‘Blue Box Boy’ (Book)

‘BLUE BOX BOY’

Please feel free to comment on my review.

Inside The Book – The Boy With The Golden Star

Tim Bradley has decided to write this review in the third person.

This is how Matthew Waterhouse wrote his memoirs of ‘Doctor Who’ in his book, ‘Blue Box Boy’. Tim really enjoyed this book by Matthew Waterhouse who played Adric in the ‘Doctor Who’ TV series. Tim purchased the book at the ‘Regenerations 2011’ convention in Swansea which was in September 2011.

‘Regenerations 2011’ was the first time Tim had met Matthew. Tim asked if he could buy the book from Matthew and Matthew said yes. Matthew signed the book for Tim as well. Tim enjoyed meeting Matthew at that convention for the very first time and eventually had a photo shoot session with him.

Tim chatted with Matthew about his book and enjoying all his adventures from the TV series from ‘Full Circle’ to ‘Earthshock’. Tim also asked Matthew whether he’d be doing some Big Finish audios in ‘Doctor Who’ with Peter Davison, Sarah Sutton and Janet Fielding. This did not occur during that time.

Thankfully nowadays, Matthew has done a number of Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’ with Peter, Sarah and Janet. This includes ‘Pyschodrome’, ‘The Star Men’, ‘The Contingency Club’, ‘Zaltys’, ‘Iterations of I’, etc. Tim is happy about this, thinking he’s partly responsible changing Matthew’s mind.

Adric is a ‘Doctor Who’ character not well-liked by fans. Tim has sympathy for Adric since he enjoyed his adventures in the TV series and felt he was badly treated by writers. Tim became aware of this autobiography by Matthew on his experiences in ‘Doctor Who’. He was intrigued to have a read of them.

Tim was glad when he met Matthew, got to buy the book and get it signed by him at the same time. It took a while for Tim to read Matthew’s book. But eventually he read it during the middle of 2013 where he had a chance to read each episode of the book over some months. He found it very engaging.

Published in 2010, Matthew has written his book in four episodic parts. This matches to the four-episode structure done in ‘Doctor Who’ stories during the classic days which is really nice. The episode titles are: ‘An Unearthly Child’; ‘Technocothaca!’; ‘Forth To Doomsday’ and ‘Survival’. Very catchy too!

Matthew covers his experiences of ‘Doctor Who’ from working with both Tom Baker and Peter Davison in the TV series. Interestingly and rather strangely, Matthew has written this book in the third person. One wonders why he didn’t write it in the first person. It’s a bizarre and odd approach to write a book.

Writing it in the third person makes Matthew rather detached as if he’s not part of the story personally. It must have been challenging for him to write all of the book by simply referring to himself as Matthew. Tim has his troubles writing in this review on Matthew’s book in the third person already.

Matthew has written a number of novels for Hirst Books in the USA, so he has a knack of writing such prose in that style already. But it’s an interesting approach to write an autobiographical account in the same manner. It’s unique, but Tim would have preferred it Matthew wrote the book in the first person.

The four episodes of this autobiography are well-structured. Firstly there’s a prologue where we have Matthew auditioning for Adric and producer John Nathan-Turner telling him with a friendly wink he’ll let him know soon enough. This is a really interesting way to hook the audience into Matthew’s world.


1. ‘AN UNEARTHLY CHILD’

In the first episode, Matthew depicts his early years as a ‘Doctor Who’ fan to becoming cast as Adric in the TV series. Tim found this part of the book very interesting and enjoyable to read. Matthew fondly recounts how he became a fan of the series at an early age, reading the first three Target novels.

These Target novels of ‘Doctor Who’ include ‘Dr Who and the Crusaders’; ‘Dr Who and the Daleks’ and ‘Dr Who and the Zarbi’. Matthew goes on talking about his school days and how he collected merchandise like cereal toys; music records and chocolate bars having ‘Doctor Who’ story cards inside.

Matthew also talks about reading ‘Doctor Who’ comics and how he created his own called ‘Kroton Comics’. Tim has tried to find these comics online, but sadly they’re out of print. 😀 Matthew also goes into talking about his love of music and Kate Bush. It was fun for Tim to read these nostalgic memories.

Towards the end of the episode, Matthew recounts getting an office job at the BBC before getting cast in the public school boys’ serial ‘To Serve All My Days’. Tim especially felt he could relate to Matthew having fond memories being this young fan. This was a pretty friendly part of the book for Tim to read.

Tim didn’t know Matthew very well as much as he knew Sarah Sutton. So it came as a surprise to Tim when he found out Matthew was gay. Initially he assumed Matthew wasn’t gay which goes to show how naïve Tim is. He had to adjust, but this was a really interesting side of Matthew for Tim to discover.


2. ‘TECHNOCOTHACA!’

The second episode chronicles Matthew’s experiences of working with Tom Baker and Lalla Ward in the TV series. This is probably bound to be the episode that will arouse readers’ interests. Matthew goes into length on how he considered Tom to be one of his heroes, watching the TV series back then.

This leads to how Matthew’s preconceptions of Tom were shattered when he worked with him. Matthew depicts his naivety and how uncomfortable he felt when Tom was in foul moods and having arguments with Lalla during the making of the TV series. Tim really felt for Matthew during that period.

From reading this book, Tim also felt Matthew should have left things unsaid including Tom’s tantrums and being drunk from going to the pub. Matthew also reveals his discomfort in working with Lalla Ward. He talks about how sometimes there was friction between the two when working on the series.

But at least Matthew is being honest in his memoirs and does give a balanced view on both Tom Baker and Lalla Ward as actors. By the way, this book contains some strong language where it concerns Tom Baker and anyone else using foul language in this story. The author is no exception for this book either.


3. ‘FORTH TO DOOMSDAY’

The third episode has Matthew depicting his experiences of working with Peter Davison, Janet Fielding and Sarah Sutton. Tim likes how Matthew illustrates the comfort of working with Peter compared to his rough experiences of working with Tom. Season 19 after all is Tim’s favourite part of ‘Doctor Who’.

Matthew does go on about being intimated by Janet during the TV series and mentions her smoking habits. But at least Matthew says nice things about Sarah in the book. Tim liked it when Matthew tells the tale of when he, Sarah and Janet had a ride in Peter’s brand-new car who drove it into the country.

The drive in the country anecdote with Matthew, Sarah, Janet and Peter is an example of the camaraderie shared between these four. Matthew also shares his working experiences with actors such as Phillip Locke, Michael Robbins, Richard Todd and Simon Rouse. Some are good; some are not.

Matthew also gives his account of the ‘drinking too much’ incident during the location filming of ‘Castrovalva’. It’s interesting how Matthew recounts this incident from his point of view and you feel sympathy for him as he writes it in the book. Tim could feel for Matthew in the embarrassing situation.


4. ‘SURVIVAL’

The fourth and final episode of this book has Matthew recount what life was like after working on ‘Doctor Who’. He talks about the conventions he attended and doing karaoke/cabaret with Jon Pertwee in the 1980s and 1990s. This would have been the conventions that were held a lot in the USA.

Matthew also talks about the DVD commentaries he’d recorded with Peter, Sarah and Janet. Tim liked it when Matthew talked about Sarah sitting in her garden and drinking a glass of white wine. This is something Tim can imagine Sarah doing in her life. Tim wishes that he sat with Sarah in her garden. 😀

What was most fascinating for Tim to read in this episode was how Matthew continued watching ‘Doctor Who’ until the end of its classic run in 1989. He didn’t watch ‘Doctor Who’ when the new series came back in 2005. It was when he had chanced upon a new series episode called ‘Planet of the Dead’.

Tim had asked Matthew if he was still a fan of the TV series when he first met him in Swansea. He said he was. Not much is talked about any other work Matthew did in the theatre. If there was, Tim couldn’t spot it. Matthew does talk about writing his books in the USA which was so interesting for Tim to read.


The book ends on an epilogue where Matthew takes a photograph of a family outside a police box somewhere in England, which was a very interesting way to end his memoirs. It only lasts for one page. It’s interesting how Matthew reacted to the family wanting to have a photo outside a police box.

There is an audiobook provided for ‘Blue Box Boy’ and is read by Matthew Waterhouse. But Tim didn’t purchase the audiobook to listen to the background whilst reading the book because it was an abridged version. Tim would have preferred an audiobook to cover the entire book from start to finish.

Tim has enjoyed reading these memoirs of ‘Doctor Who’ by Matthew Waterhouse in four episodes. ‘Blue Box Boy’ is an insightful and intriguing read. It’s full of nostalgia and memories by Matthew recollecting his time working on the TV series. There should have been things left unsaid by Matthew.

But Tim enjoyed learning more about this young boy fan who wanted to be in the TV show he loved so much. Tim wonders whether Matthew hopes to adapt his book into a TV serial since he wrote his memories in four episodes. This could be something on the lines of ‘An Adventure In Space and Time’.

This is great book chronicling Matthew’s life as the Blue Box Boy.

Tim Bradley now wants to read an autobiography by Sarah Sutton next! 😀

‘Blue Box Boy’ rating – 9/10


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6 thoughts on “‘Blue Box Boy’ (Book)

  1. Timelord 007

    Fantastic review Tim, as much as i adore Tom Baker I’ve not heard good comments from anybody who worked with him on season 18 & i think Tom was wrong in his attitude towards Matthew & should have helped him overcome his inexperience but instead was in a foul mood throughout production.

    Something else i didn’t enjoy was the Kinda commentary it seems Peter was belitting Matthew, ok Matthew told Richard Todd how to act but he was about 18 at the time he was young, inexperienced & a co star on a massive tv show, we live we learn we let our experience teach us & reading this book i must admit i had a lot of respect for Matthew & his recent reprisal as Adric at Big Finish have been a joy to listen too.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Hi Simon.

      Glad you enjoyed my review on ‘Blue Box Boy’.

      Yeah it is a shame that Tom Baker wasn’t the greatest person to work with on Season 18 of ‘Doctor Who’. I appreciate that he was unhappy about leaving ‘Doctor Who’, but I agree he should have helped Matthew in his inexperience whilst working on the TV show.

      I don’t think Peter Davison was being mean to Matthew about his teaching Richard Todd how to act. I think it was friendly banter during the commentary. But I get what you mean. Going on and on about it can be a rather annoying especially for Matthew who might feel embarrassed by it as well as the drunk on ‘Castrovalva’ incident.

      I’ve enjoyed seeing Matthew at conventions and his return to the Big Finish audios of ‘Doctor Who’ has been a joy to listen to.

      Hope you’ve enjoyed my review in the third person as well.

      Thanks for your comments Simon.

      Tim. 🙂

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      Reply
  2. helenofvulcan

    So, because she is a horrible copycat, Helen has decided to follow the examples of Mr Waterhouse and Mr Bradley, and write this in the third person. She rather liked the style of this when reading Blue Box Boy. She hasn’t read many (auto)biographies, and most of the ones she has read aren’t about famous people, but interesting ones, nonetheless – and she was gratified to discover that Matthew Waterhouse has led an interesting life besides his tenure on Dr Who.

    (Unlike poor Mr Bradley, Helen isn’t struggling with the third person, although she does find the switching between present tense and past uncomfortable. It’s probably because she writes most of her fiction in third person, including ‘me’ characters, and the only oddity is the name.)

    The biggest drawback she found with reading Blue Box Boy in third person was the lack of emotion it elicited. At one point (minor spoiler), Mr Waterhouse thinks he might have been handed his notice… but his feelings aren’t described; he isn’t shown as worried or upset, relieved or glad. He simply states his thoughts. The other effect of this distance was to imply a greater honesty; the lack of ‘I / me / my’ meant the account came across as more factual and less about opinion. Although Mr Waterhouse seems scrupulously fair (admitting his own shortcomings and pointing out when otherwise unpleasant people are nice to him) Helen is wondering how far his opinion has informed his memory of these events and the third person narrative has deprived her of clues.

    In some places, this seems deliberately factual and cold when Mr Waterhouse recounts personal events which ought to have elicited an emotional response. It’s almost as though either Mr Waterhouse failed to provide an interviewer with a recitation of his feelings on the subject… or the interviewer really didn’t care about them. Helen doesn’t believe this was the intended impression, but is otherwise unsure what to think about it.

    She was gratified to find Mr Waterhouse being self-deprecating without being a martyr. He struck a good balance with this – he laughs at his assumptions and admits his naivety; he states when he got things wrong, and how much of the blame is his own fair share. He is good-humoured about the embarrassing costume crisis of Castrovalva and his early fanboying. Having done a little fangirling herself, Helen finds this more worthy of sympathy than sneering since Mr Waterhouse approached it with grace.

    Helen enjoyed Part One. As an army brat living abroad, she had no opportunities to collect any merchandise described, so enjoyed reading about someone in a better position to do this. A lot of it echoed her own obsessions with various TV fiction and different music, so she’s glad to find she isn’t alone in this.

    Although not afraid to admit to a healthy sense of schadenfreude, Helen read Part Two with more interest than pleasure. The discomfort of the behind-scenes of Dr Who in the later Tom Baker years was already known to her, and she found herself feeling very sorry for Mr Waterhouse as he became more and more disillusioned with his dream job. She was glad to see this didn’t destroy the humorous approach in Blue Box Boy, though.

    Still, she read Part Three with real disappointment. As the first Davison season is her favourite, and Davison her favourite Classic Doctor, Helen hoped for the same level of detail and the same number of anecdotes as part two. But Mr Waterhouse suddenly came across as reluctant; here is where the lack of emotion REALLY told. He treats the death of Adric dispassionately, although Helen is aware from other sources that he was upset by it. She understands the hurt caused by (SPOILER!) the parallel of his brother’s suicide, so the coolness is understandable, but – well, she also feels this is the price one pays for writing one’s autobiography.

    Since Helen didn’t know much about what Mr Waterhouse did after his time on Dr Who, she started Part Four with the same interest – and enjoyment – as Part One. She is more aware of the lack of ‘personal touch’ than ever, though; in Part One it was very much a case of “putting away childish things” and she didn’t expect great depth of feeling, and Part Four is written with more animation and less chill than Part Three, but there is little mention of exactly what he did; when did he decide to do some original writing? What about his first experience of getting a book published? He travelled a lot, apparently, but where and when? He did a lot of theatre work, but playing which part in what plays?

    In other biographies Helen has read, even if she didn’t have very much interest in the author, she has gone away feeling as though she has met them. She feels she knows Mr Waterhouse LESS now than when she started reading… and is weirdly saddened by that.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Tim sends his greetings to Helen. He’s very pleased to hear from her again.

      From reading her comments, Tim is pleased that Helen enjoyed Matthew Waterhouse’s memoirs in ‘Blue Box Boy’. It’s been a while since Tim read the book, but he greatly enjoyed Matthew’s memories of making ‘Doctor Who’ with Tom Baker and Peter Davison as Adric. Tim also appreciates the thoughts made by Helen about what she thought of Matthew’s book in its four episodes.

      Tim is currently wondering if Helen has seen ‘The Doctors: The Peter Davison Years’ DVD which contains Matthew’s ‘Myth Makers’ interview. He also wonders if she’s looking forward to Matthew’s ‘Watchers’ audiobook from Big Finish.

      Tim sends his thanks to Helen. 🙂

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      Reply
  3. helenofvulcan

    Helen sends Tim a cheerful wave!

    She does enjoy dropping in on Bradley’s Basement, and was reading ‘Space Hotel’ (her review of that is a WIP), when this notification appeared. However, she couldn’t resist engaging in some intelligent conversation with Tim over one of her favourite subjects. 😀 (She’s also sent him a ‘friend’ request on Facebook, but it’s just occurred to her that he might not realise that the Helen on Facebook is the same Helen from here.)

    Helen did manage to purchase the ‘The Doctors’ DVD, but alas hasn’t managed to watch it, yet! There’s a security stamp which doesn’t let her view it on her laptop, and she doesn’t get access to the TV very often 😦 She’s really looking forward to it, though, and is considering that it might jump the queue to before season 14 of ‘Supernatural’!)

    She’s certainly looking forward to ‘Watchers’ coming out. In fact, she might get this sooner than she thought since the cancellation of ‘Absent Friends’ means her next batch of Big Finish purchases will probably be when ‘Watchers’ is released. Blue Box Boy made her curious about Mr Waterhouse’s writing, so she’s currently reading ‘Precious Liars’; it’s not her usual genre so she can’t approach it with any kind of expertise. So far, she’s finding it very weird, but is really enjoying it, nonetheless – Helen likes having new experiences.

    Helen also needs to thank Tim for putting together this website; it’s brightened up her last year considerably. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Tim Bradley Post author

      Tim sends a cheerful wave back to Helen. 😀

      He hopes she’s currently enjoying ‘The Space Hotel’ and looks forward to her review on it. 🙂 Tim has also responded to her Facebook request and says thanks. He hope she’ll enjoy ‘The Doctors’ DVD when she gets a chance to check it out. Tim is currently sad about the news of ‘Absent Friends’ being cancelled as he was looking forward to hearing David Tennant in a ‘Torchwood’ audio.

      Tim is pleased Helen is enjoying ‘Bradley’s Basement’ and that it brightened up her previous year considerably.

      He wishes Helen well. 🙂

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