BOOK REVIEW: Unofficial Doctor Who – The Big Book of Lists

Lists. Who doesn’t like them? Probably not the kind of fan that Doctor Who traditionally attracts. Back in the late 1990s, BBC Book published the Doctor Who Book of Lists which compiled numerous … lists … about the programme up until the Paul McGann movie. It was a pretty dry affair, if somewhat enlightening. Cameron K McEwan has stepped up to the plate, aided by the talent that is Andrew Skilleter to produce a new book of lists for a new millennium of Doctor Who. How successful is this book and is it worth picking up? Here’s my take.

AUTHOR: Cameron K. McEwan
 Race Point Publishing

Whovians rejoice! Blogtor Who is back…

Known for his popular lists, Cameron K. McEwan, author of The Who’s Who of Doctor Who, is back with a book that compiles loads of fun facts and never-before-heard tidbits about the Whoniverse. (It’s bigger on the inside!)

Pour over loads of fascinating lists about the TARDIS, Gallifrey, and Daleks, as the fandom unites in epic appreciation for The Doctor. Organized by theme, Unofficial Doctor Who: The Big Book of Lists will cover everything over the past fifty years of the epic series including: doppelgangers, popular locales, regenerations, Gallifrey adventures, highest-rated episodes, plots, characters and loads more.

Accompanied by the incredible Doctor Who artwork of Andrew Skilleter and loaded with weird and interesting facts and quizzes, this is the perfect gift item for the timelord lover in your life.

Lists include:

  • Actors who have appeared in Star Wars and Doctor Who
  • Doctor Who film references
  • Top 10 Kisses of the Doctor
  • Dopplegangers in Doctor Who
  • American Guest Appearances
  • Food and Drink in Doctor Who
  • “Other” Doctor Who stories (prequels, minisodes, etc…)
  • Regeneration Stories
  • Gallifrey Adventures
  • Alien Team-ups
  • People Who Came Back From The Dead
  • TARDIS consoles
  • Weirdest TARDIS dematerialisations
  • Highest-Rated TV Episodes
  • Lowest-Rated TV Episodes

Now in the second half of its century, the BBC’s sci-fi classic, Doctor Who is a geek’s dream TV show and this book is loaded with over 1000 facts and trivia. So grab your sonic screwdriver and unlock secrets of show that makes us excited to be a part of this wibbly-wobbley galaxy.

First up, I’ll be honest and say that the main draw of this tome to me wasn’t the lists. It also wasn’t the fact that The Blogtor himself had compiled the lists. It was the artist. I’ve been a fan of Andrew Skilleter’s work since the 1990s when I picked up a copy of Doctor Who – Monsters which were “in universe” recountings of Doctor Who adventures. The artwork for that book was by Andrew Skilleter and I was an instant fan. The chance to see new art by this master painter and especially new art from both sets of the television show’s run filled me with joy.

The art does not disappoint either. Skilleter has a masterful ability to capture the subjects he is painting, whether human, alien or machine. What was an unexpected bonus was to find art featuring Game of Thrones and Star Wars amongst the Who related art. If anything, I would have liked a few more full-page pieces of art but that is being phenomenally picky!

What of the focus of the book though – Cameron McEwan’s lists? Well, there are a hundred lists presented in the book, spread over more than 250 pages. These lists are not dry affairs though. McEwan has managed to turn the lists into something more – being informative and amusing all at once. Each list is given an introduction, explaining its purpose and each entry has a block of text explaining exactly why it has been included. The author also dots some “honourable mentions” on some lists which didn’t quite make either the cut or the requirements for the list.

I guess it is inevitable that a Doctor Who book published this millennium must have a slight focus on the last ten years of the show but McEwan manages to do this in a manner that – as a long-term fan – I found very respectful of both eras of the show. Lists combine stories from both eras. While later in the book, there are lists about what the author particularly admires about the ninth, tenth and eleventh Doctors, there is only so much space in the book and the format of these (nine things about the ninth, ten about the tenth and so on) means that doing a “one thing that’s great about the First Doctor” may be a little odd!

Doctor Who The Big Book of ListsThe book is very well laid out. Split into eight sections, thought has clearly gone into the order of the lists included. A particularly nice touch is that some lists are two parts of the same list – one for the newer incarnation of the show and one for the “classic” era. Generally these are presented one after the other.

It is certainly the case that McEwan’s opinions come through in the lists but that is to the book’s advantage. While there were times I was disagreeing with certain inclusions on the list, the explanations presented made an interesting view-point to counter my own.

In short, this is – though perhaps not an essential purchase – one that will not disappoint and which can be read piecemeal or (as I did for this review) through from cover to cover on multiple occasions. A fantastic effort at presenting information in list form without being dry!

The Unofficial Doctor Who: The Big Book Of Lists is published by Race Point Publishing and hits shelves on May 7th, 2015 retailing at £12.99 in the UK.

GS Rating: 4 / 5
GS Reviewer:WedgeDoc

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