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Doctor Who: The Complete Guide by Mark Campbell

01/05/2011. Contributed by Gareth D Jones

Buy Doctor Who: The Complete Guide in the USA - or Buy Doctor Who: The Complete Guide in the UK

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pub: Constable Robinson. 247 page indexed small enlarged paperback. Price: GBP 6.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-84901-587-5.

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Oh dear. I can see already that I’m going to end up reminiscing about my own Who experiences rather than getting on with reviewing this book. I guess, though, that only ‘Doctor Who’ fans are going to be buying ‘Doctor Who: The Complete Guide’ and therefore only those same fans will be reading this review so they, that is you, will probably indulge me. I remember watching ‘Doctor Who’ from the mid-Tom Baker years, read all the novelisations up until the mid-eighties, so I’m familiar with many of the earlier stories and characters and I’m a fact-collecting type of guy. My nine-year old son is a huge fan now, so this looked like a great book to read and share.

The book does collect a huge amount of facts, but I quickly realised that it should probably have a more specific title, something like ‘The Complete Guide To The Technical Detail Of Filming The Doctor Who TV Series’ would be about right. This is a book about the television show, rather than about the Doctor Who Universe. Don’t expect interesting expositions on the history of the Daleks or the Doctor’s relationship with the Master or the Time Lords. What the book does is provide information on every story from ‘An Unearthly Child’ to ‘The Big Bang’. This includes cast and crew listings, a very brief précis (only a couple of lines) and information about filming locations and the like. Mention is made of which episodes featured a new title sequence or TARDIS interior and other such technical details but doesn’t include many story-line facts such as when a companion arrives or departs.

The final section in each episode guide is likely to raise the most debate and a fair few eyebrows. Mark Campbell gives his verdict on each story and a rating out of 10. Naturally, for many of the episodes I remember, his judgement doesn’t agree with mine and I’m sure there is a plethora of other opinions available, too. Of course, many of the early episodes are lost, so I can’t watch them now to form my own opinion.

The book finishes off with various listings of novels (but not novelisations), missing episodes, audiobooks, etc and thoughts on what makes a good ‘Doctor Who’ story. This is a reference book to reach for in times of dissent or to clarify an obscure point and will likely find a place on many fact-finding fans’ bookshelves.

Gareth D. Jones

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