Review: Doctor Who: Books: Doctor Who: A History

Doctor-Who-History-Kistler-CoverBy Alan Kistler

Lyons Press, out now

A chronological history of the TV program

Get used to that spelling of “programme” and all sorts of Americanisms in Alan Kistler’s contribution to the library of books arriving around the 50th anniversary. Where most authors have tried to find a different sort of hook to their tomes, Kistler has gone straight for the jugular, retelling the story of the show from 1963 to the present day. (For full disclosure, I’m thanked in the back for helping the author get in touch with various people for interview.)

Kistler has an obvious love for the programme, and has spoken many people involved in it, providing his book with a number of quotes that will be unfamiliar to a British audience. He’s also delved through the archives, with some of the earlier material given in reported speech rather than direct quote: it would be interesting, for example, to hear exactly how Sydney Newman proposed that the Doctor regenerate into a woman way back in 1987.

Kistler also has a fine holistic approach to the show, recounting its history in all media (so the Colin Baker section talks about Slipback, The Ultimate Adventure and the Big Finish audios). There’s a certain irony in some of his comments about the 50th anniversary (why didn’t McGann come in and shoot a short scene for The Name of the Doctor, he notes fans were asking – well, now we know why…)

It’s unfortunate that some errors have slipped through, particularly in the early chapters – the ebook version is substantially more mistake-free – but don’t let that put you off. Kistler’s American pop culture roots provide him with a very different way of looking at Doctor Who.

Verdict: It does exactly what it sets out to do, without the restrictions of the licensed product. 8/10

Paul Simpson


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