Many years ago, fourteen to be exact, the BBC released a handy book called Doctor Who: The Television Companion. It was a marvellous little bible that covered all the episodes of Doctor Who from 1963 to 1996.
There was interesting trivia for each adventure, analysis of the stories and how they were received and much more than any self respecting fan could ever hope to have in terms of Doctor Who information in a tiny book. The reason that we bring up this long forgotten but well received factual book is because it was a great way for brand new fans, new fans, old fans and old old fans to dip into a piece of their favourite show and find out a bit more. With the new launch of Doctor Who in 2005, plenty has happened to the Time Lord and his TARDIS, many interesting things that someone who say, only started watching in 2011, may not know about.
Cue Who is the Doctor to come to the aid of any Doctor Who fan that may have a few questions about the adventures of the good Doctor since he came back into our lives in 2005. This coffee table book is broken down into suitable, digestible paragraphs for you to consume for either two minutes or (as will happen when reading this book) two hours. The reader is then offered a brief synopsis of the plot and continuity references that link our new shiny Doctor Who series with the one we adore from the classic era. For example, Series One has a paragraph called The Bad Wolf Effect listing each Bad Wolf reference from every episode from 2005, a look at the Doctor’s behaviour over the course of an adventure, his relationship with his companion, the best moments of an episode, and more.
Additional trivia such as the date for the story is also shared. After all this, you can enjoy a debate between the two authors regarding what they liked about an episode and what they didn’t like.
It’s a fascinating read, one that will keep you dipping in for more and more. Every episode is covered from Rose to The Wedding of River Song and there’s even a review of the two animated adventures The Infinite Quest and Dreamland. This is a book that you don’t expect to grab you in any particular way but as soon as you start, you won’t be able to stop; everything given to you here is generous, thoughtful and above all-compellingly enjoyable. That’s not to say there aren’t a few things that could be changed about it, the use of the word queer when describing Captain Jack (a queer action hero) seems at odds with both writers who clearly love the character and don’t hold his sexuality in a context of negativity, similarly when discussing Martha Jones’ questions about race at the beginning of The Shakespeare Code the writer brings up some interesting points but the refers to Martha as a ‘woman of colour’ – do phrases like this have a place in today’s society? There is perhaps an argument that they should have been removed from the final product.
Apart from minor quibbles, this is a book that is thoroughly recommended to Doctor Who fans old and new, it’s perfect for a short read on your journey to work in the day or a good read in the evening with your feet up and a strong cup of tea.
Quite possibly the best factual Doctor Who book ever.