Meet the Wigan man with possibly the biggest Doctor Who memorabilia collection on the planet!
When it was announced in 2016 that Lily Connors of Pontypridd was the newly crowned Guinness world record-holder for the biggest collection of Doctor Who merchandise, Brian Mattocks almost choked on his Sonic Screwdriver cocktail.
For the Wigan mega-fan reckons that he can far outstrip the 6,641 items currently owned by the Welsh schoolgirl.
The trouble is that, after 41 years of amassing stuff, there is so much that he doesn’t know where to begin cataloguing it all.
Apart from some Dalek and Cyberman bubble bath in the bathroom, the Ashton 50-year-old manages to confine it to one rented room. But walk in and you are confronted by a colossal and bewildering array of Whovian merchandise.
Until Covid-19 struck, the archive has been Brian’s fortune through the performing arts and charity events. A frustrating battle with the condition sleep apnoea has prevented him for having a regular day job.
But the universe of the famous Time Lord is an all-consuming passion which, when he was being bullied as a youngster, he even credits with saving his life.
Brian says he does get ribbing from some quarters including friends about his hobby-cum-life’s work, saying: “They’ll say ‘where’s your Tardis, Brian?’ but I’ll just laugh it off.
“I never wanted children. This collection is my baby and I have watched it grow over the years to an incredible size.
“It is way bigger than the one belonging to the girl in the Guinness Book of Records, but I think I’ll struggle to prove it.
“I have been collecting since I was nine though and have just chased things down all over the world, from books and magazines to costumes and toys, rare records, posters and even food item packaging.
“I had a few items and had seen the odd episode when I was younger, but it was when I watched the serial Destiny of the Daleks in 1979 that I really got hooked and have never missed an episode since.
“There was also an episode of Nationwide which featured a boy who was the ultimate Superman fan who had all the merchandise, had the wallpaper, wore the pyjamas and ate off Superman dishes and plates and I remember thinking ‘I want to be like him only with Doctor Who.’ That helped to get me started too.”
Early acquisitions included a War of the Daleks board game and some 1976 Denys Fisher Action Man-type figures of the Fourth Doctor, the Tardis and a Dalek.
Since then the collection has ballooned to thousands of items, the monitoring of eBay being a particularly rich source of new acquisitions. And a few years ago the BBC did show an interest in it with a feature on its popular programme The Repair Shop.
Brian said: “Sometimes I get things for free, sometimes I have to pay quite a lot. I reckon the original Dalek board game from 1965 which I got for £100 was a real bargain because that would usually go for £400 to £500.
“But I do have my limits - mainly financial. I couldn’t afford for instance, original costumes from the series. They would be going for £600 to £700.
“I must’ve spent billions though over the years. I’ve got every DVD, every VHS, every novelisation and loads of other things from toys and models to Easter egg packages, magazines and annuals.
“I managed to get Jon Pertwee (the Third Doctor) to sign a copy of a record he brought out in 1972 and Fraser Hines (who played Jamie McCrimmon during the Second Doctor’s tenure) was flabbergasted when I produced his 1968 Doctor Who single for him to sign.”
But even Brian recognises that his collection is far from complete. There is always more to get hold of whether its an early 1970s Third Doctor packet of Sugar Smacks or his “holy grail”: a 1960s Dalek dressing-up costume.
“I do have a blow-up Dalek, though,” laughs Brian. Some people have blow-up dolls – I have a blow-up Dalek! Another pride and joy is my Doctor Who fruit machine. It’s a good job I have a very tolerant landlord who is a bit of a fan himself.”
So what is it that attracted, and still attracts him, to the world’s longest-running sci-fi show (soon to celebrate its 57th birthday)?
He said: “It is the sheer escapism of it all. I used to get bullied a lot when I was young, but Doctor Who gave me a way out of it all.
“If it hadn’t, perhaps I wouldn’t be here now.
“It’s also now become a nostalgic thing. And when you are a child your toys are more than toys – they are friends, so that hooks into the nostalgia thing too.”
That said he isn’t approving of recent changes to the show.
“I am struggling with the latest series because, by changing The Doctor’s gender, they have ruined the show.
“It caused a lot of upset among fans because it wrecked all the continuity that we’d been following since 1963.
“It even suggested that there have been loads of other Doctors before the William Hartnell incarnation (the First Doctor) which is a bit of an insult to his memory.
“I’m not a fan but it’s like when they suggested pulling up Coronation Street’s cobbles once. There was outcry because it wouldn’t have been the same.
“So I have recorded those latest series’ episodes off the telly and copied them on to DVD so I don’t have to pay for them in the shops. That’s my protest!”
But Brian will always be a fan. Back in the 1980s he persuaded an auntie – who was not very familiar with the series – to knit him a scarf identical to the one worn by the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) using the pattern from the official Doctor Who Knitting Book (yes, such a publication existed).
It was only once she had started that she discovered it had to be 20ft long. Gamely though she persevered through to the end.
“And one day Tom Baker actually touched it,” a delighted Brian said.