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Who's Who In Dr Who

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Doctor Who: The Legend, By Justin Richards, Bbc, £40.

First broadcast 40 years ago this weekend, the day after President Kennedy's assassination, Doctor Who was a hardy perennial of British television right through the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties, until the series was abruptly cancelled by the then BBC controller Michael Grade in 1989.

At the height of its success in the Seventies, during the Jon Pertwee and Tom Baker eras, Doctor Who's mix of monsters, humour and rattling good storylines pulled in more than ten million viewers every week. Although its shoestring production values -the infamous wobbly sets and rubber monster masks -have long been the source of mockery, such was the quality of the acting and scripts that, at the time, such deficiencies really didn't seem to matter.

Towards the end of its run, however, emasculated by Mary Whitehouse's ludicrous complaints about excessive violence, Doctor Who more closely resembled a children's pantomime than the scary science-fiction serial of its early years, when Daleks, Cybermen and Ice Warriors would send youngsters scurrying behind the sofa.

Despite this marked decline in quality, the series managed to retain a residual affection among its fanbase, and not only survived cancellation but actually had its appeal enhanced, thanks, in no small part, to the efforts of such high-profile enthusiasts as Mark Gatiss of The League of Gentlemen, and Little Britain star David Walliams. With a new series in the works, produced and scripted by Queer As Folk creator Russell T Davies, and novels, audio adventures, videos and DVDs being released every month, there has never been a better time to be a Who fan. However, the icing on the cake for the good Doctor's 40th birthday celebrations is provided by Justin Richards' beautifully produced tome, which utilises many previously unpublished photographs to tell the Doctor's story, from the first murky black and white adventures up to the lavish 1996 TV movie, starring Paul McGann, and, more recently, the animation adventure Scream of the Shalka, currently being broadcast on the BBCi website.

While providing excellent background information and plot summaries for every Who story everbroadcast, The Legend could have included more behind the scenes information, especially about the many notable (and not so notable) actors that have appeared in the series during the Doctor's many incarnations, including Sheila Hancock, Leslie Grantham, Maurice Denham and Beryl Reid, not to mention Nicholas Parsons, Bonnie Langford and Ken Dodd.

That said, Doctor Who: The Legend is an essential purchase for fans, even if the high price tag may put off those with a more casual interest in the Time Lord's adventures. It is a worthy tribute to a television institution that has consistently retained a deep affection among the viewing public -something that's all too rare in the current climate, where most shows are lucky to survive into a second series, let alone span five decades. What's more, there's obviously still plenty of life left in this particular 900-year-old.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Evans, Simon (2003-11-22). Who's Who In Dr Who. Birmingham Post p. 53.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Evans, Simon. "Who's Who In Dr Who." Birmingham Post [add city] 2003-11-22, 53. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Evans, Simon. "Who's Who In Dr Who." Birmingham Post, edition, sec., 2003-11-22
  • Turabian: Evans, Simon. "Who's Who In Dr Who." Birmingham Post, 2003-11-22, section, 53 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Who's Who In Dr Who | url= | work=Birmingham Post | pages=53 | date=2003-11-22 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=14 July 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Who's Who In Dr Who | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=14 July 2024}}</ref>