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The Seventies

By Howe, Stammers & Walker

Book review by Paul Scoones

The maxim 'do not judge a book by its cover' should be applied here. The full colour dust jacket is rather garish and even a little clumsy in its design, but this is not a reflection of the book's contents.

For readers who are familiar with The Sixties volume perhaps the most useful observation I can make about The Seventies is that it is more of the same - only longer, better organized, and considerably more detailed. The greatest advantage of this book over the very worthy Handbook series is that The Seventies is packed with full colour photographs on almost every page, and yet somehow the authors have still managed to cram in a massive amount of text. In addition to the main body of each chapter, the side panels are crammed with further fascinating facts. In selecting the photographs, the authors have located a large number of photos - many of which I have never seen before.

As with The Sixties, each season is covered within the space of a chapter, and here a definite improvement occurs in the presentation of each story in transmission order. Additional chapters present biographies of Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker, profiles of the characters of the Third and Fourth Doctors, UNIT and the companions, the exhibitions, fandom, the stage play, and the best bit of the book - a staggeringly detailed guide to Doctor Who merchandise produced in the Seventies. The coverage of the Target novelisations series alone reveals a wealth of detail and that only covers three of this chapter's eighteen pages!

For anyone still doubting the worth of this book as an unparalleled piece of research into the series, consider this sample list of features that I personally found very interesting: the production sketches for the Gallifreyan Killer Cats, Graham Williams' original proposal for the Key to Time season, a list of the actresses who auditioned for Leela, revelations about Tom Baker's affair with a BBC designer and his threatening to quit after Season Sixteen, details of the original versions of The Invasion of Time, Horror of Fang Rock (formerly Rocks of Doom) and Terror of the Autons, an unused cover design for The Tomb of the Cybermen novelisation... the list goes on!

Although this is one of the single most expensive items of Doctor Who literature currently available (priced at almost $50 in New Zealand bookshops) I am confident that readers will feel it is worth every cent.

This item appeared in TSV 42 (January 1995).