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By David J Howe and Mark Stammers

Book review by Nicholas Withers

Coming from the same stable as The Sixties and The Seventies and in a similar hardback format, one could be forgiven for expecting a similar level of information. But alas it is not to be this time. For once Howe and Stammers have produced a decidedly average book.

As far as the information is concerned there is one chapter overview of the role of the companion. This is followed by a companion-by-companion run down, then a final chapter dealing with non-canonical companions and the New Adventures. Only at the very end do we get profiles of the actors and actresses behind the companions, and even then it is a tiny amount. Thus the behind-the-scenes approach of the previous two hardback reference volumes from this team is diminished to a fraction of the potential. The book contains little new information that is not already common knowledge, or already printed in other accessible references. The only thing of any interest is the BBC's initial character profiles for some of the companions.

The pictures themselves are a decidedly mixed bag. Some of the choices are very dubious (I'd rather not see companions dressed in swimsuits and other similar apparel, or lack of it. The monsters are meant to give me nightmares, not the companions). Some of the pictures, although rare, are not very good quality.

The format is also not very good, with an almost haphazard arrangement of the photographs and information. There is no clear break or separation in the text concerning the companions, with information on one character casually blending into the next. This is further aggravated when photographs occur that are related only to a few lines at the top or bottom of a page. This text run-on makes it difficult to find where the entry for a specific companion starts and ends.

The hardback edition is for the compulsive collector only. I would only seriously think about purchasing the paperback, and even then I would be hesitant. Hopefully Howe and Stammers will be back on form for next year's The Eighties.

This item appeared in TSV 46 (January 1996).