Review: Doctor Who: Books: The Television Companion Volumes 1 and 2

televisioncompanion2013-bigBy David J. Howe and Stephen James Walker

Telos, out now

More manageably-sized volumes of the comprehensive guide to the classic series…

One of the more useful books to come out of the transfer of the licence from Virgin Publishing to BBC Books back in the mists of time (i.e. after the McGann movie) was Howe and Walker’s The Television Companion, which didn’t just put all the facts and figures together about the show, but also sampled some of the opinions which had been given about the classic stories in fan magazines along the way. Although there was the odd error and typo, its biggest problem – or, if you were an optician trying to sell your wares, its best asset – was the size of the type. Which was basically tiny.

The contents, with some tidying up, has subsequently appeared from Howe and Walker’s own publishing company Telos, and in its original form on the BBC website, combined with the text of Cornell, Day and Topping’s The Discontinuity Guide – and remains one of the reference tomes which I consult regularly.

Now, to mark Paul McGann’s return (or the 50th anniversary), the book has been reprinted yet again, but this time in two brick sized volumes at a respectable point size. Volume 1 covers the first three Doctors; volume 2 Baker to McGann, plus a few extras (such as The Curse of Fatal Death). There’s now an index which covers items by title or by name and the occasional nagging error which refused to disappear has been rectified.

It would be interesting to compile this book again now from scratch (interesting, and incredibly time-consuming), to take into account the ways the stories have been viewed in light of the revived series, and also, of course, the return of various stories to the archives – but, bearing in mind that it is a snapshot to a large extent of opinion about the classic show from before the series’ return, it would be difficult to find another Who reference work that covers the ground as comprehensively.

Verdict: If you’re a Who fan, and not got a copy of this, then get it asap, and it’s well worth upgrading your 1998 edition. 9/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to order The Television Companion: Doctors 1-3 Vol 1 from Amazon.co.uk or click through from here for volume 2

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