Did you know that this year we celebrate 40 years of Doctor Who? (Of course you did!)
Released this month are many titles to tempt the Doctor Who fanatic, but with large-format hardbacks, celebration novels, DVDs and CDs, the cash-strapped fan may be tempted to overlook this volume, chronicling and celebrating Big Finish's work in creating original full-length drama for everyone's favourite Time Lord. Well, I say don't.
Warts-and-all is the only way to describe this book. You feel as if there is nothing left to learn about Big Finish. Everything appears to be covered, from the highs of success to those moments when it all looked like falling apart.
Benjamin Cook is an effective storyteller. From the inception of Big Finish to The Sirens of Time (the first Doctor Who release) to the multi-doctor epic Zagreus via Daleks, Sarah-Jane, webcasts and Unbound, his witty and well-researched writing keeps you on track. every page is illustrated with both cover-shots and pictures of cast and crew hard at work (as well as the odd publicity shot). Each entry also includes interviews with Writer, director, Gary Russell and other Big Finish staff.
Interviews with everyone (and I mean everyone) are dotted throughout, quizzing Doctors, companions and guest stars on Big Finish and the audios in general. Perhaps the funniest interview of all is the Nicholas Courtenay one, in which every question is eye-patch related (you have to be a real fan to understand that).
Ever since the 'decade-series' (i.e. The Sixties, The Seventies, The Eighties), fans of Doctor Who have demanded well-researched, comprehensive, informed, detailed reference books. This is one of the best of the current crop.
That is not to say that the book is without its flaws. The book assumes familiarity with the individual audios, meaning that the casual reader may become lost at mention of plot twists and the like, but this does not impede enjoyment. It would also have been nice to see the CD cover-shots either larger or in colour, but as this would have increased the cost of the book exponentially, we will have to do without. Also, the continuing adventures of everybody's favourite archaeolegist Bernice Summerfield are curiously absent.
Any self-respecting Doctor Who fan should keep this book on their shelves. It is, quite simply, an excellent reference book on a subject that has not been covered in the detail that the rest of the Who franchise. Now, can we have one for the novels?