Tim Bradley’s Video Memories

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Hello everyone! 🙂

This is a response to the documentary ‘Lies, Cheques and Videotape’ which was released on the ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ DVD in ‘Doctor Who’! I enjoyed that documentary so much as it was an interesting and insightful look into how fans saw classic ‘Doctor Who’ stories through the videos.

I really admire those fans that went through the 1980s ‘to get their fix’ on ‘Doctor Who’! It must have been an exciting and gruelling time for the fans that went through the various methods to get hold of classic ‘Doctor Who’ stories from the days before they were born and to watch them.

Weeks after I saw the DVD documentary about ‘Doctor Who’ videos, I met one of the fans who had been interviewed in that documentary at the ‘Regenerations 2010’ convention in Swansea, September 2010. His name was Paul Jones and he happened to be a steward at that convention.

I enjoyed chatting with Paul about his involvement in the documentary and his memories of ‘Doctor Who’ videos. I shared my memories with him about video recording during the 1990s and it was interesting to compare his memories of mine from both the 80s and 90s perspectives.

I will be sharing my thoughts about the points addressed in the DVD documentary. But first, I would like to share some of my memories about watching and recording videos when I was a kid. It was a happy time for me when I was growing up and it’s very amazing that things have changed since then.

These days we take DVDs and Blu-ray for granted. But in those days during the 80s and 90s, it’s astonishing that we were using VHS tapes and video recorders to watch the things we wanted to watch. I was excited by the videos and video recorders that I didn’t think we would get to the DVDs.

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My earlier memories of watching videos were with ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’. I was so into ‘Thomas’ as a kid before ‘Doctor Who’. I enjoyed re-watching the ‘Thomas’ videos that we had at home and I was always looking forward to seeing the next video that my parents would buy me!

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I also watched videos of other children shows that I enjoyed from my childhood. They included ‘Sooty’; ‘Fireman Sam’; ‘Postman Pat’; etc. I’m so gobsmacked that I watched those TV shows when I was a kid and I kept re-watching them again and again on video and TV as I grew up back then.

I remember when I was watching those children’s videos, I used to be scared by the video idents shown at the beginning. This included the BBC Video Idents from the 80s and 90s as well as The Video Collection idents. The YouTube video below contains some of those video idents that I recall very vividly.

I can’t remember the first video I recorded from the TV. But I do have happy memories of recording episodes of ‘Power Rangers’ and ‘Beast Wars’ onto videos. I was really into those action-packed TV shows as a kid and I recorded the episodes to enjoy and watch now and again.

I was very excited whenever ‘Power Rangers’ and ‘Beast Wars’ had their own VHS releases. I remember that I wanted to watch Season 3 of ‘Beast Wars’, but I couldn’t get to see it on TV. Then they announced that ‘Beast Wars’ Season 3 would be released on four VHSs and I was delighted.

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The ‘Power Rangers’ videos were interesting. Most of the videos released were compiled together into feature length films. For example, five episodes of a ‘Power Rangers’ story made up into two and a half hours of screen time. I was so excited from watching the ‘Power Rangers’ videos!

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I also recall that my parents and I were lent videos of the ‘Fawlty Towers’ series by Nana and Bamp in Newport. I was rather young at the time and I enjoyed re-watching those ‘Fawlty Towers’ episodes on VHS. Those were the original VHS releases of ‘Fawlty Towers’ from the 80s!

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Also I saw a number of ‘Dad’s Army’ episodes on VHS when I was young. These were VHS releases featuring ‘The Very Best of Dad’s Army’. It was long before I would watch all of the ‘Dad’s Army’ episodes in the complete DVD box set. This was the same with ‘Terry and June’ too!

Anyway that’s enough video memories from me! It’s time to talk about the DVD documentary about ‘Doctor Who’ and videos on the ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ DVD. I didn’t watch ‘Doctor Who’ as a kid in the 90s, since my parents never bought me the videos that were released back then.

It’s probably just as well I didn’t watch ‘Doctor Who’ on video as a kid, as I would probably have been too scared or ended up being a spoilt brat from watching them. 😀 I was amazed by how videos and video recording had developed a lot from its inception right through the 80s and 90s.

First of all, I was aghast by the prices that videos cost in those days from the 80s and 90s in that documentary. Videos in those days cost at about £10! I wasn’t aware of the price range for those videos and it’s probably why I didn’t have so many ‘Thomas’ videos when I was a little kid. 😀

I was intrigued that repeats were rare for ‘Doctor Who’ during the 80s. I’m sure that many fans relished watching ‘The Five Faces of Doctor Who’ season and recorded the stories on videotape before they were wiped. I recorded lots of episodes over used-tapes and I wiped other shows in the process. 😀

I was also fascinated that fans in the UK saw ‘Doctor Who’ episodes recorded on VHS by fans in Australia. It’s astonishing that the BBC weren’t willing to release ‘Doctor Who’ stories on VHS so readily and so speedily before ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ was released in 1984 on BBC Video.

I sympathise with those fans that had to cope with the varied picture quality of the videos being recorded with ‘Doctor Who’ episodes on it. I sometimes had videos with poor picture quality on it. By the time my video player was dying, those videotapes got damaged with some scratches. 😦

It was also interesting that fans were surprised by the lack of black-and-white stories of ‘Doctor Who’ with William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton, as some were missing from the BBC Archives. Many of those ‘Doctor Who’ episodes have been found over the years and some have been animated.

I found it amusing when fans compared the Target novelizations of ‘Doctor Who’ to the actual TV episodes with certain differences. I enjoyed chatting to Paul Jones about his comparison between ‘Frontier in Space’ and ‘The Space War’ novelization with how the Ogron’s pet monster had appeared.

I’ve never entered the black market and purchased pirate copies of films and TV shows that I wanted to see. I’m amazed that fans from the documentary went to those great lengths to see the ‘Doctor Who’ episodes by pirate video collectors. I’m sure the picture quality wasn’t very good.

‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ is interesting as the first ‘Doctor Who’ story to be released on video. It must have been exciting for fans to see the video, albeit compiled into 60 minutes without the episode endings. The packaging of the video looks interesting with the wrong Cyberman on it! 😀

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I saw some ‘Doctor Who’ videos at a friends’ house in England before seeing them on DVD. They included ‘Terror of the Autons’, ‘City of Death’ and ‘Planet of Fire’. It was intriguing to see those stories on that format. I’m sure fans were thrilled when the videos were released during the 1990s and early 2000s.

Nowadays VHSs have been forgotten and are replaced with DVDs and Blu-ray. It’s extraordinary to think that I was watching and recording VHSs during the 90s and it has now become extinct. There is more availability with the DVDs with superb picture quality and lots of special features.

Looking back, I have very happy memories of watching and recording my favourite TV shows and films onto VHS. I would like to re-live those happy memories again and enjoy re-watching ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ videos again. But then I’m so happy I can now see my favourite TV shows and films on DVDs!

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

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5 thoughts on “Tim Bradley’s Video Memories

  1. Thanks for the nostalgia trip Tim, i remember buying the vhs videos of Doctor Who from Woolworths i think it was two releases a month & i also remember hiring Revenge Of The Cybermen from the video rental store & i think back then it was edited down to 60 minutes.

    I remember going to Merry Hill & finding the early Doctor Who videos i couldn’t get locally & thought my Christmases had all come at once as i brought , The Krotons, Seeds Of Death, Time Warrior, Terror Of The Zygons, Talons Of Weng Chiang for a fiver each.

    Yes the picture quality wasn’t up to DVD or Blu ray standards & we had to rewind the tapes lol oh & none of this skip to a chapter nonsense it was fast forward the tape lol.

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  2. Thanks Simon.

    Glad you enjoyed my nostalgia trip about the videos.

    Thank you for sharing your memories about purchasing the ‘Doctor Who’ videos from Woolworths. It must have been really exciting for you to see these classic ‘Doctor Who’ stories for the first time when you were young. Oh really?! I thought ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ was 90 minutes, not 60. That’s rather shocking! You don’t get the complete experience of the story reduced to that length! 😀

    Wow! Five ‘Doctor Who’ stories for a fiver! That’s a good bargain! Those must have been pretty good stories for you to watch back then with ‘The Krotons’, ‘The Seeds of Death’, ‘The Time Warrior’, ‘Terror of the Zygons’ and ‘The Talons of Weng-Chiang’ all in one go!

    Yes, I recall having to do that too with rewinding the videotapes back to the beginning after watching it all the way through. I remember waiting on tender-hooks for the video to go back to the beginning when I was wanting to re-watch it again.

    Many thanks Simon. Glad you enjoyed this!

    Tim. 🙂

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  3. The first revenge of the cybermen was released in 1984 in a 60 minute format it got a second rin 1984lease in one full length 90 minute release minus cliffhangers in late 80’s & then got another vhs releaee in 1999 in the 4 x episodes format.
    I remember seeing the 60 minute version available to buy which was a rarity back then for £30 In 1984, £30 for a 60 minute video.

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  4. Yikes! £30 for a ‘Doctor Who’ video! I couldn’t afford something like that if I lived back in those days! Did the video sell well for a price like that?! 😀

    Is there a reason why ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ was the first story chosen to be released on BBC Video?

    Thanks for the tidbits of information of when ‘Revenge of the Cybermen’ was released on video and what the formats were for each release in terms of length. It sounds very interesting how they managed presenting each ‘Doctor Who’ story in various forms.

    Talking of nostalgia trips, here’s a link to my music presentation from last month with the ‘Spider-Man’ and ‘Star Trek’ theme songs you asked for – https://bradleybasement.wordpress.com/2016/12/27/tims-nostalgia-trip-music-presentation/

    Thanks again for your comments, Simon.

    Tim. 🙂

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  5. Cheers Tim I’ll enjoy that, I think DWM did a poll & Revenge was chosen, it must have sold well because The Brain Of Morbius was released but I don’t know how far apart it was a few years I think.

    Yeah £30 for a edited Doctor Who story, the video retail market was non existent back then it took off around 1987 cause thats when I started collecting all the bond films which was up to A View To A Kill they were £15 each.

    I remember hiring it from video shop, remember they hardly repeated the stories on tv so I seen many of early Doctor Who stories for first time on vhs.

    You see I’m taking trip back to the 80’s now arh nostalgia.

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