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Book Review: The Doctor Who File 
30th-Aug-2009 11:52 am
Doctor Who File Doctor Who File by Peter Haining

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I dithered a bit over how to rate this book. If you're the type of Doctor Who fan who collects lots of reference works on the series, much of what is in this book will be familiar to you from other sources. If you're not the type of Doctor Who fan who collects reference works on the series, I wouldn't necessarily recommend that this is where you start. There are other works that are more complete and authoritative.

However, two things set this book apart:
1. It has a number of really nice photographs and drawings, some of which I haven't seen reproduced elsewhere.
2. The book is composed entirely of first-person recollections by various people involved in the making of Doctor Who. Sometimes this really lets the individual personalities shine through - Robert Holmes's essay in this book is entertainingly dotty. (I mean, really - his contribution to this book is madder than Douglas Adams's.) And sometimes it offers a poignant insight into the way people's perceptions of their time on the program differ - Heather Hartnell's essay, which takes for granted that William Hartnell's declining health was his reason for leaving the show, sits right next to an interview with William Hartnell in which he explains that he left because of disagreements with the production team over the direction that the show was taking.

Because the book was published in 1986, it also offers an interesting snapshot in time of Doctor Who - Colin Baker was The Doctor, and the show had been put on 18-month hiatus. The "Trial of a Time Lord" was in the planning stages. Everybody sounds upbeat - if the production team had any inkling that Doctor Who wasn't universally loved, that the BBC wasn't 100% behind it, and that it wouldn't go on forever, they don't make it evident here.

So, not a book to buy if you just want the facts, but if you're interested in the personalities behind Doctor Who, this book will offer a few intriguing glimpses.

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