Doctor Who: The Book Of Whoniversal Records by Simon Guerrier (book review)

September 30, 2017 | By | 10 Replies More

Ever wanted to know the most and least collected information about ‘Doctor Who’ lore? Maybe you’re in a debate with your friends as to which came first? What you need is this book, ‘Doctor Who: The Book Of Whoniversal Records’, compiled by Simon Guerrier. Ten chapters of information of manner covering all manner of information related to your favourite Time Lord. The book also looks suspiciously like ‘The Guinness Book Of Records’ so I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t get an update after every regeneration. After all, the Jodie Whitaker Doctor hasn’t had a mention yet.

 

Rather than pointing out the odd fact when you can look it up yourself, I think it might be better to pass comment on some of the information it contains. Take the Doctor’s position as the President Of The Time Lords. Granted he’s been taken out of office a couple times and even if Gallifrey isn’t in the main timestream, even in his early regenerations, some centuries he could be in authority and others not. In that respect, he could actually be telling the truth sometimes.

The failure for River Song to recognise the Smith Doctor could be put down to her never meeting that one until then. There are some things that you can easily justify with logic.

Six of the actors who have played the Doctor cite Patrick Troughton as ‘their’ Doctor. When you consider three of them were of the right age to see his series when they first came out that should hardly be surprising.

As to who is the most expert on ‘Doctor Who’ and seeing that it doesn’t include the combination of Steven Moffatt, Mark Gattis and Peter Capaldi, who came third in an Australia quiz, doesn’t surprise me. There’s a lot to remember and cross-connect and certainly few living have seen all the stories like me and even I need triggers on some info.

There is the odd fact that I wasn’t consciously aware of and that the original 4 Daleks had slight alterations around the midriff that could help tell them apart.

Something that is likely to be seen as a challenge for future show-runners would be seeing how a companion from ancient times would survive today or in the future. Katerina (actress Adrienne Hill) only lasted four episodes before it was realised she would have to have everything explained to her all the time. Mind you, Jamie McCrimmon (actor Frazer Hines) adapted showing it was possible. Speaking of which, Guerrier points out that Jamie was there for 112 episodes but doesn’t mention the episode his cousin replaced him in ‘The Mind Robber’ for one episode. So although technically he is right for Jamie, for Frazer Hines, it was only 111.

It is mentioned about the companions who’ve committed criminal acts but, depending on your perspective, the Doctor is seen by many species as a criminal or committed criminal acts himself. He did nick his TARDIS after all for the start of his travels after all.

After a while, I started to wonder what Guerrier left out. With playing games, I would put from ‘The Celestial Toymaker’ and the Tri-Logic Game. I suspect a lot more of you will ponder on things that weren’t covered. Likewise, I suspect there might be show-runners who will deliberately create a new category or force a change in an existing one.

I do wonder if it isn’t about time that Delia Derbyshire has a joint credit with Ron Grainer for the ‘Doctor Who’ theme music.

I was quite staggered about the number of murders and genocides that the Master committed which does raise a question mark about the Doctor’s attempt to reform him/her. Likewise, for effective aliens, isn’t it about time we saw the Draconians again? Their make-up was brilliant back in 1973 so what would it be like under today’s latex?

The one problem with the index is that it’s not comprehensive enough. If you want to find something related to any particular story, then you’re going to be out of luck. You’ll have to hope your memory is effective enough to make the right cross-connection.

Undoubtedly, there is room for more subjects or missed information like actors who’ve appeared the most in different roles in the series, but as I said at the beginning, this is the kind of book that can always have an update. In the meantime, if you want a useful mine of information about ‘Doctor Who’ and a decent selection of photos, this book should be on your buy list if it isn’t there already.

GF Willmetts

September 2017

(pub: BBC Books/Ebury. 223 page illustrated indexed square hardback. Price: £16.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-78594-219-8)

check out website: www.eburypublishing.co.uk

Category: Books, Doctor Who, TV

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

Comments (10)

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  1. avatar Robert Shearman says:

    Nice review – but my own anal geekiness insists I point out that, even though Frazer Hines was replaced during The Mind Robber because of chicken pox, he does actually feature in every episode of the story. He gets turned into Hamish Wilson (who, despite fan lore, is no relation to Frazer whatsoever) in one episode, gets turned back in the next, and has speaking parts in both.

    That’s part of the joy of Simon’s work – that it keeps making you hunt for errors! But he really hasn’t made one there. 🙂

    • avatar UncleGeoff says:

      Hello Robert
      Nevertheless, Frazer Hines wasn’t there for the episode, only as a flashback from the previous episode. The Doctor’s last minute regenerations get more time in comparison.

      Geoff

      • avatar Robert Shearman says:

        No, Geoff, it isn’t a flashback. Frazer gets new scenes that top and tail both episodes, and the rest of it is taken by Hamish Wilson. There are no flashbacks in The Mind Robber at all. Honest.

        • avatar UncleGeoff says:

          Hello Robert

          I’ll have to dig out my copy to have a look but the ends had to be added after the fact ie when he recovered. Hardly there for the episode.
          How about an eighth less??

          Geoff

          • avatar Robert Shearman says:

            Well, it was more to do with how the episodes were recorded – still some weeks before broadcast. After Frazer recovered, they filmed his getting shot by a Redcoat in episode two, leading to the situation where the Doctor has to reconstruct his face – and then his recovery in episode three. Perfectly normal part of TV filming, even then – you would just as easily claim that William Russell isn’t in The Crusade 3 because his only scene was an insert (but he clearly *is* in it) – or, indeed, that Frazer himself isn’t in The Invasion part 8, where he only appears in the final scene on film without a line. (He does far more in both episodes of The Mind Robber where he is replaced, than he does in that!)

            Sorry, it’s not as if any of it actually matters. 🙂 I did my own guidebooks, ‘Running Through Corridors’, with Toby Hadoke, and we did sort of notice these things…!

          • avatar UncleGeoff says:

            Ah hah! That explains how you found our site. In those days, especially with editing and I was around at the time, the recordings were done in a linear fashion with minimal editing.
            If you’re looking at other characters, what about the absence of Bill Hartnell in ‘The Celestial Toyman’ as being invisible but using his recorded voice while he was on holiday. Back in the day, when I watched the story, we just assumed he was talking from off-set.

            Geoff

  2. avatar Robert Shearman says:

    Ah, yes, I know – I admit that when I worked on Who the techniques were very different, but I’ve been a fan a long time too! 🙂 There are so many instances of ‘cameo’ appearances from actors who weren’t there for the recording days – either on filmed insert (which I’d happily count as a proper credit – I mean, it’s new material they’re acting, innit?), or on prerecorded voiceover (like Hartnell in the second episode of Celestial Toymaker, but not the third), or just popping up in a reprise from the previous episode (which I would say doesn’t count, even though the actor might get a credit, like Hartnell again in part two of Time Meddler), or in flashback (which genuinely can’t count – all those old companions popping up on a screen in Resurrection of the Daleks, for example). But everyone’s mileage may vary, as they say.

    I do think that Simon has been very thorough with the way that an actor’s appearance has been counted, though. Did they record new material for the episode? They did? Then, sorted. 🙂

    • avatar UncleGeoff says:

      There lies the rub. How much of an episode appearance justifies a full episode mark, especially in those days and multi-month stories where a week’s holiday was sneaked in for the various lead characters. It does make it a little more complicated. So how many of the now missing stories did you see the first time around??
      Geoff

  3. avatar Robert Shearman says:

    Oh, none. I was born in 1970! I’m still just a little child in Who terms, really. But I go to conventions and meet fans who weren’t even alive when my episode was on, which makes me feel horribly dreadfully ancient. And resentful, of course. Kids. Pah.

    • avatar UncleGeoff says:

      I was born 13 years earlier than you. I still rate ‘Terror From The Deep’ as one of the most scariest stories. Having those two guys strolling around the station dispensing carbon dioxide was scary because you couldn’t work out their purpose at the time. I often wonder why no one has thought to bring back the sentient seaweed that could possibly have been controlled by the Great Intelligence.
      Going back to ‘The Celestial Toyman’, there was quite a who-hah (sic) in the press about the Tri-Logic Game that they had to show how it was done in the Radio Times, although no one knew how to play a game upside down in those days. The Toyman is also on my list as being a possible Time Lord.
      Geoff

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