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Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter Paperback – 14 Jan 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books (14 Jan. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184607861X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846078613
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 3.9 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 181,171 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"This book is a treasury of wit, of truthfulness, and of good sound storytelling sense, and well worth stealing from" (Philip Pullman)

"The Doctor Who Annual for adults" (The Guardian)

"You can douse all the other books about Who in lighter fuel and spark up your Zippo - this is all you need" (SFX)

Book Description

The final word on the Russell T Davies era of Doctor Who - revised and updated with over 300 pages of new material.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I loved the original Writer's Tale - lovingly presented and fantastic content - and it became one of my very favourite non-fiction books, so I was eagerly looking forward to this extension of the correspondence. When flicking through, my first feeling was slight disappointment - but I'll come back to that.

Firstly, to put that bit about "300 new pages" in context. In its new paperback form, the original book runs to 340 pages, and there's 340 of new stuff in addition - so you've got a new book's worth on top!

But, I do feel that it loses something in a black and white paperback edition. The original was vibrant, with illustrations by RTD dotted throughout plus lots of little photos - so when you read a piece of correspondence or a script extract you could instantly relate it to what you saw on screen. This reprint of book one loses a lot of that.

More than that though, most of the actual scripts that were dotted through the correspondence in book one have been removed in the reprint 'to make space'. (These were the RTD first drafts - you can now get the final versions for some free online.) I felt they added a lot in explaining the development of episode ideas and scripts.

For these reasons, if you're new to this (and can afford the considerable extra expense) I'd recommend buying the beautifully presented original and then this in addition for the new stuff.

As to the new stuff - well the correspondence is as revealing, intimate, witty and fascinating as before. There's no sign that the comments are more self-conscious given the knowledge this time around of their ultimate publication.

So, overall, a slight sense of initial disappointment in the cheaper paperback - I'd have happily paid for a shiny hardback volume two - but the brilliance of the correspondence has to win out overall, so it stays five stars for me.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There's no shortage of glossy "Doctor Who" books on the shelves but this is by far the most revealing. It digs deep and gives the reader a fascinating insight into the exhaustion, exhileration and relentless hard slog that goes into the flagship show. Read it, even if you don't care for DW, if you want to know the truth about a writer's life. It's very warts-and-all, at times very funny, and always comes over as being honest. You won't get closer than this to finding out why things turned out the way they did. In particular, RTD's thoughts on "Journey's End", the S4 finale, are intriguing and reveal how he copes with the inevitable gulf between his first concept of how a story should end and the version that reaches the screen, subject to the limitations of budget, time, actor availability and overall tone.

Like the Doctor himself, RTD clearly feels under pressure as the man everyone looks to for answers, he finds it almost impossible to relinquish control of his beloved show, yet a part of him longs for a break from the constant creative demands on his energies, preferably before the stress kills him.

There are certainly a few dark nights of the soul here, but also complete versions of the scripts of "Voyage of the Damned", "Partners in Crime" and the explosive two-parter finale, including the early drafts and absorbing explanations for the way things changed later. An extra bonus is a plethora of photographs, some from deleted scenes, and RTD's unexpectedly witty and professional cartoons of cast and characters.
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Format: Hardcover
An astonishingly enjoyable read. If you've ever even toyed with the idea of writing, this gives you huge insights into the sheer grind and self doubt that goes into trying to get a script out, and it's a fascinating read. The email exchange structure gives a frankness that any other style would probably skirt around and you get a feeling of a genuine professional friendship between the authors. Some of the content might be a little too frank if you were thinking of buying a "Doctor Who" book for the kiddies, because it's not really a "Doctor Who" book - it's a book about writing, and the writing happens to be "Doctor Who". You do end up worrying if Russell EVER sleeps and whether this writing lark is good for his health, you do wonder how anyone finds the time to do that job, and you do get to see another side to the cheery upbeat soul who appears on TV, but that just makes it all the more intriguing. And on top of all his other work, Russell's found time to provide a large number of very inventive cartoons to illustrate the text - you'd have to hate the guy if he wasn't so good at it. The book looks fantastic, too, beautifully laid out. All in all, a big fat Hooray!!

The paperback edition THE WRITERS TALE: THE FINAL CHAPTER followed in January 2010, and all that I said in my review of the original remains pretty true, although the format has been changed radically for that edition. It is a smaller book format and whilst there are full colour photo inserts, the bulk of the reprinted text pages are now black and white, so maybe whilst it's not quite so beautiful to look at as the original, the written content is still as great as it ever was.
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