Doctor Who
Volume 2 - The Seventies

Editor: Stephen James Walker
Telos Publishing
RRP: 12.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 84583 010 6
ISBN-10: 1 84583 010 5

Available 08 January 2007

A collection of interviews with the people behind the middle years of the BBC's classic science fiction adventure series
Doctor Who. From directors to designers, producers, story editors, writers and cast, all are featured in this latest addition to Telos's acclaimed range of factual books about Doctor Who. There are also features on the stage play Seven Keys to Doomsday, the Doctor's arch enemy the Master, the visual effects of the 1979 story Destiny of the Daleks, and fandom in the Seventies...

Let's kick off with a minor gripe. Telos books have been producing consistently excellent Doctor Who reference books for some time now, but why must so many of them be wrapped in such drab, bland covers? In recent times, we've been treated to such excellent works as The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who, The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to the Production of Doctor Who, and I'm sure in time we'll no doubt get The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Unofficial and Unauthorised Guides to Doctor Who.

My problem is not with the content, which is uniformly superb, I just consider it a shame that these often definitive works are given such awful titles and then dressed in dreary covers where BIG HORRIBLE LETTERING masquerades as design. (Curiously, the marvellous David J Howe is credited on the back with 'cover' but I'm not entirely sure what he's claiming credit for. Maybe he filled in for the author during an extended fishing holiday.) Telos Books would probably argue that this range of books is aimed at such a dedicated niche market that there's no need for an audience-enticing cover (and I'm guessing that licensing of recognisable images poses a problem) but come on... give us a long scarf, a jelly baby, a sink plunger, anything!

This second volume of collated interview material (imaginatively titled, erm, Talkback... and yes, it's "UNOFFICIAL AND UNAUTHORISED", check the cover above if you're not sure) is actually a thoroughly absorbing read that defies it's bland presentation to deliver another superb collection of rare archive material, the vast majority of which will be new to even the most hard-core fan.

Focusing this time round on the golden age of the 70's, Stephen James Walker has culled a rich selection of interviews from diverse and often obscure sources. Much of the material was originally presented in the superb, glossy (and as I recall, shockingly expensive) fanzine The Frame, but there are also presentations from less accessible fan publications such as Gallifrey, Oracle and The Doctor Who Review.

Each interview is prefaced by a scene-setting introduction from Walker, and then it's straight onto a direct reproduction of the original material, with occasional helpful footnotes where deemed necessary. As well as the obvious big names (a lengthy and charming interview with Pertwee; a transcript of an interview session with Tom Baker taken from an event organised by The New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club), there are also the less obvious but equally pleasurable choices (set designers, title sequence designers, book cover illustrators etc). The highlight for me was a lovely, revealing interview with Katy Manning (conducted by the President of the Australasian Doctor Who Fan Club and transcribed by his mother!) which was never actually published and is presented here for the very first time.

There are also some 'bonus features' sandwiched between the interviews, again mostly taken from long-dead fanzines. Some of the choices here are a little mystifying (I'm not sure that we really need a feature on the visual effects of Destiny Of The Daleks in what purports to be an interview book) but most of the articles are very welcome - in particular, an engrossing piece from Walker himself on fandom in the 70's, and an exhaustive overview of the 1974 stage play Seven Keys To Doomsday from David J Howe.

It all adds up to a wonderfully jam-packed volume, in which the likes of Douglas Adams, Robert Holmes and Douglas Camfield jostle for space with less well-known production personnel.

Ignore the cover then, the content is once again in a class of its own.

Daniel Lee Salter

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