Home : Archive : TSV 31-40 : TSV 32 : Review

The Sixties

by David J Howe, Mark Stammers & Stephen James Walker

Book review by Jon Preddle

The Sixties is a book I have been waiting a long time for. Each one of its pages oozes with information, and the photographic content is second to none. I know it's a cliché, but many of the photos haven't been published before - and that's a fact. There are many gems, such as the colour photo of the Tombstone set from The Gunfighters, the shots of the horse miniature from The Myth Makers, and the models used in The Space Pirates to name but a few.

The text of the book takes the reader through the creation of the series in 1963 right through to Jon Pertwee's photo-call in 1969. Each season is covered, with behind-the-scenes information, including commissioning dates, working titles, casting alternatives, details of locations and the like. Little pieces of hitherto unknown information suddenly spring out, such as the origin of Zoe's name; the original storyline for The Evil of the Daleks - featuring a caveman called Og!; The Mind Robber was originally a six-parter, and that The Keys of Marinus replaced another Terry Nation story called The Red Fort!

In a fashion similar to David Banks' Cybermen book, there are margin notes, plus biographies of the key personnel behind the series, such as the writers and directors - although not all of the latter are featured.

There are also detailed biographies of William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton, illustrated with photos from some of their earlier film roles. It is amazing to see just how much the young William Hartnell resembles a young Jon Pertwee! The last few chapters deal with spin-offs from the series such as the two Peter Cushing movies, the Dalek stage-play, early fandom, and further glimpses of items from David Howe's collection.

The Sixties is worth every cent, and even if you do not like the black and white episodes of Doctor Who I'm pretty sure that you will still enjoy this book, particularly the illustrations. If it took 162 pages to tell the story of the six seasons of the Sixties, then the follow-up book, The Seventies, for which there are ten seasons to cover, ought to be nearly twice as long! I can't wait!

Book review by Graham Howard

The affection the authors of The Sixties have for 1960s Doctor Who is quite apparent from reading this book. This affection is backed up with a vast knowledge of the efforts that went into producing and developing Doctor Who over this time. The combination of factual information and reflection makes The Sixties an engrossing read. Targeted at both the casual fan I believe the book contains enough new information for the serious fan while not boring the casual fan with too many technical details and trivia.

The most interesting part of the book also forms the bulk of the reading matter. 'Part One' consists largely of a chronological 'journey' through the history of Doctor Who's production in the 1960s along with a closer look at the first two Doctors and the actors who played them. Material in this section appears to have been gleaned from numerous sources (the various production crews, actors, newspapers, BBC records and staff, etc), and is supplemented with additional information presented at the sides of each page. This all serves to give a very full picture of the production of Sixties Who - although I did get the impression that the text represented only a fraction of the writers' knowledge of the subject matter! My only niggle is with the inclusion of brief plot synopses - surely even the most casual fan would be aware of the plot details given? For me these were a waste of space, although I can perhaps understand why the authors would feel that a book on Sixties Doctor Who would need to refer to the stories themselves.

Part Two is mostly devoted to the spin-offs that resulted from Doctor Who during the 1960s with chapters on the films, the stage play, exhibitions, merchandise (I can remember many years ago playing with an 'Anti-Dalek Disintegrator Gun' pictured in this chapter!), and early fandom. Noticeable in all of these is of course the predominance of Daleks.

I look forward to The Seventies!

This item appeared in TSV 32 (February 1993).