Non-Fiction Reviews

Doctor Who
365 days of memorable moments and impossible things

(2016) Justin Richards, BBC Books, 12.99, hrdbk, 496pp, ISBN 978-1-785-94026-2


There is much currently coming out from BBC Books building on Doctor Who's franchise success. True, the franchise in 2015 saw low ratings but this was due to absurd scheduling by the BBC in a weekend ratings war with ITV: the franchise has remained as popular if its web and blogosphere profile, not to mention BookScan data, is to be believed. But it remains popular given the figures for repeat and i-Player showings, and now fans have another book on the Time Lord to collect with Doctor Who: 365 days.

This is a title with a difference; what it does is to have a page on each of the year's 366 days (the leap year 29th February is included). These pages either recount events from the series where the script makes it explicit as to the day episode events have taken place or, in the real world, and episode was first broadcast.

This is a book that Dr Who fans will like to dip into. I can see it being bedtime reading when you just want a few minutes to settle down and a page is just the right length. Dr Who fan groups and conventions could also use it to theme activities for their events' specific dates.

It is packed with information and there is truly much there to discover. However it is not complete. While I am not sufficiently a diehard Dr Who fan to have an encyclopaedic knowledge, I know enough to test it out. And so I was a little disappointed that while 23rd November noted the series first ever broadcast in 1963, it did not mention that a later Doctor was also in London on that same date and that Ace just missed seeing the first episode on TV in 'Remembrance of the Daleks'. Having said that the entry for 5th October does mention the seventh Doctor and Ace returning to London (as the 5th October was the day ' Remembrance of the Daleks' was broadcast, but not the aforementioned just miss seeing Dr Who on TV. All this makes the book a bit of Whovian fun as opposed to a reference work, which it so easily could have been (especially if they had an index of adventures, characters and monsters in the back) if Richards had gone the extra mile and this would have certainly garnered it extra sales.

OK, so it is not a reference work, but it is more than a bit of fun for dipping into rather than reading from beginning to end. For example, the programme has been around for so long that I had quite forgotten details such as how Davros kept surviving having been, what we thought, killed for certain. As such it helped make certain story arcs more coherent in the context of the franchise's whole oeuvre. It also made me realise that we really quite badly need a good, thoroughly cross-referenced encyclopaedia (hint, hint BBC Books). Nonetheless, and especially at nigh on 13 for a hardback, this is something that more seasoned Dr Who fans will enjoy.

Jonathan Cowie

See also Andrew's take on Doctor Who: 365 days of memorable moments and impossible things.

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