From the Publisher
Who is Who? A Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey with two hearts and thirteen lives? A folk hero who entertained and enthralled us in the warm glow of our TV sets on dark winter evenings? A rebellious iconoclast who toppled corrupt dictatorships and freed the oppressed? Or a bumbling British eccentric who for 26 years fought rubber monsters in a cheap and cheerful BBC kids' show? Well, he's all of these things - and a whole lot more besides.
The story of Doctor Who is the story of British television in the final third of this century. It is also the story of the hopes and fears of generations of children - and grown-ups too - from the counter-culture 60s to the shallow waters of the 90s. Along the way there are shock revelations, melodramatic cliff-hangers and liberal doses of humour (intentional or otherwise); but be warned - there is also heart-ache, disappointment and death. Every taste is catered for in the world of Doctor Who.
As well as an introductory essay, each Doctor's era is put under the microscope with facts and informed opinion on all their stories. There's an in-depth reference section detailing further reading, fascinating and bizarre Doctor Who websites, and a short history of spin-off stories.
From the Author
"The Pocket Essential Doctor Who" is my attempt to cram as much information into as small a space as possible. The book is basically an episode guide to all 157 televised adventures, each containing the following sections: cast and crew, broadcast dates and video/audio availability, working titles, storyline (in one sentence, if possible), influences (anything that could conceivably have affected the storys genesis - serious or otherwise), see also (other stories that are connected, directly or thematically), observations (technical details, locations, miscellaneous trivia ) and verdict (ratings out of 5).
I pen an introduction which gives my own version of the shows history. Fans of Colin Baker may wish to skip this. Also, I fully admit I am rather negative about the current state of "Doctor Who". Whilst fandom seems to get more and more active, the programme is all but dead in reality, but theres nothing to stop us celebrating it just as much. I personally dont believe books or audios can ever equal the TV stories, however good they sometimes are, and one 90 minute film in a decade does not, in my opinion, constitute a living series. It may return, and indeed I very much hope it does, but I think we should accept the fact that at present it is, to misquote Python, "an ex-programme".
There are three other sections at the end - Big Finish Audios, Spin-Off Stories (films, plays, radio etc), and Reference Materials (featuring books and internet sites, including my own, "Skonnos").
I do not cover Virgin or BBC new fiction, amateur videos/audios, spoofs or skits or comic strips. I just don't have the space! I had a strict word-count of 35,000 words, and was not allowed to go over this. This in effect means a mere 200 words per story, so brevity is the keyword throughout.
I make no apologies for the fact that "The Pocket Essential Doctor Who" is an opinionated guidebook, with my own opinions as much at the fore as the factual information. For example, I give "Planet of the Spiders" 5/5, and "Ghost Light" 0/5! Although most of the information in the guide is already in the public domain, I do flesh out details about certain stories, such as "An Unearthly Child" (title sequence), "The Hand of Fear" ('Croydon' location) and the TV movie (torch-song). At the end of the day, I want the guide to spark discussion and, possibly, reassessment of the televised world of "Doctor Who", not provide yet another bland, 'nothing but the facts, ma'am' reference book. "Doctor Who" is fun, and I wanted my book to reflect that.
And yes, you heard me correctly - "An Unearthly Child". Despite stiff opposition, I call the first three stories by their incorrect titles, as listed in the infamous 1973 "Radio Times" special. So, no "100,000BC", "Inside the Spaceship" or "The Mutants" here. Sorry. Instead I adopt the same monikers as the BBC Videos and Target novelizations. Controversial, I know, but I wanted to standardise the titles with the BBC's output, so that new viewers would be marginally less confused. I do list the correct titles in the Observations section.
... (It) is, I firmly believe, an entertaining and thought-provoking introduction (sometimes not entirely serious) to this cheap, cheerful and entertaining programme. The cover photograph is of the real Police Box at Earls Court, London, taken by me last summer. This replaces a mock-up illustration of Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen.