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Sunday, 12 May 2013

Doctor Who Poster Book / Doctor Who Postcard Book



Before I launch into this review, a declaration of interest is perhaps required. I am the author and co-author of numerous factual Doctor Who books published by Virgin Publishing and I used to run the DWAS’ own Reference Department. Now, on with the review.

It is astonishing that in the space of two pages of introduction, author and compiler of the Doctor Who Poster Book Adrian Rigelsford can make over 20 factual errors and spelling mistakes. These range from the obvious: Doctor Who’s first episode did not start at 5:25, it started at 5:16, to the obscure: Rigelsford seems to believe that each incarnation of the Doctor is a different person when they are all in fact the same person, to the careless: the spellings of Menoptra, and Sensorites are incorrect.

There is also a brief Time-Line which contains numerous basic errors: the location filming in Lanzarote ('Planet of Fire'), Amsterdam ('Arc of Infinity') and Seville ('The Two Doctors') all took place the year before the respective stories were transmitted, and Davison first appeared as the fifth Doctor in 1981 (if you count the end of 'Logopolis') or in 1982 (if you don’t), but certainly not in 1980.

But perhaps this book is not about the words, but the pictures, and they are all very nice - despite the fact that one is back to front (the Doctor and Romana from 'The Pirate Planet') and that it has words in the background making this obvious. There are also several errors in the captioning ranging from stating that Mary Tamm played the second incarnation of Romana when she played the first, to an incorrect year for the transmission of 'Revenge of the Cybermen' (it was 1975 and not 1974). It is a shame that the book is marred by these easily correctable mistakes.

Overall this is an interesting selection of 30 photographs but that is all it is. At only 64 pages and 30 images it is hideously overpriced at £9.99. Considering that Virgin’s books have in the past managed to include between 400 and 700 images for the same price and with twice as many pages, as a collection of pictures it leaves much to be desired.

The Doctor Who Postcard Book is slightly better. With 21 postcards for £5.99 (about 29 pence each) this represents far better value than the Slow Dazzle Postcards which retail at 50 pence each (or £15 for all 32). The quality of reproduction is very good but this time three of the pictures are back to front (The Brigadier from 'The Mind of Evil', the group shot from 'The Two Doctors' and the Doctor with Glitz under a rock from 'Dragonfire'). There are far fewer errors in the texts but Rigelsford perpetuates the myth that Doctor Who was originally only to run for 13 weeks, and some of his sentence construction is torturous to say the least.

Of the two releases, I prefer the Postcard Book. The pictures are all nice, if haphazardly chosen and biased towards the last five Doctors. There are no Hartnell pictures here at all, and only one from a Troughton adventure.

In summary, these items are mildly diverting but by no means essential additions to the vast range of Doctor Who merchandise.

David J. Howe