Doctor Who – The Vault

I recently talked about The Doctor – His Lives and Times, and mentioned that I’d bought a couple of 50th anniversary books. This is the other one, and it’s a very different one, which makes it an ideal companion[1].

This is presented as a proper souvenir item – big page size, hard and padded cover and loads of very exclusive illustrations. Unlike the other book, this one is firmly set in what I suppose I’ll have to refer to as the real world – the world in which Doctor Who is purely a TV series, with no suggestion of it being real. Isn’t that a bit boring? Well, no. Not in this case, anyway. It adopts a historical approach – each year that the show was in production gets a chapter (and there are bridging chapters for the off years of the 1990s and early 2000s). The chapter starts with an introduction describing what was happening in the show that year (changes of actors and producers, etc), faced by a suitable image appropriate to the time – a Doctor, a companion, an opponent, that kind of thing.  This is followed by an essay on some aspect of the show, which takes the year in question as a jumping-off point, but wanders through the whole of the history of Doctor Who. For instance, the 1981 chapter starts with Peter Davison becoming the Fifth Doctor, then ranges through the whole business of regeneration in general. And the 1971 chapter covers the Master’s career.

All this nicely researched and interesting text is accompanied by an impressive collection of illustrations – quite apart from the expected on-set photographs and newspaper clippings (not to mention a 1971 Radio Times cover that stuck in my memory), there are new photographs of surviving props and costumes, merchandise, comic strips and more.

It’s the sort of book that can only be described as lavish. Well, there are lots of other words you could use, but that’s one of the better ones. As a souvenir of the 50th anniversary, it’s as good as they get. If you’re only going to get one book on the subject, I’d suggest this one. But I think you should get The Doctor – His Lives and Times as well if you can.

[1] Thought it doesn’t do much in the way of getting into peril, and certainly hasn’t screamed so far…

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