Of course, now that the book is a real physical object, you can’t help but find mistakes. Neil Gaiman’s law is that the first thing an author sees when they open a new book is a typo. That hasn’t happened to me, but I have had my humility get a little bit of a thumping…
ECW Press put first 10-15 pages of the book on their website to read. Of course, this is the part of the book where a) we introduce the book and what we’re doing and b) attempt to write the 26 year history of the Classic Series in 2200 words or so.
Cue a number of fans pointing out that the Doctor Who Prom video, Music of the Spheres did air on BBC1. (To which I respond “No, the Doctor Who Prom aired. Music of the Spheres was part of that live presentation.” I suspect I’m going to be having that argument for a very long time…). That’s fairly minor.
But what really did hit me like a knife was when a friend said to me “You didn’t really mean to say Sydney Newman was responsible for Coronation Street?”
Oh. My. God.
It’s there on page xi: “Under Newman’s watch at ITV, shows like Coronation Street...became unqualified hits at ITV”.
Oh bugger. No, I did not mean that. Sydney Newman didn’t have anything to do with Coronation Street. ITV was a loose confederation of different television networks; Newman worked for ABC (Associated Broadcasting) and Corrie was produced by Granada.
In writing the book, I simplified it a little and talked about Newman working for ITV as opposed to ABC because the book was being written primarily for a North American market, where such distinctions would be meaningless (heck, one editorial note I got back was “You mean there’s more than just the BBC?”), especially as today all those networks have been more or less subsumed into ITV anyway. I have no idea where my head was at, but somewhere in the writing and editing process (possibly even before the book was submitted) I (and it was me) managed to come up with the howler that Coronation Street was Newman’s doing.
I suspect, originally, I was probably trying to get at the influence he had. Newman brought kitchen sink drama to ABC (in part from Canadian television) and that influenced a lot of TV which he had nothing to do with, including, I would argue, Corrie and Z-Cars. But that’s not what I wrote. I have no idea how that got there. I’ve been researching Newman’s work at CBC and elsewhere for over a decade. What a goof to make.
Fortunately, it’s been changed to Armchair Theatre in the eBook, so if you read by Kindle or iPad you’ll never see it. And in future printings we’ll change it as well.
We’re quite proud of our knowledge of Doctor Who and had a lot of knowledgeable people look at it as well but this goes to prove that even in spite of these things there will be something amiss, and Doctor Who fans are so darn smart they’ll spot it. But, as a friend of mine pointed out, that’s true of even the really exquisitely researched Doctor Who books as well.
Even so, I suspect I’m going to be in a foetal ball for the next six months…