Doctor Who: 'The monsters fired my creative brain up'

By Mike Liggins & Pete Cooper
BBC News, East

Published
Image source, Mike Liggins/BBC
Image caption,
Colin Howard drew artwork for Doctor Who and other sci-fi TV show and books

The artist behind many pieces of classic Doctor Who artwork said it was watching the show as a child that "fired up my creative brain".

Colin Howard, from Norwich, created artwork for the show's VHS covers, magazines, comics and novels.

For the last 10 years, he has been living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and has now compiled a book as a "pictorial record" of his work.

The artist said drawing was always "a great creative, artistic escape".

Image source, Colin Howard
Image caption,
Artwork on the VHS Doctor Who releases Frontier in Space, The Five Doctors and The Sea Devils were created by Colin Howard

Towards the end of the 1990s, digital artwork became more common on VHS and DVD covers - and Mr Howard moved into other work.

But he was able to return to the Doctor Who franchise to work on the releases of animated versions of lost episodes.

He said: "As a kid I always liked the Ray Harryhausen films, I had a thing about monsters.

"In Doctor Who almost every week there was a new monster to scare you as a child and it just fired my creative brain up.

"I used to love to sketch them down and do my own versions of them and it's just something that kept me very busy."

Image source, Mike Liggins/BBC
Image caption,
Colin Howard said he found detailing more difficult after his MS diagnosis

A book of his artwork comes out later this year and is named Timeslides, after an episode of the sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf, which was another show he produced artwork for.

He said he was surprised when fans got in touch to say "how much my art means to them, it is just something I never considered would be possible".

The artist said his MS diagnosis "originally wasn't such a problem".

"It mostly affected my legs - but I had a tingling sensation in my hands and low-level numbness," he said.

"That's increased more and more, my hand is shaking, it's getting more and more difficult to do intricate fine work, I'm dropping things a lot," he added.

Professional work had "gone out the window", he said, but he would continue to draw and paint.

Image source, Mike Liggins/BBC
Image caption,
Colin Howard was able to create his own monster designs when working on some of the Doctor Who novels

When describing the condition, he recalls one Doctor Who episode he designed a VHS cover for - The Five Doctors.

After one of the Doctors is "scooped up by a time scoop", actor Peter Davison "clutches his chest and says 'part of me is ripped away like a melted iceberg'", he said.

"That's how MS feels. You're used to doing things and suddenly you can't anymore."

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