September 2nd, 2014

tardis

August Books 17) The Making of Doctor Who, by Terrance Dicks and Malcolm Hulke

This is a hugely important book for me. When I first read it in 1976 (aged 9), it hadn't previously occurred to me that you could write about stories as well as writing stories, and I also had no idea that Doctor Who had started years before I was born. The bits about how a TV programme is made rather bounced off me at the time (which is ironic given the amount of TV work I actually do these days), but the establishment of Who history here, with semi-canonical names given to the pre-Savages stories for the very first time, remains fascinating as a process - and also to observe what is left out (the six episodes of The Wheel in Space, for instance, are brushed off in seven lines).

Now that I have a copy of the first edition from 1972 as well, it's interesting to compare and contrast. I sense that Dicks took a pretty heavy hand in rewriting almost every chapter of Hulke's original text, sometimes from scratch, sometimes (the chapters on the Daleks and "How To Make A Monster") just with a light touch of editorial improvements. Gone is the nonsense about the Doctor's real name being ∂³∑x², let alone the bizarre postscript from the Rev. John D. Beckwith, Chaplain to the Bishop of Edmonton; but in comes plentiful cross-referencing to the Target novelisations, which of course were very new then and had not been around at all in 1972.

There is huge nostalgia value to it anyway, but I also think that for what it is trying to be, it is still a good book, and the foundation of Whovian reference books ever since.