I’m the kind of fan who has a lot of reference books about Doctor Who. I have A History of the Universe, Timeframe, The Book of Lists, The Gallifrey Chronicles and many, many more. So the idea of another encyclopaedia style reference tome didn’t really fill me with promise at seeing anything special.
Turns out I was wrong.
The Who’s Who of Doctor Who is written by Cameron K. McEwan, better known to most as Blogtor Who, and recently the director of the rather good documentary Who’s Changing, and while it’s true to say that it is another encyclopaedia of the Who universe it does have a lot going for it.
Firstly we have the specially commissioned artworks from Andrew Skilleter, who is most well-known for his contributions to the covers of numerous target novels and reference books. In this instance the artist has surpassed himself as more than once I had to do a double take to see if I was looking at a photo or one of his pieces. Add to this the wonderful selection of production stills, promotional images shots taken at the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff and the occasional publicity head shot there is a wealth of visual treats to oggle here.
[pullquote align="right"]The Who’s Who of Doctor Who is bang up to date, covering almost every character of note across the entire 50 year history of the show right up to the regeneration of Matt Smith into Peter Capaldi.[/pullquote]The second major point in its favour is the fact that it is (as of writing) bang up to date, covering almost every character of note across the entire 50 year history of the show right up to the regeneration of Matt Smith into Peter Capaldi. For me that’s a big plus, as there is nothing worse than spending ten minutes thumbing through a book only to discover that it doesn’t go as far as you thought it did and the information you want is not in that volume after all.
Obviously it’s not going to include everyone, no book could really manage that, but this comes about as close to doing it in a single volume as I think I have ever come across so far. It’s all set out in categories from Doctors (listing right the way up to and including, though only briefly, the new twelfth incarnation) to companions, robots, villains, Time Lords and Ladies, monsters and aliens. All are given a fair amount of space, though extra is given to the various forms of the Doctor himself, naturally. While it limits itself to merely characters rather than delve into the vast expanses of planets, ships and the myriad of technological wonders featured in the show that is not really a massive loss as most of the relevant bits from those areas still manage to filter their way into the relevant passages anyway.
In terms of readability it also scores highly with me, it never feels dry or textbooky, and feels as though you’re getting a history lesson from an exceptionally well read fan, which really you are. Cameron writes with a natural passion for his subject and that passion shines through in the articles.
That’s not to say it’s flawless; there are a few niggles here and there, such as the entry for Joshua and Abigail Naismith (the father and daughter who resurrected the Master and almost brought back Gallifrey) while the entry bears their names and a half page image, the text is a reprint of the entry for the Dums, Voc’s and Super Vocs from Robots of Death. But other than that and a small smattering of typos (even Hemingway had a few of those) there are no major clangers.
Bottom line is that if you don’t own any reference books about Doctor Who yet, this is a mighty fine starting point. Stylishly presented, eloquent and accurate on every detail. If you do already own a selection of other such books I still recommend it as it’s a worthy addition on the grounds of the superb artwork and the collection of various images from across the full spectrum of the shows timelines. I have seen other coffee table books struggle to match the quality of some of the photos presented here.
Overall, a triumph that, with the hope that a reprint can fix that little robot invasion issue, is near perfect and well worth picking up.
You can order your copy of The Who’s Who of Doctor Who now from Amazon for just