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The Tapezine Matrix is researched, written, designed, maintained and Copyright © Alan Hayes.

Doctor Who is Copyright © BBC Television. No attempt to infringe the BBC's copyrights is intended.

Ray Phase Shift

Place of Origin:
Salisbury, Wiltshire, U.K.

Editor:
Nick Goodman (#1-11, 14);
Keith Musselwhite (#12);
Andrew Candish, Gareth Brownbill (#13)

Distribution Media:
Audio Cassette

Tape Lengths:
#1: C60;
#2-13: C90;
#14: C90 x 2

In Production: 1989-96

Issues Produced: 14 (plus documentary)

Those Forgotten Wacky and Tacky Days

As the tape medium lies on its death bed, it seems it has no end of confessions to disclose. Among the line of tapes and fanzines in Doctor Who fandom winning awards and still talked about to this day, one production never really hit the front line. Perhaps it was too embarrassed to. It’s originator, none other than I, had no concept of sound quality (ask any of my peers!), dignity, no contacts and not even any idea who to sleep with to get his creation noticed! Here then is my journey from being a lonely minority voice in fandom to my taste of tapezine immortality: Rayphase Shift - the tapezine time forgot to buy...

I was a gangly specimen who, having admired Doctor Who since the mid 70s, was finally prompted to join the DWAS in April 1980 at the tender age of 11. However, in the event of Graham Williams as producer, the word 'Appreciation' (for 'twas in the acronym DWAS) was redefined most unfortunately to my dismay and confusion. After all, I had rather enjoyed The Horns of Nimon! As I became enraged, a startling metamorphosis occurred...

Catty Comments...

I became familiar with the concept of the fanzine and vowed to start one of my own. My first attempt lasted a page. A couple of years later, I bought my first tapezine. Entitled simply Dr. Who: Tapezine and produced by Mr. David J. Howe, this seemed to be an idea no one had thought of previously and audio recording was a great passion of mine. Why don’t I try my hand at one of these? One problem - all I had was a pile of crummy audio recordings. My infamous (and now fortunately non-existent) effort, Ergon, featured a Season 20 review topped up with the vocal talents of the household cat.

The journey went on and a couple of foolhardy fanzines actually published my work (Yetaxa and The Grand Order’s Timelines). In the listless summer days of 1988, myself and Warren Langdown, a veteran of the Salisbury local group (a kind of teenage Scarlet Pimpernel with a UNIT fixation and an interesting attitude to borrowing things) looked to start a new local group and together we sought to start a fanzine (sound familiar?). It didn’t get past the name.

Rayphase Shift was a title I suggested, but this was rejected by Warren. With my mates Keith Musselwhite and Paul Chandler also starting tapezines, the crunch came in the summer of 1989. I just had to get on with it!!! I left DWAS to its loud opinions and found a suitable soapbox at last…

The Nightmare Begins...

I was the governor on this, so I chose the title - Rayphase Shift (a stand-out piece of technobabble from Pip and Jane Baker’s last episode of The Trial of a Time Lord - I luuurve technobabble!). With a few stories of tape, a jack lead, a veteran of another tapezine around the corner (Andrew Candish) and only a C60 with which to put the world to rights, I set to work. One asthma attack, a catch phrase (“From the depths of my millionaire luxury recording studio in Los Angeles - adieu!” - such sarcasm!) and a crap cover (the first of many) later, the first RPS (as it became known) was created.

Distribution at this stage was mainly to friends only but reaction was positive. Then Warren was heard to say, “When is Issue 2 coming out?”.

This was a question that threw me as I had assumed that, after 60 minutes of my whimsical subversion, I would be in the stocks. RPS 2 was swiftly commissioned and the elements that made the tapezine unique began to take shape. There was Double Duds, a vindication of two Doctor Who turkeys (labelled wrongly, so cried the RPS team), which often defended the undefendable. There was the regular use of Richard Addinsell’s Southern Rhapsody as the adopted theme. There was the team: the biting, weary zaniness of Keith Musselwhite (veteran of many tapezines himself), the whimsy and wurlitzer of Andrew Candish, the intellectual and witty Andrew “Trowby” Trowbridge, the off-the-wall Paul Chandler and Peter Davison’s faithful devotee, Elaine Bull.

Each issue came with its own theme. Not for us a Doctor special or an Ace special. The themes were as off-the-wall as the presenters were: eccentrics, time and complexity, music, the Traken football team (not guilty - I didn’t do that issue!) and even anti-matter all had their own issues.

Come As You Are...

The aforementioned “luxury millionaire recording studio in Los Angeles” was of course, in reality, my own bedroom in West Harnham, Salisbury, where most of the recording took place. The tape recorder I used was basic but resilient, and the sound system I used to supply the music was less than a year old but was clapped out already (a display model). Subsequently there were a lot of jokes about the sheer cheapness of it, even for an amateur production. We stepped this up in later issues, getting deliberately cheaper as we went, sometimes merely impersonating clips and even backing music! The humour that came from this became the RPS calling card and was a team effort.

As this retro-technological oddity was advertised in CT and the likes of TV Zone, favourable comment was heard from Joe Fandom. On hearing RPS 4, Gary Russell told Andrew Trowbridge (a key influence on the tape) that we needed help - and he meant it (RPS 4 did - there were some unforgettably dull moments!). However during its run, it enjoyed three good reviews in CT. During 1990, it acquired the self-inflicted slogan, “It’s Wacky and Tacky” - a catchy and honest legend. Alas, this caused confusion in later issues. Upon reading adverts, people would ask me for copies of “It's Wacky and Tacky Rayphase Shift”.

Pick of the Post...

I found a flip side to “fame” however. In the course of my editorship of Rayphase Shift, I was faced with a letter from someone believing themselves to be the Giant Robot; an attempt to arbitrarily hijack the cherished (if proudly naff) artwork covers; a request for a job from a professional artist who believed my production was to feature pages of lavish artwork (I was a shop worker on minimum wage, for crying out loud!); a snooty Star Trek role player who refused to reveal his first name and deserted us after Issue 6, for our being too silly. And who could forget the American gentleman who paid in springs (in reference to a quote from Dudley Simpson) and a cheque for all previous issues that didn’t even cover the conversion fee! On the upside, America, in the form of Rachel Sinclair and Brian Hunt, provided some wonderfully game features and I cherished their involvement. I only wish I could have held onto them till the end of the run.

Neil Hogan of Doctor Who 2000 emerged from Australia and we worked on each others creations. From the North came Tony Darbyshire, whose brilliantly funny writing proved very popular. To this day, I have never met him. If you’re reading this Tony, you were great!

RPS was undoubtedly influenced by the other tapezines I had bought (Sonic Waves and UNIT Tapezine in particular) but it was principally about having some fun with the show and the friends that came from it. We all sent each other up something chronic, producing what I came to call a “round the camp fire” atmosphere. It was also about celebrating the uncelebrated. I had a sub-mission to champion the Williams era that I had seen so maltreated on my entry into fandom. Fandom’s attitude to it changed somewhat by the end of RPS’ run. I have always said that I didn’t start the revolution. I was the little guy at the back of the crowd who said it might be a quite nice idea.

It's The End, But the Moment Has...

My turning point came in late 1993, when I attempted a decidedly surreal review of Planet of Evil with an interactive commentary on my cowardly activities upon viewing as a child in 1975. The room filled with the sound of shrugging shoulders. It occurred to me I may have at last gone too far down the zany, whimsical road for my troops. I decided enough was enough. Keith and Andy Candish volunteered to run issues of their own (which they did admirably) but I knew Issue 14 was going to be it for me. With hindsight, maybe I had just said my piece and it was time to move on. Silliness was never really an issue as my comrades were getting as surreal as I - Andrew Candish had blurted out the wonderfully absurd, “I couldn’t be bothered to read the music from the novelisation, so I went home and got it!”.

On announcing RPS 14 was finito in October 1995, Paul Chandler said to me sympathetically, “Yes, there are only so many ways that you can say The Invisible Enemy is great”. That neatly summed it up. Most of us had other projects to get on with by then.

Andy Ching, a regular follower of RPS who had joined the team late on, filmed large portions of the recording of the final issue and eight years later, produced an excellent documentary on Rayphase Shift which captured it all up perfectly.

In this documentary, I am seen on my bed, being interviewed while I fiddle nervously with a balloon. Meanwhile, my cat (who, years before, was the highlight of Ergon) looks up from licking his balls and stares at the sight in utter bemusement. That was RPS all over. The ability to laugh at oneself.

Nick Goodman, Editor, Rayphase Shift

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