Doctor Who
Monsters and Villains

Author: Justin Richards
BBC Books
RRP 7.99, US $12.99, Cdn $15.99
ISBN 0 563 48632 5
Available 19 May 2005

For over 40 years, the Doctor has battled against the monsters and villains of the universe. Discover why the Daleks are so deadly; how the Yeti invade London; the secret of the Loch Ness Monster; and how the Cybermen have survived. Learn who the Master is, and - above all - how the Doctor defeats them all. Whether you read it on or behind the sofa, this book provides a wealth of information about the monsters and villains that have made
Doctor Who the galactic phenomenon that it is today...

Thanks to the success of the new series there's a whole new army of Doctor Who fans. Many won't have seen the old series so what better way could there be to tap into that rich history than publish a book that helps tell the full story? Sadly, the BBC has decided that its first new Who book should be about the programme's monsters and villains - past and present.

In terms of production quality the book actually scores quite well but overall it will make little sense to new fans because there's simply no context to its contents. It's all well and good spelling out the origins of the Daleks but without the back story of the Doctor much of it seems unintelligible. For example, the book explains that during The Chase (1965) the Daleks' replica Doctor calls out for Susan rather than Vicki thereby exposing himself as an impostor. But without knowing who Susan and Vicki are this makes little sense.

In fact, this lack of context makes much of the text pretty meaningless. Talk of a newly regenerated Doctor in the plot synopsis for Power of the Daleks once again falls foul of this central flaw. Older fans know what regeneration entails but for anyone new to the series it could describe pretty much anything. Had the Doctor found a stash of sports drinks in the TARDIS and quaffed the lot?

The photos used to illustrate the rather perfunctory text are pretty well chosen although there's little we've not seen before. The screen grabs from Terror of the Autons are especially bad as is the image of Roger Delgardo which looks to have been scanned in from a magazine. Also, the picture of a Varga plant on page 30 is a fake - and not a very good one either.

On the plus side there are some nice (albeit small) shots of the new Dalek under construction and on page 92 there are a couple of Web of Fear production stills that I'd not seen previously. Oh how you wish these could have been bigger.

Overall, Monsters and Villains is yet another A to Z of aliens. It's pretty well designed, the text is okay if you overlook its lack of context and the pictures are generally fine. This all adds up to something rather ordinary - even workmanlike - which is a shame as the first book published about Doctor Who since its return should have been so much better.

Anthony Clark

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