Review: Doctor Who: Books: A History of the Universe in 100 Objects

by James Goss and Steve Tribe

BBC Books, out now

One hundred representative objects, from before the dawn of time to its ending, which chart the history of the universe, Doctor Who style.

I honestly didn’t think that BBC Books would be able to give us anything in 2012 which would make up for the lack of a Brilliant Book (well, it would have been a Brilliant Pamphlet for the six episodes, so you can understand why it couldn’t happen.) I was wrong.

Put simply, this is probably the best work of Doctor Who non-fiction that I have read in the 49 years the show has been on air. That’s not in any way to knock the research work that has been done over the years, or somehow to make anything lesser, just that this is so good. The idea is brilliant, extrapolating from the chosen objects to provide an overview which hits all the major points about the various aspects of the show, displaying a wonderful sense of humour. You’ll groan at some of the jokes, and get to a stage where as soon as you know what topic is being covered, you’ll expect some corny piece of dialogue to get a reference – and it does. And it doesn’t just deal with the fiction of the show: there’s a lot about the making of the programme, and sections that put the series’ assertions in context with the “real” universe.

The text is great, but then it’s added to with some beautiful illustrations from Peter McKinstry and Paul Lang’s layouts, which refuse to be restricted by the paucity of decent picture material from so many shows (a problem that has killed at least one potential 50th anniversary tie-in to my knowledge).

BBC Books have a hell of a job on their hands to top this for the anniversary next year.

Verdict: Worth every penny –  Doctor Who fans, whether of old or new series, will lap it up. 10/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to order Doctor Who: A History of the Universe in 100 Objects from


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