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Doctor Who - The Eighties

By David J Howe, Mark Stammers & Stephen James Walker

Reviewed by Jon Preddle

[Cover]

Those of you who have read the other two volumes in this excellent series will find themselves in familiar territory as Howe, Stammers and Walker take us from 1980 to 1989, covering nine seasons and four Doctors. Along the way they give us working titles, commissioning and recording dates, alternative cast lists, design drawings, locations lists, cast and crew biographies, as well as the all important ratings. I really do wonder where all this information comes from. The BBC's records department must be an amazing place to visit. I wonder if I could book my next holiday there?

There is so much information thrown at you it was necessary for me to stop for breath every now and then to take it all in. I did notice a couple of errors: the story code for The Five Doctors is twice given as 6C (when it is 6K); and the episode of Magnum P.I. that Peter Davison appeared in was not the Season Five story Echoes of the Mind but the Season Six episode Deja Vu, a mistake that I have seen also printed in other publications which makes the title of the episode all the more ironic! A couple of photos appear to be mis-captioned too. There are also a few 'oddities'; there is no mention of New Zealand having the premier screening of Silver Nemesis (but there is a mention of the New Zealand fan club and TSV in the section on Fandom), and a newspaper obituary for Patrick Troughton appears in the chapter covering 1985 when it really should appear under the chapter on 1987. But these are minor quibbles; the rest of the book more than makes up for them.

In a change from the other two books, there is no separate chapter on the Companions. Instead, the actors' profiles are included in the side panels with the main text. I would hazard a guess that the 'missing' chapter was dropped in part because of the need to do justice to the merchandise section which covers an impressive 26 pages. I really wonder if anybody can honestly say they have every item listed (besides David Howe, that is!).

Although the book only covers up to 1989 the authors very wisely briefly cover the 'lost' Season 27 and later attempts to revive the series during the period to 1996. There have been whispers of a fourth volume in this book series but it will be a very thin tome, and we will have to wait another four years for it to appear if it does.

So, if you want to find out what story Star Trek: The Next Generation's Patrick Stewart had been short-listed for, what the working title for Remembrance of the Daleks was, what differences there were in the original storyline for Arc of Infinity, how many Doctor Who badges were made, and how much a pair of Doctor Who underpants would have set you back, then this is the book for you. Enjoy!

This item appeared in TSV 49 (November 1996).