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Book Review

Book Cover

The Television Companion
The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who
Volume One


Author: David J Howe and Stephen James Walker
Publisher: Telos
RRP: £15.99
ISBN: 978 1 84583 076 2
Publication Date: 31 October 2013

The Television Companion: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who - Volume One (496 pages), by David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker has, in its original incarnation, justifiably been a reliable source of information for Who fans for many years now. Like many, mine has been well thumbed and age has turned the pages a smoky yellow.

Originally published by the BBC in 1998, Telos have taken the pair in hand to produce an updated version. Instead of a single volume the extended book has been split in two with book one covering the inception of the show, right up to Jon Pertwee’s last episode.

The format of each section remains fundamentally the same with a list of the technical staff, a synopsis of the plot, a list of the episode endings, popular myths about the story, things to watch out for and quotes from the show. The last section is the real reason for the book's existence, given that much of the previous information can be found on the Internet. The analysis section draws on both professional and fan writing alike to give a balanced critique of the show.

Comparing with the original book, there are some changes. Included with each episode is the planned and actual time of transmission as well as the episode length. Also include is where and when the story was recorded. The rest of the headings remain the same but have often been updated.

Much of the text has remained the same and it is difficult to know just how much new material has been included, a random sampling of stories gives the impression that few, if any of the entries haven’t been expanded.

Overall the dimensions of the book is larger than the original as is the size of the font, which explains some reason for splitting the book in two. The changes certainly make the new version more readable as the original font size was very small.

One of the things I did miss was having the greyed out sections on the edge of the pages which made finding an individual Doctor's season a doddle, now I have to look at the index, which I suppose says more about my innate laziness that the book's quality.

The book does suffer from a lack of pictures, but then it never had any when it was published by the BBC, it is likely that their inclusion would have been prohibitively expensive. I guess it doesn’t really matter as this is not designed to be read cover to cover, rather it’s the perfect book to dip in and out off, especially if you’ve just watched a particular story.

The book was always an essential buy for any serious Who fan and the update has only made it more so. My old copy can now be retired, with my new copy taking pride of place.


Charles Packer

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