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Doctor Who insights where space and times laud tales

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If you need a Christmas present for a Doctor Who fan, you won't be able to go past these two books. Doctor Who: The Writer's Tale examines a year in the life of the last series through the scripts and the detailed email "conversations", from mid-February 2007 to late March 2008, of Doctor Who head writer and executive producer Russell T.Davies with journalist Benjamin Cook.

Davies says the emails constitute "a year-long interview, but it's both more informal and deeper than that ... you actually see my scripts being written day by day, raw and unfiltered and constantly changing. That's the script process I've never seen in print before."

There are also numerous illustrations of the cast and series production, including many previously unpublished photographs.

The detail is prodigious and not always flattering to Davies, who is often far from the beaming Welsh Svengali of television's Doctor Who Confidential.

Davies describes Sylvester McCoy's debut as the Doctor as "a deep, dark trough" in the series' history. Only a few key details have apparently been deleted from the emails, such as the name of the actor scheduled to play the Doctor's companion if Catherine Tate had fallen through.

Davies says, "You'll never top the Titanic, and you'll never top Kylie Minogue, so the worst thing we could have done was cast Dannii Minogue aboard the Lusitania." Davies was referring to the immensely popular 2007 Christmas special. This year's special to be shown on BBC1 on Christmas Day is titled, rather appropriately, The Next Doctor (Robert Carlyle is the bookmaker's current favourite to replace David Tennant) and will be set on Christmas Eve in 1851 to allow for a suitably wintry Dickensian backdrop, albeit featuring the Cybermen.

This will be Davies' last Christmas special, with only four one-hour specials to follow in 2009, before he and David Tennant leave Doctor Who.

Tennant, easily the best Doctor since Tom Baker and arguably the best ever, has said, "I've had the most brilliant, bewildering and life-changing time working on Doctor Who. I have loved every day of it ... It would be very easy to cling on to the Tardis console forever and I fear that if I don't take a deep breath and make the decision to move on now, then I simply never will. You would be prising the Tardis key out of my cold dead hand."

Doctor Who: The Time Traveller's Almanac by Steve Tribe is described as the "ultimate intergalactic fact-finder" for the episodes from the past four years. Lavishly illustrated, it presents in chronological order events beginning with the Time Lords of Gallifrey and concluding with the "end of the universe". In between, we set down in 1599 with Shakespeare, 1913 at Farringham School for Boys and the year 200,000 on Satellite Five. The entries are well presented and cross-linked, such as the consequences of Donna Noble's left turn from probably the best episode of series four. Time has certainly not faded the Doctor's infinite variety in these two books.

Colin Steele is Emeritus Fellow at the ANU.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Steele, Colin (2008-11-29). Doctor Who insights where space and times laud tales. The Canberra Times p. sec. A, p. 16.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Steele, Colin. "Doctor Who insights where space and times laud tales." The Canberra Times [add city] 2008-11-29, sec. A, p. 16. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Steele, Colin. "Doctor Who insights where space and times laud tales." The Canberra Times, edition, sec., 2008-11-29
  • Turabian: Steele, Colin. "Doctor Who insights where space and times laud tales." The Canberra Times, 2008-11-29, section, sec. A, p. 16 edition.
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