With exclusive photographs, concept drawings, diagrams and
fx models, this is a lavishly illustrated collection of the
scariest monsters from Doctor Who. Written by Who
expert Justin Richards, this is the follow up book to the
best selling Aliens and Enemies and Monsters and
it just me, or are the endlessly recycled publicity shots
of the Doctor and his companion beginning to get just a little
bit uninspired and repetitive? Every new series seems to bring
with it about 827 slightly different new variants on the 'Doctor
pointing his sonic screwdriver at absolutely nothing' theme,
whilst his companion has another half-hearted go at pretending
to be positively horrified by whatever it is that the merchandise
artist decides to superimpose next to her.
I'm reminded of the wealth of truly iconic publicity shots
that regularly accompanied the classic series - from the eerie
shot of Hartnell holding aloft a lamp as he inserts the TARDIS
key into the lock, to Tom Baker standing moodily beside the
lighthouse of Fang Rock. So far, the new series publicity
images don't even try to capture this kind of atmosphere,
and instead plump for a simplistic catch-all formula, clearly
designed to be pasted with ease into accompanying merchandise
when necessary. Shame.
so it is that the cover of this latest offering from BBC Books
features yet another wildly uncharacteristic image of our
favourite friendly Time Lord threatening you with his Sonic
Screwdriver, whilst his new companion Martha looks on in permanently
frozen horror - although this time, she probably has very
good reason, she appears to have been caught out sneakily
squatting down behind a Dalek - surely no way to treat one
of Skaro's finest?
Creatures and Demons is the third annual collection
of nasties from Doctor Who's past and present, liberally
sprinkled with glossy photographs and bite-sized facts for
the benefit of the younger reader. Brand new foes such as
the Judoon, the Empress of the Racnoss, and the (frankly very
silly) Absorbaloff, happily rub shoulders with older adversaries
such as the Celestial Toymaker, the Quarks and the Destroyer
(the latter of which I suspect was thrown in to add a bit
more weight to the slightly flimsy 'creatures and demons'
Each section is backed up with a brief background on the monster
in question, very handy diagrams (we are invited to note that
Draconians have 'scaly reptilian skin', the Giant Maggots
have 'vicious sharp jaws' and the Ogrons 'will eat anything')
and an occasional slice of brief but very welcome insight
from the new series writers and designers.
little bit too much space is eaten up by yet more material
on the Daleks and Cybermen, both of which have been extensively
covered in previous volumes, but you can't blame BBC books
for wheeling them out again for the kids, and we are given
nuggets of new material relating to their specific new episodes.
Without question, the real treasure within these pages is
the collection of fascinating original design drawings from
the new series. In particular, the concept artwork for the
Carrionites from The Shakespeare Code is genuinely
nightmarish, and it seems a pity that they ended up as generic
warty old witches on the television screen. Conversely, the
original design for the Ood from The Impossible Planet
was a bit pants, so it's interesting to see how Millennium
FX expanded upon this idea and created one of Series Two's
most memorable monsters, especially as the book reveals that
they were all designed and created on the cheap.
Books have recently attracted some criticism for neglecting
the mature reader in their recent offerings, instead focusing
exclusively on the younger reader's market. Creatures and
Demons will of course do nothing to appease those critics,
but I can't really see a problem. After all, the 'serious'
reader is already spoilt for choice when it comes to in-depth
reference works (most notably by the consistently excellent
output of Telos Publishing), so I can't see the harm in BBC
Books catering for the children, especially when it's as much
fun as this.
fourth volume seems inevitable (I'm putting my money on Beasties
and Blobby Things) and long may this range continue, the
Doctor Who kids have never had it so good.