Review: Doctor Who: Books: Robert Holmes, A Life in Words

robert-holmes-a-life-in-wordsBy Richard Molesworth

Telos Publishing, out now

A detailed look at the career of one of Doctor Who’s greatest contributors.

If there was nothing else new in this book (or new to the vast majority of people) than the detailed breakdown of Lewis Greifer’s original version of what became The Pyramids of Mars, then it would be worth buying. But that is simply one item among many that will have fans of the classic series – and particularly of the “golden age” of Philip Hinchcliffe and Robert Holmes’ partnership – coming back to this book repeatedly. The infamous “memo to Terran Cedicks” that set out the basis of what became The Time Warrior is here, as is the brief outline of the future Krotons storyline that first brought him to attention.

However, Doctor Who was only one string to Holmes’ bow: his contributions to other shows – from Public Eye to his pseudonymous reworked scripts for Shoestring – are covered, and there’s plenty of biographical material to put his work in context. You come away with a heightened appreciation of the man’s talents, as well as an understanding of why he may not have been to everyone’s tastes.

Published by Telos to coincide with Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary, this is a well-researched book that puts other recent Who biographies (particularly the muckraking JNT tome) in the shade. Much as I’d like to write it myself, I’d love to see Molesworth pen an equally meticulous and readable biography of Verity Lambert next…

Verdict: If you’re a fan of classic Doctor Who, or of television from the 1960s to 1980s, then this is a must-read. 9/10

Paul Simpson  
Click here to order Robert Holmes: a Life in Words from


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