The Handbook
The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to the Production of Doctor Who

Authors: David J Howe, Stephen James Walker and Mark Stammers
Telos Publishing
RRP 14.99 (paperback), 30.00 (deluxe hardback)
ISBN 1 903889 59 6 (paperback)
ISBN 1 903889 96 0 (deluxe hardback)
Available 07 March 2005

On their first publication, the Doctor Who Handbooks were hailed for their comprehensive behind the scenes exploration of the BBC's cult science fiction show Doctor Who. Now collected in a revised and updated edition, this book is the definitive guide to the background and production of a television classic...

Do we really need another book about the making of Doctor Who? There are already bookshelves of them, many very detailed. Is there really anything more to be said? The answer is a resounding 'yes' as this mighty volume clearly demonstrates.

In truth, these pages contain little that is revelatory but the devil's in the detail, of which there is plenty. Each Doctor gets a careful analytical eye cast of him and his reign in the TARDIS along with the production techniques and writing styles that characterised the show at any given time in its run. The results are often very illuminating, especially for the early years.

The chapter on The Mind Robber is especially timely, adding valuable background to the wealth of detail contained on the recent DVD. But there really isn't a single page that doesn't contain at least one fact you didn't previously know - and that's no mean feat given the amount already committed to paper over the years.

Perhaps the only weakness with the book is that it tries to be even-handed to each Doctor, an approach that's worthy but doomed to fail as much of Doctor Who's later years were simply not very interesting. However, by leaving personal prejudice to one side does at least enable the reader to impose their own opinions. There's even a section on the ill-fated US TV movie which helps explain, at least in part, what happened during its difficult production. You may not like the film any more after reading the chapter, but you'll perhaps have a less brutal opinion of it.

I would have liked to have seen a handful of original documents reproduced in the book but this is a minor quibble given the quality of its writing and the sheer volume of facts - a testament to the high level of research that went into its writing.

It may only be a book for the fans but devotees of Doctor Who have never been better served.

Anthony Clark

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