Review: Doctor Who: The Encyclopedia

By Gary Russell

BBC Books, out now

An incredibly detailed look at the revived Doctor Who.

Go back a couple of decades and books like this weren’t that unusual. In the days before the internet, Star Trek and other series inspired huge tomes that covered every aspect of their fictional universes from A-Z. But then this sort of reference work seemed easier to maintain online – for one thing, entries can be constantly updated, so they can effectively never go out of date. Print your Encyclopedia about a currently running show, and you’re instantly liable to be redundant the minute a new episode appears.

This is the second edition of the Who Encyclopedia, and like its predecessor, it’s incredibly rigorous in its detail. You can find out the different characters called Arthur who have appeared since 2005. Or the telephone number to ring if you’ve spotted Rose Tyler. Or which month follows Hoob…  It’s a book to dip into for surprising facts that you probably never knew, and it’ll be a goldmine for those writing spin-off fiction in years to come.

It’s got two drawbacks though. Although beautifully illustrated, the pictures aren’t captioned – either directly on the shots themselves, or through references in the text. This can sometimes lead to confusion, particularly if you’ve not got photographic recall of the TV series. It also incorporates numbers alphabetically – in other words 02079460000 is filed under “zero two zero seven”… not a great deal of help if you’d read that number out as oh-two-oh-seven. A specific numbers chapter would make sense for the inevitable third edition.

These are minor complaints though. Gary Russell has done an insane amount of work to bring all this together and for that he deserves the thanks of every parent whose bright nine-year-old wants the answer to specific Who-related questions. Can you do the same for the classic series now please?

Verdict: Not cheap, but it’s a fan’s delight.  8/10

Paul Simpson

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