Review: Doctor Who: Books: How to be a Time Lord

how-to-be-a-timelord1By Craig Donaghy

BBC Children’s Books, out now

The official Gallifrey guide to becoming a Time Lord with some rather less-than-official added information…

The central idea of this book is a fun one – a guide prepared by the Time Lords for those who wish to join their exalted ranks. It includes lots of useful information about the Time Lords and those they come in contact with… but rather more to the point, it’s been added to by the Doctor during his very long exile on Trenzalore during The Time of the Doctor.

There are therefore two narrative voices, one of which is moderately straight-faced, the other of which is the 11th Doctor at his scattiest. As with most Doctor Who product nowadays, it treats the entire five decades as one thing, so references to the earliest episodes sit side by side with the most recent – the guide to Gallifrey includes material from The Five Doctors, The Invasion of Time and The Last Day, while key moments from Time Lord history covers The Runaway Bride, The Three Doctors, Underworld, The Deadly Assassin, The Invasion of Time, The Shakespeare Code, The Five Doctors, Arc of Infinity and The Trial of a Time Lord… in that order (spot the deliberate mistake!).

The How to be the Doctor section is more jokey – the Doctor’s comments on his own previous incarnations and his cartoons of them are amusing (although there’s a bit of an edge about the 9th Doctor), and there’s a good rundown of the companions, which maintains the JNT tradition of such flashbacks by missing someone out completely (Liz Shaw/Caroline John is overlooked). The monsters concentrates on the 21st century versions – if it hasn’t made a reappearance, it’s not here, and bar one shot of a Tenth Planet Cyberman, there aren’t any classic era pics of the ones covered. We then get a number of useful tips from the Doctor, which are nicely put together, followed by a Photo Album, with a number of publicity shots and items (the Russian Ice Warrior is great).

The minor errors aside, this is a highly enjoyable guide to the show – but not one that could be updated using the current Doctor’s personality!

Verdict: Definitely a good gift for a young Doctor Who fan – and there’s quite a bit in there to please the older and more jaded. 9/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to order Doctor Who: How to be a Time Lord – The Official Guide from


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