Fan FX
The Doctor's Affect

Author Steve Cambden Cover image
Publisher Fan FX
Published 1999

Summary: A behind the scenes look at special effects from someone who was there.


A Review by Richard Radcliffe 1612/02

I had had this book on my bookshelf for months. It stayed there unread, one of those books that I would get round to reading eventually. I am not the kind of person who buys everything relating to Who, but this one looked good - if a little detailed in an area I wasn't massively interested in (SFX). I went to a Convention recently, and one of the slots was taken by Steve Cambden. Apparently he has built up quite a reputation for his slide shows showing the "behind the scenes" action of Doctor Who. He proceeded to show his slides, and I was totally enthralled. For an hour I was hooked. Pictures and Videos of Tom Baker and respective companions came before my eyes. But this was off camera, and showed a world that was mysterious and sacrosanct.

I returned home with a stack of new books that I vowed to read someday, and took The Doctors Affect from the shelf, where it had lain abandoned. I began to read about this Dr Who fan who got to work on the show. What a fabulous book! Like the slide and video show at the Convention I was fascinated by the behind the scenes carrying on. Tom Baker took on a whole new personae, as did all the people who worked on the show. I began to find out about the workings of the show during the 17th and 18th seasons.

The book is wonderful for its behind the scenes tales. But it is even better for its rite of passage for a Doctor Who Fan. Steve Cambden was blessed with the chance to work on his favourite show. He shares that enthusiasm with the reader in a wonderful way. This is not a book about showing off. Steve Cambden isn't a man who we should be jealous of, just be glad that he wants to share the experience with us. Most fans would have jumped at the chance, however small, to work on the show. Steve Cambden had that chance, he took it - and he tells us all about it.

Whilst much of the book is wish-fulfillment (he has nothing bad to say at all about Tom Baker, who consistently amazed him), there is also a fair bit of reality thrown in. At times things didn't quite turn out so well. He had to work extremely hard at times too - and you just knew the whole thing wasn't going to last. K9 after all didn't last beyond Season 18.

For those who don't know, Steve Cambden became K9's Assistant Operator during the 17th Season. His experiences working on the show began at Destiny of the Daleks. It is hardly the most brilliant season on offer, but his refreshing honesty shows up everything as it is. Often it is the worst shows that turn up the most funniest and interesting stories. There's also stacks of new insight here about every story from Destiny onwards. There's goings-on no one else could have seen. Thanks to diaries Steve Cambden kept at the time, these insights are all there.

The book is dense in its wordage. Every page is crammed full of information and stories. The text is supplemented with drawings of props and models. Steve Cambden built his own monsters before he joined the show, and very good they are too. There's an impressive number of colour shots inserted in the book too. You may think the extra price (I got it for 8.00) is excessive, but this is a book with more in - the value for money is very good indeed.

The book is not just about the Behind the Scenes Doctor Who, or even about the dream coming true of one Fan. It is about the effect Dr Who had on someones life. It evoked feelings of contentment within me, that I could share in somebody elses experiences of the show. We all have them. They probably won't be as close to the action as Steve Cambdens, but they are still important to us. DW isn't just a show we like, it's a show that has had a very positive Affect on all of us, as fans.

Steve Cambden's experience is unique with regard to Doctor Who. He actually worked on the show after all. But we all have hundreds of thousands of ways that Doctor Who has affected us. It's great that one man wanted to share those effects - and I for one am richer because of the experience. 10/10