalek postcard. Around £25 will buy a mini-scale dalek from Product Enterprises, while £299 will get you a quality half-size replica from Mutant Mouldings. However, if you really want to push the boat out, then for £5,000 you can actually own an original dalek, as used in the show. Tom Baker collectables are also ever-popular, but if you're thinking of collecting for profit as well as fun then collectables which feature the earlier Doctors — William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton — tend to command higher prices.

Classic collectables

Doctor Who has appeared on an incredible range of merchandise, including pencil cases, badges, cereal packets, bookmarks and even bubble-bath. A lot of these items were given away as freebies; others were designed to have a very short self-life. For many Who collectors, its these 'throw-away' objects which are particularly desirable, because they're rare. If you're thinking about starting or expanding a Doctor Who collection, then such unique collectables make a good-sense purchase. Auctions and specialist web sites are ideal places to buy, but it's also worth checking out local jumble sales or charity shops, as old Doctor Who books, toys and vinyl records can still be found at rock-bottom prices. Especially desirable are complete jigsaws, badges and bumper stickers, such as the "I brake for daleks" sticker which was only released in the US; the Doctor Who projector show, complete with all 112 colour slides and the 1964 Go-Jones single I'm Going to Spend My Christmas with a' Dalek. Magazines and annuals are also a good buy, particularly editions of the Radio Times with Who covers. Editions from the 1960s, such as the William Hartnell Marco Polo cover from 1964 and the Cyberman cover from 1967, can fetch up to £300 each.

New Buys

The current interest in Doctor Who, fuelled by nostalgia and this year's 40th anniversary, has seen the release of some new and very desirable collectables, including poster prints, paper-weights, figurines, CDs, DVDs and trading cards. Unfortunately much of what has been created by BBC Consumer

Merchandising, although excellent quality, may never be of great value because its mass produced. So, if you're concerned about the future worth of new collectables, then hunt out companies who manufacture items under licence. The logic here is two-fold. First, because they're smaller, their output is limited. Big Finish, who produce a range of Doctor Who audio adventures under licence, for example, started out selling to a very small subscriber list. Consequently early adventures, such as Buried Treasure, are quite rare and can fetch £150+. Secondly, there's always the possibility that the company may lose their licence and stop manufacturing, which may be bad news for them, but good for the collector! This recently happened to Media Collectables who made a now much-sought-after range of Who figurines. Of course, there's no guarantee that today's new collectables may ever be worth the same as the original show merchandising. However if you buy carefully, buy quality — and, ultimately, buy what you really like — then you're guaranteed a fun and fulfilling collection.

Collecting Who isn't about money!

Robin Mills would like a new house just to store all his Who stuff

Publisher Robin Mills has been a fan of Doctor Who for as long as he can remember and now boasts possibly the biggest and most extensive Who collection I've ever seen. Sitting in his Wimbledon home, surrounded by figurines, models, videos, books and DVDs, Robin is obviously a man on a mission. "When I was young", he explains, "there was very little available for the fan to buy. So, I suppose you could say I'm making up for lost time! I don't buy everything - quality varies a lot with collectables - but I buy what I can. For me, collecting isn't really about money. I know collectors who see their collection as an investment; part of their retirement fund, but for me its just good fun." He's right - just looking through his collection raises a smile. He does own some very expensive and attractive items but much of it is pure nostalgia. Plus of course, having a Who collection brings with it a great social life, as there's always the chance to meet other collectors at shows, in-store events and fairs. So is still there anything he would like to own, but doesn't? What would be on his Desert Island Collectables list? He'd love to own a genuine dalek, although the replica that used to grace his living room (it was too big to keep) was actually in better condition than an original. A Cyberman helmet or a piece of the TARDIS - the Doctor's time machine - would be on his list too. But interestingly the items he'd really love to own include: all of the Radio Times Who covers, anything signed by Patrick Troughton or William Hartnell and the complete set of Weetabix Doctor Who cut outs with the promotional box from 1977. "Of course, there's more, but then," he smiles, "I'd probably have to get a new house to put it all in!"

6 buying tips

  • When buying Who collectables, the rarer, the better. If you're collecting autographs, then an actor such as Matthew Waterhouse (who played Companion Adric, 1980-1982) is a good buy because he rarely makes public appearances. Watch our too for short-run and limited edition items
  • Collections that appeal to more than one market, such as autographs, postcards, stamps, jigsaws or paperweights, tend to be easier to sell and often command higher prices
  • Some Who collectors will pay a premium for an item that completes a collection. So, when selling, its a good idea to look on the internet or in wanted adverts before approaching a dealer
  • If buying at auction, always set a budget to avoid paying over-the-odds, and never get into a bidding war unless you're prepared to pay more than an item may actually be worth on the open market
  • Always shop around before making a purchase and sound out other Doctor Who collectors — they know when something is a rip-off or a genuine bargain!

10 places to buy

Acme Toy Company

17 Station road, Erdington, Birmingham, tel: 0121 384 8835

Blue Crystal Collectables

Merry Hill Centre, Dudley, tel: 0794 125 8095

Corgi Classics

'Gold Star' stockists tel: 0116 282 6622

Galaxy Four

493 Glossop Rd, Broomhill, Sheffield, tel: 0114 268 4976

Mutant Mouldings Ltd

Unit 3 Market Street, Coalville, Leicestershire, tel: 01530 815077,

Product Enterprise Ltd

tel: 020 8570 5043

Tenth Planet

Unit 36, Vicarage Field Shopping Centre, Ripple Road, Barking, Essex, tel: 020 8591 5357,

The science fiction on-line trading site

Selling a range of cult TV collectables

Publishers of quality Doctor Who novellas

4 Who books

A Critical History of Doctor Who On TV

by John Kenneth Moiré. Published by McFarland & Co, £58.50

Doctor Who 40th Anniversary: 1963-2003

by Justin Richards. Due to be published by BBC Consumer Publications in November 2003, £40

The Television Companion: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who

by David Howe and Stephen Walker. Published by Telos Publishing, £14.99

Transcendental Toybox

by David Howe and Arnold T Blumberg.

A new edition of this comprehensive Who price-guide will be available from Telos Publishing in November 2003.

Also visit


Daleks by Louis Marx, 1965. On sale at Christie's on Oct 15, estimated at £200-£300

Dr Who with his Tardis and two of his opponents, Giant Robot and Cyberman, by Denys Fisher. Sold at Vectis Auctions for £420

a painting by Andrew Skilleler/eaturing the Master, bought for 1.85 and signed by Anthony Ainlev who was the second actor to play The Master; valued at £20-C40

Sound Effects album featuring the Doctor's sonic screwdriver and the TARDIS door opening. Valued at around £15

Corgi Toys Dr Who 40th Anniversary, issued in September 2003, priced at £23.99, featuring the main characters in the TV series

"Brain of Morbius" by Terrance Dicks and Robin Bland, bought for 95p, current value £4-£10

Play against the Doctor with this Denys Fisher board game

Cover of the BBC Doctor Who video release of "The Invisible Enemy'; signed by cast members Bob Baker and John Leeson, worth £10-£15

Patrick Troughton autograph, 1982 — a signed photograph of Patrick as the Doctor is generally worth more than a generic image and prices range from £40-£100

Collector Robin Mills with actress Nicola Bryant who played Doctor Who Companion, Perpugilliam Brown, 1984-1986

Far left: Limited edition commemorative cover to mark Doctor Who at the Stamp Show in 2000. Signed personally by all of surviving Doctors, with facsimile signatures of the others, valued at £100+

Left: Signed photo of Louise Jameson as Leela, 2003. Valued at £20-£30

Spelling correction: Elisabeth Sladen

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