A collection of interviews with the people behind the middle
years of the BBC's classic science fiction adventure series
Doctor Who. From directors to designers, producers,
story editors, writers and cast, all are featured in this
latest addition to Telos's acclaimed range of factual books
about Doctor Who. There are also features on the stage
play Seven Keys to Doomsday, the Doctor's arch enemy
the Master, the visual effects of the 1979 story Destiny
of the Daleks, and fandom in the Seventies...
kick off with a minor gripe. Telos books have been producing
consistently excellent Doctor Who reference books for
some time now, but why must so many of them be wrapped in
such drab, bland covers? In recent times, we've been treated
to such excellent works as The
Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who,
The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide
to the Production of Doctor Who, and I'm sure
in time we'll no doubt get The Unofficial and Unauthorised
Guide to Unofficial and Unauthorised Guides to Doctor Who.
problem is not with the content, which is uniformly superb,
I just consider it a shame that these often definitive works
are given such awful titles and then dressed in dreary covers
where BIG HORRIBLE LETTERING masquerades as design. (Curiously,
the marvellous David
J Howe is credited on the back with 'cover' but
I'm not entirely sure what he's claiming credit for. Maybe
he filled in for the author during an extended fishing holiday.)
Telos Books would probably argue that this range of books
is aimed at such a dedicated niche market that there's no
need for an audience-enticing cover (and I'm guessing that
licensing of recognisable images poses a problem) but come
on... give us a long scarf, a jelly baby, a sink plunger,
second volume of collated interview material (imaginatively
titled, erm, Talkback... and yes, it's "UNOFFICIAL
AND UNAUTHORISED", check the cover above if you're not
sure) is actually a thoroughly absorbing read that defies
it's bland presentation to deliver another superb collection
of rare archive material, the vast majority of which will
be new to even the most hard-core fan.
this time round on the golden age of the 70's, Stephen James
Walker has culled a rich selection of interviews from diverse
and often obscure sources. Much of the material was originally
presented in the superb, glossy (and as I recall, shockingly
expensive) fanzine The Frame, but there are also presentations
from less accessible fan publications such as Gallifrey,
Oracle and The Doctor Who Review.
interview is prefaced by a scene-setting introduction from
Walker, and then it's straight onto a direct reproduction
of the original material, with occasional helpful footnotes
where deemed necessary. As well as the obvious big names (a
lengthy and charming interview with Pertwee; a transcript
of an interview session with Tom Baker taken from an event
organised by The New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club),
there are also the less obvious but equally pleasurable choices
(set designers, title sequence designers, book cover illustrators
etc). The highlight for me was a lovely, revealing interview
with Katy Manning (conducted by the President of the Australasian
Doctor Who Fan Club and transcribed by his mother!)
which was never actually published and is presented here for
the very first time.
are also some 'bonus features' sandwiched between the interviews,
again mostly taken from long-dead fanzines. Some of the choices
here are a little mystifying (I'm not sure that we really
need a feature on the visual effects of Destiny Of The
Daleks in what purports to be an interview book) but most
of the articles are very welcome - in particular, an engrossing
piece from Walker himself on fandom in the 70's, and an exhaustive
overview of the 1974 stage play Seven Keys To Doomsday
from David J Howe.
It all adds up to a wonderfully jam-packed volume, in which
the likes of Douglas Adams, Robert Holmes and Douglas Camfield
jostle for space with less well-known production personnel.
Ignore the cover then, the content is once again in a class
of its own.
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