BOOK
The Television Companion
The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to Doctor Who

Authors: David J Howe and Stephen James Walker
Telos Publishing
www.telos.co.uk
RRP 14.99 (paperback), 30.00 (limited edition hardback)
ISBN 1 903889 51 0 (paperback)
ISBN 1 903889 52 9 (hardback)
Available now


There are plenty of "unofficial and unauthorised" guidebooks to genre shows on the market these days, and this is not the first one that Telos has been responsible for. However, The Television Companion is, to the best of my knowledge, unique in that it started out as a fully authorised and licensed product. The original Doctor Who: The Television Companion, in 1998, was published by BBC Books.

For this 40th anniversary edition, production information has been revised and updated, new entries have been added for television spin-offs and charity shows, including Doctor Who and the Curse of Fatal Death, and there are two new indexes, one by title and one by surname.

For each television story, Howe and Walker list scheduled and actual transmission times and dates, episode durations, cliffhanger endings, times and dates of studio recording and location filming, selected cast and crew information, memorable quotes and critical analysis. The latter comprises the authors' own opinions, balanced by quotations from reviews in the national press and fanzines (including quotes from our very own Anthony Clark). Further categories include "Things to Watch Out For", which describes memorable moments, triumphs of production, episodes from which regular cast members are partially or wholly absent, and important landmarks in the series' development. "Things You Might Not Have Known" contains such nuggets of information as original working titles, changes to planned ideas and other production details.

For me, the most fascinating category of all is "Popular Myths", although this does not appear against every story. This category blows a large number of abiding misconceptions out of the water, including one that I recently helped to perpetuate in my video review of Invasion of the Dinosaurs. To set the record straight, the first episode of this serial was not junked because it was mistaken for the first episode of The Invasion! Nor did The Gunfighters have the lowest viewing figures of the entire Hartnell era. Nor were the Ice Warriors ever intended to appear in Terminus.

Almost inevitably for a guidebook of this nature, some of the information is already out of date. The Availability Checklist at the back of the book makes no mention of the recent video releases of The Reign of Terror, Invasion of the Dinosaurs and The Horns of Nimon, or the CD release of Marco Polo. And how could the authors have foreseen, when they wryly commented in their foreword that perhaps one day a new series of Who might get made, that the series would be back in pre-production by the time their book hit the shelves?

This is a weighty tome and, at over 700 pages, you'll probably want to dip in and out of it rather than read it straight from cover to cover. But it is an essential book for any fan of the Time Lord's television adventures.

Richard McGinlay

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