CONNECTED SOMEWHERE IN TIME: Doctor Who and Iron Maiden
13 September 1999
Being a television program that was seen by millions of people both
domestically in the UK and over seas, _Doctor Who_ as a popular culture
phenomenon eventually had the effect of finding itself adapted to other
elements of pop culture. But what might be one such example? Iron Maiden
is one of England's most successful musical groups having sold millions of
records at home and abroad and is recognized by most as an icon of the heavy
metal music scene. How the two British institutions are connected and
perhaps why is the focus of this discussion.
Iron Maiden is a rock band that formed in England in December of 1975.
The band was started by vocalist Paul Day, guitarist Dave Sullivan,
guitarist Terry Rance, bassist Steve Harris, and drummer Ron Matthews.
With their hard and aggressive sound, the band became a feature of the early
1980's, and later the 1990s, heavy metal scene. The band is most often
associated with and known for the use of their mascot a walking dead
corpse-like creature named "Eddie" who appears on the cover artwork of all
of their albums.
Iron Maiden underwent a number of lineup changes and by 1982 their
lineup solidified and then featured: Bruce Dickinson (vocals), Steve Harris
(bass), Dave Murray (guitars), Adrian Smith (guitars), and Nicko McBrain
(drums). In 1984 Maiden's fifth album "Powerslave" was released and
achieved great success reaching number two on the UK charts. This album
was immediately followed by a concert tour to support the new release. The
concert circuit was known as the "World Slavery Tour." It started in
Poland on August 9th of 1984 and finished in Irvine Meadows, California on
July 5th of 1985, after 190 concerts.
It was during Iron Maiden's touring in 1984 that viewers saw the end of
Peter Davison's years as the Doctor and were introduced to the sixth
incarnation of the Doctor played by Colin Baker. By Baker's second season
in 1985, while Iron Maiden was still on tour, the show at that time came
under critical attack for being too violent. Claiming this increased
level of violence, but mainly because of mounting economic concerns within
its organization, the BBC decided to cancel the Doctor Who program at the
end of that season. The program would in fact return in fall of 1986 but
not until fans endured an eighteen month hiatus.
In early 1986, during the show's absence from the television screens,
Iron Maiden returned to the studio to produce their sixth album which
featured a futuristic theme. The band's first offering, released before
the new album itself, was the single entitled "Wasted Years" which debuted
on September 6th, 1986; coincidentally the same day as the return of _Doctor
Who_ to television screens in the story "The Trial of the Time Lord (Part
One)." Unique to the single was that its cover artwork, by artist Derek
Riggs, featured a TARDIS in an orange vortex flying past some Dali-esque
broken clocks. The foreground of the painting featured the inside of a
spaceship with time-travel controls that appeared to be chasing the TARDIS
back in time. The face of Eddie, the band's mascot, complete with a
cybernetic enhanced eye, could be seen as a reflection on a computer screen
of the ship that was following the TARDIS. To see the cover of the
"Wasted Years" single click here. To see a close up of the vortex and a
better look at the TARDIS click here. EMI records, the band's label, also
released a picture disc of this artwork that featured the spaceship controls on
one side and the TARDIS vortex on the other side. To see a picture of the
picture disc click here.
A few weeks later, on September 29th, 1986, Iron Maiden released their
sixth album titled "Somewhere In Time." "The whole concept behind the
new Maiden album was, of course, one of time, space and time, and how to
survive it if you can." This futuristic theme was evident by the songs
on the album, which include a song title taken from the science fiction book
"Stranger in a Strange Land" by Robert A. Heinlein. Likewise, songs
such as "Caught Somewhere in Time," "Wasted Years," and "De Ja Vu" all
seemed to center around the concept of time as often used in science
fiction. But perhaps best known for bringing forth the theme of the album
was Derek Riggs's cover artwork. It was perhaps best described:
Most memorable of all, however, 'Somewhere
In Time' also came with one of Maiden's best
album sleeves ever: the ubiquitous Eddie
shedding his mummy's bandages to return as a
cross between the bad Arnie from The
Terminator I and something from Captain
Kirk's worst nightmare. The scene: some
strange hybrid world where Ruskin Arms (the
East London pub where Maiden played in their
early days), the Long Beach Arena (where
they recorded 'Live After Death') and
several other places and names from Maiden's
past, present, and presumed future have
seemingly been transported to the set from
Blade Runner-all presided over, of course,
by Eddie the laser-wielding time-cop. 
The cover in fact featured a great number of science fiction references to
include, the figure of Batman, the Tyrell Corporation from "Blade Runner,"
as well as a building named "The Asimov Foundation." Most interesting to
album's wrap around cover is the appearance of two Doctor Who references on
the back side. The first is appearance of the TARDIS once again, this time
standing on top of the Rainbow Hotel building. The second is that the
painted figure of drummer Nicko McBrain is wearing a black T-shirt that has
written on it "Iron What." While it should be argued that this is not a
direct Doctor Who reference, the words "Iron What" are white on black and
stacked much like the neon logo of the T.Baker/Davison/C.Baker era, and also
features the Doctor's trademark question mark underneath it. To see
the full wrap around cover of the Iron Maiden album "Somewhere in Time"
click here. To see a close up of the TARDIS click here. The close up of the
"Iron What" T-shirt was too small to be scanned but can be seen rather well
on the full sized album cover.
This artwork would have all been done during the Doctor's hiatus from
television. So at a time when the future of Doctor Who seemed as it might
be in doubt, Iron Maiden as a band showed their support for the show by
including references to it on their album and single covers. As the case
was, the show returned to the air at the same time that they released their
next single and album. But are the band members really fans of the show, or
was this just an attempt to include yet another sci-fi reference to the
cover of their album?
The band it seems are genuine fans of the program. It turns out that
vocalist Bruce Dickinson's childhood and love of science fiction had a great
impact on his decision to go into music. The band's biography elaborates on
Even though the amount of time he was
actually allowed to watch it was rationed,
as a child "telly" would prove to be a
crucial factor in the way Bruce's interest
in pop music would develop. His two
favorite TV programs when he was growing up
were Jukebox Jury--the original pop TV quiz
show in which a panel of famous guests would
be asked to review a smattering of the
week's new releases, voting them either a
"hit" or "miss"--and Doctor Who, the weekly
saga of a time-and-space traveling "Doctor,"
and his long-running battles against such
futuristic, alien enemies as the Daleks and
the Cybermen. "I always watched Jukebox Jury
because it was on before Doctor Who, on a
Saturday night," he explains. "So Jukebox
Jury and Doctor Who became inseparable in my
mind. The excitement of seeing The Beatles or
whoever on Jukebox Jury was kind of similar to
the excitement I would get out of seeing the
Cybermen on Doctor Who. They were both from
a different world to me.
Bruce Dickinson's love for Doctor Who seemed to go beyond simply being a
viewer when he bought a Dalek prop during an auction as well. It is
doubtful that the other members of the band disliked the show if the artwork
of the TARDIS appeared on the album cover. Iron Maiden member Blaze Bailey,
the vocalist who for a time replaced Dickinson, also confirmed that he
watched Doctor Who.
It turns out that the band Iron Maiden and the Doctor Who television
program are connected through the band's use of Doctor Who icons on their
album artwork. The reason for this is the effect that the program had on
the band's members who truly liked the show, and the fact that their album's
concept tied in quite well with the use of the Doctor Who references. Like
Doctor Who, Iron Maiden continues as a popular culture phenomenon, but
unlike Doctor Who's television status, they continue to feature new work as
they tour and make music. Perhaps the band's longevity was inspired by
the Master's using an Iron Maiden as one of the shapes for his TARDIS.
(c) copyright Zepo, 1999.
1) The date of December 1975 is listed on the Family Tree section (found in
the category of "Band") on the enhanced CD (computer section) of the
following disc: Iron Maiden, _Somewhere in Time (Enhanced CD)_,
(England: Raw Power, 1998), original material 1986, Audio Compact Disc,
Computer enhanced data section entitled BAND, FAMILY TREE.
Their first recording was made in 1978 as reported on Ankan's Iron Maiden
Website located at: http://www.acc.umu.se/~jas/html/soundhouse.html
This page features the Iron Maiden album "The Soundhouse Tapes" [Iron
Maiden, _The Soundhouse Tapes_, (London: Rock Hard Records, 1979), vinyl
record.] which the website reports as being released on 10 November 1979.
This was their first recording (on their own label and featured the line up
of Paul Di'Anno (vocals), Steve Harris (bass), Dave Murray (guitar), and
Doug Sampson (drums). Only 5,000 copies were pressed. The page features
the back sleeve of the record on which Neal Kay wrote: "The tracks on this
E.P. were the first ever recorded by the band and are the authentic
unremixed cuts taken from the demo tape recorded at Spaceward studios in
Cambridge on December 30th 1978, and, subsequently presented to me in The
Soundhouse a week later."
2) Ibid (_Somewhere in Time (Enhanced CD)_, Computer enhanced data section
entitled BAND, FAMILY TREE.).
3) Iron Maiden, _Somewhere in Time (Enhanced CD)_, Computer enhanced data
section entitled ALBUMS and the section entitled EDDIE.
4) As reported on Ankan's Iron Maiden Website on 16 August 1999 located at:
For a complete listing of the various lineup changes of the early years of
the band it is suggested that the reader look at:
Iron Maiden, _Somewhere in Time (Enhanced CD)_, Section entitled BAND,
5) Chart position of "Powerslave" from Iron Maiden's official website on 19
August 1999 located at:
6) As reported in "The Iron Maiden FAQ (Part 2)" on 19 August 1999
[Last-modified: 14 September 1996] found at Churrasco's (Marco Leon's) Iron
Maiden Website at: http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/1124/iron_faq2.txt.
7) Iron Maiden, _Powerslave (Enhanced CD)_, (England: Raw Power, 1998),
original material 1984, Audio Compact Disc, insert booklet.
8) Howe, David J. and Stephen James Walker, _Doctor Who: The Television
Companion_, (London,: BBC, 1998), 484.
9) Ibid, 485.
10) The date for Iron Maiden's return to the studio is reported on
Churrasco's (Marco Leon's) Iron Maiden Page on 16 August 1999 located at:
11) Release date of "Wasted Years" taken from: _Somewhere in Time (Enhanced
CD)_, Audio Compact Disc insert booklet. "Trial of a Time Lord (Part One)"
airdate: Armstrong, Keith A, David Brunt, and Andrew Pixley, __The Doctor
Who Productions Guide: Volume Two-Reference Journal_, (London: Nine
Travellers Publishing/Global Productions (DWAS), 1997), 243.
12) Ibid. From the single cover of the record "Wasted Years." The art
work is reprinted in Iron Maiden, _Somewhere in Time (Enhanced CD)_, Audio
Compact Disc, insert booklet (and also Audio Compact Disc, Computer enhanced
data section entitled ALBUM, SINGLES).
13) The vortex picture was isolated by itself on the back of the 45rpm
"Wasted Years" shaped picture disc which measured approximately 9 1/2" X 8
3/4". [(author's name unknown [GCGriffaw@aol.com]). "Re: Wasted Years
Picture Disc." Private e-mail message to Nick Seidler (Milwaukee,
Wisconsin). 08 July 1999 (10:32:25). Electronic copy in possession of the
author.] The picture disc was shaped in the form of the controls of the
ship and the ships computer screens. The spaceship controls artwork took up
the entire front of the disc. Iron Maiden, _Wasted Years (Picture Disc)_
(England: EMI, 1986), vinyl record picture disc [#EMIP 5583]. The picture
disc was also released on 06 September 1986 according to "The Iron Maiden
FAQ (Part 2)" on 16 August 1999 [Last-modified: 14 September 1996] found at
Churrasco's (Marco Leon's) Iron maiden Website at:
14) Release date of "Somewhere in Time" as 29 September 1986 is from Iron
Maiden's official website on 19 August 1999 located at:
The album is listed as being released on 11 October 1996 according to: Iron
Maiden, _Somewhere in Time (Enhanced CD)_, Audio Compact Disc, insert
booklet. As both of these are official Iron Maiden sources, the author
tends to believe that the date of 29 September 1986 is more correct as the
listing is more recent and a three week pre-release of a first single seems
more accurate than a five week pre-release.
15) Iron Maiden, _Somewhere in Time (Enhanced CD)_, Audio Compact Disc,
Computer enhanced data section entitled BAND.
16) Heinlein, Robert A., _Stranger in a Strange Land_, (New York: Ace
Books, reprint 1995).
17) Iron Maiden, _Somewhere in Time (Enhanced CD)_, Audio Compact Disc,
Computer enhanced data section entitled BAND.
18) Iron Maiden, _Somewhere in Time (Enhanced CD)_, Audio Compact Disc,
insert booklet cover artwork. The back cover of the Iron Maiden _Somewhere
in Time (Enhanced CD)_is not the same as the original album artwork, but the
insert booklet reproduces the album's front and back covers as a wrap around
piece of art properly.
19) Wall, Mick, _Run to the Hills: The Official Biography of Iron Maiden_,
(London: Sanctuary Publishing, 1998), 214. [Thanks to Captain Canuck for
helping track this down for me.]
20) Captain Canuck, posting to the Iron Maiden Bulletin Board on 12 July
1999 (16:27 GMT) and posted on line located at:
Captain Canuck wrote: "He [Bruce Dickinson] bought a Dalek too apparently."
An attempt to follow up on the article's exact location prompted this
response as well: "I'm still looking and lurking [for the "Bruce Buys Dalek"
article]. It was in an article section of a Bruce Dickinson solo website,
but I can't seem to find it. Eeek. Might have been exterminated."
Captain Canuck, posting to the Iron Maiden Bulletin Board on 15 July 1999
(22:17 GMT) and posted on line located at:
21) _Metal Edge_, April 1997 (Vol. 41 No. 11), (New York:
Sterling/MacFadden Partnership, 1997), 99. Blaze Bailey of Iron Maiden is
quoted as saying: "I watch everything. Documentaries, Sports, Dr. Who, Star
22) Iron Maiden played at The Rave, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on 23 August
23) From the serial "The King's Demons." _Doctor Who: The Five Doctors
(Special Edition)/The King's Demons_, (Beverly Hills, CA: CBS/Fox Video,
1996), Original Content 1983.
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Last Updated December 22, 1999