John's first piece of "Doctor Who" memorabilia scared him so much he tried to destroy it! In fairness he was only four at the time. The collectable in question was the original "Making of Dr Who" book with Jon Pertwee on the cover. Those of you who are familiar with this particular title will know that creeping up behind the Third Doctor is a Sea Devil. Or at least there was until John took to blacking it out with his mum's permanent marker pen!
The fear factor continued when John discovered the BBC Exhibition in Blackpool. On his first visit he refused to walk down the steps in case the Giant Spider that was suspended above fell on his head. It's just a shame he didn't tell his granddad before he paid the admission. It was a couple of seasons later before John found the courage to venture inside. It was a day his Mum and Dad would never forget because once he had experienced it he practically lived there. For seven days (and nights if they'd let him) every Easter and August Bank Holiday week you would find John traipsing the creepy corridors, leaning against the TARDIS console and breathing in its magical atmosphere surrounded by foes and villains from the series. Life size Daleks rattling along on rail tracks, watched over by their evil creator Davros. And of course, everyone's favorite mechanical mutt, K-9 zooming in and out of the other exhibits. Each season saw a change in the displays and John kept a record of this with a carefully executed floor plan of the exhibition.
The content of each display case would be logged each year but like most kids it was the goodies on offer at the exhibition shop that drew John back time and time again. It was at this outlet that the majority of John's collection was amassed. Some items that remain include original posters, flyers, price lists, badges, annuals, jigsaws, mugs, Target novels and jewellery. John even bought a diamond logo t-shirt that was on display in a glass case in the exhibition for two years.
John became such a regular visitor that he was on first name basis with many of the staff. In fact Brian the doorman would allow him free access through the rear entrance and even offered to share his snuff with John! Back at home in Stoke-on-Trent the young John would spend hours building models to create his own bedroom exhibition.
John's collection today concentrates mostly on the Tom Baker years and he has had the good fortune to meet his hero twice. Once in 2000 at the Llangollen Exhibition and more recently at the Memorabilia show in November 2005
Recently John has been able to use his position as a Primary School Teacher to good effect by engaging pupils in their learning by studying "Doctor Who" and building a life size TARDIS in his classroom.
He also wrote to many past and present stars of the series who in return have sent photographs and good luck letters for the school display.
The most amazing response though was from actor Alan Ruscoe. Alan has appeared in two Star Wars movies and played most of the monsters in the new series of "Doctor Who". He came into school to talk to the children, show them original props and teach them drama skills. He even signed the TARDIS.
John was flabbergasted when Alan also presented him with an original draft of the "Bad Wolf" shooting script (entitled "Gameshow World!"). Camille Coduri (Rose Tyler's mum Jackie) also sent a signed Call Sheet from "Fathers Day". Two lovely pieces of memorabilia to be saved for future generations to enjoy. You can read more about this visit and see more photos at
John has also passed his interest in the series on to his son. Like most boys Elliot wanted his own TARDIS so during the summer break John got to work on a garden time machine. All for Elliot's sake of course!
Which just goes to show that this 45 year old programme still has the power to change lives!
John has written a e-book that is available online called "Penny Mix:The Story of 1975-1985". It is a mixed bag of Retro material and thoughts
about the past. http://www.paulrowley.com/pennymix.htm