Fiction Reviews

Doctor Who: The Time Lord Letters

(2015) Justin Richards, BBC Books, 20, hrdbk, 256pp, ISBN 978-1-849-90963-1


This Dr Who fan delight features hundreds of stills and publicity shots from the show. It takes readers on a whimsically ramshackle tour of over half a century of the show bringing back memories at random.

Of course any random selection of pictures, no matter how exciting the subject material or how photogenic the pictures, would soon overwhelm readers visual centres: there needs to be more to rest the eye and help segue readers from one page to the next. Here, the device used to bring some coherence to the assemblage is a parallel collection of very short fiction texts of notes and letters together with brief descriptions as to where these were found. The majority of these are from the Doctor himself, but some are from his companions and a few from passing characters in key adventures.  And then every no and then you stumble across something that jogs the memory making you say: 'oh yes, I'd forgotten that.'

It has to be said that the text plays very much second fiddle to the stunning visuals. However occasionally the words do have their moments. For me the most emotional was the unsigned farewell note supposedly left by the Doctor for Brigadier Lethbridge Stewart and which the Brigadier was apparently clutching in his death bed in the retirement home. This send off partly made up for the limp, end-season cyberman tale that saw Lethbridge, face unseen as transformed to a cyberman, fight for Earth.

The book's design and layout makes it feel as if you are wading through some bundle of papers and pictures so that you do get the sense as if you are getting some of the back-story, though in the reality this has been teased out from the show itself.

All in all this is a gem of a book for Dr Who fans of all ages and if you do know one amongst your circle of nearest and dearest then do get this for them for their next birthday, Christmas, whatever, or just 'because'.

And really there is little more to be said than that. This is a screaming 'must' for those for whom behind the sofa is a favourite place.

Jonathan Cowie

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