Doctor Who
The Inside Story

Author: Gary Russell
BBC Books
RRP: 14.99, US $24.99
ISBN-13: 978 0 563 48649 7
ISBN-10: 0 563 48649 X
Available 26 October 2006

Viewers might think they've seen every photograph, read every interview, know every fact about the latest incarnation of BBC TV's
Doctor Who, but this book sets out to show them just how much they've missed. With pre-production drawings and paintings, countless behind-the-scenes candid shots, comments and opinions from everyone involved in the making of this exciting, award-winning programme, The Inside Story offers exactly that - an insider's scoop on the how, why, who and where of all things Doctor Who...

Though it's called The Inside Story and is billed as an insider's scoop, don't expect much in the way of controversy or critical analysis in this glossy hardback reference guide. This is a fully authorised piece of Who merchandise, endorsed and published by the BBC, and written by a man who has recently become a member of the script-writing team on Who and Torchwood.

The Beeb's poor handling of the leak surrounding the departure of Ninth Doctor actor Christopher Eccleston is glossed over in a few brief lines. The nearest we get to any juicy insider gossip or behind-the-scenes scandal is the fleeting mention of a creative difference between production designer Edward Thomas and producer Phil Collinson over the set dressing of Floor 500 in The Long Game and the admission that, in retrospect, the Slitheen should have been entirely CGI rather than men in costumes. The rest of the time, author Gary Russell has nothing but glowing (though I would not go as far as to say fawning) praise for everyone involved in the making of this undisputed TV hit.

However, Russell (or perhaps I should call him Gary, since he is on first-name terms with all the people he interviews and describes) does get some good quotes, especially from head writer/executive producer Russell T Davies. The ebullient Russell (by which I mean Davies - we're on first-name terms here, remember... hmmm, this could get confusing) is always good for a witty yet incisive quote, isn't he? The book is also richly illustrated with full-colour images, including many rarely seen or previously unseen backstage photographs and examples of concept art.

The Inside Story is at its most enlightening during its "Behind the Scenes" chapter, which examines the input of script editors, costume designers, make-up artists, special-effects creators and musician Murray Gold, among others. This is where the bulk of those rarely glimpsed design drawings are to be found. Other chapters retrace the steps that led to the show's re-commissioning and re-launch, its pre-production development, and the casting of its principle actors. The back end of the book focuses, episode by episode, on the production of the two series that have been broadcast to date, followed by a brief sneak peek (without spoilers) of things to come in the 2006 Christmas special and the 2007 series.

The book didn't tell me much that I didn't already know about the new version of Who - or at least, not as much as the synopsis would have had me believe. Nevertheless, this is a high-quality publication (about a high-quality programme), handsomely illustrated and with a very reasonable price tag. It's worth a look or, alternatively, could be the ideal stocking-filler for the Doctor Who fan in your life.

Richard McGinlay

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