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The Doctor Who Programme Guide (3rd Edition)

By Jean-Marc Lofficier

Book review by Paul Scoones

If any one book must be given the title of the 'Doctor Who bible', it has to be Lofficier's Programme Guide. It is the only single volume reference work chronicling every television story, and as such has been an invaluable quick-glance guide ever since it first appeared in paperback back in 1981. Slowly but surely, such books as The Sixties-Seventies-Eighties and the Handbooks are beginning to form an altogether more accurate and in depth overview of Doctor Who, but for its brevity and its cast-lists (the latter is missing from the Howe-Stammers-Walker volumes), it is unlikely that the Guide will ever be completely outmoded.

Given then that this is such a useful book, it is a pity that so many small, yet irritating errors crop up. Even more frustratingly, most originate in the 1989 edition. To list some of the more glaring examples: The Masque of Mandragora is missing 'The'; David Maloney's name is spelt wrong; Vicki did not appear in The Daleks' Master Plan; Polly should not have a surname; there were only four Doctors in Rassilon's tomb; Peri and Yrcanos were not seen happily married in The Ultimate Foe; Jamie and Zoe did not have all of their memories of the Doctor wiped...

Each of these errors in isolation is hardly worth getting upset about, but taken as a whole they serve to lessen the Guide's credibility as an accurate reference source. Although perhaps a point for debate, Lofficier has chosen to adhere to the more familiar titles for the Hartnell stories such as An Unearthly Child and The Edge of Destruction, rather than the technically accurate 100,000 BC and Inside the Spaceship; though to Lofficier's credit, he has acknowledged these as 'working titles'.

This new edition could have been Lofficier's chance to produce a complete and final record of BBC produced Doctor Who (since the previous edition did not complete the Season 26 listings), but instead the Guide continues beyond the end of Survival, and into the realms of the 'missing bits', as the Guide labels them. This addendum covers stories which Lofficier feels are worthy of consideration as part of Doctor Who continuity. The first 27 New Adventures novels are covered in synopsis form, along with The Masters of Luxor, The Paradise of Death, The Pescatons, Slipback and the three 'Missing Season' novels. Yet another, rather obvious error crops up here; the title of the first New Adventure is spelt Timewyrm: Genesis.

The addenda and the Season 26 data aside, the only other material new to this edition comprises footnotes for each story entry, listing video and audio tape releases, script books and novelisations. These notes were compiled by Andrew Pixley and contain a plethora of details on various reprints, cover artists, series numbers, publication dates, catalogue codes, ISBNs and more. The answers for many of the questions I'm routinely asked by TSV readers can be located in these additions.

The definitive quick-glance reference work has still yet to appear, and perhaps it never will. Meanwhile, Lofficier's Programme Guide is the closest we've got to a single-volume Doctor Who 'bible'.

This item appeared in TSV 40 (July 1994).