Wonderful Books, out now
An update of the classic Programme Guide for the new series…
In this age of instantly available information via the internet, do we really need a printed book that gives the cast, broadcast details and plot information on the first ten years of the revived Doctor Who? Prior to reading Paul Smith’s tome, I’d have probably thought not – certainly mainstream publishers seem to be steering clear of such episode guides, unless they’re festooned with photographs and loads of background information. However, it’s such a fun homage to the Lofficier books from the 1980s that it’s well worth picking up – and probably will be quicker to access than some websites!
It’s not just the text which pays homage: it’s the whole design of the book. The cover fits with the revamped versions of the WH Allen books with multiple TARDISes, starred out information, and similar typeface for back cover copy. The format means it will fit neatly beside those books should you still have them and the layout is much the same – although with the sad absence of novelisations, DVD and Blu-ray information is given instead.
The book picks up from the 1989 edition (therefore ignoring the entries for the new Adventures which were added to the later version), starting with the TV Movie and going through to The Time of the Doctor. Smith has “canonised” certain stories – the majority of the DVD extras and the preludes/TARDISodes – incorporating them into the main entries, although the online games don’t get that treatment (despite various parties claiming that they are legitimate parts of the fifth series). He’s also indexed the book, with a who’s who of new Who. What he thankfully hasn’t done is emulated Lofficier’s additions to the Programme Guide, with his timeline of future history or his universal databank!
Verdict: A fun – and perhaps surprisingly useful – addition to the Doctor Who library. 9/10