Non-Fiction Reviews


Who Goes There: Travels through strangest Britain in search of the Doctor

(2008) Nick Griffiths, Legend Press, 7.99, pbk, 284 pp, ISBN 978-1-906-55806-2

 

You have to be a real die hard fan of Dr Who to do what Nick Griffiths does as exemplified by his already having Dalek I Loved You under his belt: it is a sequence of autobiographical reminisces set alongside references to the TV series. Of course the TV series Dr Who attracts literally millions (occasionally over ten million) of viewers across the British Isles and scores of millions more overseas. Further, many millions of these probably count themselves as regular viewers and among these rank the core Concatenation team, indeed some of us have watched Dr Who ever since episode 1, series 1. Yet none of us are so enthused by the show that we record and keep every episode, and none of us has ever attended a Dr Who convention: our tastes in SF are much too broad and therefore we are not specialist, die hard Who fans. However if you are - and there may be thousands out there who truly are - then you might be interested in learning more about all the exterior locations the show has used over the years. Yet again if you are a real specialist, die hard, well-seasoned and an ultra dedicated fan then you may be interested in learning not only a little more about Who's exterior locations but also how a fellow die-hard fan came to make a pilgrimage to them.   If so then Who Goes There: Travels through strangest Britain in search of the Doctor could well be for you as this is what Nick Griffiths has produced.   Now, I myself have enjoyed the series since the William Hartnell days and I also have a thing about field trips having literally been: on glaciers, down 17th century lead mines, bouncing across wetland mats, on racing riverine islands (the islands were racing geologically not just the river), strolling across nuclear reactor cores as well as through the streets of a deserted fallout-contaminated town... You get the idea.   I even have a sort of connection with a Who location in that for many years used to live very near where science teacher Ian Chesterton followed Susan and first encountered the Doctor in David Whitaker's 1964 novelization based on the Terry Nation script. I still to this day have a nostalgic Who moment whenever I pass by the spot, just as I also do whenever I see the Solent forts used in 'The Sea Devils' adventure.   In short I do genuinely have some sympathy with Griffiths' book's aim as purported by the cover title.

However an interest in Dr Who is one thing, and locations another. With regards to the book Who Goes There it is important to note that this book is more concerned with the author's pilgrimages to locations than the actual locations themselves and the narrative is peppered with reminisces from his own un-Dr Who related life.   As such we get what might be considered a book of amiable eccentricity that could appeal to a decidedly hard core Who devotee. Others might see it as not having enough Dr Who and too much Nick Griffiths; perhaps even consider it a little self-indulgent. Of course if you are into die-hard Dr Who fandom as much as being into enjoying the Dr Who series itself then it may be that there is a dimension to this work I am not truly appreciating.

As a book about geographical locations it is a little surprising that there are no maps or pictures.   Fortunately, it being the 21st century, this is overcome and there is a useful website for readers to visit whogoesthere.org.uk . Having said that, the book could do with an index: I wanted to follow up on some brief comments Nick Griffiths made on the geology of a quarry but without an index, and having lost my bookmark, struggled to find the reference.   To sum up, this is one that serious core buffs might well appreciate but as for the rest of us genre folk I really am far less certain.

Jonathan Cowie


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