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Throwback Thursday: 10 Amazingly 80s Doctor Who Adverts
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Doctor Who has always been a marketing dream – a time machine, lovable characters, an iconic central figure and dozens of aliens, monsters, spaceships and planets – the merchandise almost makes itself! The show has given birth to some quite stunning and fantastic pieces of memorabilia over the years, some great merchandise and iconic spin-off events…. And some not quite so spectacular.

So join us as we take a trip down memory lane this Throwback Thursday, looking at 10 adverts from the 1980s, some things our older fans may remember, some they’ll want to forget and for our newer fans, a look at what they missed.

How many do you remember?

1: The Doctor Who Pencil Case, 1982

Starting off small with the essential item for every Doctor Who loving school child, the TARDIS pencil case didn’t come cheap, £2.99 equating to £10.25 in today’s money… all for somewhere to stick your pencil!


2: The Official Peter Davison Doctor Who T-Shirt, 1983

Pity this poor Cyberman, he seems confused. You can almost see the tears in his metal eyes over his longing for Peter, hoping that one day he might reciprocate his love… but no. Doomed to a metal existence.. just him and his T-Shirt.

ROTJ1983 aug no10

3: The World of Doctor Who Target Poster, 1984

Not technically an advert but in the mid-1980s a mail-order promotion allowed readers to buy posters by post from W.H. Allen including a Dalek schematic, the “exploding Dalek” artwork from the Death to the Daleks novelisation, Jon Pertwee and Lynx from The Time Warrior, the two Cybermen in space artwork from Doctor Who and The Cybermen and “The World of Doctor Who” as pictured below.


4: The Doctor Who Fan Club of America, 1985

The successor to The North American Doctor Who Appreciation Society, The Doctor Who Fan Club of America (known as DWIFCA) was reportedly responsible for coining the term “whovian” through the publication of their newspaper The Whovian Times. They are now defunct.


5: The Doctor Who Role Playing Game, 1985

Published by FASA in 1985, the Doctor Who Role Playing Game consisted of a main set of three rulebooks and was followed by several separately published adventures and supplements for the game, which provided details about the Daleks, the Cybermen and the Master. It’s game mechanics were based on the Star Trek RPG also published by FASA.


6: The Doctor Who Cookbook, 1985

What can you say about Gary Downie’s seminal Doctor Who work that hasn’t been said before? or indeed, Gary himself? A missed opportunity for the booker prize perhaps? a work that will rival Mrs. Beeton in years to come? Gordon Ramsey before his time? no, perhaps not. Still, it was what it was, which is possibly the best thing we can say about it. That and there’s not a doable barker in sight. Not that we’d know what one looked like in any case!

DWM 101 COOKBOOK (1985)

7: Golden Wonder Marvel Mini-Comics, 1986

Remember when you used to get really cool stuff in packets of cereal and crisps as a kid? from bike reflectors and real money to Pogs and Tazos… but if you were very lucky you might get a mini-comic, like in 1986 when Golden Wonder teamed up with Marvel to give away six different Doctor Who mini-comics in multipacks of Golden Wonder. The strips were reprints from Doctor Who Magazine and featured the then incumbent Colin Baker as the Doctor but with several major differences, primarily that they were printed in colour and they were all reworked to omit the character of Peri.


8: Dapol, 1988

Hands up and show your age everyone who had these! Compared to today’s action figures, Dapol’s output was comically poor… yet they were Doctor Who and they were action figures. To our young minds, there was nothing greater in our little world… well, except LEGO and our Ecto-1 car from Ghostbusters. But still, the point stands, Dapol was to action figures what Target was to books.


9: Sevans Model Kits, 1988

Model kits… the bane of every parent’s life and the ruination of many a sofa, table or piece of clothing. Sevans models were a step above Dapol to be sure, baring a high quality resemblance to the subject… so long as you were adapt at glue and paint.. and not 10 years old. We had a movie Dalek that ended up looking like a cross between Dalek Caan and a large black phallus. It’s remains, now smashed beyond repair, lay in the attic… we hear it’s quite rare. Damn.


10: The Ultimate Adventure, 1989

Written by Terrance Dicks (we forgive him), The Ultimate Adventure was staged at twenty theatres around Britain, commencing 23 March 1989. Initially starring Jon Pertwee, the role was taken over by Colin Baker in June and Big Finish recorded an adaptation of the play in 2008, also starring Baker.



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About The Author
Michael East
Michael East is the founder of Doctor Who Worldwide. Best selling author, great statesmen, Ambassador to the Netherlands… Michael is none of these things. He was however named TIME Person of the Year in 2006 and 2011, is an award winning web designer and a comedy Marxist. He enjoys beards, retrogaming and classic TV. He is not a hipster.