Doctor Who News Who is the Doctor is by Graeme Burke and Robert Smith?

Published on October 9th, 2012 | by Meredith Burdett

Just Who is the Doctor?

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.

Who is the Doctor is by Graeme Burke and Robert Smith?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.

Who is the Doctor is available now from Amazon in paperback or Kindle format.


Tags: , , , , ,

About the Author


What happens when an eight year old kid watches the 1993 repeat run of Planet of the Daleks? He pretty much ends up here writing about the show that grabbed hold of him and never let go!

9 Responses to Just Who is the Doctor?

  1. avatar Philip Bates says:

    This had gone under my radar, on the whole, but from the sound of it, it should be on my wish list!

    I still love the Doctor Who: The Television Companion; SUCH a good book.

  2. Thanks for the review!! Great job. I just wanted to note that “queer studies” is the actual academic term for scholarship on LGBTQ issues, so the word “queer” wasn’t being used pejoratively in the book. Similarly, “people of color” is the current politically correct term to use when describing people of other races, so again they were using the proper academic term. ;)

    Thanks again for the review. Fantastic!

    • avatar Doc Whom says:

      “People of color.”

      I find that personally offensive.

      Everyone knows that there’s a U in “colour”.

      • avatar Doc Whom says:

        But seriously, folks.

        Is it only to British ears that “people of colo(u)r” sounds an eye-wateringly crass expression? As far as I’m aware, it was dreamed up as an alternative to “non-white” in the USA. But it says exactly the same while in fact being less accurate. Shouldn’t it more accurately be “people of colours other than pale pink”?

        In fact, why is it even being used at all in a book about New Who? Unless it contains an essay trying to find an answer as to why Mickey and Martha would end up married to each other.

      • HAHA! I so agree. I actually spell it “colour” as well (I’m a Canadian) and edited myself thinking this was an American site. I can be very silly sometimes.

  3. avatar Scot Clarke says:

    I’m a bit confused over your comment about the use of the term “queer” by the authors. The term is pretty much universally acknowledged these days as having been reclaimed by the GBLT community, at least in North America. In fact its use is often “code” for a greater understanding of the issues and is used as a more flexible/elastic term for sexual diversity. I feel it’s aptly used with reference to Captain Jack, whose “omni-sexual identity” doesn’t fit neatly into other existing language.

  4. avatar stlshawn says:

    Sounds like a fantastic book (as does the Television Companion). A quick Amazon search shows The Television Companion paperback version going for anywhere from $39 to $320.

    “Who is the Doctor” seems to be going for about $10 to 15 new or used.

    I also found an interesting read. It seems to be a mystery set in 1930′s New York by one Melody Malone, something about angels,,, looks interesting. Kindle edition for $2.99.

    Anyway, fantastic article Mr. Burdett. Although I agree with the comments above that I hear the term “Queer” used by many in the LGBT community, at least around here. I also hear the term “person of color” quite a bit. I’m not a fan of that because we are all a person of various colors,,,, brown, coffee, slightly reddish brown, silly putty,,,, whatever. I am surprised that it was even mentioned, although in the context of the episode I guess it was needed.

  5. With regards to the terms used, I think Mez is guilty of little more than being *too* politically correct.

    I won’t pretend that any of the K team have any great experience of LGBT or multicultural studies!

  6. avatar Robert Smith? says:

    Thanks for the awesome review. To answer one of the questions in the comments, we use “people of colour” (yes, with a u! :-) ) rather than “non-white” because to specify white/non-white implies that whiteness is central and that the world revolves around who is or isn’t white. Which a) isn’t true in the big scheme of things and b) “people of colour” also implicitly reinforces the fact that who we are talking about are indeed people (which hasn’t always been the case historically). It might seem clunky at first, but you get used to it fairly quickly.

Please be aware that all comments are subject to adherence to our comments policy.
Back to Top ↑