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Regeneration

By Philip Segal & Gary Russell

Book review by Paul Scoones

It's been a long time coming — four years in fact since we first heard that it was being written — but the wait was worth it. Philip Segal and Gary Russell's book on the making of the Paul McGann TV Movie has finally been published, and it's simply unputdownable, containing a huge amount of new information.

Segal emerges over the course of this book as an extraordinarily driven man with a vision — to revitalise what he perceived was a very tired looking series. Segal's campaign to make an American version began in 1989 when the UK series was in its last year of production. Brushed off by almost every person he contacted at the BBC, it's a wonder he didn't give up then and there. In fact, the BBC is presented in a very poor light throughout the story of Segal's six-year battle to get his vision on screen. What emerges is a picture of the BBC as bizarrely both protective and disparaging of its famous SF series, and appears to have initially granted Segal the rights in the belief that Steven Spielberg was going to make the series!

Jean-Marc Lofficier's book The Nth Doctor offered a look at the unused scripts by Leekley and DeLaurentis but Regeneration delves much deeper, documenting the circumstances under which these scripts came to be written, revised numerous times and ultimately rejected. Leekley's proposed re-writes of some of the TV series' best known stories would have had fans up in arms! Most fascinating of all are the many revisions of the Matthew Jacobs script, each version moving just a little bit closer to the story we all recognise as the movie we saw on TV in 1996.

To some extent Regeneration serves to document Doctor Who through the Nineties and also touches on the development and failure of parallel productions The Dark Dimension and the cinema film.

The book is lavishly illustrated with numerous photos — including some never before seen behind-the-scenes shots, and an array of design plans and sketches. The text is laid out so that it is always obvious which author is telling the story. Segal writes with a refreshing candour, entertainingly conveying his successes and failures, and Russell fills in the wider picture and background detail with a great deal of care and attention to detail.

This is one of the very best Doctor Who reference books ever. Indispensable. [5/5]

This item appeared in TSV 61 (December 2000).