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The Pocket Essential Guide
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 and merchandising.
Okay, so I was wrong. Readers of the previous introduction to this august tome may recall my emphatic declaration that Doctor Who was dead. It would never be coming back, I said, and furthermore we were all deluding ourselves in the vague hope that it might be. Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, I think I may have been a bit hasty. There’s been a little programme shown recently on BBC1 that has consistently taken no prisoners in the ratings war, as well as enjoying a unanimously positive reception from critics and viewers alike. It’s featured new and old monsters, state-of-the-art CGI, great storylines and a roll-call of some of the finest performers this country’s ever seen. And it is, ahem, Doctor Who. All I can say in my defence is that BBC Wales must have read my impassioned ranting and decided to prove me wrong.Yes, the powers-that-be obviously had one underlying agenda – to make me look like a complete twit.Those who know me may think that isn’t very difficult, but clearly the BBC thought otherwise. Rightly or wrongly, they decided the best way to embarrass me in public was to produce a massively hyped 13-part new television series starring dour Northern thespian Christopher Eccleston and bubbly upand- coming actress Billie Piper. It must have cost them a fortune. Just to make me look small. The swines. Still, on the positive side, I guess it’s all down to me that we’ve got a new series at all. I’m not one to blow my own trumpet, but if it wasn’t for me saying things like, ‘it’s Doctor Who, it’s unique, and it’s dead’, we’d all be sitting down on Saturday evenings to watch Celebrity Wrestling or the Only Fools and Horses 1996 Christmas Special again. Thanks to Russell T Davies (whose show Queer as Folk I presciently praised in that increasingly infamous introduction), we Doctor Who fans have a show we should all be proud of again. Backed by the might of the BBC, mustered under the auspices of no-nonsense producer Phil Collinson and written by an eclectic group of Doctor Who fans-turnedprofessionals, the show has probably never been more popular. People are talking about it again. Much more importantly, children are talking about it. I was in Virgin recently and overheard some 14-year-olds discussing whether to buy the Earthshock DVD on the basis of seeing the Cyberman mask in Dalek.They didn’t, but that’s immaterial – they were actually talking about Doctor Who. Seriously. What an amazing thing.
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